Talent Spotlight – Stephanie Phillips of ‘Don’t Dance Her Down Boys’

After the demise of Plan B magazine you would be forgiven for thinking that, if you wanted to read a publication that takes female musicians seriously, Borders had little to offer you nowadays. But, never fear, blogs are here! And one blog in particular has recently given me hope for the future of female focused music journalism…

Dont Dance Her Down Boys

Don’t Dance Her Down Boys is ‘a blog run by one woman on a mission to share her love of female musicians and artists with the world’. That one woman is Stephanie Phillips, and her approach to music writing is warm, witty and, importantly, lady loving!

What I especially like about the blog is Stephanie’s totally individual and heart-felt take on music (check out her song of the month entries), a quality that is reminiscent of Riot Grrrl per-zines. She takes the time to dig up old gig and obscure interview footage so that we don’t have to and she also thoughtfully creates virtual mix tapes so that her readers can be aurally tickled whilst reading her words.

It’s obvious the passion and knowledge Stephanie has for her subject, so I couldn’t wait to chat with her more about her blog…

Stephanie Philips

So Stephanie, tell us a bit more about yourself…

I’m 21 and I just graduated from Kingston University where I studied Journalism & English literature. I still live in Kingston Upon Thames. My day job is constantly changing; I work as an administrator at my university careers department for extra cash but I also work part time at myvillage.com as the Events Editor. Ultimately I want to work as a music journalist, which is one of the reasons I made my blog, Don’t Dance Her Down Boys.

What inspired you to start the blog? What are you providing that other media outlets aren’t?

Since my first post I’ve known what I wanted to do with my blog. I’ve always felt that the internet and blogging can be used to show the reader a new way of looking at music; a way that isn’t defined by advertising and sales. With that view in mind I came to the conclusion that many bloggers weren’t using the opportunity and freedom that the internet has given them. They can, say, turn their backs on the status quo, deny their given idols and make their own history, or herstory, but they don’t. This is something I’ve been really interested in and want to examine more through my blog.

You are nearly at the end of your first year of ‘Don’t Dance Her Down Boys’. How has this last year been for you?

Well it’s gone very quickly. It started out pretty rocky. I found it hard to keep posting when it was pretty obvious that no one was reading, but after a while I got into the swing of it and more and more people started to read. It’s still pretty small compared to most blogs about women in music but it’s fine for me. Every comment makes me smile so I would be happy even if I had just one reader.

I guess the biggest thing I have learnt is to persevere even when there doesn’t seem to be anything to gain. Recently I’ve been getting offers from PRs to review CDs and promote events which makes me feel like more than just another blogger.

What has been your proudest moment?

This interview is probably one of my proudest moments and I will be telling everyone about it. My second proudest moment is when I received my first comment. Someone replied to my post about the new rise of women in pop music with a detailed, thoughtful response that made me want to write a thousand more posts.

Who are your favourite bands? Who have inspired you in the past and who are you following at the moment?

This could go on forever, there are so many bands that inspire me in so many ways but I’ll just list my top five.

My favourite artist of all time has to be PJ Harvey, she just makes the world seem a little brighter when she sings. I love Sleater-Kinney’s riffs, high kicks and Corin’s astounding voice. They are the only band where I have high respect for every member. I obviously love Bikini Kill because they were the band that led me to riot grrrl and showed me there was a different way to look, hear and live music. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were my first love. I didn’t care about boys when I was a teenager I just loved Karen’s antics. Last, but not least, I love The Pixies, I have no choice but to love them they inspired every band I loved from the 90s.

Except for one band there is a running theme with my favourite bands; I really love strong powerful women, it’s just my thing.

What are your thoughts on the apparent new upsurge in female fronted outfits at the moment (La Roux, Little Boots, Florence and The Machine…)The media is giving these women plenty of attention, what do you make of it all?

Well it’s interesting you asked this question because I wrote about this strange phenomenon on my blog. While I am proud of these girls individually for making money in a male dominated environment, for women in music as a whole it has not moved things forward at all. There is only so far you can go as a minority (black, female, gay etc.) on a major label in mainstream society. You reach a certain point where your thoughts, beliefs and originality become diluted. For me this is most obvious in the success of Florence and the Machine. She started out as a quirky indie songstress and has now developed to caricature of herself.

I compared this new movement to the Spice Girls and their watered down version of feminism. They would tell girls, myself included, about ‘Girl Power’ and then give them nothing to back it up with. It was all empty promises to sell us their well marketed junk.

My main problem with it is not the girls really but the media for over-hyping them and misconstruing them as the saviours of women in music.

How will you be celebrating the first year anniversary of ‘Don’t Dance Her Down Boys’? Have you got any exciting blog posts coming up for us?

I’m not sure how I would celebrate the first year anniversary. It would be great to have a blogger meet up of all the cool girls I’ve met since starting. In terms of posts there will be a lot more gig reviews, as I have decided I need to do more things I want to do. I love writing comment and analysis pieces, so hopefully you’ll be seeing more in depth features. There will be more pieces on new bands too! I love writing about the old girls but we’ve got to look to the future to show the world what girls can do.

What next for ‘Don’t Dance Her Down Boys’?

Well the next thing I definitely want to do is write a zine. I’m a bit strapped for cash at the moment but I’m just in love with the printed press. Hopefully in the next couple of months I can get started on it. For the blog I think I will just keep going and see how it develops. I have no exact plans for the future, just like I had no real plans when I started.

Lastly, what advice would you give to any women out there thinking of starting up their own blog?

Just do it. Even if it’s just scrambled thoughts or nonsensical stories, just do it. It is a brilliant way for women to express themselves. Outside of the blogging world I’m a very shy person but when I’m blogging nobody knows me and I can say and do what I want. It is also a great way to build up a community. I’ve met quite a few cool girls that I would have never met if it wasn’t for blogging.

Thanks for the inspiration, Stephanie!

Follow Stephanie Phillips on Twitter, and don’t forget to pay a visit (and leave a comment) at Don’t Dance Her Down Boys!

By: Sarah Barnes, 23.11.2009 | Comments (2)
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