Heroines of the Australian Music Industry are heralding authentic beauty and the imperfect joy of reality in the new Brand YOU series.
The initiative by Mushroom Group is supported by the Victorian Government through the Office for Women. It is a chorus of zealous women in the Australian Music Industry illuminating the difficulties faced by young women.
The first episode was rolled out in October featuring the convivial Alice Ivy, who humbly introduces herself as Annika. She’s paired with Publishing A&R at Native Tongue Music Publishing, Hazel Gordon.
They talk about the disconcerting nature of social media, with Annika saying, “Life is so filtered, it’s almost like you’re looking through rose-coloured glasses when you’re on social media.”
Hazel agrees and notes how careful she is when deciding what to consume on social media. She says it’s important to have the courage to be yourself, “No matter what that means.”
They also discuss the concept of authentic beauty, Annika describing the quality as any time a person is completely themselves. Hazel says, “I really think being kind is so beautiful.”
Episode two saw D’Arcy Spiller spill her rawest self onto the screen talking with Blaise Sherrie, a Label Manager at Mushroom Group.
They talked about how insular the high school experience can be.
“When you’re in high school, the world can feel so overwhelming because you’re stuck in that bubble,” says Blaise.
D’Arcy admits to still struggling with certain aspects of young womanhood, like following trends, but that at the end of the day she says, “I wear clothes that fit me, not me fitting clothes.”
They both discuss how important it is to educate yourself on the things you find important before posting on the internet. “I’ve just had to be really careful with my wording,” says D’Arcy.
Having survived the misadventures of young womanhood, D’Arcy feels content with where her life is now. “I love that my music makes people happy.”
In episode three, Thando’s magnetic personality seeps through the screen in her episode with Project Coordinator Alie Pickin.
Thando is no stranger to high self-esteem, coming from a family where she was raised to love herself. But she recognises the unattainable standards imposed on young women.
“The internet gives this added pressure to present the best version of yourself… to the point where that might not necessarily be an authentic version of yourself.”
Alie agrees, noting how exhausting this is for young women. “The pressure to always be present and always be available just takes so much energy from women and girls these days.”
Thando’s approaches her work with inclusion in front of mind, always aiming to enhance the exposure of diverse people through her video clips, bands, and on lineups she is part of.
“You can’t be what you can’t see.”
Gordi’s sonorous tones grace us in episode four of the series, alongside Senior Publicist at Mushroom Group, Loz Grice.
For Gordi, finding her identity wasn’t a feat achieved in high school. “I didn’t really know who I was and that’s okay.”
And it’s something she is still refining, “I have to be comfortable with who I am and the decisions I make… I want to be really proud of who I am.”
Loz is an advocate for open communication and a finding your tribe. She says, “The people you surround yourself with plays a big part in discovering yourself.”
As someone who was bullied in high school, Gordi says negative remarks will always find you. What she wants young women to know is that bullying is, “so much more about [the bully] than it is about you”.
Self-respect is a big motivator for Gordi. “You will never get the respect you deserve until you give it to yourself first.”
The penultimate episode gave us insights from the divine Isabella ‘izzi’ Manfredi and her Manager, Jess Keeley.
izzi says we need to foster women to be rebels from school-age. “We’re not rewarding them for questioning the status quo or going against the status quo – and that’s actually not preparing them for being their own people once they hit certain industries.”
Jess knows how pestilential the Music Industry can be, describing it as fickle and difficult for female artists, and says she affects the most change from within, ”consciously choosing to support women in the industry.”
Social media manipulation is a common theme across the series, and while it may be difficult to police in a global sense, izzi says being cognizant of the problem is crucial.
“With awareness of how you’re being manipulated, you can start to make conscious, authentic decisions for yourself about how much power you give it.”
izzi says your social media profile is like your own personal world – almost like your bedroom – and should be protected and cared for as such.
Amy Dowdle – also known as on half of electro-pop duo, Lastlings – took on the last episode with Frontier Touring’s Siobhan Kranz.
“Social media is a huge issue, especially for young women. There is this beauty standard that everyone is trying to achieve,” says Amy.
Both she and Siobhan agree social media is selling young women impossible perfection narratives.
“Perfection just doesn’t exist,” says Siobhan. “The things that are really beautiful about people are the things that make them different.”
The message Amy focuses on surrounds that flawed search for perfection. “We’re all human and we’re all imperfectly perfect.”
Siobhan wants young women to be aware of how social media can manipulate. She says if something looks perfect on social media, then it isn’t real.
Amy manages two Instagram accounts, and as such says she spends a big portion of her life on the app. “It takes up so much time.”
Recently she’s prioritised taking care of herself, emotionally and physically. “I think that’s so important and it’s a step towards loving yourself.”
There is both courage and strength in fervently supporting yourself and demanding the space to do so.
Young women have a steep hill to climb, but these luminary women of the Australian music scene are proof it gets better and there’s always room to be yourself.
This series is a call to action for young women, asking them to believe in themselves and create their own cosmos of authentic selfhood.
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