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IWD: Meet epona, A Musician Working to Advocate Against Gender Injustice

by Emily Duff

With a background in acting, epona discovered the thrill of being on stage at the young age of 7. 

Supported by her mother and siblings (including 8 sisters) she taught herself her craft through theatre and film, forgoing formal training.

Now, she can be found travelling Europe to stand on famous theatre stages such as Odéon in Paris, Théatre-National in Brussels and Schaubühne in Berlin, alongside director Anne-Cécile Vandalem.

Fluent in both Dutch and French, epona chooses to express herself through English and found in songwriting a way to authentically open up to her audience.

Her debut single, ‘Voice’, dropped yesterday and is an anthem that calls for women to speak up and demand respect, reminding everyone that the struggle for gender equality is ongoing.

Exploring new avenues with music, specifically indie rock, there are a lot of exciting things to come from epona - including a new EP. Darling writer, Emily Duff, spoke with the musician to gain insight into her songwriting process, inspirations and what listeners can expect from her release:

Your latest track, ‘Voice’, is a 90s indie-rock-infused anthem - is there a specific reason you chose to take that musical route? 

I used to listen to a lot of different music genres, but I really started to listen to rock music about 2 years ago. I realised this would definitely be my favourite genre to express myself through music. When I met the composer of our songs (Dimitri Eggermont), we discovered that we had the same favourite artists and songs and that’s how we decided to work that way. 

Which artists inspire you?

My inspirations come from the early 2000s rock bands such as IAMX, The Strokes, The Killers and Arctic Monkeys as well as older bands of the 80s/90s like Radiohead, Cure or Supertramp. I also love Mazzy Star, Garbage, Cigarette after Sex and Alvvays.

How do you pick what topics to focus your songwriting on? What influences your music-making process? 

I wanted to write an entire EP or album about inequalities and male violence against women. I could actually write a hundred songs about it. I can’t stop having ideas about things I want to talk about and the issues that need to be addressed in our society. Sometimes, I have conversations with friends about horrible facts or things that happened to women or children, and I’m like ‘I should definitely talk about it in my songs.”

What is your main focus when making music?

I want to be an advocate for change while singing. My goal is to create good songs while talking about important issues and things we actually don’t talk about enough. 

What has your experience been as a female musician? Has this been a burden or allowed you to do more?

For the moment, I haven’t had a bad experience yet. But honestly, I’m scared of the things I’m talking about in my songs. Singing about feminism can be difficult because some generations could take it the wrong way, like the boomers, and also because people will expect things from me as a woman in the industry. The slightest mistake could be held against me.

Do you think there has been a gender imbalance in the music scene? And if so, what can we do to reduce that imbalance?

Of course! And most certainly in the rock music industry. Now it’s getting better, but the biggest rock bands are mostly all men. Men didn’t want to listen to female rockers. There are exceptions like Hole and Patti Smith, but it was more of a fight to be who they were, because they were women, unlike men who didn’t even think about these concerns. But I think there are still more male musicians on stage, compared to female unfortunately, so we need to keep on raising awareness and fighting for gender balance.

Are there any local creatives (could be musicians, artists, photographers, filmmakers etc) you urge us to check out?

I don't have a particular shout-out to make, but I think it's time to include everyone in the art industry. Right now, we still have much more access to white men’s work, and we do not include the work of all genders, and all origins enough. Whether it's in cinema, music etc… all backgrounds should be represented.

What led you to begin exploring music alongside your acting career?

Both in theatre and cinema, I have been asked to sing a lot as an actress. I also did some music theory courses when I was younger. I knew that one day I would exploit this a little more; I just had to meet the right person.

How do you find balancing both your acting worlds and musicians worlds? 

I love being able to juggle my 2 passions. Both careers are intertwined, so I am very satisfied and happy, and I feel very lucky. 

A powerful track telling the story of gender-based discrimination, what is the main message listeners should take away from ‘Voice’? 

Don't make a gender difference. Consider women's work and hear what they have to say.

Based on this track, what should new fans expect from your upcoming EP, ‘Help I’m Fine!’?

I’ll be addressing many other social issues, from harassment to rape culture…I won't stop talking about it, nor fighting it. 

Finally, would you describe your music in 5 words?

Feminist, Rock, Accusations, Shouts, Rhythmic.

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