“Everybody knows that the music industry is a boys club”, says fast-rising singer-songwriter Olivia Dean. “I’ve come across a lot of different, weird situations. And it’s interesting; I think at the time, you have to get through it, and then process it afterwards. You often think to yourself, ‘Oh, was that weird? What happened? Was that OK?’”.
The London-born vocalist, who is set to release her anthemic new single ‘Be My Own Boyfriend’ next Friday (March 12), has spent the formative years of her career breaking down barriers for female and non-binary artists through her music. Inspired heavily by her mother – who is part of the Women’s Equality Party – Dean’s commitment to change is threaded through her soulful pop songs, which explore independence, self-empowerment, and tackling misogyny in the music industry.
And this year, Dean will celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8), by playing a one-off show from London’s iconic Moth Club as part of NME’s Girls To The Front online special. The virtual showcase will also see performances from Blu DeTiger, Orla Gartland and Miss Grit.
When asked why she wanted to be involved in NME’s Girls To The Front, she explained: “It’s honestly a pleasure to be asked to be a part of it…There’s so many amazing women on the lineup! And I just think it’s really important for NME to be putting on this gig, and quite literally bring girls to the front. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
For Dean, championing female and non-binary talent has long been an integral part of her creative process, having worked exclusively with female music video directors since she made her debut in 2018 with ‘Reason To Say’, a soft, slinky neo-soul number. “I feel like my music is for everyone to enjoy and I want everyone to feel they can relate to it,” the 21-year-old says. “But I’m a woman, so it definitely all comes from a female perspective.”
She elaborates: “It just makes sense for my videos to be directed by women because there’s so many talented female directors that just don’t get a look-in! This is something I plan to continue doing for the foreseeable, so I will really be trying to find as many women as I can. Come and join the party!”.
Watch our full interview with Olivia Dean above.
Olivia Dean will perform as part of NME’s Girls To The Front International Women’s Day online show on Monday 8 March. Click here for more information including how to tune in.
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