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Brisbane Women Rockers Raise The Roof // Koko Uzi Interview

Bravo Brisbane recently had the opportunity to sit down for an interview with Brisbane all-female rock band, Koko Uzi. This unique group has a kicking sound and sat down to chat to us about it and their upcoming gig at Return to White Chairs Reunion Vol. 3 at The Triffid on December 19 which will pay tribute to some of the great women in Brisbane music from the 70’s and 80’s!

Bravo Brisbane recently had the opportunity to sit down for an interview with Brisbane all-female rock band, Koko Uzi. This unique group has a kicking sound and sat down to chat to us about it and their upcoming gig at Return to White Chairs Reunion Vol. 3 at The Triffid on December 19 which will pay tribute to some of the great women in Brisbane music from the 70’s and 80’s!

Who is Koko Uzi?

Koko Uzi are a noisy and energetic 3 piece made up of Lisa Kunde (bass, vocals), Alana Manix (drums, vocals) and Michelle Bowden (guitar, theremin). Lisa and Michelle both played together in 90’s super heavy grunge group Gravelrash, and formed Koko Uzi in 2018 after scoring a gig before having songs or a drummer. We were blown away by Alana’s energy when we saw her playing with Kim Salmon so asked her to join us!

What is Koko Uzi’s vibe?

We have a fuzzed-up sound with a love of riffs and unbridled noise. Influenced by 60s/70s/80s punk, swamp & grunge. X-Ray Specs, Bikini Kill, The Stooges and The Scientists are a few of the fav bands we all share.

What inspired your upcoming tribute to the women in Brisbane bands of the 70’s and 80’s?

An event called Return to White Chairs, which brings together reunited bands of that era, invited Michelle’s band from the 80s, Batswing Saloon, to play on the lineup but they declined, so Koko Uzi was offered the spot. We had noticed there is often very limited representation of women musicians and bands of the era in such retrospective events, exhibitions, lists of bands etc, so we decided to use the opportunity to increase the visibility of these artists who inspired us to play, and celebrate their contribution to Brisbane music.

brisbane music band musician rock
Image Credit: Karl Nielsen

What music can we expect from the tribute?

We’ll be performing a set of covers from some of our favourite local bands of the era, including Batswing Saloon, Post No Bills, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, The Go Betweens and Lovs e Blur.

Who do you think are the key women in Brisbane music from the 70’s and 80’s?

Lindy Morrison from the Go Betweens was certainly a key figure and an inspiring role model, as a drummer she broke the conventions of the traditional female roles of singer or keyboard player and through the success of the Go Betweens showed that it was possible for local female musicians to perform on the world stage. She also played in an all-female lineup of Zero, which was likely the first of its type in Brisbane. Vicki Gordon was notable for her support of feminist ideology in music, playing in an obscure band called Spit! before going on to organise On Edge – a collective of women musicians, some of whom went on to form bands of their own. Vicki moved across to the industry side of music and now runs the Australian Women in Music Awards.  Annie Dellar (now Peterson) was the original singer of Batswing Saloon, has performed with numerous bands, ran the Woodford Folk Festival, and has achieved industry recognition for her Women in Voice events.

Who can we expect to see on the line-up for Return to White Chairs Vol. 3?

We’ve managed to secure some of our favourite original artists from that time, and for those who haven’t been available we’ve lined up some fantastic women from current bands to step in. We’re very excited to have Lindy Morrison sit in on drums for a couple of songs, Annie Dellar/Peterson is joining us for a Batswing Saloon song, Ildi Babu from Post No Bills, Am-Ro Heard from Whalehouse and Ro Sparks from Blowhard.

What is the future like for women in Brisbane and Australian music?

We’re hopeful that a time will eventually come when women will be equally valued and respected within the industry, as younger generations with a more enlightened mindset replace the stalwarts of the industry. Attitudes towards women in music have already changed quite a lot since the 80s, the current scene is far more supportive and accepting, however still a way to go. It’s incredible to see Jaguar Jonze calling out all of the behaviours of the industry, but it’s a bugger that it seems to be the victims of sexual violence and harassment that have to do the heavy work. 

brisbane music band koko uzi musician rock
Image Credit: Michelle Bowden

What are some of the challenges you face as a female artist in Brisbane and Australia?

We’ve always encountered degrees of sexism in the industry. A recurring theme is the expectation that as a female musician you may not be as competent or technical as a male musician. We’re judged on our abilities way more than the blokes, sometimes before we’ve even played a note! And in an industry that values youth and beauty, we now also have ageism on the table.

What’s next for Koko Uzi?

We’re super excited to be starting rehearsals soon with our special guests, the tribute is at the Return to White Chairs Reunion at The Triffid on Dec 19. Beyond that, we’re looking forward to recording in the near future, and possibly touring if things ever return to normal.

For more information on Return to White Chairs Vol. 3, please visit the Facebook page.

You can also follow Koko Uzi here!

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