Ellie Ramsden Is Changing The Scene For Women With Her New Book

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Amazing things can happen when you put passion into something. Ellie Ramsden, is on a mission to save the grime scene for women. She is in the process of getting funding for a new book called ‘Too Many Man’

We did an exclusive interview with Ellie and got to find more about her mission.

 

Thank you for doing the interview, first of all how are you doing?

Thank you for having me! I’m really great thank you, I just got back from Berlin so I’m feeling a bit shattered but it was incredible out there.

How did you get into photography?

My Dad and Brother always used to take photos on holiday and on family days out, and I remember begging my parents for a camera when I was probably about 8 or 9 years old. I finally got given an old family film camera and I fell in love with capturing things from my perspective. A few years later I upgraded to a compact digital camera and I ended up being the event photographer at house parties, I’ve definitely got some funny pictures in my archive haha.

 

What moment did you realise the grime scene wasn’t doing enough for women?

I’ve been listening to grime since I was in Year 7, which was over a decade ago (damn I feel old), but it didn’t really hit me that the women in the scene weren’t really being represented until about three years ago. Growing up I think a lot of people don’t ask the question ‘why?’ and therefore take a lot of things at face value. I always thought that the scene was just made up of male artists, DJs, radio presenters etc, because that’s just what I saw. Of course there were artists like Lioness and Shystie but they were never in the spotlight in the same way Kano, Wiley and Dizzee were. I think the first solo freestyle I saw was one from Lady Leshurr, and I remember thinking “we need more of this!”

What can we do to stop the scene being so male-dominated?

I think that’s a really tough question to answer. So many industries are male-dominated, not because the women in these industries don’t exist, or because they’re not as good as the men, but many women struggle to get the recognition they deserve. Through speaking to the women in the scene I think there’s a few reasons for this, but I think the main one is that women aren’t supporting each other enough. You always see the guys in the scene backing, supporting and hyping each other, but you don’t really see this with the girls. I think women need to support each other and then the men will follow. Girls Of Grime are doing bits right now with this which is amazing to see, they just hosted their first event and hopefully they’ll be more to come. There are a ton of other reasons too but you’ll have read the interviews in the book to find them out ;)

Let’s talk about the book in progress ‘Too Many Man’ where did this idea come from?

I’ve been photographing grime for years, and I started doing some portraits of artists in the scene. I got in touch with The Grime Violinist a couple of years ago to photograph her. During the shoot I came up with one of those initial “wouldn’t it be interesting if I just photographed women in grime?” Tanya ran with it saying it would be great, and so the idea sparked. I started contacting more women in the scene to photograph them, but I didn’t think about putting the work together as a book until a few months ago. After meeting such incredibly talented and driven women I decided I wanted to publish a book so that they have a platform to share their thoughts and experiences of grime from their perspective.

 

 

I think when people see festival posters with just the women acts on it’s shocking to see how male populated festivals have become, what can change this do you think?

UK festival line-ups have always had an appalling male/female ratio, and this desperately needs to be worked on. Unfortunately, the music industry in general is male-dominated, especially in managerial jobs, with only 30% of women in senior roles. I think we need to see more women in these sorts of roles for us to see any real change.

If you look at the hip-hop scene, it seems they create much more well known female artists, like Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, and Cardi B. Does the UK need to adopt a similar approach?

Grime is still such a new genre that I think it’s impossible to compare it to hip-hop. There are women in the UK that are killing it right now like Lady Leshurr and Stefflon Don, but it will always be difficult for us to compete against US stars, and really I don’t think we should be competing. For such a small country we have so much talent, and we’re different to the US, UK artists have something so much more real and raw.

Have any male grime artists come forward in support?

I haven’t been very public about the book as of yet as it’s been a fairly recent decision to publish the work, but all of the women involved have been very supportive.

What women inspire you in grime music?

They all do! Every woman in the scene has decided to enter an industry that isn’t seen as “a women’s’ scene” to pursue what they love, that alone is inspiring.

Is the book just the first thing or do you have more planned?

Grime-wise I’d like to make a documentary, either focusing on the women in the scene or the pirate radio stations that are still going. I’ve also just started a zine and series of short films called “Time For Change” which looks at different issues in the UK that need changing. Issue one looks at sexism in the music industry, and features nine incredible artists from a wide range of genres from rap to rock, and from soul to soca. I’ve also got lots of ideas for future projects so make sure you stay tuned!

Follow @ellie_ramsden on Instagram and Twitter for updates on “Too Many Man”

If you’d like to donate to the Kickstarter please visit

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/65105848/too-many-man-a-book-and-exhibition-onthe-women-of