Halina Rifai: How TYCI has created a space for women in Scottish music

PODCART blogger Halina Rifai reflects on her role in Scottish female collective TYCI as the Lauren Mayberry-founded organisation turns three years old

Cecilia Stamp, Amanda Aitken, and Kate Bailey, members of the TYCI collective

Glasgow-based female collective TYCI is celebrating its third birthday this month. Founded by Chrvches’ Lauren Mayberry, the collective has a core team of strong ladies – I am proud to be one of them.

The volunteer-run body began as a monthly live music event in Glasgow’s Bloc, teamed with a ‘zine and website. It now has numerous arms: a successful podcast, a monthly Subcity radio show, live events (which have now moved to Stereo), and a website that showcases a wealth of brave personal accounts and opinion pieces.

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I was three years into running Podcart when she asked me if I wanted to get involved with TYCI, around three years ago. I had come to know her because of her previous band Blue Sky Archives and we had covered them on our podcasts and site. I recall there were only around two or three of us to begin with, including a wonderful lady called Sophie Kromholz, who has since moved back to Norway, but is still very active within TYCI. I don’t think anyone ever knew how quickly it would explode. I could see how passionate Lauren was about the project, but I could see her nervousness as well. Thanks to the addition of other team members and a lot of hard work, it has been a real pleasure seeing TYCI flourish into something very powerful, and its founder is no exception. Lauren is now one of the boldest young women I know, a combination of tough times she has gone through as an individual – including a horrific amount of misogyny – but I think TYCI has given her a real sense of purpose and an immeasurable strength.

Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches

Live events have seen numerous local, touring bands and DJs such as Sharptooth, Chrissy Barnacle, Zyna Hel, Bossy Love, Youth Man, Pretty Ugly and many more play for us. This year also saw us asked to DJ the Scottish Album of the Year Awards and the Sleater Kinney official aftershow. People really seemed to enjoye these events, and I think that has something to do with our inclusive approach – there is no snobbery or exclusivity and attendees told us how much they’ve been made to feel part of the collective.

TYCI’s core members were brought together because of a common bond and a passion to advocate all things femme. Anna Hodgart runs the majority of the collective’s live events, and her successful background in theatre and events has been a critical addition to the team. Amanda Stanley, who used to co-run independent venue Project Slogan in Aberdeen, moved to Glasgow and joined us, too. Her interest in audio and sound production has seen her grow her own skills to produce a podcast listened to by thousands.

Her radio co-host, Stacey Walton, is a music industry PR whose background includes work for MTV. She has also planned some of the most exciting events in our three-year history, including a sold-out Los Campesinos show and the sold-out Glasgow leg of Carrie Brownstein’s latest book tour at Glasgow’s Women’s Library. Talented graphic and jewellery designer Cecilia Stamp is responsible for putting together TYCI ‘zines – this continues to be a focal point for many because it’s a physical element that people enjoy collecting.

Kate Bailey, who lives in Berlin, has scribed and recorded some of the most challenging and professional content on the site. Her opinion pieces often raise debate – her aim now is to set up a sister collective in her home city. Finally, there’s Lauren, a journalist and musician also known as the TYCI ‘mother’. The founder is completely unpretentious when it comes to speaking about the work she has done for TYCI. But without her, it wouldn’t be the well-oiled machine it is.

There are countless other contributors and volunteers who have lent their time – that in itself is the most valuable aspect. Recently, TYCI has been working closely with Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival (SMHAFF) on a series of personal accounts and a film challenging preconceived ideas about mental health. Organised by TYCI member Leila Khoshoie along with a select core of admirable individuals, this has become one of our most important projects.

TYCI has grown considerably in three years. Some volunteers have walked down their desired career paths, and some have been lucky enough to gain work because of the experience they have had with us. The group is now working its way to differing departments so that our output can be stronger, more cohesive and more extensive.

TYCI has become a much talked-about and crucial addition to Scotland’s cultural community. It has helped highlight the talent of females in this country and beyond. It has influenced and motivated a movement and made many people, including myself, realise that there are like-minded individuals who want to express and showcase what rich talent we have. Furthermore, it has created relationships and provided a coping mechanism for many via personal expression. Long may that continue.

• Halina Rifai is a Glasgow-based writer for Scottish music blog Podcart, http://podcart.co/