Last month saw the residency of three brilliant emerging artists at the Science and Industry Museum studio – working for four days on new material they were tasked with responding to the ‘Women of Factory’ exhibition as part of the Factory Records retrospective.
Lady Ice, Hannah Ashcroft and Chesqua each created unique works and performed their new pieces at the Science and Industry Museum Late event on 6 October. We caught up with the artists to find out more about the experience…
How did you feel going into this experience? Excited? Nervous?
Chesqua: I felt I had big shoes to fill with the legacy of Factory Records and was unsure if I could create something from the brief, produce it and perform it with a live band within 4 days. The overriding feeling though was excitement.
Lady Ice: I felt empowered and excited to challenge myself and talk about things that are a taboo in society.
Did anything surprise you about the experience?
Chesqua: It surprised me how much blocking out time just to be an artist made me feel like one. It surprised me how empowering it felt to be in the space around so much legacy. I thought I would feel intimidated.
Lady Ice: I was enlightened on the impact Factory Records had, not just on Manchester but on music in general. I’d heard things about the Haçienda from my aunties and uncles, but didn’t know the history was this impactful.
Hannah Ashcroft: I always knew about Factory Records but the project gave me an excuse to explore the music, art and history in more depth. I had no idea that so many women were pivotal in the label’s success and yet seldom talked about in connection to it. It was great to see and read about the contributions of the likes of Liz Naylor, Ann Quigley, Lindsey Meade and Gillian Gilbert.
How did your work respond to the exhibition?
Chesqua: Reading articles on the importance of the female members of Factory Records sparked inspiration. I wrote two songs that I performed based on the power that women have and influenced by what has been happening in the world the last few months. It felt good to have a platform to deliver a message I care about.
Lady Ice: I created pieces aimed to bridge the gap between society’s norm and those lacking in representation.
Hannah Ashcroft: I found inspiration from a number of things really. But the thing that struck me most was an article ‘No City Fun’ from Liz Naylor which was used as a basis for the Factory Records film of the same name. It was a vivid, half rant, half piece of prose that drew me in immediately.
“Being part of this residency helped me reconnect with myself as an artist. It felt incredibly authentic, a celebration of what Factory Records could have been like if there were artists like me involved.” – Chesqua
What did you learn through this experience?
Chesqua: That I like a comfy chair, candles and a mood lamp to create! Creativity and music for me is about being in the zone and we really tried to imitate that in the residency space. We recorded and wrote under fairy lights and took breaks on the sofas and bean bags with a cuppa and cake chatting about our process. It was really nice to work alongside Hannah Ashcroft and Lady Ice and chat about being a woman in this industry. We connected so much during our time together.
Lady Ice: I learnt a lot more about the history and culture of Factory Records, the authenticity of Manchester music and what it was like in my local area before I was born.
“I’ve learnt to have more confidence in my abilities with every Brighter Sound project I have been involved in, but this one especially.” – Hannah Ashcroft
What was performing the new material like? How did it differ from your normal performance?
Chesqua: It felt like a perfect opportunity to showcase my style but also have some creative interjections. It felt very powerful and refreshing to just put something out there and see how people respond.
Lady Ice: Performing felt electrifying. I wasn’t sure how that specific audience demographic would receive the content. I was really happy they received it so well.
Hannah Ashcroft: The performance went by so fast, it was all a bit of a nervous, happy blur. It felt quite strange to be so invested in something for days and for it to be over so soon.
“This project gave me the opportunity to have a voice and express myself through art.” – Lady Ice
What things will you take from this experience?
Chesqua: Deadlines and briefs. At home or in the studio I place invisible pressures on myself that can be disregarded if I feel like it. With his residency there were actual deadlines. It meant that I had to make decisions and keep the creative process moving.
Lady Ice: The skills of writing at a shorter pace than I would usually. It’s put me to the test even more, and allowed me to think and learn my lyrics faster. I also feel more educated, wiser and uplifted.Hannah Ashcroft: It was really inspiring to work alongside Chesqua and Lady Ice. It felt really special being in the room together when inspiration struck – hearing each other’s ideas develop and songs come together in such a short space of time.