SXSW Music Keynotes: Shirley Manson & Lauren Mayberry
Scottish powerhouses take control of the narrative
By Libby Webster,
9:25AM, Fri. Mar. 15, 2019
In a frank, hourlong panel moderated by Pitchfork Editor-in-Chief Puja Patel on Thursday, Lauren Mayberry of electro-pop trio Chvrches, and Shirley Manson from alt-rock idols Garbage delved into what each Scottish powerhouse learned from fronting their bands.
Mostly they grappled with bigger questions, like how to maintain feminist stances and integrity while navigating the dysfunctional music industry, but some wisdom for artists was easier to deliver concisely:
“Stop going on the internet and looking for affirmation,” Manson implored.
Mayberry agreed, adding, “Best not to Google.”
The candid, impassioned conversation between the outspoken musicians hovered around #MeToo and the music industry’s delayed reckoning with abusers, culling from Manson’s decades of industry experience and Mayberry’s contemporary familiarity. Topics veered into separating the art from the artist (neither Mayberry nor Manson can do it confidently), how social media has affected women’s abilities to control their own narratives online, and how representation in music continues to change.
Manson frequently returned to the importance of carving out space for women in music, as well as smashing the gender binary in general. She stressed that music’s issues simply reflect the patriarchy at large, but insisted on her own goal of making life easier for generations that follow.
“I think it’s important for women to dream and create, and believe in themselves as artists,” Manson said, later emphatically adding, to applause, “Your agency is not how you look, even though women are taught that’s your absolute, utmost currency. That is a lie. Your agency is your mind.”