sisters are diy-ing for themselves: meet skinny girl diet

This DIY London trio consists of sisters Delilah and Ursula Holliday and their cousin Amelia. Born from boredom, rebellion and the craving to create their own tribe of people who could relate to their message of self-love.

When you were in your teens were you playing in a three piece band with your sister and cousin?  Were you opening for punk icon, musician and author Viv Albertine? Were you vocal about feminist art punk ideals? Were you questioning equality in the music industry? Were you contributing to exhibitions about Female Genital Mutilation? Were you in Billboard’s ‘20 All Female Bands You Need to Know?’ Were you using femininity and experience and emotions to write powerful, three minute long punk songs? I don’t know about you, but Skinny Girl Diet were.

Obviously your band name makes a statement. Personally I find the culture that encourages young girls to have surgery and dieting pretty gross. Why did it feel important to stand up against this?

Ursula: The impossible and unachievable standards of society's beauty myth is constantly shoved down our throats from an early age. I remember me and Delilah bought an Action Man from the shop when we were six years old and a little boy was said, “You're not allowed to buy that, Barbie's are down there." We feel like it's important to stand against society's ideals of what a woman is and what packages she should come in. Even for boys, there has been a rise in the pressures towards men to be the unemotional muscle macho man who has repressed all emotion which has therefore resulted in him resembling the symptoms of a psychopath. So if a kid, regardless of gender, sees us and feels like they want to reject all that whilst listening to some punk music and feel free of it all then that would be the dream outcome. The best kind of art is using current issues that you're directly affected by as well as incorporating the voices/messages of those who are being oppressed and silenced face.

Where does your honesty come from and why is that important to you?

Delilah: What I've realised is that life is too short to hide shit and not talk about it. I like to be direct, it gets shit done.

Ursula: We were just raised to be aware of what's going on around us and if something isn't fair to speak out about it. If you're not honest about the bad things that are happening in the world you  live in then surely you're as bad as the people creating the problems.

Amelia: By being silent you're being complicit. If we don't stand up and speak the truth we can't change things. It feels harder to live honestly but it's worth being able to live with myself at night.

What are the most important issues you've incorporate into your songs, why does it feel like a prerequisite for you to write politically motivated and motivating songs?

Delilah: Essentially we aren't exactly a political band, we are just reporting day to day life experiences and relationships we have with strangers and our environment. There are problems existing in the world and that's how we deal with it. We create otherwise we would go mad. A lot of bands don't do this and that is why the music press call us political – we are talking about truths and not about adoring and obsessing over men.

Who are you hoping that message resonates with?

Delilah: I hope it resonates with people like us bohemian outsiders who don't belong anywhere and feel like their voice isn't getting heard, complicated people with depth.

What is your approach to womanhood – and what is the process of distilling it into a three minute song?

Ursula: Womanhood is a burden that is dumped upon you as soon as you form breasts. You can either refuse it or accept it, the best way is to look to inspirational females like Angela Davis or Poison Ivy – using your femininity and intelligence as a weapon of mass destruction. We just incorporate all our experiences and feelings, we're very in tune with each other's minds and it all just formulates naturally into a song.

Amelia: It's hard to get away from your experiences, they make you who you are and that translates into the music. You just gotta keep going, but yeah, there is a lot of rage. You have to speak out about your experiences really.

Do you think it's possible to be a punk in 2016? If so, how?

Amelia: It is possible to be a punk, but I think the meaning of it can be misunderstood. Punk has evolved, it's not about dressing a certain away. It's about doing your own thing, not sounding or acting a certain way. That just goes against the ethos of it. Just be true to yourself.

What boundaries do you feel you have to push?

Delilah: It's hard to be a female musician – people are always critiquing how you play or what you look like. I like to challenge people's perceptions and opinions and sometimes it is difficult and you doubt yourself. But if you keep pushing yourself you gain clarity and you always prove your self-doubt wrong.

You do pretty much everything yourself – why? Do you find it easier to push the constraints of creativity when they are set by yourself?

Delilah: I think it's a mixture. It feels liberating when you can wake up and decide what you’re going to do that day, whether it be make a video or paint some artwork. It's all organic but it is difficult – we don't always have the finances to bring our full creative visions to reality, so we problem solve and get a better result and that's what sets us apart from other bands. We always laugh when bands with record deals or on major labels look at us and try and copy us because they essentially have more tools and no original ideas.

Ursula: Our Dad's our manager, we reply to emails personally, if we go to another country or city it's through the money we'd be getting paid for the actual gig. It's nice being independent and knowing if you make any mistakes it's purely because you made them and you can't blame anyone else. We're definitely free artistically to do whatever we want without anyone meddling or telling us what to do, it's liberating.

There's often discussed pitfalls of being a woman in music, but what are the benefits?

Amelia: It's nice to know that we're doing something good by doing something we love. It can seem that being an all female band is apparently a political statement by default, but at least we are in a position where we can inspire other young women.

It feels easy to be part of a movement with some nicely crafted Instagram posts and a hashtag, does it frustrate you that people are perhaps not as tangibly involved as they could be?

Delilah: It used to, I used to get so pissed off with all of that stuff but now I've realised people can try and they can get it wrong, there are real people and there are fake ones that do stuff because it's trendy. In a strange way I pity people that just do stuff because someone else told them it was cool. I just hope they wake up and start thinking for themselves.

Ursula: Live your revolution, reality will always beat online in my eyes but in the 21st century it's helpful to do both in order to spread your message to as many people as possible.

Amelia: In a way, it's great that it is a lot easier to become part of a movement, that its becoming a lot more accessible. The internet is a great way of finding like-minded people and to get your voice out there easier. It can be annoying that often the activism ends there, but even if it's gotten a few people to become more involved past that point that can't be a bad thing.

Finally, what do you want girls, women, to take away from your music?

Delilah: Self-love and free thinking, and we understand your rage.

Ursula: Power. That you have the power to do whatever you want to do, be whoever you want to do and if it doesn't fit in societies box it probably means you're doing something right.

Amelia: I want them to feel empowered to speak out, to pick up an instrument and just go with it. I want them to feel like it’s fine to ignore what society thinks of you.

www.skinnygirldietband.tumblr.com

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