This Way North hope Australian festivals embrace Keychange movement for equality

SHIFT: This Way North have added funk and groove to their roots-rock sound on their new EP Vol.2.
SHIFT: This Way North have added funk and groove to their roots-rock sound on their new EP Vol.2.

THIS Way North drummer Cat Leahy hopes to one day see festival line-ups with equal female and male representation and to no longer hear back-handed compliments like “you’re really great for a girl.”

It’s a dream she feels has become within reach. Just this week 45 major international music festivals pledged to curate 50-50 male and female line-ups by 2022 as part of the Keychange initiative.

So far no Australian festivals have pledged support.

“I think that’s what we should be striving for and I think it’s important for Australia to take note as well,” Leahy says.

Leahy and her This Way North bandmate Leisha Jungalwalla are at the forefront of a push for equality in the Australian music industry.

On Wednesday in Melbourne they launched Sass the Patriarchy, a musical information night to celebrate and empower women and to shed light on the inequalities in the industry. 

“At the end of every gig I have people come up and say, ‘you’re really great for a girl’ or ‘you’re the best female drummer I’ve ever seen’,” Leahy says. “Even if it’s a compliment, it’s got to be about gender.

“I’d love if someone came up and said, ‘you’re the best drummer I’ve seen’ or some kind of compliment that wasn’t gender relevant.”

Besides Sass The Patriarchy, This Way North have been busy preparing the release of their second EP Vol.2 on Friday.

This Way North - Head Above Water

Recorded across two separate trips to Toronto, Canada, Vol.2 shifts the Melbourne two-piece’s sound away from roots rock toward a more funk-pop style.

The decision to record the EP in Canada was two-fold. Firstly, Leahy and Jungalwalla wanted to work with a new producer in a different environment.

“It’s just nice to be surrounded by a slightly different scene and have access to different gear,” Leahy says. “There’s something about recording with brand new people you’ve never met before that is a bit daunting and scary as it might work or might not work.

“It forces you and the producer, as you both want to impress each other a little bit, to bring out the best in each other. The more you work with someone the more lax you can become.”

Secondly, Canada holds emotional relevance as it’s where the pair first met in 2014 while performing separately at the Art Swells Festival in British Columbia. 

At the time Jungalwalla was touring with her former band Jungle and Leahy was working as a session drummer. 

Soon after the pair found themselves back home in the Melbourne suburb of Preston without a musical project. From there This Way North was born and a debut self-titled EP followed in 2016.

This Way North headline the inaugural Paddock Sessions at Wollombi on April 28 with Vanishing Shapes, Timothy James Bowen, Tori Forsyth and Tullara.


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