Judging from their name alone, we know it’s best to not mess around with all femme outfit, Skinny Girl Diet. The fiery North London trio, formed by Amelia, Ursula and Delilah, comes armed with thick guitar riffs, pummelling drumbeats and a “no fucks given” attitude reminiscent of the early ’90s Riot Grrrl movement. Post-punk legend Viv Albertine, of The Slits, referred to them as “real girls, young and believable,” adding that they’re “full of energy and self-belief.” We agree.
In a below interview, we discuss gender in music, their raw, direct songs and relationship with fashion.
The name, “Skinny Girl Diet,” is a critique against the slim-fast culture advertised by media. What other topics do you explore in your songs?
Delilah: We don’t really choose a topic, it’s more about the personal experiences of being a young girl that has to face different forms of pressure and oppression, as for example the Instagram generation, who are highly image conscious in the current society we live in.
Amelia: In one of our last songs, ‘Silver Spoon,’ there is a line, ‘Police corruption causing no government disruption.’ It’s about racism, gender and being a woman in modern days.
What bands have influenced your sound?
A: We play punk rock because it’s angry music and there is a lot to be angry about. This is just how we feel to express ourselves and it comes naturally. We’re inspired by The Melvins, Jimi Hendrix and The Slits.
Ursula: We think the lack of meaningful lyrics and politics in current music is shocking. Everyone is too afraid to speak out and would rather sit on the fence. When little girls feel unequal to boys but can’t process why, a teenage girl sees a diet billboard and feels inadequate or the police stop an innocent black boy because of the color of his skin. What then? We’re just gonna welcome these forms of oppression with open arms? We think not. The in-your-face screaming in punk shows the weak from the chaff in the audience.
D: We didn’t seek out this genre and think, ‘What’s gonna make us look cool?’ Our parents were heavily into the grunge scene in the ’90s and our dad used to put on a night called, ‘The sausage machine.’ He put on bands, such as Babes in Toyland. We also got taken to loads of gigs when we were really young, which definitely shaped the way we look as music now. We’re influenced not just by ‘punk’ and ‘grunge’ music, but [by] loads of other genres. We love some modern music as well as old. We’re not trying to regurgitate the past.
There are quite a few cultural references in your videos and songs (“1984” by George Orwell, as well as Twin Peaks). Who else do you pull inspiration from?
A: Personally, I think RuPaul is great—so unapologetic and confident. We want to make music that makes people feel confident and know they’re not alone. Also, for example, women in Islam that stand up for their rights are very inspirational and we encourage being like that.
D: I really like Frida Kahlo, Gloria Stienman and movements like the Gulabi Gang in India.
What’s your relationship with fashion?
D: There is a lot of pressure on women in our society. People obviously judge us [on] how we look. I think the fact that we play really raw, gritty music in contrast with a glamorous photoshoot is funny. The aim is that just that we want to promote self-love and self-confidence.
U: I love fashion and think it’s a way of expressing yourself. Think about David Bowie or anyone who likes to dress up or men wearing heels. People have to feel comfortable and not restricted to gender.
A: I like fashion, too, and think it’s wrong when fashion is used as a weapon against women to portray a fake image of reality. But there is nothing wrong [with putting] some makeup on and [feeling] feminine, or expressing [yourself].
You recently released a new EP, Reclaim Your Life, which recalls an early grunge sound—the “no fucks given” attitude of Kim Gordon and Courtney Love. How does it feel to be a girl band today?
D: Especially for the kind of music we play, people think girls are more interested in style than substance. This is just unfair because we play music and this is our biggest passion and we do have things to say besides the physical aspect and our appearance.
A: Fashion is secondary. We do care about what we say and we do have a message. Even though people criticize or have bad comments about us, we don’t care and this actually makes us stronger.
U: It’s kind of a great experience to be belittled and looked at as though you can’t play your instrument properly as soon as you walk on stage or at a soundcheck, because it’s an experience boys will never have. I personally think we’re stronger than any boy band because of these experiences. For girls, if you get dolled up and ooze self-confidence, people instantly hate on you and say you’re, ‘Style over substance,’ but if you don’t care and come through with hairy arm pits people like to say, ‘I just wish she would work on her image a little bit more.” haha why don’t we just make glamourous hair pits a thing? You seriously can’t win so instead you need to know yourself, fuck up these beauty ideals whilst making rad music.
You’ve been playing a lot of shows in the last few years, alongside many relevant acts, like Viv Albertine and Primal Scream. Are you afraid of getting popular and losing your message?
D: I don’t think we’ll ever change or lose our message. We live in a council flat—this is where we come from and we won’ t forget that. Even if we get popular, things are not going to change because people like us, people hate us and we just don’t care.
U: Insults and peoples seals of approval are kind of the same—you need to just focus on the music and not about popularity.
Listen to ‘Reclaim Your Life,’ below: