INTERVIEW: CHLOE BIDWELL

BY OLIVIA TAMBINI

Horror stories of discrimination against women, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ people is part and parcel of existing within a patriarchal music industry. However, not all experiences are negative, and we love to hear all the positive stories of phenomenal women working in the industry and smashing stereotypes every single day. We spoke to drummer Chloe Bidwell of south coast band Violet Mud about her experiences, fashion, and why she loves a good festival.

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NM: Tell us about what you do.

CB: My current job entails me riding around on a bicycle delivering food. It’s fun, but not as fun as music.

NM: Nothing is as fun as music! What is it about drumming that initially drew you to it? How long have you been playing?

CB: I’ve been playing drums for over 11 years now, I love rhythm. It is without a doubt my best attribute/skill. I’ve been told multiple times that people haven’t met anyone who drums as much as me. That statement might be debatable, but I do spill my rhythm quite a bit. It is like a reflex to me. I was guided towards drumming by my aunt who suggested I give it a try after seeing I might have a bit of rhythm tapping on a table when I was young. To the dismay of my parents, I ended up choosing one of the loudest of the instruments to practise. They got used to it.

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NM: Are there any drummers or musicians you particularly draw inspiration from?

CB: I have many influences from many different genres. Each genre essentially having it’s own set of master class players within that genre. I used to play a lot of metal, so I admire quite a few drummers from that part of the music world, Thomas Haake from Meshuggah would be a good one to throw in among many though. Then I’ve loved to play Funk, Hip Hop, Drum n Bass. All of which have their own amazing players. But the biggest influence would probably be from Joe Morello, best known as the drummer from The Dave Brubeck Quartet. He developed a particular drumming technique/method that I was taught by my drum teacher from college. Changed the way I play, and opened a lot of doors for how I have played since. The man is an excellent drummer and plays superbly. Just listen to “Take Five” to see what I mean. The old Jazz guys probably take the win on most of the influences, mainly because they mostly set the standard for the rest of us drummers to evolve from. Well, for a lot of music.

NM: How did you get involved with Violet Mud? Can you tell us a bit about the bands influences?

CB: Violet Mud was created out of a mutual interest in similar forms of music by two sets of friends. Rob and I have known each other since primary school, originally bonding over our music tastes. Joe and Ollie met in secondary school I believe. We started talking, the other three bonding over a love of The Melvins, at the time I had not heard much of the bands material. We jammed, and it definitely sounded like we had something on the heavier end of the spectrum. The Sound mostly takes influences from a lot of stoner/doom genres but we all listen to a lot of different music and it definitely works its way into the mix. I often listen to electronic music of all sorts as well as heavier varieties.

NM: What’s your favourite Violet Mud release?

CB: We basically released our two EP’s at the same time, so it’s hard to say which if I like one over the other. The best I could say is that I really love the song “Stone Ark” on our Blue EP. It’s a blast to play that song every time. Not the most technically challenging song, but it’s very fun.

NM: You’ve just completed a European tour. How did you and your band mates cope with all the travelling?

CB: The travelling wasn’t too bad, admittedly on our way to Germany we got stuck in 4/5 hours of traffic jam. We mostly deal with it through our band banter. We’re all very jokey with each other, and it is most probably the only way we manage to stay sane in some situations. The others may do well with a few hours more rest from my antics but I always manage to be energised and to my usual, somewhat annoying, self.

NM: Have you ever come across any difficulties as a woman in the music industry, and particularly as a drummer? 

CB: So far my reception has been taken well. I like the fact that I am simply being viewed on my playing ability. I mean I’ve been playing 11 years now, I’m lucky enough in that time to be confident in my ability when playing the drums and certain forms of percussion. It generally is a heavily male dominated market. But I just join in and have as much fun as I can, there are a lot of really nice and genuine people making music all it takes is a quick chat.

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NM: You seem to be into your festivals – what is it about the festival scene that you like/dislike?

CB: I love festivals. I choose a particular kind of festival, it’s the expression of self that I adore. You can be who you want to be at a festival, society has a particular set of rules that generally dictate many peoples lives in and out. Sometimes we need a break from that. Festivals, at least for me, offer that kind of break from the usual workings of an ever confusing world. A chance to feel free, meet other amazing kind hearted warm souls and have this sense that there are plenty of people out there who can work together and look past the problems to just exist, dance, party… enjoy life.

NM: Your sense of personal style seems to be quite influenced by festival trends – is fashion important to you in terms of self expression?

CB: My style arises out of this love for festivals and also just a passion for colour and quirky things. I just work on the basis that I wear what I like to wear, festival fashion has a lot of the things I like in clothing. It is somewhat a representation of who I am underneath, extremely quirky. Other peoples opinions don’t really matter because it’s just clothes, and I’ll do what I wish haha. If I think I look great, then I look great.

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NM: What advice would you give to any young girls or non binary young people that are keen to embark on a career in rock music?

CB: My advice to aspiring female musicians is to simply, get out there. As I said before, it is generally a male dominated market. But there are great representations of female presence all over the music industry and in rock. Recently I’ve been seeing many great bands with less and less of a male dominated presence. Music is an expression of our selves, through physical release of emotion to the poems of our own souls. If you love music, and you want to play music for a living. Try. It’s not impossible, it is quite possible. Many people have made it, and it’s not about making it big. It’s about making music, your passion, your living as well.

NM: What’s next for Violet Mud?

CB: For Violet Mud, we’re trying to branch out more into other parts of the UK. An Upcoming show in Bristol next week. We are likely heading back over to Europe to play at least in The Netherlands to play with a band we bonded well on our recent Euro Tour. We’re always writing music, we’ve got some plans for future releases. Mainly it’s just working out how/when we want to record. But it’s definitely on the table and will be our main agenda very soon.

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