Saturday, 14 November 2009

Our Interview With SoundProof Magazine

The lovely people at Canadian music website SoundProof Magazine interviewed us last month and have given us an awesome write-up, posted below for your reading pleasure.

Profiles In Blogedness - Helen of Troy Does Counterop Writings

By: Eoghan Macguire

Profiles In Blogedness - Helen of Troy Does Counterop Writings

November 13, 2009 – Manchester, United Kingdom

Hidden somewhere amongst the ubiquitous mesh of crotch hugging skinny jeans, indie rock poses and £100 boys haircuts, which combine to make up the postmodern boy band scene, lies an underexposed gold mine of diverse and creative music.

It's a sad fact that—thanks to the boy-centric nature of much contemporary mainstream music—it may come as a shock that many of these burgeoning and talented acts are of the feminine variety. To paraphrase Morrissey by finishing the song he never wrote: "some girls are bigger than others, but most are overlooked by the mainstream media, record companies and music consumers."

Within this conundrum exists the devilishly simple raison d'être of Helen of Troy Does Countertop Writings. Seeking out the very best under-exposed female artists and bands, the UK-based blog aims to shine a spotlight on all things talented and XX chromosome specific.

Founded by journalists Lyndsey Hayes and Marie-Claire Daly, the concept began as an alternative London club night in mid-2008, under the guise of Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing. In light of the event's success, the Helen of Troy Does Countertop Writings blog was formed two months later as yet another medium for the best female musicians and a forum for Hayes' and Daly's musical passions.

"After years of reading about skinny, white, indie boy-bands, we decided it was time that female artists were given the same attention. We were surrounded by amazing artists like M.I.A. and Lykke Li and we wanted to comment on it in the hope of redressing the balance. It seemed a shame that the artists who were making some of the most progressive and diverse music around were not receiving the acclaim they deserved. We therefore wanted to provide a place where clued-up music fans could visit to find news, reviews and commentary pieces on the very best female artists around," say Hayes and Daly.

Although the focus on female artists differentiates Helen of Troy from the thousands of other blogs and popular music sites of a similar scale and musical composition, the creators hope that their passion, experience, enthusiasm, quirky style and content will further see their "labour of love" inform and inspire an intelligent and open-minded audience that can look beyond the obvious singularity of sexual characteristics.

"Since launching in June of 2008, our readership has steadily increased, so we must be doing something right. We originally set out with the hope of striking the right balance between humour, politics, and musical knowledge, and our stats tend to suggest our readers feel we have accomplished this.

"Having worked on an arts desk of a national newspaper, we both understand that sometimes people cover artists just to fill space. We hope that our readers trust our judgement, and feel they are getting quality commentary each and every time. Also, we'd like to think that both our writing style and approach are fairly distinctive, and suit the content of the blog. We love all kinds of artists and the blog is not genre specific, therefore we love Girls Aloud as much as PJ Harvey. We believe that a brilliant pop song is as valid as a brilliant rock, indie or electro song. What Helen of Troy would like to see is not just increased representation of female artists, but representation where female artists are not promoted on the strength of appearance, but on the strength of their work."

A glance at some of the site favourites gives a hint as to the genuine nature of Hayes and Daly's claims to musical diversity. "Posts on artists such as Madonna, Florence and The Machine, M.I.A, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Peaches, and Ladyhawke are always really well received. There is also a lot of traffic towards artists such as Madonna, Courtney Love, M.I.A, Brazilian Girls, Patti Smith, Girls Aloud, Salt ‘N' Pepa, Bonde Do Role, Amanda Blank, Peaches—we could go on, and on, and on! Each of the above have been trailblazers in their particular field, inspiring us to both create and maintain the blog. Thankfully, we seem to have a fairly-inclusive readership which we think reflects our content."

The recent success and popularity of the site, which Hayes and Daly refer to, is not exclusive to Helen of Troy. The increasing importance of such alternative information outlets are merely a microcosm of the wider tectonic shifts being felt across the entire media industry, which both Daly and Hayes recognize and see as an opportunity for their own growth.

Passionate and specialized blogs such as Helen of Troy have become indicative of the thousands of low cost niche blogs which are gaining trust, credibility and increasing relevance amongst the most clued up and voracious music fans. This is in stark contrast to the majority of traditional print publications who have failed to adapt to technological advances and have been left facing massive cutbacks, dwindling sales and the terminal illness of irrelevance.

"As paid-for online content becomes the norm, more and more people will turn to the likes of bloggers and social media enthusiasts for their daily dose of news and comment. We check at least twenty blogs per day for new posts and updates. We feel that a lot of enthusiasts follow the same routine as us, and this will only increase as print media continues to decline," say Hayes and Daly.

In contrast to many struggling traditional music publications, the shackles of image sensitive Public Relations Officer's and compromised objectivity, thankfully, does not affect the output of the likes of Helen of Troy and their ilk.

"We're not doing this for money, which means that we have the freedom to write honestly and objectively, with a sense of character and humor. The fact that Helen of Troy is a blog born out of a passion for quality music has contributed to the fact that people respect our opinions. We obviously want our readership to increase as much as possible, but ultimately this is a labour of love and not a business for us. We research and write about new music because we want to share the amazing music we've found with as many people as possible. "

Such genuine and refreshing sentiments ensure that if media trends are to be followed then it would be wise for all girls (and boys) to stick with Helen of Troy Does Countertop Writings.

Helen of Troy Does Countertop Writings were one of a long list of Manchester-based blogs, journalists, artist and club owners who were invited to contribute their picks to SoundProof's Top 20 Manchester Albums of All-Time list which will appear on Monday (November 16).

To check out more, head to


Gregling said...

This is totally brilliant and well-deserved. x

Helen of... said...

Aawww fanks Greggles :) xxx