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Uninvited on rock, protest music and gender balance on festival line-ups

Since forming in 2020, Glasgow’s Uninvited have sold out gigs on their first headline tour, won the opportunity of playing BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge, and performed at several festivals last year. It’s now been announced that the indie rock band, consisting of Taylor-Ray Dillon (bass, vocals), Gillian Dhlakama (guitar, vocals), Bex Young (lead guitar) and Fiorenza Cocozza (drums) will be bringing their effortless melodies and crunching, lo-fi guitars to TRNSMT Festival in July.

SNACK caught up with Taylor-Ray, Bex, and Fiorenza just before they embarked on tour supporting Nova Twins to talk about the festival season, gender diversity in the music industry, and their punk protest anthem ‘Behind The Black Door’.

What was the highlight of last year for you?

Bex: Playing the Live Lounge. Yeah, I don’t think anything could ever top that in our career
coming up.

Taylor-Ray: Except doing another one! [laughs]

And what was it like to be out and about playing live after you formed during lockdown?

Taylor-Ray: It was nerve-wracking at first cause obviously you’ve never performed together live.

Bex: We weren’t sure how people were going to take it. And it’s also a skill in itself, playing live rather than practising, because I mean, even looking back, you can see how much our confidence has improved. We didn’t move about a lot but now we’re like at the other end of the stage having a dance and that!

You’re about to set off on tour with Nova Twins and it’s also been announced that you’re playing TRNSMT this summer. What are you most excited for in 2023?

Bex: Yeah, I’m really excited to meet the Twins again. We met them initially because Gill and I did PR for Slam Dunk [Festival] for a wee bit, right? And then we went in and met them and said hi. We started chatting to them more and then [we did] more festivals, like 2000 Trees, and they were there. So we kind of formed this relationship.

Taylor-Ray: I think networking is just such an important part. That’s why I like festivals. It’s networking and that’s what I love doing; meeting other bands and making connections with people you wouldn’t normally bump into.

Bex: Yeah, [I’m excited for] festival season for sure. I think we’re all looking forward to that the most. I mean, TRNSMT is the only one that’s been announced just now but that’s massive to us because obviously, it’s Glasgow – it’s something we’ve always wanted to do.

Do you think there’s a different mindset when you play a festival versus playing one of your own concerts?

Bex: I mean if it’s a headline gig, you’re more confident because people are there for you. Whereas at festivals, you’re like ‘Who am I going to have to impress?’ because you get a whole different age group and different demographic.

Taylor-Ray: But that’s what’s good about festivals: you can attract new people to come and listen to your music. And the people who listen to our music are so varied. When we did that headline show in The Attic, I’d never seen a more diverse group of people ever, like there were dads and mums – not even our dads and mums! – and teenagers and people our age…

You always put LGBTQ+ experiences at the forefront of your music and have talked about how male-dominated the music industry still is. Do you think we’re seeing any progress in the diversity of festival line-ups these days?

Bex: No [laughs]. No, I mean, I feel like they’re trying. They’ll have like the staple non-male people that they’ll continuously have.

Taylor-Ray: And the token gay bands.

Bex: You can even look at Grammy nominees and like, all these sorts of things, where it is just cis white male-dominated. I feel like it’s still got a long way to go, but I mean, it’s kind of hard to see where it will ever be 50/50.

Taylor-Ray: I feel like it’s always two steps forward, one step back. Something happens and you’re like ‘aw nice! That’s so cool’ and then something else happens that balances it out.

Bex: I mean, it’s baby steps isn’t it? It doesn’t happen overnight. People say, oh, we need more women, more non-males in music, but they are out there, you just have to give them the platform and show up to their gigs and actually help them out. But a lot of big festivals and that, I feel like they don’t do that but they’re trying for sure.

What do you think most needs to change in the music world for marginalised voices to
be heard?

Bex: I think just starting from the ground up, there should be more safe spaces for people who want to start a band and who aren’t cis male. I think it’s really intimidating from a non-binary or trans point of view.

Taylor-Ray: Even sound engineers and stuff act like you don’t know what you’re doing a lot of the time… I only know one sound engineer that’s
non-male.

Fiorenza: And we’ve been about… Everywhere.

Is it fair to say last year’s single ‘Behind The Black Door’ is possibly your most angry and politically charged single? Could you tell me a little bit about writing that track?

Bex: It was one of the first songs that we wrote as a band. We actually played it at our first ever gig in 2021. So at the time we listened to a lot of Declan McKenna and ‘British Bombs’ had come out so I think we largely took inspiration from that. We were balls-deep in lockdown, and you saw Tories were out having parties and you were stuck in your gaff, so that kind of sparked it. And we thought it needed something simple on the guitar. [They mimic the song’s steely, militant riff]. It’s almost like a march, like a protest. Obviously, the whole Grenfell thing was years ago, but everything was coming out about how they still weren’t getting any money.

Taylor-Ray: The lyrics are literally a true story. It’s literally the facts, in a rhyme!

For the last 15 years or so we’ve been hearing that ‘rock is dead’. And that’s clearly not true. How do you think the latest generation of rock musicians are revitalising the genre?

Taylor-Ray: I think the thing with rock is it isn’t just one genre now. You take inspiration from so many different genres and so many different styles of music and you’re influenced all the time. You just take inspiration from everything and make it your own cause there’s no point in doing what everybody else is doing. You take bits from everything and mash it together.

To go back to TRNSMT, it looks like a really stellar line-up this year, so whose set are you most looking forward to catching?

Bex: The 1975! And Royal Blood, for me. They were my two favourite bands growing up, so to be playing on the same day is fucking madness! What about yous?

Taylor-Ray and Fiorenza: Yeah, the 1975.

Bex: Fio loves a bit of Becky Hill though! To be fair, the main stage is cracking, man. I would stay there the whole time if I could! And our friends Crawlers are playing the main stage as well… Pale Waves… it’s a really good line-up this year.

Taylor-Ray: I think we’re playing on the best day.

Bex: I think so too. Sunday’s the best day!

Uninvited are touring the UK with the Nova Twins. They will also support The Snuts at SWG3, Glasgow on 28th July.


Catch the band at TRNSMT on Sunday 9th July

By: Zoë White

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