Themes/ Trends: Collectives – From Girl Gang to gal-dem

Zoë Anderson

Insights Student Editor

Exploring different ends of the creative market, third year Sound Design student Zoë Anderson introduces two London-based collectives that are providing safe spaces for women of all backgrounds to express their creativity.


Girl Gang and gal-dem are two very different entities; the former provides a space for female rappers, freestylers and singers to be creative as part of a supportive all-female network. The latter focuses on journalism and live events; providing women of colour with a voice online to talk about issues that matter to them and to their communities.

Though their goals and methods are different, these two groups share one important thing in common; they create a safe space for women to be creative, outspoken and heard.

The 2016 documentary ‘My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women and Hip Hop’ examines the rise and apparent fall in the popularity of American female MCs between the 1980s and early 2000s. The interviewees in the documentary delve unknowingly into some interesting territory; many of the assertions that are made place an unconscious value on appearance over talent, and don’t seek to greatly examine how gender and race are used, often subconsciously, in the music industry to hold these women to different standards.

Even though ‘My Mic Sounds Nice’ is a world apart from our two collectives, it raises some of the questions that both gal-dem and Girl Gang tackle in their mere presence as all female collectives; subverting and thoroughly questioning embedded structures of oppression. With this in mind, we can examine why Girl Gang and gal-dem are challenging some of these undercurrents of thought, and why it’s so important for groups like them to exist.


Girl Gang

Credit: Sourced from Boxpark.
Girl Gang began life as the brain child of Naomi Richardson & Shayna Marie who are both creative persons in their own right (Marie is a DJ and Richardson is a Stylist and Creative Director). Both looked at the music scene in London, and saw that there was a gap for women who wanted to perform and not feel boxed in by genres or scenes that perhaps made them feel unwelcome. So, Girl Gang was born; the group has been growing steadily over the last few years and stages one-off events around London which showcase female musical talent. The group represents a safe space for women to be creative; no small achievement in a scene that is mainly male dominated. The group have adopted pink as their colour of choice, which both subverts and celebrates the typical feminine connotations of pink in popular culture. Girl Gang celebrate female artists’ work and believe that their strong community is the best vehicle to getting female talent heard on it’s own terms.

Read Girl Gang founder Naomi Richardson interview at



Credit: Sourced from
gal-dem may attack issues of gender from a different angle, but it still provides a creative space that allows women (specifically women of colour) to tackle certain prejudices and issues that exist in popular culture. Fully realised in 2015, the online (and now print) magazine has thousands of site hits a month and has gone completely global in it’s readership. The need for a website and community like this is so important; in their introduction video, the members of gal-dem express a wish to find a voice of their own amongst a media which is predominantly white. The group often focuses on issues of underrepresentation of the non-white body in popular culture, and really tackle some of the issues that white readers may have not even considered in their media consumption.

Check out gal-dem on their website


These two collectives are shining examples of subversion and rebellion. Both go against the grain and showcase the imagination and entrepreneurship of women in London.


Find out more about Zoe’s course or have a look into studying Journalism:

BA (Hons) Sound Arts and Design

BA (Hons) Journalism



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