Bacchus Marsh muso’s IWD speech

Alana Wilson and Suzanne Phoenix at the Brunswick Ballroom.

In a purple hued Brunswick Ballroom, Alana Wilson addressed a hushed audience at Suzanne Phoenix’s International Women’s Day (IWD) event on March 8.

“I grew up in a caravan on a farm in rural Victoria, and coming into the scene I had no idea what I was in for,” she said.

The farm in question is in Bacchus Marsh, where Alana grew up with the space to belt out drums without the concern of neighbours, and from that home base she has spent the last seven years taming the Australian music industry.

Alana plays in a number of rock bands as a drummer, has toured the country multiple times, played to a sold-out Forum audience, and is now recording her first album as a singer for her new band Adored.

On March 8 Alana wasn’t drumming or singing, she was interviewed on stage during the launch of photographer Suzanne Phoenix’s 12th annual IWD portrait exhibition.

Suzanne describes it as a bringing together of “a group of inspiring, courageous and often outspoken cis and trans women and gender diverse people to create a visual snapshot of the fierce, funny and extraordinary people who inspire her world”.

The eclectic lineup featured drag kings, burlesque, musical performances and spoken word that Suzanne described as “an alternative to the soggy croissant Woman’s Day breakfasts”.

Alana addressed the audience about the trials and triumphs of entering the music industry as a young woman.

“My experience is rooted in community. I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of incredible women and non-binary people in the industry who have helped get me to where I am today…it’s a tough industry to survive in,” she said.

“I remember walking into a gig at the start of my career carrying my gear and the booker instantly assumed I was a girlfriend of my band mates. I had people say to me that I only got the opportunities that I’d worked incredibly hard for out of tokenism.

“I think there’s still a lot of work to be done. For a long time I felt the need to appear masculine to be taken seriously. It’s only in the last few years that I felt as if I can embrace femininity and be taken seriously.

“I’ve finally stepped up from behind the drum kit. I’ve played behind so many men for so many years singing songs about what they’ve wanted to sing about… [I’m] finally singing what I want to sing about… so I’m super excited to get out there with the girls to the front.”

Liam McNally