Women In Music: Stephanie Briffa

Stephanie Briffa is the front woman of Melbourne’s Red Lotus. She’s the impressively versatile vocalist for the rock/metal four piece which also includes Jesse Abdurazak (guitar), Luke Sullivan (bass), Marshall (drums). The band released their Illuminate EP last year, and also have something on the way soon, with Steph hinting “If everything goes to plan, you’ll see something in the next few months.”

Steph’s passion for music began as a child due to her family’s business being located next door to a music shop. It was owned by “the most incredible family who not only welcomed and treated us as family, but I credit to infecting me with the music bug.”

She is full of gratitude toward her bandmates for taking a chance on her, at a time when she considered herself to be “less than half” the vocalist she is today. “They all acted as my mentors in one way or another, each helping to nurture my skill and understanding of music. More importantly though, they had patience, they saw my potential and put in the hard work alongside me. They let me have invaluable time to develop my skills and knowledge, all of which became crucial to us developing our sound as Red Lotus. Without their constant support and encouragement, I know I wouldn’t have pursued music to the extent I have today.”

“The movement to support and help women grow in the music industry is here, we just need to be patient with the change”

When I questioned whether Steph had felt discouraged, in particular due to gender, she admitted that she’s definitely felt discouraged, “but it’s always hard to pin it to its source”. “When beginning any kind of endeavour, especially being a woman attempting to break into a heavily male-dominated industry, it’s always going to be an up-hill battle. At no point in the three-year process of creating Red Lotus did I have any misconceptions about what we were getting into.”

She finds it hard to gauge if being overlooked at times was due to her gender for a few different reasons. In Steph’s words: “It’s hard to say because Red Lotus are still fairly new to the scene. The general response has all been relatively inclusive. However, I can’t deny the tricks your mind plays, it’s easy to shift blame onto others and chalk it up to a gender issue but we try to avoid that kind of negative thinking. The movement to support and help women grow in the music industry is here, we just need to be patient with the change.”

Steph considers herself to be generally “a pretty anxious person”, but when it comes to gigs, she says “I’ve always felt the music community to be quite a safe and welcoming place. When I’m at shows I am confident that the people there would stand up for anyone who is in harm’s way.”

Creativity seems to come hand-in-hand with fear or doubt at times. Steph agrees, finding that they’re “always there” for her. “Creating music is such soul exposing work that it’s only natural to have those feelings when sharing your songs with the world. I guess the trick is to not let those feelings get in the way of your creative process, which is easier said than done. When we started Red Lotus, we set out to always enjoy ourselves and to have fun with the process. It’s the reason we started making music and it’s the reason we will continue to make music.”

When it comes to mentors or sources of inspiration in the industry, Steph is spoiled for choice. “If I mentioned names the list would be way too long, so I’ll summarise. It’s the people who I see constantly at shows, always supporting the bands in any way they can. It’s the bands I see slaving away at trying to create something special with their music, the people who try and use their voices to make change. It’s the booking agents, public relation mangers, radio stations, and magazine outlets who take a chance on a new band. The people, who when I reach out to them for advice don’t hesitate to share their knowledge.”

Looking to the future, Steph believes in the power of mentoring to benefit the scene, regardless of gender. “I would love to see more mentoring happen across the industry for men and women alike. I can’t stress enough how invaluable it was for me to be given the opportunity to work with people who had the patience to guide and nurture me along my journey. It’s an opportunity that more people should be afforded.”

By way of gender equality in the future of music, Steph leans more toward acceptance of uniqueness, as opposed to any kind of blanket ‘sameness’ of treatment toward everyone. “In regards to the industry and gender I think it’s obvious that I would love to see a shift in attitude towards ‘equality’ for women and other minorities. It’s not really a question of being treated equal but rather the acceptance that not all people can be treated the same. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, “There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.””

To younger women or girls wanting to get into the world of music, Steph keeps it simple and clear:

“Patience, persistence and perspiration.”

Hear more from Steph by checking out Red Lotus’ Illuminate below. You can also find our review of Red Lotus’ performance HERE.

 

Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it.

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