Dirty Blonde are:
Ailis MacKay (vocals and guitar)
Hayley Tait (lead Guitar)
Hailing from Manchester, Dirty Blonde represent a cool rock northern vibe with a twist of punk in the mix (think early Blondie before they became popular). The single shows how fast they are developing musically, and it is no surprise to us that they are gaining so much positive attention. Therefore, when we point our readers towards a must watch act in 2023, we mean it—they could become one of our new favourite bands!
With their new single, “Don’t Cry, It Doesn’t Suit You,” making waves on social media and the girls starting to make an impact on the live scene, we spoke to Ailis MacKay about the band, their single, and their future plans.
We thought a quick introduction to the band and their music would be a good place to start.
Ailis- As you said, we are from Manchester, and sonically, we are doing an Indie thing, but it is female-fronted and has an Oasis meets grunge vibe. Hayley and I met on Instagram, and the rest is history.
The new single “Don’t Cry, It Doesn’t Suit You” has a positive melodic rock vibe; it kicks in the mid-section and becomes a great riff-driven groove. We believe it is also the first time the band has filmed for a video.
You can download the single from here.
Ailis- We just had my little vlogging camera; Hayley has a videography degree, so we managed to pull it all together and get it sorted.
The single has a positive commercial sound, and it follows a couple of earlier releases, “Run When I Tell You” and “Come Over.” We asked how the songwriting developed between the duo.
Ailis- I think it’s different every time, really. Sometimes it’s me that brings in something, and if it’s Hayley, she’ll play an acoustic guitar and send a voice memo. I have a sound engineering degree, so a lot of what I do is like a fully formed demo. With “Don’t Cry,” Hayley found a meme; I’m not sure what it was, but that set the track off. I then did a bit of production on it. At the start, when you listen to it, it is this slow acoustic song, and then it rocks. On the production side, I added that bit where the drums suddenly come in and finess the guitar tone, and then the second verse is similar to the first verse, but I added a Jamie T-style rap to it. So that is how that came about, but we are trying to be as organic as possible.
“Run When I Tell You” has a strong early Debbie Harry or Blondie feel to it.
Ailis- I’ll take that! Debbie Harry, who walked so that we could run, is, in my opinion, an inspiration for all women in bands. I feel like Hayley has a big rock and punk taste; she loves all the 90s indie bands. But then I was raised on Radio 1, so I listened to a lot of pop music, so I brought in a commercial pop side to things. I think where we are going is making it indie rather than rock, but personally, for me, my favourite band at the moment is “Nothing But Thieves.”
And how does Ailis feel her younger teenage self would have viewed the music she is making now?
Ailis- I think the younger me would have been genuinely surprised. I feel like my taste in music has developed along with me as a musician. Even though I sing in this band, I used to be a drummer, so I started drumming and playing along to JLS. But then I moved towards Nirvana and that kind of drumming vibe. So my taste got more rocky as I got older, and those acts I worked with were often in the rock genre. I think the drumming is very interesting in the rock genre too.
Drumming wise, checking out the drum vibes as a learner on the drums, one of our team members on the magazine has been learning on an electric kit and has been doing some Beatles tracks, “Come Together and “Ticket to Ride,” and has said how good Ringo was.
Ailis- That has a solid kick. I’m all about more feel and groove than being a choppy drummer. I think with any instrument, simple things done really well are the key. What you must nail are the feel and rhythm, and if everyone had perfect technique, then music would be very boring.
And music develops. Look at the way AI is now used within music to both supplement and change what we are capable of. But then there is always human creativity, which can think outside the box in a way that AI never can. Look at Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, who duct taped a banana to a canvas and sold it for 120K (before eating it). AI could not do that!
Ailis- I love the banana example. I think AI can take away artists jobs, and I dislike that about it. At the end of the day, though, music is a business, so the musicians may be getting less and less songwriting credits as AI replaces them. I agree, however, that as a supplement, that is helpful; perhaps as an inspiration, but as humans, we must draw a line over how far it goes and remain in control. At the end of the day, it is very competitive out there. There may still be an emphasis on the physical production of getting the music published, but it’s a saturated market as it’s so easy to get music online. It’s so easy to use social media to get your music heard, but like I said with AI, there have to be boundaries and lines. Being a musician and competing against everyone else is hard. And I think we have done a very bad job as a profession of protecting our wages. I am a full-time musician, and Dirty Blonde has us working our arses off right now, but I also do corporate events, functions, and so on. I used to be a session drummer, and it’s so competitive, and everyone is undercutting. In my first few tours as a session drummer, I was basically working for free, just for expenses. But you have to feel you are worth more. In the function world, there is a lot better income protection and less undercutting.
Dirty Blonde has the tagline, “Your Dad’s New Favourite Band.” We liked that; it is clearly tongue-in-cheek, but it reminded us of when we were talking to Jen Razavi about the demographics of her fans. Do the band feel they have a strongly male demographic?
Ailis- We do embrace that demographic, but it’s also tongue-in-cheek. There is a “your mom” joke, so we reversed it: don’t lock up your daughters, lock up your sons! In terms of fans, we have probably more male fans, but we do want to empower, and if you want to laugh at moms, we will laugh at dads. But we love men!
And the plan for the rest of 2023?
Ailis- We have a few gigs to put out there. We have a September mini-tour, and we are selling out. We are playing Manchester on the 15th of September:
Manchester Canvas, Tickets here
and then there is London,
London Water Rats, Tickets here
and we are playing a festival in Birmingham in August.
05/08 – Bingley Weekender
26/08 – Birmingham – What’s Happening Weekender
09/09 – Scunthorpe – Cafe Indie
15/09 – Manchester – CANVAS
16/09 – London – Water Rats
17/11 – Nottingham – Via Fossa
09/12 – Manchester – Lions Den
We have played some great festivals recently; the Isle of Wight was great. Then there is a new single out in November that we have just recorded, and something around Christmas to watch this space for. We have a solid forty-minute set of all original material, so don’t miss out on that! We were writing during lockdown, so we have a back catalogue to pull on; it’s heading to a big Christmas bender and then going out of 2023 with a bang.
By Benny (the Ball) Benson
Mark C. Chambers
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