Music Editor Emma Gardner sat down with Delilah Bon to discuss performing on French TV, female empowerment and her love for P!nk
Content Warning: This interview discusses sensitive themes such as sexual assault.
E: You’re known for your band Hands Off Gretel. Where did the idea for Delilah Bon come from?
D: I was on tour, we had been touring for about six years, so it was constant. I loved being on tour, but then I started when I was 17, the venues were very male dominated. I used to look out to the crowd and there were hardly any girls. I expected more girls to be there. I was dealing with sexual harassment, my fans were being harassed at gigs, the environment was not welcoming or safe. When lockdown happened, I finally had a break to think about my musical vision. I thought about how important it is to build a safe space, speak about how I feel and to make music for girls and queer people. It was something for myself that I was never going to release. But I showed my Mum, who convinced me to release it!
E: How do you think as a musician that you can fight against sexual harassment ? Do artists have a responsibility ?
It’s down to the artists and the venues. People are often uncomfortable about it, especially men. It’s very difficult to talk about it. At gigs, there are sometimes no security. The venues don’t know how to deal with things like groping. Because there’s no violence or fights, some security don’t do anything about it when you try to report it. Sometimes, I wish more musicians would speak out about it. Even just asking people to be respectful, look after the women in the crowd and keep their hands to themselves.
Loads of men started saying they didn’t feel comfortable coming to my gigs because I was constantly saying that I wanted the girls to be at the front, prioritising them. I had to do that though, to get rid of the creepy men that are inappropriate towards me. The more you speak out, the more uncomfortable they become. Subsequently, you create a safe space for people when these types of people leave. The tour that I did recently, my first one as Delilah Bon, has been the safest enivronment. Everyone has picked up on this. It all comes down to speaking out about issues like this.
E: For people who haven’t heard of you, how would you sum up yourself and your music?
Empowering, aggressive and fun. I try to keep a message in my music, but I always want it to be fun.
E: If you had to give one piece of life advice to young fans getting into your music, what would it be?
Always trust your gut. Lots of people will tell you that you shouldn’t be angry about something. They try to calm you down and say you’re overreacting. You have every right to be angry. Use that power to put into art, writing, the gym. Use your rage, don’t squish it down. It’s very powerful.
E: You recently performed on French TV. You performed your song ‘War on Women.’ How did it go? What did this opportunity mean for you?
D: When they asked me, I thought it was a joke. Why would they fly me over to France as a small artist? The host, Alain Chabat, is massive. He’s a movie star and comedian. I don’t think they were aware that I’m only a small act. He discovered me on TikTok and flew me over to France. The whole experience was surreal, I’ve never been involved in anything like it before. I’ve always wanted to be on TV from a young age. I was thinking, this is it now! I’ve worked hard all these years and it’s finally happening. When I started performing, I was looking up at the lights, thinking about my younger self and wanting to say to her – we did it!
My Mum came with me so it was very emotional. I was treated like a superstar. I’m going to arrange a show in Paris, there’s certainly a lot that will come off the back of it.
E: Your song ‘Dead Men Don’t R*pe’ is very powerful and emotional. What was the reaction to it and how has this given you inspiration to further your music?
We last minute added it to the setlist before I went on tour. I played it every night on tour. Lots of people loved it originally, but in the crowd, people were crying and screaming with passion and rage. After the gig, so many people told me how the song spoke to them. They told me about abuse and trauma and said that I had given them a song that they could rage to. It’s become its own beast. I’ve seen it’s been played at protests all around the world for different things. The response has been incredible.
E: Off the back of that, you’re not afraid to discuss controversial themes. Have you dealt with a lot of backlash, or have you found the reaction to your music to be quite positive?
D: I get a lot of negativity, yes. If people don’t like my music because they don’t like how it sounds, that’s fine. They’re entitled to their opinion. I get personally attacked because of my music and the content. People have sent me death and r*pe threats. It’s terrifying, anyone can create a fake account and send hate. I try not to respond and block them. It’s always been a risk, but I know it comes with the territory. The more I use my voice, the more people will disagree and hate me. It’s hard, especially for my Mum. I read her the nasty messages sometimes. Every single day, there are a hundred lovely comments, but there’s always one nasty message that will stick in my head. I just try to ignore it.
E: What is your overall goal with this music? Will you still be making music as Delilah Bon in ten years?
D: I just want to grow the community. The music has become a community. Seeing a room full of people that grows bigger is very therapeutic. My goal is to prove that my music is needed and not niche. There are a lot of people out there that need my voice and to use their rage and anger. I want to exceed all expectations.
E: How do you go about writing music? What’s the next topic you’ll choose?
D: I usually start with the topic, I get a hook in my head then try to refine it. I am writing one recently about the Salem witch trials. I have written one about a girl that is an assassin, about my younger years. Lots are personal, but I also write fantasy songs. There are different songs that I’m playing around and having fun with.
E: How was your first tour in September as Delilah Bon?
D: I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that came out to those shows. It was my first tour as Delilah so I had no idea what to expect. Originally, I wasn’t going to tour as her because I didn’t have a band. Last minute, it became obvious that these live shows were needed. It was incredible. I’ve done so many tours but this has been the best one I’ve ever done.
E: Do you have any new live shows planned?
D: Touring requires planning so far ahead. I would love to do some shows in Ireland and Paris. We are thinking about international dates. I’ve always wanted to go to the U.S. I’m working on my album right now, so there’s a lot going on.
E: Has your music been influenced by any specific artists?
D: I grew up listening to P!nk. My teenage years, I loved Riot Girl and Bikini Kill. I blended all those together for topics and the voice. I love Slipknot too, so there’s certainly a mix of pop, metal and hip-hop. I make my music and am in my own lane now.
E: If you could have dinner with any musician, who would it be?
D: It would have to be P!nk. When I was at school, I didn’t have many friends. I used to sit and eat my dinner in the toilet to hide from people. I would sit and listen to her music and it was like she was with me. It would be really creepy one day to meet her and tell her that she was certainly with me through my time at school!
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