DAREFest Edinburgh 23/9/17: A new festival empowering women through music

I love a good festival. There’s nothing quite like spending a day – or a whole weekend – at an event with some incredible music, art, and general good vibes. It’s great to see so many talented women in the arts, and I’m very lucky I’ve had a chance to meet and hang out with some awesome musical lassies at some of my favourite festivals.

There is absolutely no shortage of fabulous, talented women in all genres of music, from Anikonik playing jungle, drum & bass and footwork for Junglism, to the mighty Roberta Pia from Banana Sessions, banjo-playing goddess Cera Impala of the Bevvy Sisters, and Nem with the velvet voice who also happens to be an awesome reggae/dub DJ. There are way too many to mention in this post, so join me on Friday for a more comprehensive list of lovely lady talent from Edinburgh and beyond.



DAREFest Edinburgh is a new one-day event created and organised by local musicians Lou McLean and Ashley Stein. Both are heavily involved in the music scene in Edinburgh, and though their styles may be different, they are indelibly committed to making the community more inclusive for women and non-binary people. Lou’s music tells a story, with confessional lyrics accompanied by folky acoustic guitar, whilst Ashley’s band the Fistymuffs plays revolution-style riot grrrl punk. Both women are passionate about activism, about feminism, and of course music. They met through Girls Rock School where both became empowered through music, and it’s these ideals of making noise and taking up space to become confident, capable and bad-ass that they want to pass on to other women.

DAREFest isn’t just any festival. It’s about building up the skills and resilience for both music performance and feminist activism through a day of workshops and discussions, followed by an evening of performances from some awesome riot grrrl acts. It’s about meeting other women in music, or who want to become a part of the music industry. It’s about getting involved.

The day will start with charities such as LGBT Scotland and the Young Women’s Movement showing the types of activism that are taking place locally, which will then be followed by Women’s Aid’s workshop on how to make your own feminist badges. Ashley Stein will be leading a workshop on DIY tour management, and Lou McLean will teach us how to “be a badass” using verbal and emotional self defence as women in the music industry.

Thought the workshops and stalls at DAREFest are centred around music and the music industry, they’re fully transferable to any aspect of life. Whether your passion is music, art, or science, what DAREFest wants us to take away from the day is how to find what you love, what you’re interested in, and to go for it.

The workshops are open to women and non-binary people as a safe space. This is a women-run, women-led event. More information can be found on the DAREFest website as well as their Facebook page.

Tickets for the workshops have been selling really fast, so you can get your tickets here to avoid missing out on this fabulous event. Remember you can choose to do as few or as many workshops as you like!


About the Organisers

Lou Mclean

Lou has a degree in Psychology and is dedicated to the empowerment of young women and feminist activism. She has organised and led various song-writing workshops for women, and uses her own personal experiences and background in education to help people overcome anxieties though music.

Twitter @LouMcleanMusic

Ashley Stein

Ashley has been involved in the music scene as a promoter and events organiser for 7 years; her background is in events, stage management, tour organisation and music business marketing.

She is also the bassist and lead singer for the Fistymuffs.

Twitter @SmellsLikeWhat


  1. This is a great post. 🙂 Love this. The fact women are put into the spot light and we all support each other. The love is real and beautiful. I wish I was in Edinburgh for this.

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