Get To Know: Amy Isles Freeman
Amy Isles Freeman is nothing if not an overachiever. She's a prolific artist, making striking and functional pieces, and has recently founded her own radio show Woman's Power on Source FM. Through both forms of DIY media, she's out there bringing her feminist agenda into the public consciousness.
What makes a ‘Woman’s Power’ show?
The show is dedicated to strong women, with the secret being that all women are strong, they just might not know where their strength lies. I talk about things I have been thinking about that week on the subject, conversations that I have had, things to take away and ruminate on, and hopefully feel strengthened by. Alternatively, you can just listen to the wonderful music that I have been collecting, and feel empowered by their greatness.
Your music choice is pretty eclectic, tell us about how you choose what to play?
I want to create radio that people don’t want to switch off, and for that, there has to be a mix of genres and styles, tempo and emotion. I use social media to collect requests, and everywhere I go I make notes on what I am listening to if I like it. I feel like my ears are sponges now, which is funny because I felt like they were blocked before I started doing this. I felt unmoved by music for a long time.
I spend a long time listening to the songs that I’ve made into a rough playlist, trying to work out what gets played when, and how they all interact with each other. It could be the message that they are emulating, or the overarching flavour of the tracks, or just the way one song’s drum beat talks to the next. I want to lead you by the hand through an interesting and beautiful terrain for two hours.
Do you see a shortage of female broadcasters? Is it a shortage of opportunity or visibility?
I do see a shortage, but I think it’s improving. I have had some interesting conversations over the last few months about this sort of thing, and the last on was about female DJs at clubs. The man I was talking to said that less experienced women are getting onto the line up over the more experienced men, just on the basis of their gender. He argued that this was wrong. I disagree - we need to be giving equal opportunities, and if it means for the next few years we have less polished people playing music out at clubs or on the radio, so be it. People have to make those future changing decisions now. Playing out music, whether it is live or on the radio, has been and still is, dominated by men. As we get more women into the limelight, we encourage other women to listen to the ‘I could do that’ voice in their heads, contact their local radio station, buy some second hand CDJs and have a go. Presenting radio is a funny one because unlike presenting TV, you don’t have to be beautiful to be given a job. I think that can confuse the men in charge.
We know that your dad has his own show on Jazz FM, how important is it to you to have broadcasting role models? Is there anyone you particularly look up to?
It’s very important to have role models, just for the simple fact that they show you that it’s possible to make radio about something that you care about, as well as giving you something to emulate. I adore Cerys, but who doesn’t? I love Anna Sale of the podcast Death, Sex and Money, she strikes the perfect balance of candid and caring, and her voice is never difficult to listen to.
You are a prolific artist too. What made you choose wood as a medium?
I chose to start woodturning in a roundabout way. Once I finished my degree in drawing, I wanted to make something that existed. My then boyfriend showed me how to use a lathe, and since then I haven’t had a chance to look back. I want to make work that sits within people’s everyday - I think art is interacted with differently when it isn’t behind glass. My bowls are next to people’s beds, holding their rings and bobby pins.
What drives you towards functionality in your art?
I am happy for my work to just be aesthetic. The functionality of them is a bonus. I would say that my work is all about communication, much like the radio. I can communicate in a different way with my work being functional.
Power, love and feminism are clearly integral to your art. Who do you feel is out there challenging the stereotypes and gender imbalance in the art world?
There is a wave of artists and illustrators tackling gender and the female experience within their work, such as Laura Callaghan and Polly Nor, who are so popular and rightly so. It’s exciting to see women making work like that and being so consumed by their supporters.
Grayson Perry is definitely challenging gender stereotypes, and wonderfully he is so very much in the mainstream.
A song to fall in love to?
Doris Troy 'Just One Look'
Pen or Pencil?
Pen. Let’s be indelible.
Audio or visual?
I can’t. I can’t choose.
Animal, vegetable or mineral?
Veggie. I’m a (naughty) vegan.
Siri or Alexa?
As names for my first born?