While researching the genre “noise rock” before interviewing the musicians featured in Maggie Shannon’s photo project Noise Girls, I stumbled across a Tumblr discussion that asked why women were so well-suited to the genre. One commenter’s opinion, loosely paraphrased: “women have always made noise.”
But Leila Bordreuil, a musician featured in this portfolio, calls bullshit. “My art has nothing to do with the fact I am a woman,” she said in an interview with the Cut. “I play loud and aggressive and people might think it’s badass that a girl makes noise, but sorry, I really don’t see the correlation, and I wouldn’t consider a girl making noise more badass than a guy making noise.”
Noise rock as a genre is fairly hard to categorize — it’s the experimental, dissonant, interdisciplinary (and often inaccessible) deconstruction of conventional music. And as with many other areas of music and visual art, female noise-rock participants are often outliers who get profiled as “objects of lust and curiosity,” explains Megan Moncrief, another musician featured in Shannon’s project. “I love noise because it’s a wide net that embraces all kinds of individual voices, and a lot of people think of it as a very masculine, aggressive genre, which doesn’t really bear resemblance to most of the artists I know and love.”
Moncrief worked with photographer Maggie Shannon to find female musicians who lend their voices and viewpoints to the genre. The result is a series of portraits of women who make a wide-ranging and diverse array of art, music, and other installations all over New York. While, for many, gender doesn’t inform what they make, the ability to tear apart conventional trappings of art, music, sound, and society and present something unique and interesting has allowed them to transcend the “girl in a band” trap.