Fresh from her International Women’s Day performance at VAULT Festival, we talk to Etta Bond about body positivity, making it in music and the women who inspire her the most.

As VAULT Festival have just closed the doors on the biggest edition of the series to date, we had a quick chat with the lovely Etta Bond. Friday March 9th saw HeForShe and ThisIsWired presenting an evening of discussion and music in aid of the UN campaign for gender equality. Taking place a day after International Women’s Day and marking the start of HeForShe Arts Week, the music part of the evening brought with it performances from the likes of Nadia Rose, Jamz Supernova, BOSSY and of course, Etta Bond.

We’ve fallen head over heels for the British singer-songwriter; she’s a beacon of positivity with real, personal lyrics and a silky soulful vocal. Overtly exploring ideas of sexuality, sensuality and femininity in her visuals as well as lyrically, Etta Bond is an uplifting force to be reckoned with – using her art to give women a loving leg up whenever they need it most. Bond and I spoke over email about the HeForShe event, negotiating womanhood and loving yourself, just the way you are…

In the wake of International Women’s Day, what one piece of advice would you like to give to young women?

Protect your energy. As women, we are so quick to give, to care, to love – a lot of the time we don’t even require anything in return. It’s in our nature. And as much as that is beautiful, it can also be dangerous. Focus on yourself, your growth, being successful and independent. Chase your dreams. Follow your heart and listen to your mind. Don’t wake up one day next to someone who doesn’t love you, wishing you’d have taken that job – wondering if you should have got that abortion. LIVE FOR YOU. Our journey could never be easy but the quicker we realise how powerful and special we are, it’ll become much more of an enjoyable ride.

…And to aspiring musicians?

To women in music – BE FEARLESS, BE BRAVE!! Everything and everyone around you will be trying to push you into a direction which makes them COMFORTABLE. Fuck that. Embrace all that you are. Be sexy!! Be tough!! Be smart!! Be funny!! Don’t put yourself in one of these small boxes that’s been made for us. Be yourself. And don’t ever be sorry about it. EVER.

… And to yourself as you negotiated womanhood and set out to build your career?

If I could give my past self some advice, I don’t think I’d have listened. You live and you learn. I would tell myself to trust in the universe and all of its lessons and probably leave myself to it. Experience is the best teacher. I wouldn’t know what I know now without having lived life pretty much on the edge. I regret nothing. Even though I’ve made some TERRIBLE decisions, made COUNTLESS mistakes, sometimes the same ones over and over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

There’s been some discourse online about the commodifying of IWD with some brands reportedly requesting artists to work for free – what are your thoughts?

My opinion is circumstantially based – it depends. Like any job, sometimes you do it straight for the opportunity, sometimes you do it out of love and support for the cause. But we’ve got bills, so ideally, we go for all of the above and some money please. And if we’re supposed to be supporting each other – why can’t you throw me some p? I dunno man. Everyone expects artists to work for free, what’s new? Is this a trick question…

How was your performance at the VAULT Festival HeForShe event?

My performance at HeForShe… Honestly? A day I can’t describe. The evening of Harry Uzoka’s funeral. It had been an emotional day, it felt relieving to have a way to focus and release that energy. Standing on the stage that night, I felt so grateful to be alive. The love I received from the women down at HeForShe was extremely comforting for me that day. It was more than just a show.

What do you think are the best steps that can be taken to encourage body positivity?

Be conscious of what you consume. I mean, it’s easy to follow a load of women on Instagram with bodies you feel like you’ll never have, lives you’ll feel like you’ll never live – stop following people who seem to give you a constant feeling of inferiority. I follow some awesome, inspiring women on Instagram! And guess what, there’s acne, hairy armpits, cellulite – and there’s ART, there’s HUMOUR, there’s DEPTH, there’s WIT, there’s LOVE and most frequently – A SENSE OF FREEDOM. Focus on what’s important to you. I know you see their likes and the attention and perhaps you wish it came that easy for you. But cherish the path of self-discovery that you’re on which is far deeper than the surface. As happy as everyone looks, they never are. The perfect body is not the shortcut to a perfect life. Not that perfect even exists. Remember, these tummy tea creatures may look like they’re from another planet sometimes, but they’re just like you and me. They get spots, they have bad days – they’re just really, really good at hiding them.

Tell me about the women that inspire you the most.

Every woman I meet inspires me, but the Queen of them all – my mum. There’s a love in her heart I long to replicate; she shares it with every soul she passes. She’s forever kind and never loses hope. She’s been through it all – probably more than I’ll ever know – and still manages to stand with a strength and a smile I couldn’t yet match. A true warrior.

Which female musicians are you feeling right now?

Right now I’m loving Shae, and my long time babes Cleo Sol. Go check ’em out.

And what do you have planned for the rest of 2018?

I’m gonna take over the world, you with me?

Live photo by James Hanna.