As a band that features an attractive female lead singer and a pair of males creating the music, CHVRCHES have always been hyper-conscious of how gender plays a role in their career. Usually, it’s manifested in them defending themselves from sexist or misogynistic commentary. However, focusing on gender roles has also played a big part in their marketing strategies.
“We could have sold 200,000 more albums if we’d hidden Iain [Cook] and I from view and put Lauren on the cover of every magazine. But there’s 100 of those acts and that stuff goes away,” band member Martin Doherty told The Guardian in a new interview. Instead of selling themselves as “that band with the pretty frontwoman,” “We ended up doing it in an indie band style. We broke through via word of mouth. It was about doing it in an honest, right way.”
As Lauren Mayberry herself put it, “I didn’t want us to fit into a cookie-cutter mould of what [a pop] band is meant to be like. I don’t want to be the front for somebody else’s creativity and sell that day in, day out.” In other words, she didn’t want to be Avril Lavigne. “I was totally the target audience when [Let Go] came out,” she said. “The marketing campaign was: ‘She’s just like you. She writes the songs.’ To a teenage girl writing songs in her bedroom, that’s amazing. And then I woke up one day and realised it was all written by the Matrix [songwriting and production team]… I was pissed off that it was being sold as real.”
However, now that they’ve proven to be a “real band” with their debut, The Bones Of What You Believe, they’ve relaxed on the rules when it comes to the rollout of their follow-up, Every Open Eye. Mayberry’s recent solo interview in Vulture is one example, as is the video for “Leave a Trace”, which sees Mayberry front-and-center with the boys only shown briefly in silhouette. (It’s worth noting this interview was conducted before the controversy sprung up around “Leave a Trace”.)
“We wanted to establish [CHVRCHES] as a band first and foremost, and have that base,” explained Mayberry. “Then you can move on from that. We’ve done a couple of women’s mags but we tend to talk about feminism and women in the industry, which I feel more comfortable talking about. It’s a more valuable discussion than, ‘Oh, you’re a girl in a band, what hair conditioner do you use?’ I use hair conditioner, and I like talking about it. But I don’t want that to be the question.”
Below, watch the band’s video for “Leave A Trace”.