Peng Femme Jam: Creating Supportive Space for London's Femme Musicians

Artwork by Carlotta Balestra Lawrence

We want Peng Femme Jam to have a long-lasting impact on our community of young musicians, creating a welcoming feminine space for all creative London peng tings who are women or possess femme energy to express themselves freely.”

For those less acquainted with the wonderful world of musicians, a jam is a live improvisation session where musicians bring their instruments and join others on stage to create original and impromptu music. These free flow sessions allow musicians to develop their material, improvise over existing songs or chord progressions, and meet fellow instrumentalists or singers. Unfortunately, these spaces are often male dominated, and may be intimidating for femme musicians looking to join in on a jam. We are Winnie, Laura, and Léa - 3 women aiming to design an inclusive and nurturing space that breaks this barrier of inequality. Winnie is a South East London based singer, guitarist and producer, Laura works with grassroots organisations on community enhancement projects and Léa is a singer-songwriter guitarist, forming a futuristic Afro-jazz band. Together, we have been meeting and brainstorming since early this year to build our Peng Femme Jam vision and now it is only a number of days until we host our first launch!

Peng Femme Jam challenges the male-dominated jam culture that lacks the energy of inclusivity and pervades the current jam scene in London. While London boasts some incredibly rich and diverse jam spaces for musicians to get together, we noticed that house bands are usually overwhelmingly male, leading to male musicians in the audience more likely to join the band on stage. We wanted to design a solution to this imbalance and provide a platform prioritising London’s incredible female and non-binary musicians, whilst also initiating and building a diverse network of peng femme musicians to come together, collaborate, and support each other.

Photo by Liz Muntunkaye

Our journey from conception to actuality has definitely not been easy, but with a grant from the amazing Grand Plan Fund our vision is now beginning to materialise. The Grand Plan Fund awards grants every month to creative people of colour based in the UK who want to make a new cultural project happen. Their belief and support has allowed Peng Femme Jam to become a reality and we are incredibly grateful for their continued enthusiasm for the project. If you don’t already, make sure to follow their Instagram for more information on the variety of inspiring projects they’ve kickstarted across the UK.

Our first two jams will be held at Folklore, an iconic East London spot known for their wacky space and engimatic queer crowd. Lumi at Folklore has been nothing but supportive of PFJ and is as excited as us for the event to materialise. The support of both The Grand Plan Fund and Folklore have helped our dreams become a reality and allowed us to launch an exciting new venture for London based musicians, with a focus on female and non-binary creatives.

Our jam session will centre around our 3 main values:

1) Respect for all artists, this includes a fair wage and a supportive environment.

2) Inclusivity: PFJ is a space for trans and non-binary people.

3) Ensuring we are community orientated with every jam working to enhance and transform our music community.

We absolutely welcome and encourage male musicians to take part in our jams, the main difference being that we will always open with an all-female and non-binary house band, celebrating the array of London’s femme musicians and creating a comfortable environment for others to join in . After an incredible show for the first hour of the jam, the space will then be offered up to the wider general audience to join - blending various musical styles free for all to collaborate and improvise. The jam will consist of well-known musicians in the growing London jam scene as well as those up-and-coming who are looking for a space to gain confidence, develop their talents, and network with other like-minded women and musicians.

We already have a strong network of female musicians supporting and playing at Peng Femme Jam such as Rosetta, Maria Grapsa, Plumm, Metta Shiba, Jas Kayser, Poppy Daniels, Roella Oloro and many many more! You can keep up to date with our Instagram account to find out the line up of each house band before you book your tickets.

We want PFJ to have a long-lasting impact on our community of young musicians, creating a welcoming feminine space for all creative London peng tings who are women or possess femme energy to express themselves freely.

If this sounds like something you could get behind, please join us at either of our launches on the 7th or 21st of November.

Tickets for the Peng Femme Jam Launch are available to purchase now: see you there!

Launch 1: Sunday 7th November

Launch 2: Sunday 21st November