Natalie Greener, Director of Tits Upon Tyne – Interview for Darling Zine

Questions by the founder of Darling Zine, Emily Duff.

1. When did you know you wanted to be a journalist?
In a weird way, I didn’t want to be a journalist as such – I kind of just fell into it when I was 13. I couldn’t play any instruments and didn’t have the confidence to be in a band at the time yet still needed a way to express my love for music. I started a really crap blog at 12 and interviewed small artists I really looked up to at the time and everything just blossomed from there. Next thing I know, I am studying journalism at university and have a vast portfolio of published works. I see now that journalism was just a way in to me being able to be part of the music industry behind the scenes. 

2. What was the story behind the name Tits Upon Tyne?
Funnily enough, I didn’t come up with the name! I was sat in a lecture with my house mate and was just saying ‘Tits’ over and over again to myself trying to come up with an idea. Ryan then turned around to me and was like… “upon Tyne”. It was a proper urika moment aha. I wanted something a bit raunchy in the name as well as keeping the focus on women and breast cancer so it seemed perfect. Just starting out in Newcastle, it felt like a name that was catchy and could well establish me in the city as well as what I stand for! 

3. What has been your greatest experience through Tits Upon Tyne?
I can easily say straight out that it’s been the support. Overwhelmingly so, the way in which the locals have rallied around me and the campaign is so heart warming. Loyalty has meant that I can now expand TUT to be more than what it initially started it out as. The blog and me sharing stories on things that are personal to me means that I can now fully grow into who I am as a writer and woman in the music industry. That is such a blessing not many people can have at twenty. I thank my lucky stars every day. 

4. How do you find new people to work with?
I am very open in regards to bands and am willing to work with pretty much anyone. However, since I can be a bit more picky with individuals I partner up with now, I have noticed I base the selection largely on a criteria that I have made from my experiences since I was 13 and being in the music scene. Before, I would take anyone that would have me. Now it is so different. I refuse to work with anyone that has allegations against them or is deemed as predatory – which unfortunately is more common in the music industry than anywhere else. I also try to find women to do the jobs typically deemed as male e.g. sound, as I think practising what I preach is so important. 

5. How do you pick what to write about?
I just stick to personal and close experiences to me. I never try and write about something that I don’t know anything about or I am unexperienced in as coming across as someone I am not does not sit right with me. I also like to focus on more than just music as I think removing the stigma around abuse and mental health is so important. My top tip is just to be genuine and real so people, even those who aren’t in your position, can understand your perspective. 

6. Do you have a favourite or most meaningful article?
Yes! It is definitely the piece I did on gas lighting and emotional abuse. It means a lot to me because I initially wrote it with the intention that only my lecturer would read it. I use my writing as more of a diary in times where I feel misunderstood. Being able to share something that left me with PTSD and trauma scars, I felt a weight was lifted from my shoulders with each word I wrote. I think it is so important to highlight behaviours from others that are classed as normal and shouldn’t be. The response from people who had been in my situation and also disagree with how this manipulative behaviour is condoned also made me so confident in sharing my story even more in the hopes that I can help another not feel alone in their circumstance. 

7. What was your main focus when making this collective? I know you have a heavy focus on fundraising for breast cancer – how do you try to incorporate this into your articles andwhat has the response been?
I will always have my mum’s journey at the heart of why I started TUT but I think now it is time to grow in a way where we can help spread awareness for other causes and be as one in making music scenes safer. My focus has shifted from simply raising money to now being something people associate with in regards to powerful women, a safe space for creatives and the best radgie gigs you’ll ever attend. I try and incorporate empowerment and self love in everything I do but in regards to writing, I purely post in the hopes that it might brighten up someone’s day or help them with a challenge they might be facing. I see this in the responses all the time and it is so rewarding. The act of writing is my therapy but publishing my content and it being appreciated is more for the people it might help or entertain. 

8. How has your experience been as a female in a male-dominanted world?
Shit lol. There are definitely men out there with good hearts who want you to succeed but there are also misogynistic arse holes who will do anything in their power to ensure a woman will not succeed over them. Having tits has meant that even at 13, I was sexualised and ridiculed in my line of work and called a ‘groupie’ or ‘band slag’ because of my profession. Hearing absurd rumours like “she sleeps with every band she works with”, “she didn’t do anything they just hired her to sell tickets” and that I even slept with Liam Gallagher, makes it so I have to fight that bit harder just to be taken seriously. I am not afraid of my sexuality but when people create lies and stereotype you, it makes me feel ashamed of things I haven’t even done. It is a proper head fuck. On top of that, there have been times where bands assume that I’m part of the payment for them playing my own gigs. I am also asked what band I am in all the time because people are not used to it being a woman that is pulling all the strings. 

9. Do you think there has been a gender imbalance in the music scene? And if so, what can we do to reduce that imbalance?
Oh definitely! There always will be I think. Some women are scared to tell sexist men in a position of power in the music scene to shove it because they think they need them. Girls, you don’t. If a man is wanting something in return for recording time, PR time, a photoshoot or anything else in a professional capacity, it is not your talent they want. I think it’s important to always book and work with people that are good at what they do but trying to employ women with the same skill set as their male peers is important. If a man takes great photos or mixes amazing, perfect. Equally, if he has good feedback but you’ve heard his work and your best mate in her bedroom can do a better job… why not? 

10. Where are your favourite venues within the North East?
Damn that is a good question. My home and heart will always be at the Cluny because they were the first music family I got after moving. They gave me a chance with no idea of who I was or what my intentions were and I will forever be grateful to them – it’s funny because they probably have no idea how much I appreciate them and what they did for me. I love Riverside and Tyne Bar as well and definitely The Cumberland Arms because it reminds me of any local pub with an exciting past. 

11. What can we do to support Tits Upon Tyne and the causes that are close to your heart?
At the moment, just give us support online, read the articles, buy some merch and just keep us alive. Obviously, as it is all ran by me alone, any article submissions for the site or creative ideas, please send them my way as I want the content we publish to be original, frequent and submitted by loads of different individuals! Also, support the bands and venues we have had on board so far and whenever you have a dance to some punk music, think of us. 

12. Which artists inspire you?
Anyone who knows me could answer this right straight away. OF COURSE Debbie Harry. I’m in love with fashion and music so she is just a strong kick ass woman who gets top marks in both. What an inspiration with how she approaches life and speaks out about what she believes in. A true queen. I also have to give kudos to my girls, VENUS, RUNT and Witch Fever, for being dope as fuck. I am also in awe of Cassyette, Izzie from Black Honey and any girl who screams girl power in their songs. I also have a thing for Tim Booth, Sundara Karma and The Darkness because the originality and flamboyance is much needed in music today. 

13. Are there any local creatives (musicians/artists/filmmakers) you urge us to check out?

VENUS are at the top of my list because they are creative, amazing and polished. I would also push for you to check out Spilt Milk zine by Mollie Casey and the awesome artists that are featured in there! The North East is filled with so much talent that it is so important to keep your eyes peeled at all times. 

14. How do you feel we can support the local scene?
Simple really. Turn up to shows and share stuff online! It is always a shout to check out what smaller venues are up to like Head of Steam and Little Buildings. These gigs are usually cheap and cheerful too so it is always a good idea if you are strapped for cash but want to contribute. 

15. How would you describe Tits Upon Tyne in 5 words?

BOOBS. INDEPENDENT. FIGHTERS. MUSIC. FAMILY. 

*edit – BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS

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