by Helen Culley, first published in LondonTourdates #052 ,14th August 2009
Someone says girl band and, at best, you think punk/80âs enthusiasts, gyrating âgirlyâ girls wearing too much eye-liner and with their bras on show. Throw âoh btw theyâre also a choirâ into the mix and you might expect the latest offering from X-Factor first round rejects carrying a strong Jehovahâs Witness vibe. The polar opposite of ALL of the above can be said of Londonâs all-female 22-strong music group Gaggle, headed by choir mistress Debra Coughlin.
She is, of course, the alpha female of the clan - no Mother Goose puns please. There is still a strong sense of does-what-it-says-on-the-tin about Gaggle, yet theyâre out to knock down boundaries. Pitching themselves as an alternative to burlesque, reality TV and bad boy bands, they formed at drinking spot The George Tavern, their official HQ nesting/stomping/rehearsal ground and general home-from-home.
Who says there canât be a non-novelty, all girl alternative choir, spectacular, attractive and talented in equal measure?
Coughlin - formerly of 586 - started out with a clear vision of what she wanted: to create an all-female choir. Except yâknow, with a non-church vibe. You would think that with 21 team members it might be difficult to keep everyone happy but the group have always shared the same aspirations - as intellectuals and feminists with the aim of making music but doing something different: âSomething that didnât already exist, the group is a landscape - a work of art.â