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INTERVIEW: Kate Hutchinson invites us to Rumble in the Jumble

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re very chuffed to be talking to the multi-talented Kate Hutchinson; music journalist, radio star, and DJ. She's the Deputy Editor of The Guardian's weekly supplement, The Guide, and formerly Time Out London's Clubbing Editor. She also managed and programmed Hackney micro-radio station London Fields Radio between 2010-2013 and has DJ'd everywhere from Bestival to Torture Garden and everything in between.

If you need to know anything about great music and London life, Kate's your go-to girl!

On top of all this - she’s now the Managing Director of The Music Circle, the force behind the legendary Rumble in the Jumble. This is an annual opportunity to get your hands on some of your favourite celebrities' gladrags for next to nothing, all in the name of a good cause. Big names donating their wares this year include Annie Lennox, Mark Ronson, Florence And The Machine, Mumford and Sons, Paloma Faith, Alexa Chung, Caroline Flack, Daisy Lowe, Gemma Cairney, Lauren Laverne, Fearne Cotton, Annie Mac & Toddla T, Beth Ditto, Noel Gallagher and Nick Grimshaw - to name a few! Stallholders include Rick Edwards (man stall alert!), The Debrief, Fred Butler and Kim Howells, Jessie Cave, Gaggle, Laura Dockrill (curating a special book stall), Elizabeth Sankey from Summer Camp, Sarah Jane Crawford and many more.

We chatted to Kate about who they're raising money for this year, what to expect on the day and how feminism is starting to make itself heard in the music industry.


RR: Tell us about The Music Circle and how you started working with them?
Kate Hutchinson:
The idea behind The Music Circle is: get a bunch of rad women working in the music industry together, pool their resources, skills and knowledge, and use them to raise money in fun and unique ways to help empower women around the world.

It's part of The Circle, a charity founded by Annie Lennox, that brings women together to discuss relevant issues, inspire each other, share ideas and offer advice in order to create positive change.

The Circle started in 2008, teaming up with Oxfam to support its female-focused initiatives, and it spiralled off into some eight further Circles that bring women together based on common vocations, interests or location, such as The Lawyers Circle, The Asian Circle and The Italian Circle. It also now works with multiple partners.

Ours was formed in 2011 by two music PRs, Emily Cooper and Laura Martin, and I joined around 2012. I’m the ‘Managing Director’, which sounds very official, but it just means that I run the day-to-day ins-and-outs of the group, mainly to organise our annual fundraiser Rumble in the Jumble.

It started off as a jumble sale that Gemma Cairney and Dawn O'Porter did in a church hall in Islington; then The Music Circle expanded it with Gemma and it took over the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club in 2013; and last year we were at Oval Space with over 1,000 people through the door and £27k raised.

It's really kicked off in a way we never imagined. One of our members, Suze Olbrich, wrote a wonderful piece for the Feminist Times about her fundraising experiences and why she is involved in The Music Circle, which is far better than anything I could articulate.


RR: Last year Rumble in the Jumble raised over £27k for women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tell us about the cause you're raising money for this year.
This year our new initiative is centred around women in politics in Myanmar – Oxfam will be helping to increase women’s political representation and advising on policies there.

If you think the gender gap is big in politics here, it's unthinkably vast there: in 2013, it was reported that only 20 out of 659 seats in Parliament belong to women, while in Myanmar’s towns and villages, fewer than one in a thousand leaders and administrators are women. This is a time when massive political reforms are happening and the general election is later this year – and women are wildly underrepresented.

One of the most important messages that The Circle reinforces is that we're all women and we're all connected by that no matter where you are in the world, whether you come from Britain or from Burma. We want to help campaigners like Aung San Suu Kyi raise awareness and funds to help give women there a voice.

RR: You get fantastic donations from music and style icons – what are the most exciting things you've been given?
The last thing I want to do is blow our own trumpet, but… we got Elton John's turquoise and diamanté Dolce & Gabbana suit last year! Everyone wanted to try that on, it was near magical. Other highlights over the years have been Andrew Weatherall's record box filled with new vinyl: that item went so quickly at Rumble in the Jumble 2013 that I wished I'd auctioned it (we tend to keep things at proper jumble prices). I also loved that Suede donated us their old four-track recorder, and that Annie Lennox gave us handwritten Sweet Dreams lyrics. Damon Albarn also gave us some sunglasses that he'd written a poem on, too – people were definitely falling over themselves to buy those.


RR: With donations from big brands like ASOS, AllSaints and Whistles, it must be tempting to stock up for your own wardrobe. Do you get any time to shop on the day or is it all too hectic?
I do try to have a quick whip round as the stuff we get donated is so unique – it's really not like any other jumble sale (though we do have fill-a-bag-for-£5 area that goes down a storm). I tend to do the rounds towards the end of the day when the crowds have chilled out a bit more and the items have been reduced. I've done quite well from the last two Rumble in the Jumbles – I picked up a Mark Lupfer tuxedo jacket that belonged to the stylist Grace Woodward and a Scissor Sisters bandana that has penises in the paisley, though I haven't had the guts to wear the latter out yet.

RR: Is there a secret to finding the best jumble on the day? Elbow spurs?
The best way is to hang out at the jumble sale all day – we pepper the stalls with celebrity items throughout every hour so that everyone has a chance to get their paws on something special. I find a glass of fizz or two on the terrace also helps to limber up for rooting around the rails.

RR: What else is on offer on the day besides shopping?
It's definitely more than just a jumble sale – we have DJs soundtracking the day, tea from Joe's Tea Co and cakes (this year from Drink, Shop & Do and Standard Issue magazine). There'll be meatballs (plus a vegetarian option!) from The Bowler on Oval Space's terrace, which is great for hanging out on. And if you're going out on Saturday night, you have to get your hair done by Bumble & Bumble and your make-up by Smashbox and then get papped in The Photo Emporium's dress-up photo booth. The former sell off all their amazing makeup at jumble prices, too, so you can get some beauty bargains.


RR: The Music Circle is just one of many great charities and organisations popping up that combine music and feminism. As a DJ and a music journalist yourself, this must feel like an exciting time for women in music. What are your hopes for the future?
In the music sphere, things are still pretty diabolical – rubbish ratios of female bands and DJs to male bands and DJs at festivals, very few women in top music business positions, a music media that is too timid to put more women on their front covers, the fact that no female has ever been a Record Store Day ambassador, to name a few issues – but the tide is slowly changing.

It's a varied and disparate selection but things like panel talks, the WOW Festival at Southbank, educational initiatives like HOW Music, and the launch of new women-centric websites like The Pool and Broadly, VICE's forthcoming feminism channel, help to shine a light on these disparities and raise awareness.

Basically, there are loads more women who want to help other women out. And on a very basic level, there are more female journalists who want to write about female artists than ever before and there are more female DJs playing in clubs and hosting radio shows. It's hardly a level playing field but it's certainly well on its way and people are more conscious of it. I feel super positive about the future.

The Music Circle and Gemma Cairney present
Rumble in the Jumble #4
1-6pm, Sat 9 May
Oval Space
29-32 The Oval
London E2 9DT

For all details of Rumble in the Jumble #4 including pics of new donations, join the facebook event here.

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