Punk and beyond’s baddest bitch is approaching the release of her debut album. Delilah Bon, a.k.a Lauren Tate, a.k.a Hands Off Gretel’s formidable frontwoman, a.k.a Bittersweet Flavour of 2021 and Band of the Month, is taking on a new challenge in the form of her fresh brat-punk hip-hop record, and she’s nailing it. Stunning, mighty feminist anthems that uplift and empower women is her game, and she’s on a winning streak. Back in December, we had a chat all about her ethos and Delilah Bon mission, but she’s been busy since then – so we caught up to talk TikTok, the album, and everything besides.
She’s been busy with videos, singles, and generally smashing it, but she’s already raring to go – “I’ve already written my second album! I think the sound’s evolved, I’ve got better at everything! These new songs I’ve written, yes I’m excited for them, but I’ve been really strict with myself. I need to release [the album] because I know how good they are, but I’ll move on! I’ve been trying to challenge myself, more so on some of my newer songs, they’re faster, more challenging, more dynamic, more rap than the album. When I first did the album I was kind of nervous to rap, but I’ve just practiced and practiced!”
Rap is a genre that’s as male-dominated as punk – it’s easy to imagine the pressure of breaking into it. “Well, It took me six years to be accepted into the punk world, and I’ve had to prove myself with that, so now going into the hip-hop world it’s really intimidating! I don’t know anybody, I don’t have any connections, I’m just discovering them slowly. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about women in hip-hop cos I don’t wanna just come in and steal someone’s culture and try and rebrand it like oh, look what I invented! It’s scary and I’ve got a lot to prove, but I feel like I can.”
Lauren isn’t new to having to prove herself to people in the scene, either. “It’s always been something I’ve struggled with, finding my place, cos it’s just a boys’ club! It’s a boys’ club where I’ve been, people treat me differently because of my gender and that will always be a thing. I remember being nervous to wear my dresses on stage cos I imagined, if you see me dressing like this you might underestimate me. I’m singing punk music in a dress and I’m girly and I always took it to extreme levels where I wear a dress, be very doll-like and everything pink. I really enjoy doing a very hyperfeminine look, and then you start screaming!
“I’ve had it from men saying, you shouldn’t dress like that, you should dress like a rock chick, you should wear leather, you should dress like this, and ugh. That is the opposite of what I wanna do! How I dress is exciting for me, it challenges the perceptions of punk.”
Yes, yes, yes – femininity, celebrating it, uplifting womanhood. That is what Delilah Bon is all about, no holds barred. “Sometimes I’ve not sung about certain things cos I imagine it making people uncomfortable and I tread carefully with what I put in songs, but this time I have not tread carefully! I’ve been unapologetic in my wordings, and I just want some girls like me in their bedrooms, that feel low in their self confidence, to put on Delilah Bon and get a boost! That they can do what they want to do, dress how they want to dress, love who they want to love. I just want it to be a celebration of all the best things about being a woman and supporting other women, self love, all of the good stuff.”
If, like Lauren, you’ve felt like an outsider sometimes, you’ll understand how important Delilah’s messages of sisterhood really are. “It’s me wanting something! I feel like many girls feel like me, they want this sisterhood but they don’t have it, they want to be part of a girl gang, but have never had one! And I’ve never had one, a group of supportive girls around me, but that’s changed now and I do – but when I was in school it was so competitive, girls would just drag each other down, always impressing the boys. I’m just trying to build something that I can have for myself, and share with people. I’ve had to build it myself cos I have not found it easily.”
It’s not just sisterhood either – Lauren’s favourite lyric from the album is a nod to her lovely mum. “It’s in Red Dress, ‘we’re proving ‘em wrong, uplifting each other’, something like that! It was so important to acknowledge my mum, I’ve never acknowledged her in my lyrics before but when she heard that song she was like WHAT? ME?! My mum has had so many people doubting her abilities, and they’ve spoke down to her because they’ve assumed she’s not professional and she’s faced so much backlash. Everything I’ve gone through she’s gone through with me, and to acknowledge her in that lyric was so important to me cos we really are like a dream team.”
Quickfire round – what is Lauren most nervous, and excited, about, on the album? “I used to be quite nervous about Freak of the Week, when I sing about a vibrator! When I think about my family listening. I’ve already said everything to annoy someone that’s gonna be annoyed, but seeing my dad’s face as I sing about a vibrator, that’s scary.”
“In my song War On Women there’s a story about a transgender girl. I speak with a lot of trans people on Instagram that love my music, but I’ve never written about it because I usually sing from my perspective, so to sing about someone else, it made me quite emotional! Not enough people are singing about trans issues, and I’ve written more about it since but this is my first so I’m really excited for people to hear it.”
Social Media. Two words impossibly intertwined in the music industry now – Insta, TikTok, Twitter – but as Delilah Bon proves, it can be a total blessing. “My dad says you don’t need social media, all you neede to do is get a flyer and stick it to a lamp post!” Lauren laughs, “but without social media, I couldn’t have the connection I have with fans. I used to hate TikTok, my little brother had it and every time I heard it I was like, I HATE that sound! But then I had a go, but I hated it because I tried to be funny and I got attacked by all these little teenagers… but I committed and in the past year I’ve gone to 100,000 followers, one of my videos hit a million views!”
Obviously the incredible I Don’t Listen To You video was a TikTok baby too – “there were so many! At first I was like what if I don’t get enough? But by the end it was chaos, there were so many I wanted to cram, and I wanted to credit everyone too cos if it wasn’t for them doing the videos in the first place I wouldn’t have a video. I just want people to be dancing to my music, but I don’t know how to make them dance! It’s been crazy – there’s one girl in particular that made a video that had over a million views and she’s a pole dancer and aaaah I love it. I can’t pole dance so when I see people doing it I just applaud.”
Delilah Bon is out FRIDAY!