Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches: “Pop Culture Introduced Me to Gay Rights & Feminism”

The Scottish frontwoman tells us how she found her way into being a feminist and LGBTQ ally.

As the frontwoman of the Scottish electro-pop band Chvrches, Lauren Mayberry is a feminist-identified musician and LGBTQ ally who lends her time to human rights causes when she’s not recording in the studio or on tour. A talented vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who plays drums, samplers and synthesizers on stage with bandmates Iain Cook and Martin Doherty, Mayberry is passionate about music’s ability to inform and educate as much as it is to entertain.

image via Shutterstock

“I think for me I just grew up playing in bands and meeting so many people through that,” Mayberry told GO, “and so many of my best friends are in the LGBT community. I guess it was something that always seemed completely logical to me, that just because something doesn’t affect you directly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about it and try to have empathy about things.”

Chvrches has “a huge gay following,” Mayberry noted and said that it’s “important” she “check[s her] privilege as a white, cis, straight woman.”

“Just because I get to coast around in a nice cushy little bubble, that’s not how it is for everybody,” Mayberry said.

And I guess now being in the band that we’re in, having a huge gay following, and I think you know, just trying to check my privilege as a white, cis, straight woman is pretty important and just remembering that I have it pretty fucking good. I think we’re really lucky that we travel in a really mixed crew and we always been lucky enough that we had—we were able to choose people to work with that we felt shared our ethos, and I suppose that’s the benefit of working with people you’ve known for a long time.”

Mayberry, who performed at a recent Ally Coalition talent show in New York City raising thousands of dollars that went to New Alternatives, a local LGBT youth homeless shelter, said it’s “more rare than [she] hoped it would be” to meet other musicians who care about causes outside of themselves and their respective careers.

“We were really lucky that we got to sit down at the very beginning of the band talk about what we would do and how we wanted to do things,” Mayberry said. “I guess sometimes those things are slightly more difficult and definitely less lucrative, but I think you sleep a lot better at night. Being on the road is such an unorthodox experience, but you do it so much that it becomes normal. And if it is going to become normal, I would like that to be a lot of community and society that I want to be a part of and not just reinforcing things we already know are awful in the world.”

Lauren Mayberry with JD Samson at the Ally Coalition Talent Show after-party
photo by Lindsey Byrnes for GO

Mayberry’s ability to inspire listeners and future generations of young feminists and allies is something that she sees not only as important, but imperative, and believes that it’s through pop culture that many young people find those pivotal connections.

“I discovered the idea of feminism when I watched the film ’10 Things I Hate About You,'” she said. “It’s a classic. …There’s a bit where they’re talking about watching the Letters to Cleo show and they said ‘They’re okay, but they’re no Raincoats or Bikini Kill’ and I loved everything about Julia Stiles in that movie so I was like ‘What are these things? Writing these down!’ And then I remember going and getting Bikini Kill singles from a secondhand shop in the city. And then there in ‘Rebel Girl’ there was the line ‘They say she’s a dyke but I know. She is my best friend,’ and I remember being a 13-year-old girl like ‘What does dyke mean?’ … But for me, I always learned about things through music or films or books or some kind of pop culture and I think that people who are snobby about how you find out people are different from you or how you find your political beliefs isn’t helpful, because having something in a book makes it quite abstract and unapproachable and I don’t think without music I would have met half the people I met and I wouldn’t have the opinions I have. I’m grateful for it.”