The Ironing Maidens are principally the duo of Melania and Patty, who perform electronic music using laptops, microphones and MIDI-enabled irons
Their songs reference domestic activities and the performances in laundromats throughout regional NSW provide an ideal setting to deliver their irresistible dance music.
LED lights and other production values transform these spaces into discotheques, while the music reminds me of the brashness of Peaches — with costumes and pointed social commentary.
The performance at Griffith’s delightful Little Red Launderette started with an ironing competition, with Melania quizzing contestants and Patty looping their responses to join the accompanying music.
When the former took position behind the ironing board and the musical performance properly began, it was soon clear that the novel setting and instruments serve a conceptual purpose.
In her introduction Melania spoke of “ironing the wrinkles of patriarchy” and linked the development of the electric washing machine with the synthesiser developed by electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram.
This juxtaposition, much like their name, locates The Ironing Maidens at the intersection of music and gender politics. It might seem like a shtick at first but it’s so thoughtfully executed in composition and performance that it makes most rock bands look naive.
The second song eased the tempo and the tone became more serious, acknowledging that all around the world young girls have been forced into institutionalised domestic labour.
A later song promotes a role for males to share this load or “get off the road” and it’s good advice seeing census data continues to show females undertake the majority of unpaid domestic labour.
Earlier in the day I’d attended a workshop run by Patty and Melania, which aimed at introducing the basics of Ableton Live, the software used to deliver their electronic music.
They had enthused about the work of Oram while offering insights into the MIDI programming used to write the beats and basslines.
It was great to see electronic music performed in Griffith but particularly excellent to see a group of women presenting empowering messages and empowering people to express themselves.
I was already a fan of Ableton Live but I am now a fan of The Ironing Maidens.