Introducing Hack A Heckle – A national gender harassment campaign

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The UK is in a crisis. There are an ever increasing number of young people who are harassing, cat calling and verbally abusing the public. With Young women experiencing verbal harassment from 11 years old and lower, and little being done about it, the Police, government and various organisations are starting to deal with this ever growing issue. With outdated statistics, lack of support and people in fear as to the result of reporting situations, it’s hard to know what the next step is. Well, Hack A Heckle are here to help.

A group of musicians, creatives and activists based in Bristol have joined forces, developing a national campaign using music as a tool to target gender harassment. Having developed the project alongside The XLR Collective, a project at Knowle West Media Centre, the HAH team have been working hard to understand the current cultural climate and found ways to practically target the issue.

The Hack A Heckle team – L to R – Liv, Beth, Millie, Milo, Courtney, Molly, Will (image by Dean Ayotte)

The group have three strands to their national campaign, these being:
– A national survey gathering stories and statistics – COMPLETE THE SHORT SURVEY HERE
– Creating original music based on the topic of harassment – CHECK OUT THEIR MUSIC HERE
– A social media campaign to raise awareness of the issue – WEBSITE

Milo Clack of Hack A Heckle (photo by Dean Ayotte)

Alongside being activists, the group also happen to be ridiculously talented and diverse musicians! Having all already been involved in the local music scene, the group have a real way with words, tackling the delicate issue of harassment in a creative and inspiring way. Whilst developing their campaign the group visited Barcelona to discover alternative approaches to the issue, and whilst there they composed and recorded two original tracks, one of those being Hide, a beautifully subtle and somewhat haunting acoustic track featuring Beth Hamilton, Millie Grant and Courtney-Anne Bicker on vocals, with Milo Clack on guitar and Will Sissons on Bass. This is only the demo version, and after this point the group went on to record their HAH EP, but as a taster, here’s the beautifully subtle Hide:

Having busked and performed throughout the Summer across Bristol, the group developed a wide range of original songs based around the topic of harassment, however this doesn’t come across in an “in your face” way, instead the group deliver the songs with lyrical integrity and maturity that far outweighs many musicians who try to get their point across through aggression or dictatorial statements. Music has evolved (well, in some regards!) and this is clear to see through the diverse and powerful music they’ve created. Drafting in guitarist Mikey Martalette, and Milo Clack taking on vocal duties, the HAH EP is by far one of the most interesting social action projects in recent years, with an emotional call to action similar to that of the War Child campaign, by attempting to access people’s better judgement as opposed to raw emotional responses.

Stand out tracks for us include Lady and Didn’t Even, but every track has been on loop at Wordplay HQ!


Hack A Heckle brand (photo by Dean Ayotte)

It’s easy to start a campaign right?! WRONG! These guys have been grafting, going above and beyond to ensure that Hack A Heckle has the impact they aimed for. Developing their own website, branding, promo plan and events, the group have been establishing themselves as a social force to be reckoned with. Working alongside KWMC to develop a relevant and well crafted survey that ensures the group get the answers to key questions and discover what is being said, by who and where. The survey caught the attention of Bristol Zero Tolerance, who have since collaborated with Hack A Heckle and the Police to create a joint report on harassment in Bristol, the biggest study of it’s kind to date.

To get the results, the group hit the ground running, armed with HAH cupcakes and surveys, pairing their music with the questions to get people interested and excited. Although there are now (thankfully) a number of organisations starting to try and hack (scuse the punn!) away at the issue of harassment, chiefly Goodnightout, Hollaback!, Bristol Zero Tolerance, Safe Gigs For Women and more, the group are the first to date who have used music as their tool for social change.

Hack A Heckle final performance (photo by Dean Ayotte)

Having visited Barcelona to meet local politicians and activists, performed live including being the first live performers at We The Curious (formerly @Bristol), created shared research with BZT and The Police, and creating an amazing EP, the Hack A Heckle team are continuing to make waves, and will be performing live over the coming months, including a performance for International Women’s Day in 2018. Projects like this are few and far between, so be sure check out their links, support the cause, and check out their music, it’s well worth a listen!

Here’s their links:

Words by James Kennaby (Vice beats)