Julia Deans was often the lone female in a sea of male rock musicians during her time with successful Kiwi band Fur Patrol.
She didn't think about it much at the time, "that's just the way it was".
But now Julia has become acutely aware of the novelty factor of women in the music industry.
"With my history as touring artist in the rock world, you would be in touring party of sometimes 30 people and I would be the only woman. I was so used to operating with men — when you are creating something it doesn't matter, gender goes out the window — but since moving back to New Zealand I have been more involved with female artists and I started thinking about it a bit more."
Julia doesn't like label of a "female-fronted band" as it becomes a novelty.
"Female-fronted bands should not be pigeon holed, it's like a sub-genre. I had that my whole life."
Julia recalls being turned down to play somewhere with Fur Patrol because they already had a female-fronted band.
"Throughout my career I have strived to be recognised as a musician first, but often my being a woman has meant I've been looked upon as some kind of novelty. To me, gender should not be an issue. I strongly believe we need to foster an environment that not only welcomes women and encourages them to get involved, but which also encourages men to support women and embrace them as equals."
So Julia is including nine female support acts for her We Light Fire album release tour, coming to Totara St on Friday, August 31. The Tauranga event features Leilani, and a different musician is booked for each gig.
"It was not an easy choice whittling down the list to just one artist in each town. There are so many wonderful women musicians out there. I can't wait to share the stage with them next month."
Songs from the We Light Fire shows Julia moving away from more introspective songwriting, to turning outward to find inspiration.
"I really wanted to write about the things that were going on around me in the world and how I felt about them, instead of the shit going on in my own head. So it's less telling stories about my own journey, and more about what's going on out there."
Burning Cars was inspired by the riots of the Arab Spring and politics in general.
"People are too busy shouting at each other rather than sitting down and listening," she says.
Julia says the songs of We Light Fire is a recognition that we all collectively want the same thing for ourselves and our families.
"Everyone wants a safe and a warm home, they want their children to be feed and loved, you want someone to love you ... these are the things that really bring us together. We light fire, we celebrate life events or grieve, we burn candles to remember or we light a fire to cook food to warm ourselves, it's primal and a ritualistic thing. It's one of the things that make us unique."
Fur Patrol in its day released three albums and had a number one single with Lydia in 2000 before she went out on her own. For a number of years she has thrown herself in to working with acts like The Adults, Tiki Taane and SJD, performing in an impressive array of art festival shows paying tribute to the likes Jacques Brel, Joni Mitchell, and Billie Holiday.
She was in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, and worked with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra twice — first on a show of her own songs with Anika Moa, and then in a tribute to David Bowie.
What: We Light Fire album release tour
Where: Totara St, Mount Maunganui
When: Friday, August 31, doors open 7.30pm