When you think of psychedelic music, what comes to mind? Is it Jimi Hendrix decimating a guitar solo? Is it the vast soundscapes of Pink Floyd? Could it be the immersive vibes of Grateful Dead? There are many unarguably iconic male-fronted bands of the genre. But have you ever delved into the oeuvre of the women who exemplify the psychedelic vibe and ethos? Although there are not as many well-known female artists, when compared to your Zappas and your Barrets, they certainly exist, and are every part as trippy as their male counterparts. 

Times Were A’Changing

At the same time that psychedelic music was being forged in the 1960s, society was changing at a pace. Not only were Civil Rights advancing, and environmental concerns coming to the fore, women’s rights were smack-bang in the spotlight too. More and more women entered the workplace, and the (still unrealised!) goal of equal pay for equal work was established. The introduction of the pill meant women had more autonomy over their bodies. The future seemed so bright, you had to wear groovy sunglasses.

It follows then, that the women who helped to build the psychedelic music movement at this time, were free and creative in ways that had not been ‘acceptable’ before. Their mothers were homemakers, with coiffed hair, dinner on the table at six, and a baby on each hip. This new generation wore their hair long, danced wildly, and knew they could be anything they wanted. In the many years that have followed, despite society opening itself almost entirely to women, psychedelic music, and the sounds and aesthetics of the movement, still represent a special kind of freedom to both women and men. The chance to get crazy, convene with nature, and dream. 

International Women’s Day 2024

So, for International Women’s Day 2024, we’re going to push the ladies to the front. From the beginnings of the psychedelic genre, to today’s new wave of trippy tunes. We may just introduce you to your new favorite band… you’re welcome.

Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit, (1967)

Grace Slick, of Jefferson Airplane, is one of the first vocalists that come to mind when noodling in the psychedelic soup of the ’60s — and for good reason. Jefferson Airplane were huge on the San Francisco scene, and became one of the first to enjoy international commercial success. Check out their 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow.

Big Brother and the Holding Company, Ball and Chain, (1968)

You may recognise Miss Janis Joplin in the line-up of this iconic band, formed in California in 1965. Check out their 1968 album, Cheap Thrills.

Ultimate Spinach, (Ballad of) The Hip Death Goddess, (1968)

Ultimate Spinach, though an ultimately short-lived band (active from 1967-1969), left a huge impact. Barbara Hudson, just out of high school, made the band iconic with her haunting vocals. Check out their self-titled 1968 album, Ultimate Spinach.

Shocking Blue, Send Me a Postcard, (1968)

You may unfortunately know their most famous song (Venus) from a Gilette commercial, but before that, this iconic band, hailing from The Hague, Netherlands, were creating incredible psych. Mariska Veres was the powerful vocalist for their powerful tunes — and her signature look of dark-rimmed eyes, and long black hair (a wig!) was powerful too. Check out their 1970 album, Scorpio’s Dance.

Fairport Convention, Matty Groves, (1969)

For those who are fans of the Druid magic truffle, Sandy Denny-fronted Fairport Convention brought psych-folk with a twist of the medieval into the public consciousness. Check out their 1969 album Liege and Leaf.

Kate Bush, The Dreaming, (1982)

While Kate Bush is certainly considered ‘a bit out there’, people often overlook that her idiosyncratic output has definite psychedelic parallels. Perfect for twirling and whirling. Check out her 1982 album, The Dreaming.

Melody’s Echo Chamber, Crystallized, (2012)

Surfing the Neo-Psych wave of the 2010s, Melody Prochet, as Melody’s Echo Chamber, created dreamy soundscapes that turned a whole new generation onto the psychedelic sound.

Seratones, Kingdom Come, (2015)

Seratones, formed in 2013, and hailing from Louisiana, add a swampy soul edge to their psychedelic groove. Vocalist and guitarist AJ Haynes fronts the band. Check out their 2022 album Love & Algorithms.

Goat, Let It Burn, (2018)

Goat are a mysterious and magical band. Literally. Supposedly hailing from a commune in the north of Sweden, they keep their identities mainly secret, performing in mask and costume. Therefore we unfortunately cannot reveal the name of the female vocalist you hear. However, we can appreciate their commitment to community and dispersed identity. They are all one. Trippy, eh? Check out all their albums, (we can’t choose!) from 2012 to present day.

La Luz, Strange World, (2024)

Formed in 2012, La Luz harness the kaleidoscopic swirl of modern psych whilst smooshing it together with angelic harmonies. Check out their 2021 album La Luz.

So, got your soundtrack ready for your next trip? Of course, these are just a few of the women who help to make psychedelic music great — there are many more to listen to and discover. Happy International Women’s Day!