Kelly’s Heroes

“I love Sex and the City, but there is more to being a woman than shoes and crying over Mr Big,” sighs Kelly, in a cafe on a damp afternoon in Walthamstow.

The sharp-tongued founder and host of Femme FM launched the women-only weekly chat show on International Women’s Day, 8 March.

“I was spending a disproportionate amount of my time thinking about the amazing women I know in my life, and I didn’t see them represented in the media,” says Kelly.

“I wanted to give them a platform to tell their stories.”

Before Femme FM was born, Kelly worked in music studios. Her first job was at a radio station when she was 15, a role she only landed through sheer perseverance and eventually, bribery with chilli con carne.

She went on to “blag” her way into recording studios, where she worked on mastering and remastering albums.

Kelly explains the technical aspect: “Mastering makes the music sound more expensive. You press some buttons and it sounds a bit louder. 25-year anniversary digitally remastered! I did that.”

Originally from Dublin, Kelly spent a seven-year stint in Spain before relocating to London – although in her 21 years she has lived at 22 addresses.

“I’m not a traveller, although I’m Irish and I’ve travelled a lot,” Kelly points out. However, if she was ever bullied at school in Spain, she would scare the other kids off by telling them she was a traveller. It worked.


So what can we expect from Femme FM?

“I’ve just put up a podcast with Lucy and Kaelyn, YouTube vloggers, who have over 230,000 subscribers. They live in America and they are also LGBTQA activists, who are in a relationship. Kaelyn’s a veterinarian and Lucy’s a freelance filmmaker,” Kelly says, in between gulps of flat white.

Then there’s an interview with Manchester-based interactive artist Amy, whose art includes baking ‘passive-aggressive cakes’ and songs written to the tune of a psychiatric breakdown.

Femme FM’s repertoire also includes a junior doctor discussing her thoughts on Jeremy Hunt, a journalist from the Independent examining the death of print, and a lawyer, who talks about sexism in the workplace.

Then without much prompting, Kelly launches into a tirade against the rise of property prices in London.

“DJ Lauren Laverne used to rent an apartment in Soho, and she said this was affordable on artist’s wages. This meant she was able to create things and become a very productive member of society and in a small way, form part of the culture.

“When anybody who’s not a millionaire is priced out of London, you’re killing that culture. It’s gone.

“Art is not just music and paintings. Art is Coronation Street and road signs and leaflet design. We’re going to have a city full of bankers and people working in recruitment, and we need more than that.”

While Kelly still lives in Walthamstow, she tends to stick to the surrounding boroughs when meeting friends.

Here are Kelly’s top five nights out in no particular order:

Kelly Maria: Keep on keeping on



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