The Anger & Irony Driving Second Idol’s Belting New Single ‘Boxing Ring’

8 March 2024 | 4:08 pm | Ellie Robinson

“It feels as though we're thrown into a boxing ring with each other, fighting for scraps, where often the more femme-presenting individual wins and men leer from every corner.”

Second Idol

Second Idol (Credit: Ben Westover)

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Sydney’s underground rock scene is teeming with incredible acts, many of whom are hellbent on wreaking havoc to the status quo – redefining the cultural landscape of Australian music, and what it means to “make it” as an up-and-coming band in this ever-cutthroat industry. Second Idol are one of those bands: a four-piece force of hazy, punk-laced rock’n’roll fury.

The band’s recorded debut came in late 2020 with the standalone single Army Of Me, followed in May ’21 with the five-track EP Defence Mechanisms. But although Second Idol as a unit are fresh to the scene, its members – frontwoman Kate Farquharson, lead guitarist Sunny Josan, bassist Theia Joyeaux and drummer Afeef Iqbal – are not. They’ve all lived rich and storied lives amid the music industry and its accompanying culture, and they’re well posed to comment on its myriad of pros and cons.

Their latest single, Boxing Ring – which arrives today (March 8) as the first preview of their as-yet-untitled debut album – shines a spotlight on one of the most glaring cons: the undying parasite that is misogyny. As Farquharson explained in a statement, the track is a “reflection on being a woman in the music industry” – a world she agrees can often “be a circus”.

Farquharson continues: “[Boxing Ring is] informed by the barriers women face in the music industry. It’s about our aspirations, dreams and struggles. The title refers to the continual fight that we face in the industry: that women, non-binary and trans musicians are often treated as diversity trophies, novelised, and not taken seriously. We're constantly pitted against each other and cut down. It feels as though we're thrown into a boxing ring with each other, fighting for scraps, where often the more femme-presenting individual wins and men leer from every corner. Join us in the ring to fight our way out.”

Speaking to, the singer and guitarist noted that Boxing Ring “really just fell out of” her in a surge of creativity. She says of her songwriting process: “I’ll usually start with a riff and [hope that] a lyric idea might just come to me. [Boxing Ring] kind of started as one of those instances. It started with the opening line, ‘Here comes another daydream’ – it made me think about all the things I dream about, being a musician. And I suppose with that direction, I was kind of guided to unpack my experiences, and all the things I’ve witnessed and observed as a woman in music.”

Farquharson admits she was mostly blind to the scene’s Patriarchal tendencies when she first became embedded within it. But after she graduated from punter to performer, she became acutely aware “just how prevalent it all is, the bias that exists, and how, when you’re in band that has female, trans and non-binary members, you're automatically pigeonholed into a particular category. You’re not treated like your male peers are treated – you’re constantly being devalued and underestimated. It’s just frustrating.”

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Boxing Ring was written to reflect on that frustration – but ironically, the release itself has been a source of frustration for the band, rooted in the very sexism the single aims to call out.

The song was originally set to have an early premiere yesterday (March 7), with a webzine focussed on alternative music (and well-known among the scene nationwide) onboard to host the drop. The band sunk finances into it, being promised editorial and advertising. But late last week, that webzine platformed a band whose frontman has a well-documented history of sexual assault allegations – something Farquharson says staunchly “is at absolute odds with our values and our ethos”.

Particularly given the song’s background – and the fact it’s pointedly releasing on International Women’s Day – the band swiftly decided they couldn’t move forward with the premiere; “It would be unethical,” Farquharson says, “and it would go against everything we stand for”.

To that end, the band found they were being “treated like a diversity trophy” for that particularly webzine – and unsurprisingly, the people behind it weren’t all that keen to have their woke points rescinded from them. “Their reception hasn’t been too great,” Farquharson chuckles. “They're refusing to give us our funds back, too, so we're losing out on the exposure and we’ve lost money on it.

“It’s just a very cruel irony: because of the actions of men in the industry, and the decisions they've made, it's ultimately bands like ourselves – that have women, trans and non-binary people in them – who miss out in the end. And to be honest, I still feel like I've been somewhat lucky with the way I've been treated in the industry; I know artists who have been through much worse than us. But for this to happen on such a release, with the subject matter this song has... it's just so tone-deaf, and it’s really kind of ridiculous that it’s happening.”

The upside to it all is that Second Idol have a bright future ahead nonetheless: they’ll launch Boxing Ring with headline shows in Sydney and Melbourne – respectively playing The Vic On The Park on Friday April 5, and The Catfish on Saturday April 27 – and they’ll formally announce their debut album in just a few months from now.

“We’re really excited about [the album],” Farquharson beams, noting that in the process of writing and recording it, the band “delved into some different concepts and story ideas”. It’s framed primarily around ideas of gender and power, which the bandleader says are themes integral to the band both on and off the stage – “That’s the world I live in,” she says, “and those are the things I intersect and engage with in my life” – but fans can expect quite a few curveballs, too.

“It’s a lot bigger sounding,” she teases. “It dials into some new themes. [Boxing Ring] is the first taste of what to expect, but we're really looking forward to revealing more later in the year.”