Melania Jack and Patty Preece are The Ironing Maidens, an award-winning electronic duo exploring the nexus of domestic labour, technology and the history of women in the development of electronic music.
The project began when the pair came upon the work of Daphne Oram, an early pioneer of electronic music who laid an essential foundation for the development of production technology.
“When we discovered Daphne and dug a little deeper, we found all of these other amazing women through history,” Melania says. “It was really great to be able to find other women because you could then connect with the work they'd done.
"It's influenced the work we're doing now and steers that thread through time and development, and how electronic music has been one, big, long experiment and continues to be.”
Melania and Patty transform everyday irons and ironing boards into tools of audio production using their refined skills as producers and sound engineers to create their unique breed of music.
This month, The Ironing Maidens release the first single from their forthcoming, self-titled debut EP, which is due out in June.
Entitled 'Electro Housewife', the track highlights a parallel between the dismissal of women's work in the home and the lack of recognition women have received for their contribution to the history of electronic music production.
“It's a homage to early Chicago house music and has samples with 1950s advertising, little sound bytes that mostly at the time were enticing women into housework, so our take on the song is a bit of an ironic look at that,” Melania says.
She adds that neither the song or the core concept of The Ironing Maidens is about demeaning or discrediting the role of a housewife. “It's like a celebration of it. For us it's about recognition of women's work in the home and in the industry; it's about being able to celebrate it.”
The Ironing Maidens hit the road from the middle of January for their 'Strike While The Iron Is Hot' laundromat tour, which has them playing site-specific performances at laundromats throughout regional NSW.
Melania says the shows are an entirely immersive experience that play out more like a piece of performance art than a concert.
“Some of the irons are little synthesizers and we literally play the music through,” she explains.
“Then with some of the ironing boards there are triggers that trigger different music events and sounds. Then we have contact microphones we use on the washers and dryers that we feed into the show through the music.
“The laundromat itself is quite transformed with lighting and projections, and we also have an installation art piece called 'Disclosure Line', so there's a lot going on for the audience; there's a lot to experience in the laundromat.”
After working on and touring the project for the past five years, Melania says she and Patty have discovered a universal truth about ironing: people love it with a passion or hate it with a vengeance. “This is the interesting thing we've been finding,” she says, “that people either really love it or they really hate it.
"People really identify with either side and will often tell us very strong opinions for or against ironing. Some people find it to be a meditation and other people think it's the most useless time-waster in the world.”
The Ironing Maidens Tour DatesSat 13 Jan - Koala Park Laundromat (Gold Coast)
Wed 17 Jan - North Hill Laundromat (Armidale)
Sat 20 Jan - The Wash House (Dubbo)
Tue 23 Jan - Spic n Span Laundromat (Griffith)
Thu 25 Jan - Splash Laundrette (Wagga Wagga)
Sat 27 Jan - City Central Laundry Services (Wollongong)
Tue 30 Jan - The Edwards Laundrette (Newcastle)
Thu 1 Feb - The Bellingen Laundrette (Bellingen)