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XpoNorth An independent publication from www.canongate.org

Distributed with The Times Scotland 10 May 2017

Scotland’s leading creative industries festival

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Insights from BBC commissioning editors

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Matteo Alessi meets Harris Tweed

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INVERNESS 7 & 8 JUNE 2017 The birth of ‘Dream Plan Do’

Bocelli & Me

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Michael Radford returns to Scotland

Josh Rabinowitz interviewed


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XPONORTH

INTERVIEW

XpoNorth An independent publication by Canongate Communications

10 May 2017

Amanda Millen, Director of XpoNorth. Picture: Drew Farrell

2 INTERVIEW Amanda Millen on festival’s growth

3 SCREENING Michael Radford wraps up in Rome

4 STORYTELLING What top broadcasters look for

5 BRANDING Matteo Alessi and Harris Tweed

6 SOURCING The birth of ‘Dream, Plan, Do’

7 MUSICMAKING Josh Rabinowitz interviewed

8 XPONORTH LIVE! Inside the festival’s TV studio

The importance of story arc EDITOR Will Peakin

0131 561 7364 will@futurescot.com DEPUTY EDITOR

Kevin O’Sullivan 0131 561 7364 kevin@futurescot.com

XpoNorth has grown into an international phenomenon but for its director a new direction beckons

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BY WILLIAM PEAKIN

Hamish Miller 0131 561 7344 hamish@canongate.org

It was at least 40 minutes after arriving at Amanda Millen’s house before I managed to break the news to her: “Actually, I’m here to interview you.” Laughter: “Right! Sorry!” Millen had been busy taking me through the programme for XpoNorth 2017. Which was good. I had bought with me inexpertly taped together sheets from Excel, with names and session titles that jumped out highlighted. And in my head, I had neatly conceptualised the two-day festival, showcasing the creative industries, according to the five networks in the Highlands and Islands supporting them; ‘Screen and Broadcast’, ‘Music’, ‘Design’, ‘Writing and Publishing’, and ‘Craft, Fashion and Textiles’. But … before I arrived, I was still having trouble seeing the festival as a whole. Which was why the 40 minutes - during which I should have been peppering Millen with questions about how she became director, how it has grown from around 100 attendees to more than 2,000, how it attracts international industry leaders, and about its role in showcasing Scotland’s creative industries to the world - were well spent. Listening to Millen, themes that cut across the different creative industries became clear; the importance of storytelling, the power of local and global talent sharing the same stage, and how individual creativity can become a

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business while staying true to its roots. “We’re a team, everyone works hard,” said Millen, “and I have a singular vision of what this festival needs to be; engaging that wider audience, bringing to Scotland people at the top of their game, and helping generate economic value among creative businesses in the Highlands and Islands.” THE ANNUAL Inverness-based

XpoNorth festival, formerly goNORTH, is Scotland’s leading creative industries festival. A hot-bed of creative activity, it takes place over two days and nights in the Highland capital; the only festival of its kind in Scotland covering crafts, fashion and textiles, writing and publishing, screen and broadcast, and music, it is a unique event in the UK’s cultural calendar. But the work of XpoNorth, which is funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE, the European Regional Development Fund, and Creative Scotland, in developing creative talent throughout the Highlands and Islands also continues throughout the year.

“There are a lot of key influencers who attend and creative connections are forged every minute of the day” Amanda Millen

XpoNorth will be held in venues across Inverness, on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 June. By day, it hosts a packed programme of panels and workshops featuring leading industry players in the fields of crafts, publishing, screen, music and more. Delegates can also jump in and out of a specially-curated short film programme; a Millen addition to the festival and one dear to her heart. On site at Eden Court, hands-on training is taking place in the shape of initiatives like live television station, XpoNorth Live! which is staffed by trainees. One-to-one mentoring sessions run throughout both days. Technology is always to the fore and this year, a Tech Playground will introduce new concepts across the creative industries spectrum. By night, it offers a “beguiling blend of Highland hospitality” in the form of relaxed networking events, coupled with a free music showcase in intimate venues and a curated short film programme. All of this is free to access. “Part of the magic of XpoNorth is its unique atmosphere,” said Millen. “The XpoNorth experience offers delegates across the creative spectrum an inspiring daytime schedule followed by the evening music and film mix. All set against a backdrop of the beautiful Highlands in midsummer.” TEN YEARS ago, Millen was a

producer working at BBC Scotland when she was invited by HIE to devise a strategy for developing the screen and broadcast industries in the region. “There was nothing, and the first thing I did – and which I still do to this day – is get to know people on the ground, their skills, talents and ambition.” Today, ScreenHI works to develop the film, television, radio, online and gaming industries by delivering a programme of initiatives, events,

mentoring schemes and activities to provide a skill base and opportunities for practitioners based in the Highlands and Islands. Early on, while she developed the strategy, Millen contributed some content to goNORTH, the existing music festival, and as her involvement deepened she saw delegate numbers steadily increase from a few hundred to more than 1,000. In 2015, the name was changed to XpoNorth, reflecting the variety of content and to better embrace the different creative industries networks. By then the festival was attracting 1,500 delegates; last year it was more than 2,000. “It’s become huge,” said Millen. “Today, XpoNorth is a wide-reaching conference and showcase which brings together a host of elements under one creative umbrella. There are a lot of key creative industries influencers who attend and creative connections are forged every minute of the day during XpoNorth.” Bringing someone of the stature of Michael Radford, the director of Il Postino, as well as 1984, with John Hurt, and The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino, to the festival this year is indicative of the approach Millen has taken in attracting international leaders in their field to Scotland. But, so too is the delight she takes in seeing great Scottish talent – such as Chrisella Ross, creator of the Gaelic drama Bannan, produced by Chris Young of The Inbetweeners fame – emerge. “It was around 2008, and we were doing storytelling workshops. We sat down and started chatting about story, and I just knew instantly that she absolutely had it; she understood character, people, story arc, how to hook an audience. It was amazing.” For Millen, this is her last year as director; a new direction beckons.


SCREENING

10 May 2017

‘I hope they don’t throw me to the lions’ Director Michael Radford discusses his ‘biopic’ of Andrea Bocelli BY WILLIAM PEAKIN It’s 9pm in Rome and I’m keeping Michael Radford from dinner with his editing team. “I’m knackered, to put it mildly,” says the Oscar nominated writer/director (Nineteen Eighty-Four, Il Postino, The Merchant of Venice), via FaceTime. Radford has been working on The Music of Silence, a ‘biopic’ of the tenor Andrea Bocelli, who was born with glaucoma and lost his sight completely, aged 12, when he suffered a brain haemorrhage after being hit by a football. Last August, Radford was in Tuscany, where Bocelli grew up, working on the script with Anna Pavignano, his collaborator on Il Postino, before switching to Rome for pre-production and then filming in November and December. Post-production took up the early months of this year and now he is looking forward to a short break before aiming to complete the film by June. “It’s been quite an experience,” said Radford, who took several attempts at persuasion by the producer to direct the film. “The problem with biopics is that a good film is not shaped in the clear, linear way life unfolds. And particularly if the subject is still alive there is the danger they will say: ‘That didn’t happen,’ if you use some dramatic device to help convey the story. “But I think it works; it’s a powerful story about a kid who was born nearly blind, then goes completely blind, but who had this ambition and kind of went off the rails because he thought it wasn’t going to happen. And then, relatively late in life, becomes this global phenomenon. I like the people in the film; I like their humanity.” It stars Toby Sebastian (Game of Thrones) as Bocelli and Antonio Banderas (One Upon a Time in Mexico) as his mentor. Luisa Ranieri (Letters to Juliet) will plays his mother and Ennio Fantastichini (Open Doors) his uncle. Radford said: “We used mostly Italian actors, but speaking English – which I wondered about initially, but it actually feels very authentic.” The film was a challenge technically, he added, “a lot of extremely difficult sound stuff, and a lot of visual effects as there always seems to be in films these days.” The irony is not lost on Radford whose Nineteen Eighty-Four was lauded for its visual effects, when in fact there weren’t any. “Everything was shot for real. There were 2,000 extras. What was playing on the television screens was shot on film, not added afterwards, so when you did close-ups you had to make sure you had the right thing playing on the screen behind. All of that was very complicated,” he said. “But it was fabulous to do, it was a fantastic moment in my life – I was just a kid when I made it –

and I’m just so pleased people haven’t forgotten about it!” Earlier this year, more than 200 independent cinemas across America – and some in Europe – held a screening day for Nineteen Eighty-Four in protest at Donald Trump’s presidency. “It’s still being shown in some places,” said Radford, who shot a new introduction and interview for the occasion. In it, Radford speaks about how he had just made Another Time, Another Place – the story of a Scottish housewife during World War Two who has an affair with an Italian prisoner of war. “It had some critical and cultural success and they started talking about the ‘new British cinema’, of which I appeared to be a part, and I spoke to my producer Simon Perry and said: ‘Look, no-one’s making Nineteen Eighty-Four and we are nearly in 1984, it’s October 1983; why not? “We got in touch with the person who held the rights to the book, a Chicago lawyer called Marvin Rosenblum and Simon said: ‘Look, we don’t have any money, but Michael is prepared to write the script and I’ll go out and raise some money.’ And we promised to do this by 1 January 1984.” Ensconced in a room in Paris, Radford wrote the script in three weeks. Perry approached Richard Branson, who put up the funding. They began pre-production on 1 January, shooting in April and the film was released in September 1984. With Suzannah Hamilton cast as Julia and John Hurt as Winston, they were having problems with who to play O’Brien. “We were looking around and kind of trying to ignore Richard Burton, because of his reputation [as a drinker]. But he made a promise to himself that he was going to do this. “He had this little ritual every morning. His friend Brooky would turn up with an already opened can of Diet Coke and give it to Richard who would look at it and then hand it to me and ask: ‘Would you like a sip?’. And I’d sip it, and there would be no alcohol in it. But nobody would say anything. That was it, ‘Would you like a sip?’, every single day. “He was amazing. After we finished, he gave me a picture of ourselves together, with a note that said: ‘Of the 72 directors I have worked with only eight have given me a new dimension, and you are one of them.’ It went straight to my head of course!” It was an endorsement early in his career that Radford could add to those from Jean-Luc Godard and Bernardo Bertolucci, who had both written to him in praise of Another Time, Another Place. He is hoping for a similarly positive reaction to The Music of Silence: “When it comes out, I am due to appear at the Colosseum with Andrea to talk with him about the film; I just hope they don’t throw me to the lions.” ‘A Masterclass with Film Director Michael Radford’, La Scala Cinema, Inverness, 11.15am, 8 June.

XPONORTH

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‘Mutton-chopped old colonial’ Guy Wallace

Filmmaking, alive and well in the Highlands and Islands Two new documentaries partly set in Africa, but that is where the comparison ends BY JAN PATIENCE There’s a lot of shooting going on in the Highlands. But unless you count the gun-toting central character of David Graham Scott’s strangely poignant documentary The End of the Game, it is all of a filmic nature. At this year’s XpoNorth, two documentary feature films which have been made by filmmakers based in the Highlands will receive special screenings at on both days of the festival at Eden Court. Both films are set partly in Africa but there, the comparisons end. In Scott’s film, he follows in footsteps of a mutton-chopped old colonial called Guy Wallace as he takes off in what will be his last Cape Buffalo hunt in South Africa. Scott, a strict vegan since boyhood, is the auteur foil. Tristan Aitchison’s documentary, Sidney & Friends, shot over a period of four years, follows the story of Sidney, who grew up intersex in rural western Kenya, one of the world’s least tolerant regions towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex (LGBTI) rights. The fact that both documentary features are screening at XpoNorth tells a story in itself. That filmmaking is alive and well in the Highlands and Islands and that filmmakers are looking outwards every day. Tristan Aitchison, who is from the Black Isle, near Inverness, graduated from Screen Academy Scotland in Edinburgh in 2010. He met Amanda Millen, who heads the screen and broadcast support network, ScreenHI, not long after he graduated. Millen offered him support to make his first short film, CARE, a psychological drama about the abuse of the elderly in the care system, which was shown as part of XpoNorth’s film showcase in 2014. According to Aitchison, happenstance led to the making of Sidney & Friends. “It really was an organised

accident,” he explains. “My sister got married to a Kenyan man in Scotland and there was meant to be a second wedding in Kenya which never happened. “I had booked my ticket anyway so I packed my camera and my mic just in case, thinking that I might make a ten minute short film. As it turned out, what he stumbled upon, set the course for the next four years of his life. He met Guillit, a gender minority activist and ‘transboi’, who told him about the plight of transgender and intersex Kenyans living in Nairobi. “Awareness of these issues has increased since 2013. Initially I showed it to a few people and they said, ‘what’s that?’ Now, there is even a transgender actor in Eastenders, which shows how much it has entered into the mainstream. “It has taken a lot longer than I ever thought it would to complete Sidney & Friends but it has allowed the issues to become current and the story of Sidney and the other contributors have also moved on in a way which I could never have imagined. We show all this in the film.” Showing Sidney & Friends in Inverness at this special screening is very apt, says Aitchison, who helped establish and heads up the BFI Film Academy Highlands and Islands. “It has been produced in Highlands with support from ScreenHI and XpoNorth. Amanda Millen is the person who has contributed most to our journey.” The film’s original soundtrack is provided by composer Paul Terry (an IMA-nominated artist), and features

“There is so much more to this film than vegan versus hunter“ David Graham Scott

vocal performances by Kenyan singer Silas Miami and The Voice South Africa 2016 finalist, Lana Crowster. Both Miami and Crowster will make a special appearance at XpoNorth. Caithness-based David Graham Scott’s critically-acclaimed The End Of The Game, tells the story of his bizarre journey from Caithness to Africa made in the company of ex-big game hunter Guy Wallace. “There is so much more to this film than vegan versus hunter,” says Scott. “It’s about an old man in decline and there’s also the side-story of the complicity of the director - ie. me! It starts with him swearing at me and ends with him swearing at me. “I met him when I was making a short film called Arcadia with the Scottish Documentary Institute in 2008 which was based around a hunting estate in Caithness. He was living on the estate in his in own little farm. I knew that he would be a good subject for a documentary and came back to him eventually. He has left Caithness now.” This road trip with a difference could have gone horribly wrong, but according to one film critic who saw The End of the Game at Glasgow Film Festival, “Scott’s camera looks hard and finds the good.” Now working as a news reporter with the John O’Groats Journal in his native Caithness, Scott is delighted that his film will receive a special screening in the Highlands. He has a strong track record as a documentary maker going back to the mid 1990s. His documentary films has documented his fascination for people on the margins of society through works such as the BAFTA-nominated Little Criminals, Celtic Media Festivalnominated WireBurners, and New York Film Festival winner, Detox or Die, which Broadcast as part of BBC1’s ONE life strand. His previous feature film, Iboga Nights, was voted Best UK documentary at the Open City Docs Fest in London (2014). The End of the Game, 3pm Wednesday 7 June, and Sydney & Friends (cast and crew screening) 3pm Thursday 8 June Eden Court, Inverness


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XPONORTH

STORYTELLING

10 May 2017

‘We look for something where you go: Wow, I didn’t expect that’ What makes hit television? Commissioning editors at the BBC share their insights BY WILLIAM PEAKIN Fresh from finishing the first series of All Around to Mrs Brown’s this spring, Alan Tyler was straight into the launch of The Mash Report. Involving some of the satirical website’s writers, it is not conceived to be simply a television version. “The reference points [in the brief] were The Daily Show, Saturday Night Live, Brass Eye, That Was the Week That Was, shows like that. “In all of those, there was an informed and smart wit combined with elements of surrealism and sketch, and which brought a new generation of performers to the audience.” But, added Tyler, Commissioning Editor, Entertainment, at the BBC: “We wanted something that recognised the strengths of those shows, but didn’t ape them; was its own thing. We wanted to find a new

“There is a complex matrix of what makes a programme commissionable and ironically being a good idea is only one part” Jo Street

satirical voice, with a new generation of performers, of original voices. “How do you select the next hit show? There is one common factor; do something different. It’s very rare that a hit show is exactly like the hit show before it. What we look for, is people working through the door with something where you go: ‘Wow, I didn’t expect that.’ And that’s where broadcasters take risks.” Tyler has been responsible for shepherding a slate of hits onto our screens; Michael McIntyre’s Big Show, Robot Wars, Strictly Come Dancing, The Voice, Top Gear, and The Apprentice. He said the most successful programme ideas do not come fully formed: “I don’t like for people to do an ‘all or nothing’ pitch that’s 100% fully formed for beginning to end. It’s much better for creative people to come through the door, with an idea in an area that feels right for us, and together we build it into something that really works for us as a channel.” EARLY IN HIS career, recently gradu-

ated from St Andrews with a degree in pathology (“I had duel interests at school – science and the media – and I was lucky that I had parents who believed in not confining yourself to one category of career”), Tyler and a friend had an idea for a sitcom and sent it into BBC Scotland. It landed on the desk of Ian Pattison who would go on to create Rab C Nesbitt. “Our idea didn’t make it,” said Tyler, “but it was a great start; here was someone who was prepared to say: ‘I’ll give these guys a chance’”. Tyler said he was looking forward to XpoNorth; his first time at the

Alan Tyler; being turned down by the creator of Rab C Nesbitt was the start of his career festival, where he will be joined by colleague Jo Street, Commissioning Editor, Daytime & Early Peak, at the BBC. Both are responsible for UK programming, but are based in Glasgow. Like Tyler, Street has nurtured a roster of familiar names; Homes Under the Hammer, Antiques Road Trip, Eggheads and Money for Nothing. When I catch up with Street, she has found a quiet spot away from the noise of the London traffic. She is in a hotel where she is meeting Mel Giedroyc, former co-host of the Great British Bake Off, to run through a new quiz show from the minds behind The

Weakest Link and Eggheads, called Letterbox, which she is fronting. “There is a complex matrix of what makes a programme commissionable and ironically being a good idea is only one part,” she said. “Do we have something similar already off-peak, does ITV have something similar so where’s the public service value? It may make a good half-hour programme but can it sustain at least five and ideally up to 25 episodes? “The single best thing about my job is when someone quite unexpected comes up with something. So, for example, Friel Kean Films had a track record of

making gritty, observational documentaries for BBC Scotland. When I started, they came to see me, we got to know each other, started talking about ideas, and now they make Money for Nothing, which has been an enormous breakout hit in a competitive marketplace. And it’s from a small Glasgow-based company that had never made anything for the network before. Those are the fantastic moments.”

Sandstone Press celebrates its fifteenth anniversary this October, and we’ve recently been supported by Emergents, XpoNorth’s Writing and Publishing Network, to help us publish translations of the hugely successful German novels, Babylon Berlin and The Silent Death, to be broadcast as a major TV series this autumn by Sky Atlantic, in Germany, the UK, and across the world. XpoNorth is helping writers too. For the second year running, this June, I’ll be on the panel for a Writers’ Pitch event, where authors are given a few minutes each to sell their work to publishers. Nerve-racking for them, but worth doing if they can bring themselves to try! Later this year Sandstone Press will publish The Whisky Dictionary, as a direct result of the author’s pitch at XpoNorth in 2016. Ross & Cromarty District Council changed many writers’ lives. Northwords continues as Northwords Now, and Sandstone Press is thriving. Fund-

ing for the arts remains tiny in relation to funding for almost everything else but well placed and well directed, it can make a huge difference. The district councils have long gone, but we’re fortunate that Creative Scotland remains committed to writing and publishing, and in the Highlands we have XpoNorth and the Emergents Programme, which have the potential to make sure they continue to thrive in the Highlands.

Screen Academy Scotland presents A Guide to Network Television Commissioning, 2.45pm, Wednesday 7 June Jim Love Studio, Eden Court, Inverness.

What makes the difference? The imagination and foresight of ‘a few remarkable people’ BY MOIRA FORSYTH Before I was published I’d been writing for years. I might never have made it, and I certainly wouldn’t be an experienced editor and a director of a publishing company if it hadn’t been for the imagination and foresight of a few remarkable people. In the 1990s the Highlands had a number of local district councils, each with its own arts budget. In Ross & Cromarty, that money was spent on artists in residence – dancer, musician, artist, dramatist and – to my benefit – a writer. That was Brian McCabe, the third, after Thom Nairn and Aonghas Macneacail, to support creative writing in the area. New to the Highlands, unable to get a job, and writing my umpteenth

unpublished novel in the mornings when the children had gone to school, I joined Dingwall Writers’ Group, which Brian chaired, in January 1994. It changed my life. For the first time I had constructive feedback on my work; the other writers were first rate so I rapidly raised my own game – you had to, to keep up. Brian introduced to me to a literary agent, who didn’t take me on but her response was enough to motivate me to write yet another novel. I began publishing poems and short stories, was awarded a Scottish Arts Council writer’s bursary, spent a week at the recently opened Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre and then, at last, got an agent and a publishing contract with Hodder, for two books. There was support in the area for publishing too: Tom Bryan, then Angus Dunn, edited Northwords magazine, providing a space for new and exciting poetry and fiction. When Angus decided to move on from edit-

ing the magazine, Robert Davidson took it over and produced a beautiful, innovative arts magazine. That was what prompted the idea of a literary publishing house, based in Highland: he went on to establish Sandstone Press. Having edited the fiction in Northwords, I developed those new skills at Sandstone. It’s been a long journey – but always an exciting one.

“The other writers were first rate so I rapidly raised my own game – you had to, to keep up” Moira Forsyth

Moira Forsyth is editorial director of Sandstone Press. Her fifth novel, ‘A Message from the Other Side’ (bit. ly/2qRO1aA) will be published in July 2017. Volker Kutscher’s novels, Babylon Berlin and The Silent Death can be viewed here /bit.ly/2qIdndy . The ‘Whisky Dictionary’ by Iain Hector Ross will be published by Sandstone Press in October 2017. Writers’ Pitch to Publishers: 10am– 4pm, Wednesday 7 June, Maclean Room, Eden Court, Inverness.


BRANDING

10 May 2017

Protecting your brand in a modern world

XPONORTH

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Alessi was commissioned by Delta to ‘curate a modern, stylish and functional collection of service products and tableware’

How digital innovation can come to the aid of tradition BY WILLIAM PEAKIN “It has taken generations to build the Harris Tweed brand into the popular global phenomenon we see today,” says Lorna Macaulay, chief executive of the Harris Tweed Authority. “It is our job to guard against unauthorised use of the brand and we take that role very seriously.” Macaulay was speaking about the appointment of SnapDragon Monitoring to help protect the Harris Tweed trademarks, which include the iconic Orb, on the world’s busiest e-commerce marketplaces. The Edinburgh-based intellectual property defender will monitor e-commerce, social media and auction sites for misuse of the Orb brand and will help prevent online sales of counterfeit Harris Tweed products. “SnapDragon Monitoring will help us do that effectively in the digital world and protect our reputation in the eyes of businesses who invest in Harris Tweed and the customers who buy their products,” added Macaulay. The Orb is the oldest British certification mark in continuous use and may only be used on, or in relation to, genuine ‘Harris Tweed’ cloth or products. In recent years the Harris Tweed Authority, the legal guardian of Harris Tweed and the Orb mark, has taken action against the misuse of the Orb, including forgery of the recognisable Harris Tweed labels which were sold for use on products that had no connection to genuine Harris Tweed. The Harris Tweed Orb guarantees the highest quality tweed, dyed, spun and hand-woven by islanders of the Outer Hebrides in their homes, according to laws outlined in the Harris Tweed Act of Parliament. SnapDragon Monitoring helps small and medium-sized enterprises to protect their intellectual property and tackle online sales of counterfeit goods. The business was founded by Rachel Jones, prompted by her first-hand experience of fighting and beating counterfeiting while running a business selling baby products. “Brands work hard to build trust but counterfeiting can easily destroy it,” said Jones. “The Harris Tweed Orb is one of the most recognisable trademarks in fashion, which makes it a target for fakes. Our team of experts will work to eliminate the sale of Harris Tweed counterfeits online and protect its reputation for the future.” SnapDragon Monitoring works closely with world-leading ecommerce platforms including Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba to remove counterfeit products from sale. In 2016 alone it prevented the sale of $10bn worth of counterfeit products.

‘Pass the salt Stefano’ How companies can redefine the relationship between consumers and their products BY WILLIAM PEAKIN Matteo Alessi is enjoying the weekend with his family; he has spent the previous two days with the company’s agents in Italy and the week ahead is, he said, a “very intense period”. The company’s budget review will look at how the year has gone and involves “reprojecting the numbers for the whole of 2017”. Alessi is the chief commercial officer, Europe and North America, of the eponymous family firm, founded in 1921 as a cold-working metal manufacturer of household products. In the 1950s, Alessi moved from hand-manufacturing to mass production, replacing soft metals with stainless steel. The workshop designed its products in-house until the 1970s, when it began collaborating with leading artists and designers around the world. Then, the business set out to redefine the relationship between

consumers and their products, taking it beyond mere functionality and pioneering the idea of an emotional connection between the two. Browsing Alessi’s 2017 collection, you can’t help being drawn to its Lilliput salt and pepper set. Designed by Stefano Giovannoni, a magnet allows the containers to be positioned firmly on the base, but they can also be attached to the steel stem, “creating playful new configurations typical of Giovannoni’s designs”. The description adds: “It is directly influenced by the spirit of the F.F.F. (Family Follows Fiction) metaproject, which from the 1990s onwards explored the object creation process followed by children and primitive cultures.” MATTEO ALESSI joined in 2005,

after working outside the company for two years; a pre-condition, along with a master’s degree and the ability to speak a second language, of any family member’s candidature to apply. He started in London, in charge of the company’s UK market. He was a champion of e-commerce and Alessi’s presence online, which he has described as “one of those moments where I was

considered the young nephew rather than the CCO of the company”. Today, change is still an issue: “I guess the next big project for Alessi is to navigate successfully through the generational passage we are facing at the moment. It always is one of the most critical times for a family business and we have to be careful,” he said in an email Q&A. But that does not stop the work, most recently exemplified by its partnership with Delta, the US airline, which commissioned Alessi to “curate a modern, stylish and functional collection of service products and tableware”, part of a multi-billion dollar investment in customer experience. “Delta was thinking about developing something completely different from what had been done before,” said Matteo. “It was a very long, and very interesting, project for us since it meant learning a lot about the airline industry and how to apply our approach to design to a completely new environment. What we wanted to achieve, together with Delta, was an outcome that would help elevate the customer experience when in flight through all the little details design is made of. I think we definitely achieved that!”

Matteo said that Alessi sees design “not as a simple marketing tool, but rather as the main element of our mission; we are mediators between the world of applied arts and the market.” Asked about examples of Scottish design, he said: “Apart from all the historic landmarks, what comes to mind is the Falkirk Wheel. I visited it with my family in 2014, and I really liked it because it is a very good example of the fact that design is not only about aesthetics but also about other elements, like evolving the performance or functionality of an object.” He will be appearing at XpoNorth along with Fiona Macaulay, chief executive of the Harris Tweed Authority. “I think companies like Alessi and Harris Tweed, though in a different way, can add a lot of value thanks to provenance, because it will help us avoid going down the simpler road of ‘mainstream’ design,” he said. “We should keep leveraging the differences generated by provenance.”

How should brands best engage with the creative industries (and vice versa);

target consumers via entertainment and culture is the most logical choice, but flexibility should be imperative from any rights holder if they want to maximise their sponsorship revenue.

The Power of Provenance: In conversation with Matteo Alessi and Harris Tweed Authority, 2.45pm, Wednesday 7 June - La Scala Cinema, Inverness.

Q&A with Victor Cobos M&C Saatchi Sponsorship’s cofounder and chief executive on brand as a ‘win-win-win’ What are you working on?

It’s been an intense week, I have been travelling quite a lot as I have been negotiating with some sports teams, mainly focusing on Formula One and football. On the other hand, I have been invited to attend as speaker for the Fundación Paideia (www.paideia. es) in Spain, a foundation created by Rosalía Mera, co-founder Inditex Group, in 1986. It’s an open space, with an interdisciplinary vocation that includes innovation and research,

especially in Human and Social Sciences. We’ll discuss how sponsorship can be the most effective way to help brands generate cultural relevance, as they succeed when they break through in culture. What is the potential for brands in today’s creative industries?

It is huge; brands spend is forecast to reach over £48bn this year, a 1.8 times increase from 2010. There is potential for this growth to increase more than currently projected based on the impact of new inventory from digital media platforms. More platforms equal more sponsorship and branding opportunities. Other factors for future growth include continued economic development in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

I believe brands best engage with the creative industries if they not only use digital media platforms, staying culturally relevant is important, but they should be careful not to lose credibility. Traditional creative branding (TV spots, outdoor campaigns, etc) can be a really effective way to reinforce their message if it is delivered properly. On the other side, creative industries should understand more their objectives. Brands seek to build more emotional relationships with their customers; it has become increasingly important to consider how they fit into their target audience’s lifestyles. For many brands, aligning with their

Should creative industries fear being involved with brands?

Not at all; there is no reason to fear being involved with brands, they should be considered as partners, like a joint venture where both parts benefit and they should be focusing on how to deliver the best entertainment together to their same audience. A ‘win-win-win’ situation; rights holderbrand-audience. Victor Cobos on The Growing Importance of Brands in Today’s Creative Industries, 4.15pm, Thursday 8 June.


6

XPONORTH

SOURCING

10 May 2017

When a dream turns true Starting a business can be daunting, especially when that’s what you teach other people BY WILLIAM PEAKIN It was going to be the ultimate test of Patricia van den Akker’s role as a business adviser, trainer, coach and mentor, who declares on her website: “I am passionate about seeing people grow and develop, turning dreams into wonderful businesses or careers.” Could she turn her idea – a book, funded by a Kickstarter campaign, about starting a business - into a reality? Imagine the schadenfreude if the campaign did not meet its target - or worse; it succeeded and she failed to deliver. Van den Akker runs an online business school for craftspeople, The Design Trust, working with business owners, university graduates and craft networks, and specialises in advising on business planning, marketing, business modelling, selling, social media, costing and pricing and other aspects of building a business. When we speak, she has just spent time with eight new makers from Scotland, taking them around galleries during London Craft Week. It was an initiative organised by Emergents, XpoNorth’s Craft, Fashion and Textiles Network.

“The idea [of a book] had been bubbling for a while,” said van den Akker. “Then for last year’s XpoNorth, I had been asked by Emergents to do some work on crowd funding, interviewing people in the craft sector who had used it successfully, which resulted on an e-book, and I thought: ‘Hm, I’ve got this idea for a book and I’ve gained all this knowledge about crowd funding; perhaps I can combine the two.’ “The idea behind Dream Plan Do is, first to think bigger and more strategically by setting big annual goals,” said van den Akker, “thought-provoking exercises and questions to uncover your real motivations and aspirations, and work on different aspects of your business each month. Then there is the ‘Plan’; how you will get from where you are now to where you want to be. And then the ‘Do’; doing the right things at the right time of the year with 12 consecutive monthly themes that build on each other.” The concept - comprising the book, a wall planner and a club “for creative professionals from across the world who want to join an online community of like-minded people who are working on their creative business throughout 2017” – was conceived over the summer and the funding campaign was launched on Kickstarter in early October. “I knew, being a year-based book, that it would have to go out in December - therefore I knew that meant doing the campaign in October, which didn’t give me a lot of time!”

“What have I done? Me and my big mouth” Patricia van den Akker

Van den Akker wrote the first three chapters of the book and had prototypes printed. In early September, she commissioned a short film for her Kickstarter page, worked on a marketing campaign and wrote the rest of the book during September and October. When the Kickstarter campaign went live, van den Akker thought to herself: “What have I done? Me and my big mouth.” One in four Kickstarter campaigns fail, and if you don’t reach 30% to 40% of your target – van den Akker

had set hers at £12,000 – within the first few days you become that statistic. But, by the end of November, she had sold had sold 650 books and raised more than £27,000. Buyers were located all over the world; Europe, America, Australia, Japan, India, Pakistan, Dubai and Brazil. Since the end of the campaign, after setting up a website, she has sold another 600, and despite it being based on 2017 orders still trickle in. A Facebook group has been established,

Showcasing the vibrancy of creative businesses A growing contribution to the economy across the Highlands and Islands BY FIONA CHAUTARD As well as its excellent programme for music and film, XpoNorth this year will host one of its largest programmes for fashion, textiles and craft. Building on the success of previous years, the programme includes professional panels, workshops and an exhibition showcasing the vibrancy of the creative businesses in these sectors and their growing contribution to the economy across the Highlands and Islands. Recognised as an area that nurtures its creative talent, the Highlands and Islands is home to some of the most outstanding and successful creative businesses. Emergents,, XpoNorth’s Craft, Fashion and Textiles Network, estimate that there are approximately 350 crafts, fashion and textiles businesses in the region. An evaluation made in 2013 into Highlands and

Islands Enterprise support for the creative industries highlighted key successes, helping put the region on the map as a creative centre. The XpoNorth programme is part of a larger professional support programme which is available uniquely to designers and makers in the Highlands and Islands throughout the year. The focus is to nurture creative talent and creative businesses through general and specific support including mentoring, training, advice and networking. This support is provided by XpoNorth Crafts, Fashion and Textiles through Emergents which is funded by HIE (through European ERDF funds) and is a key part of HIE’s support strategy for the creative industries in the Highlands and Islands. The networking offered by XpoNorth is an invaluable resource for businesses which are operating in sometimes very isolated rural communities and includes not just participation in programmed networking events, but also the opportunity to connect with other like minded business owners and creatives in an informal setting, a unique aspect of being a busi-

A design by Doppelganger, one of the companies from Iceland taking part in XpoNorth ness based in this part of Scotland. XpoNorth provides a platform for the designers to get together and to discuss what matters to them and the development of their creative business. This year the programme includes an international collaboration with Iceland, bringing together a diverse group

of Highlands and Islands and Icelandic designers and makers to talk, explore collaborate and inspire one another. Coming together earlier in the year at the Icelandic Design festival, Design March, in Reykjavik, the group are showcasing their work at XpoNorth as well as participating in a panel discussion, Exploring Icelandic Markets, and meeting up informally to exchange ideas and investigate one another’s location, environment, influences, skills, experience, materials and techniques. This year’s panel sessions include focused discussions on topics which are important to the growing community of professional designers and makers based in the Highlands and Islands and beyond. They include; panels on manufacturing and making, new approaches to crowd-funding, colour psychology and building your Instagram profile. Fiona Chautard is a creative business coach and will be chairing the panel session ‘It’s all about Making’ at 10am on Wednesday 7 June at La Scala Cinema, Inverness

creating a new global business network for craftspeople. Van den Akker is now working on the 2018 edition and is looking at spin-off ideas. She has also been approached by publishers. “Yes, I did think: ‘Me and my big mouth’, but it has meant that a lot of people have said: ‘You really know what you are talking about because you actually have done it’. And now I’m seeing people develop their own businesses because of it, and that’s wonderful.”

Genuine collaboration Creative industry networks in the Highlands and Islands have “gone from strength to strength without a doubt,” said Donna Chisholm, Regional Head of Sectors, Innovation and Programmes, at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which along with the European regional Development Fund and Creative Scotland funds XpoNorth. “They have been very innovative and we have a genuine collaboration.” According to a 2013 external evaluation of the economic impact of HIE’s investment in creative industries, there is a return of £9 for every £1 spent by the agency (an updated assessment is due at the end of the year). “It’s quite a unique partnership in the UK and Europe,” said Chisholm. “We bring a great deal of economic rigour and impact thinking and the networks, the network managers and the people who use the networks bring the creative intelligence. Without that symbiotic relationship, I don’t think it would be as successful as it is. And XpoNorth epitomises the direction of travel for the sector overall.”


MUSIC MAKING

10 May 2017

‘Sound stays with you’ Introducing the producer who’s introduced Tony Bennett, Lou Reed, Yoko Ono and Patti Smith BY WILLIAM PEAKIN On a sunny morning in early May, Josh Rabinowitz is in Brooklyn, where he grew up and where he still lives, walking his dog before heading into his office in the Flatiron district of New York. It’s a long way, and 30-odd years, from Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street where he used to busk before he became, as he describes it, “a struggling musician” - or leader and trombonist for funk band The Second Step, described by one music writer as a “pulsating force” of which Rabinowitz was the “incorrigible pillar of groove”. He had spent his ‘junior year’ (the penultimate year) of an American university course, in Edinburgh; a peer of composer Max Richter. “When I finished my course, I went back. I had a girlfriend, from Kirkintilloch – she was still at university in Edinburgh – and I spent a good four or five months living in Edinburgh, busking there and in Glasgow, in Sauchiehall Street. I wanted to play music. I found that I didn’t have a lot of time to play, because I was always looking for work - and I thought, ‘why not just play’. It was fun. I met so many crazy people.”

“This year we are bringing over Pussy Riot. We wanted to do something a little, how would you put it, left field” Josh Rabinowitz

After years of “struggling, starving if you will” as a band musician, in 1996 he moved into the world of composing and producing music for brands, first at JSM Music, then tomandandy and Young and Rubicam. Now he is executive vice-president and director of music at Townhouse/WPP in New York. He has written and/or produced more than 8,500 tracks for brands, cinema, recording labels and television, and worked with artists such as Cyndi Lauper, Rihanna, Queen Latifah, the Black Eyed Peas, Run DMC, Smokey Robinson and Macy Gray. “It’s kept me interested, every day, for the past 20 years,” said Rabinowitz. “It’s an all-encompassing job. There’s the left side of the brain; budgets, negotiating, dealing with talent, licensing. And there’s the right side; the creative side, the ideas, helping to bring those ideas to realisation. “Connecting people with a brand in a meaningful way, connecting it with their lifestyle. Music is such an important part of culture. Sound stays with you in way that surpasses even taste, smell; it kind of tattoos itself on your brain. Done properly, it’s great, done improperly, it can be a disaster.” Do artists not feel conflicted, though, about selling their creativity to promote a brand? In retrospect, this is a gauche question, given the energy (and not infrequent shamelessness) with which musicians have, for decades, indulged in levels of selfpromotion that bear no relation to the merit of their work. But Rabinowitz said that he had experienced how difficult it was to sustain yourself as a musician. And if you are passionate about music, and if the traditional routes of recording or touring are not sufficient, then artists need to find different ways of connecting with, and growing, their fan base, of continuing to be able to make music. This will be his third year at XpoNorth: “I made a lot of friends during my time in Edinburgh and I have a real affinity with Scottish culture. When I met Amanda [Millen, the festival director] at a conference in the US and she told me about XpoNorth, I was excited. It has grown so much and my favourite thing about it is meeting new people.” Rabinowitz also created, in 2007, the now renowned Grey Music Seminar at the Cannes Lions International Festival, where in its first year he presented John Legend and Donovan. Subsequent years have featured a roster of greats, including Tony Bennett, E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Marilyn Manson, Courtney Love, Yoko Ono and Patti Smith. “This year we are bringing over Pussy Riot,” said Rabinowitz, during a telephone interview, before catching the train into his office to review work on campaigns for clients such as Häagen-Dazs, Marriot Hotels, Volvo and Gillette. “It’s the 100th anniversary of Grey. We wanted to do something a little, how would you put it, left field.”

XPONORTH

7

Tamzene was talentspotted busking outside M&S in Inverness

Tamzene goes to Holywood Creating a route for Scottish artists to global leaders in music BY MARK SHERIDAN in Los Angeles Tamzene is a 20 year-old student at Leeds college. Her family home is in Cromarty on the Black Isle, where on a good day you can see dolphins in the firth. Last week, Tamzene was in Hollywood, singing to some of the world’s top music industry leaders in A&R and management. The thing is, Tamzene is a remarkable singer and performer with natural skill, presence and charm on stage. On both occasions I saw her perform at the MUSEXPO, LA, she captivated the seasoned audience. Not an easy thing to do with exceptional people who make instant decisions about what will fly and what will fall. Tamzene is very good, with exceptional potential. And this is just as well because in this business “pretty good doesn’t cut it.” says Zach Katz, president of repertoire and marketing at BMG USA. She also has honesty and integrity in her music, “essential ingredients for success in the global music industry”, according to the Lipman brothers, founders of Republican Records. These folk mean business and they know what they are looking for and how to shape it. And that is why Tamzene is here, supported by Alex Smith, of XpoNorth, and Dougie Brown, of Belladrum Records, to map out a route for her music and for market development. Alex has been coming to this event for as long as it has been running “to make connections, and to have a presence for music and artists in the Highlands.” Alex believes that Scottish artists need international visibility and his aim has been to create a route to the global leaders. “It’s all about relationships, trust and meeting face to face with the decision makers. It’s

not just about being here. We have managed to formalise the XpoNorth role here alongside Atlantic Records, Live Nation and Universal Music.” Sat Bisla, president of A&R Worldwide, is impressed by the work of XpoNorth. “Alex has worked hard to make the most of the contacts and opportunities. He is constantly networking and his teams are entrepreneurial. Some delegates come here and need to be led by the hand. You show XpoNorth the way and they go for it. I am very supportive of what they are doing in Scotland.” FOR DOUGIE BROWN, it is an excel-

lent opportunity for the first signing to the new Belladrum Record label. “I first heard her busking in Inverness outside M&S and I phoned Joe Gibbs and asked if we had any spots still available at Belladrum [festival]. We had to have her.” And the label? “We want to maintain the same feel for a family event and local talent … and this was a natural direction. Tamzene was the catalyst really.” For Tamzene her focus is on the music. What is the plan? “Make more music.” Her family life was surrounded by music – she played at school in Fortrose and her singing developed at Gordonstoun where she won a scholarship. “I was really encouraged. One of my songs was arranged for school orchestra – it was very exciting!” She also played fiddle and attended Feis Rois. And that is the connection to my presence here. Highlands and Islands Enterprise and XpoNorth are helping Feis Rois to plan a new development for the professional strand of our work and Alex insisted that attending this event would help with perspectives on the contemporary industry and A&R. Feis Rois is the quintessential grass roots organisation, and the weekly classes, the Feisean and community engagement have made a lasting impact in the last thirty years in Ross-shire and beyond. The ceilidh trail initiative and

the professional engagement strategy with emerging performers coming through the Feis community has added new dimensions to the success. Led by chief executive Fiona Dalgetty, her small team and the numerous musicians she employs, the organisation has evolved to the extent that the turnover is just below £1m per year. Impressive when you consider that £500,000 of that is paid to the musicians. “It is really great that Feis Rois and the University of the Highlands are here at MUSEXPO. The presence of UHI in the north of Scotland is essential to retaining creative talent in the Highlands,” says Alex Smith. “We are entering new territory.” Many of the students and graduates of the Applied Music course at UHI are associated with Feis Rois and this synergy will help strengthen the future of the professional development strategy in collaboration with XpoNorth. Meanwhile in Holywood, “It is so nostalgic but a bit grubby,” says Tamzene. “But this event has been awesome.” Holywood Boulevard is jaded. But the walk of fame still impresses and sparkles celebrating every star imaginable from Sinatra to Caruso, Christine Aquilera to Patsy Kline and the Rugrats. I suspect there may be a wee space in future for Tamzene. Tamzene is part of the XpoNorth 2017 Music Showcase (bit.ly/2quJBcj). Mark Sheridan is vice-chair of the Board of Directors of Feis Rois and Reader in Music and Creativity at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Formerly at Strathclyde University, he has worked with UHI since 2011. He is a composer and writer. His newest work,’Dreaming Agrakas’, a one act opera about migration, celebration and tragedy, will be performed at the ‘Expressing the Earth’ conference in Seil Island, Argyll on 23 June. He also plans to tour the work around small venues in the Highlands and Islands.


8

XPONORTH

TRAINING

10 May 2017

‘We’re live on air’ Young hopefuls get their chance at a unique television production and technical craft boot-camp BY JAN PATIENCE Once upon a time, when XpoNorth was known as goNORTH, it ran a festival radio station, which trained a group of aspirant radio producers and presenters looking to gain hands-on experience in producing live radio content. Radio goNORTH ran for five consecutive years, from 2012-2015, and as a direct result, trainees started finding jobs in the industry. Spurred on by this success, XpoNorth festival director, Amanda Millen, who has a proven track record as a producer in radio, television and film, decided to take it to the next level and stage a live festival television station. XpoNorth Live! roared onto the scene at XpoNorth last year, staffed by an eager group of trainee researchers, co-ordinators, editors, camera operators, sound recordists, data wranglers and floor managers. The broadcasting equipment was provided by Glasgow-based production company, Visual Impact Scotland, which supplies state-ofthe-art kit to production companies throughout Scotland. Headed up by an experienced director, producer and presenter, XpoNorth Live! filled 18 hours of television filmed in front of a live audience of conference delegates at Eden Court in Inverness. Described by one trainee researcher, Isla Turner, as “by far the most stressful and thrilling thing I have done in my life”, the team produced 87 individual video items and learned the hard, hands-on way that it’s not all glamour in TV Land.

Turner, who has gone on to take up a place on the Edinburgh-based Traverse Young Writers programme says: “I would definitely recommend XpoNorth Live! for anyone wanting to work in film or TV, or generally anyone wanting to build confidence for working in the creative industries.” Fellow researcher, Gary Hughes, recalls: “I had no experience of working in a live studio. Over the course of ten days a small team of trainees, including myself, with guidance from industry professionals managed to create three days of television. The week before, we learned research techniques, contacted contributors and guests and scripted for our host Siobhan Synnot. “During the festival, we worked as live producers, runners and some of us even had the opportunity to host the channel. Even with the pressure and long hours it was a tremendous experience and a lot of fun. I met a wonderful group of people and began building my professional network.” SINCE COMPLETING the training, Hughes has worked as a freelance in a variety of roles for the BBC. He has contributed to BBC The Social, creating his own short films. He also interned with the BBC1’s The One Show as a researcher and, most recently, has been working as a dailies runner for BBC Scotland’s flagship drama, River City. “I don’t think any of this would have been possible without the guidance, confidence and training gained from my experience with XpoNorth Live!” he admits. Presenter Siobhan Synnot, who will be back in the hot-seat for XpoNorth Live! 2017, adds: “XpoNorth is a unique event. Open to all, and drawing enthusiastic participants from all over Scotland, the UK and the world, so it makes sense to combine all this amazing content with a training initiative for the next generation of

XpoNorth Live! roared onto the scene last year, staffed by an eager group of trainees. Pictured Siobhan Synnot interviewing Joe Gibbs, founder and director, Belladrum Festival.

TV producers and technicians. “Over three days – we have a ‘practice day’ on the day before XpoNorth begins – I conducted 30 live interviews with speakers involved in the daytime aspect of the conference and witnessed umpteen live bands play for the cameras. It also gave me an insight into the breadth of creative industries subject matter covered during the conference.” THIS YEAR, in the ten days leading

“The adrenalin flows and your brain and all your senses work at full capacity” Alan de Pellette

up to the festival, a new batch of 17 trainees will join Siobhan and director Alan de Pellette, to be schooled in this unique television production and technical craft boot-camp. XpoNorth Live director, Alan de Pellette, has more than 20 years experience as a producer and director in radio and television, working on the creation of hit shows such as Off the Ball and Still Game. He says: “XpoNorth Live! is great fun to work on as it’s fast, exciting and has so many things happening at once. The adrenalin flows and your brain and all your senses work at full capacity. For trainees to get this kind

of experience is an incredible opportunity and is worth a year of doing any kind of TV course! “People interested in working in production get thrown in at the coal face and are given opportunities to meet amazing contributors and produce their own programme seg-ments. For those interested in working on the technical side, they get unparalleled access to a TV studio and the chance to shoot or record live interviews and bands. You simply can’t buy that kind of experience when you are starting out in your career!” XpoNorth director, Amanda Millen adds: “The trainees learn all the behind-the scenes skills they need to produce a live entertainment magazine show. They also get the chance to network with commissioners, employers and freelancers currently at the top of the TV and digital broadcast industry in Scotland and beyond. The cost of offering each place comes in about £2000 a place but trainees get to do the course free of charge. In return we expect them to give it their all to make the most of this fantastic opportunity.”

Discovering great new acts The bedrock of BBC Music Introducing in Scotland will be at XpoNorth BY LINDSAY GILLIES You couldn’t get a much better job than listening to new music, deciding what you like then playing it on Vic Galloway’s show on BBC Radio Scotland. If we could do one thing more often it would be to take the show on the road - which is why we’re making our way to the XpoNorth creative industries festival. Typically we broadcast the show

from studios on the banks of the Clyde in Glasgow at 9pm on a Monday night; there are often session guests, interviews and use social media to bring our listeners into the conversation. When we do take the show out of the studio we like to go to as many areas as we can to play our part in reflecting the music scene across Scotland, which is why we’re grabbing the opportunity to go to Inverness. We’re bringing three live acts and putting together a discussion to add our contribution to Scotland’s leading creative industries festival – recording at Eden Court. Moreover, we’ll be experiencing the festival as members of the public too – for Vic, that’s

essential: “During the day the panels, seminars, talks and workshops are always extremely useful, and the night-time live music showcase timetable keeps me on my toes as I dart from venue to venue around central Inverness.” Vic’s show is the bedrock of BBC Music Introducing in Scotland; we broadcast music which artists have uploaded directly to the BBC Music Introducing website. It couldn’t be simpler – you upload it and we listen to it - and then hopefully play it on the show. We’re also in the position to offer sessions too – not only do we get great content for our programme but the musicians gain experience in recording a session at the BBC with

professional sound engineers. To put that experience in context, there are over 180,000 artists registered with BBC Music Introducing; 15 artists have had 20 number 1 albums, 13 artists have had 33 top 10 singles and seven Introducing artists have won 11 BRIT Awards. Hopefully one of the Scottish artists we see over the two days of XpoNorth or who appear on our bill will be the next Introducing artist to pick up a Brit Award. Vic himself has high hopes: “I’m delighted to be returning with my weekly BBC Radio Scotland show to help shine a light on artists who may well develop into stars of the near future, with the support of BBC Music Introducing.”

As important to us as the musicians who we play on the show are the people who listen to it, without them we’re nothing. We’re lucky to get this opportunity to bring the programme to our listeners, to include them in our discussion about the place of BBC Music Introducing in Scotland. I’ll leave the last word on that with Vic: “XpoNorth has become a superb annual event and initiative and I’m lucky to have attended every year since it started; it continues to help me discover a range of brand new acts and confirm my interest in others.” Lindsay Gillies is producer of The Vic Galloway show on BBC Radio Scotland. Eden Court, Thursday 8 June.

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