SNACK: Issue 21 – October 2020

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SNACK is Scotland's wee independent what's on and culture magazine – you’ll know this, you’re reading it now. We firmly believe that cultural journalism should be accessible to all, and so the magazine has no cover price – it's free to read, and always will be. We wouldn’t want it any other way. That said, if you like what we do and would like to support us by making a small donation, you can do this by pressing the button below.

Every donation will help us to continue championing arts and culture in Scotland by supporting the work of our talented writers, editors, and designers. Thanks for your support.



CREDITS E: Editor/Sales: Kenny Lavelle Sub Editor: Leona Skene Food and Drink Editors: Emma Mykytyn and Mark Murphy LGBT+ Editor: Jonny Stone Designer/Illustrator: Fionnlagh Ballantine Front cover image: Alexis Chabala Disclaimer: Snack Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this magazine in part or in whole is forbidden without the explicit written consent of the publishers. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the content of this magazine but we cannot guarantee it is complete and up to date. Snack Publishing Ltd. is not responsible for your use of the information contained herein.

The cook’s favourite for ingredients

Looking for that hard to find rare ingredient? Visit your local Real Foods for a wide range of high quality organic herbs, spices & condiments 37 Broughton Street EH1 3JU • 8 Brougham Street EH3 9JH






17–31 OCTOBER Set sail with us this autumn! Experience the joy of storytelling, oral traditions and cultural diversity as we explore Scotland, a nation shaped by water. #SISFIntheFlow

@ScotStoryFest Image: Digitally edited version of ‘I Met my Love by the Harbour’ by James Adams

TICKETS 0131 556 9579 SISF.ORG.UK

Hello and welcome to the 2nd anniversary issue of SNACK, Has that been two years already? Back when we launched the mag in October 2018 we had a clear vision for what we wanted to do. It was quite simple: support the amazing wealth of creative talent in our artistic communities, and try to make a living while doing it. Fast forward to the present day and these creative communities find themselves in collective turmoil, devastated by a virus that has all but wiped out opportunities to support themselves from their work. They’ve been cut adrift by a callous Tory government that clearly sees the creative world as a ‘nice to have, but...’ add on. It’s heartbreaking. I can’t claim to have any answers and can only offer the usual advice, which is to sign petitions, write to your MP/MSP demanding change, and keep supporting artists by purchasing their work. For our part, we’ll continue shouting about the brilliant artists, events, small businesses, and festivals that somehow find a way to keep at it when it would be infinitely easier to fade away – not that there’s any shame in giving up under the unrelenting deluge of what counts for normal these days. If anyone has any ideas on how we can help in any way, please get in touch. My email is As for this month’s magazine, I’m sure you’ll find your way around. Kenny Lavelle Editor

Photography: Alexis Chabala

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GLASGLOW 3 Glasgow Botanic Gardens – 29th October till 15th November A wee gem in Glasgow’s cultural calendar, and one of the few physical events to have (so far) survived the pandemic in Scotland. Now in its third year, the theme for this year’s hugely popular Halloween event in the Botanic Gardens is superheroes, empowerment and discovering the power within. With social distancing measures limiting the number of tickets this year, you’d probably best get them locked down sooner rather than later. With staggered time slots, one-way systems, and multiple sanitizing spots throughout your epic heroes quest, plus dedicated Covid officers on site, GlasGLOW say they will be taking every precaution necessary to help guarantee the safety of guests. With the addition of a street food & drink village and bar, guests can look forward to a great night out. It’s outdoors and it’s Scotland, in Autumn, and so there are no guarantees about the weather. Best wrap up. Visit Itison/GlasGLOW for more information. Ticket prices Adult - £18 Children - £11.50

What’s on By Gregg Kelly Page 11

THE BIG ESCAPE Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen – 10am till 6pm Prepare yourself for the evolution of escape rooms. Rather than attempting to escape from a single room, quizzers are tasked with escaping an entire city. It’s played on smartphones; you’ll travel across Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Aberdeen city centre solving tasks, finding clues and cracking codes as you attempt to pull off the ‘Heist of the Century’. Using a pre-downloaded app and your phone’s GPS, you and your team of between two and six people must work together before finally blowing open the safe, grabbing the loot and making your bid for freedom. Each game lasts two plus hours, however beer, bar, and snack breaks are permitted. [Ed. Stopping for a beer? Why does this seem so naively hopeful?] Prizes will be awarded to the team with the highest scores, best costumes, and best cops pose. Check out The Big Escape website for further information. £44 per team of between 2 and 6 people.

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WORLD OF FILM: INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Glasgow & Online – 8th till 11th October Glasgow’s annual independent international film festival is now in its seventh year, and organisers have been hard at work to ensure that it goes ahead, despite… well, everything. Promoting the best of both Scottish and international new talent, Scottish film fans get the opportunity to experience independent filmmaking, young fresh voices, and talented stars of the future. W.O.F.F is a platform bringing together audiences to share ideas, showcase new work and discuss new trends from the world of film and cinema. This year’s edition focuses on women filmmakers and the independent film industry in Europe, the US, and beyond. Collaborators this year include the Council for European Studies at Columbia University, and the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation in NYC. Screening venues include Film City in Govan, Citizen M on Renfrew Street, and Virgin Money Lounge in Royal Exchange Square. Visit for more information. What’s on By Gregg Kelly Page 13

SCOTTISH INTERNATIONAL STORYTELLING FESTIVAL Edinburgh – 17th October till 31st October The international festival returns for its two-week annual celebration of the wonder and marvel of storytelling. This year’s event sets out to explore the beauty and history of Scotland’s coasts, waters, and beyond. As is par for the course these days, events will not take place in packed theatres but will instead be shown online, in outdoor locations, and through socially distanced events, using a mixture of live and recorded broadcasted shows. This year’s festival will also place greater emphasis on togetherness and mental wellbeing. Festival stories include the ‘Tales of a Grandson’ (the story of the first Queen of Scotland), ‘Scotland’s Greatest Ghost Stories’ (includes an interactive online discussion), ‘Scots in the Antarctic’, and plenty more music, performances and fun for everyone. Visit for more information.

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EDINBURGH, EMPIRE AND SLAVERY – AN HONEST WALK Edinburgh – Every day except Tuesdays There’s a welcome growing awareness of Scotland’s participation in the worldwide slave trade; this walking tour reveals the dark truth of Edinburgh’s leading role in the historical blood economy. Much like Glasgow, a sizeable proportion of the magnificent architecture in the city was funded as a direct result of profits generated from the slave trade, however the tour also uncovers interesting facts, such as historic protests against the exploitation of slaves, Edinburgh’s prominent role in helping to abolish the worldwide slave trade, and relevant context regarding modern awareness. Each tour will be curated by hugely experienced historian Dr. Gains Murdoch, and will consist of no more than 8 people, allowing greater depth to discussion while complying with current social distance regulations. Visit for more info. £12 per person Tour duration 2 hours What’s on By Gregg Kelly Page 15

SECRETS OF WITCHES’ WOOD/AFTER DARK IN THE WITCHES’ WOOD Livingston – 9th October till 1st November (After Dark – 29th October till 31st October) Who doesn’t love a good scare, especially around Halloween? Prepare to jump, laugh, and giggle, as you uncover the secrets of Witches’ Wood at Almond Valley in Livingston. Bring the family along as you discover lights, sights, smells and tastes on your journey around the mysterious and historical area known to locals as the ‘Witches’ Wood’. Only for the very bravest of families, After Dark offers you an exciting glimpse into the other side of All Hallows Eve, where the borders between the realms are at their weakest. Prepare to discover what creatures lie waiting in the darkest depths of the woods. The ancient black magic of the forest is in the air. Visit for more information. Adults £9.50 for Secrets & £10 for After Dark Children £7.50 for Secrets & £8 for After Dark All tickets must be booked in advance.

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LOCH LOMOND SCARY FAERIE TRAIL till 1st November – 10am till 4pm Loch Lomond’s Faerie Trail will don spooky attire to become the ‘Scary Faerie Trail’, where brave families will wander around the exciting space, guided by webs and discovering the secrets of the lights. Each participating family member will receive a trail guide which includes an activity booklet, biodegradable glitter, pencil, certificate, souvenir wristband, and hot drinks or squash. Leading through the winding trail, guests will eventually make their way to the Loch Lomond Arms and the custom created Faerie Cafe. Tickets £7.50 per person 2 years and under go free Tickets must be purchased in advance Complimentary tickets for the Faerie Cafe must also be booked beforehand

What’s on By Gregg Kelly Page 17

SCOTTISH JAZZ AWARDS: VIRTUAL CEREMONY Sunday 18th October at 6pm This year’s world-renowned award ceremony is, of course, being hosted online. Originally scheduled to take place in May, it was finally decided after much soul-searching that it would be better to host some version of the event than none at all. And so, the Scottish Virtual Jazz Awards was born. This year’s online ceremony has special guests and live performances, as well as awards in Rising Star, Best Vocalist, Best Instrumental, Best Album and Lifetime Achievement categories, amongst plenty of others. Details of performers on the night are being kept under wraps, but previous live guests have included Miss Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Michael Brecker, as well as countless other greats. Visit for more information. Back to Contents

SCOTTISH WINE FIZZ FESTIVAL – FIVE FIZZ FESTIVALS Friday 30th October till Friday 27th November Organisers of the fizztastic Annual Fizz Feast have shifted from their original vision to a more flexible online version, giving their events more room to Zoom, and far less doom and gloom (sorry, not sorry). Guests are being invited to join the fizz wine festival online through Zoom video calling, for some informal and friendly evenings sampling along at home with some of the finest and most elusive fizzy wines around. The festival launches on Friday 30th October with ‘France’s Fabulous Crémant’ and continues with a new wine each Friday until 27th November. Visit for more information. Tastings from £58

What’s on By Gregg Kelly Page 19

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From October 17th, the annual Scottish International Storytelling Festival plans on connecting audiences to the waters that surround. Using a mix of online and in-person events, tales will be told that connect Scotland to other coastal countries, keeping in with this year’s theme: In the Flow. The festival aims to celebrate Scotland, ‘a nation shaped by the sea’, by presenting an eclectic mix of online events from across the globe, along with small scale face-to-face events. Over 100 performers from more than a dozen different countries will focus on lost stories of Scottish and international culture. The goal is to provide new perspectives on historical experiences and to captivate, entertain, and educate audiences over a wide range of topics, from Scottish colonial history to our connection to the natural world. Participating performers hail from countries such as Colombia, Italy, Spain, Kenya, Iran, Canada and the USA. A total of 93 events are to take place in Edinburgh and across Scotland, with 43 of them planned to be in-person experiences – subject to Scottish Government guidelines, of course.

VOYAGE: A NATION SHAPED BY THE SEA The main festival strand, Voyage, is a series of new work developed by storytellers and musicians for Visit Scotland’s ‘Year of Coasts and Waters’, which will be premiered as a series of pre-recorded studio broadcasts to be streamed online. It is made of a collection of fourteen performances by Scotland based storytellers sharing both stories of real and imaginary voyages that have connected Scotland to other coastal countries. Included in the Voyage programme are award winning performers Apphia Campbell and Mara Menzies as they collaborate for the first time on Nanny of the Maroons, sharing the story of the Jamaican hero Storytelling by Holly Fleming Page 21

‘Queen Nanny’ who helped those fleeing enslavement on Scottish owned plantations; storyteller Nicola Wright revives the almost forgotten Scottish National Antarctic Expedition by the explorer William Speirs Bruce; and a joint effort between musicians David Francis and Hamish Napier, celebrating the River Spey in Speyside to Fireside. Mike Vass, Ian Stephen and John Kenny will also be making appearances, showcasing new musical collaborations. Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said, ‘During this challenging time living with the impacts of coronavirus, storytelling and music have never been so important to our resilience, our wellbeing and our sense of belonging. ‘The Scottish International Storytelling Festival will help many local artists and performers around the country.’ Alongside the Voyage series, the festival will be celebrating Scotland’s own coastlines and rivers, collaborating with the Orkney Storytelling Festival and Wild Goose Festival, Dumfries and Galloway. Socially distanced in-person events include Donald Smith and Heather Yule’s Leaving Iona at St Columba’s by the Castle. The show gives voice to the women, poets and monks of Columba’s story, 1500 years after his birth. St Columba is known for spreading Christianity around Scotland. In addition to this, storyteller Jan Bee Brown and musician Toby Hawks invite audiences to join them as they present Scuttlebut Stories!, which features tall tales and spirited shanties, making for a blend of stories and songs of the seas that link Scotland to Scandinavia. ‘Stories and songs are vital for human survival,’ says Scottish International Storytelling Festival director Donald Smith. ‘They carry our emotions, memories and values. They bind us together as families, communities and a nation, especially through tough times. The Scottish International Storytelling Festival will continue to channel that flow with an increased focus on wellbeing in the year of COVID-19.’ Back to Contents


Storytelling by Holly Fleming Page 23


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Along with a large variety of shows and exhibitions, the workshop programme strand Global Lab will be returning to the Festival this year, hosting a series of digital workshops with live participation in efforts to bring together storytellers, artists, activists and educators from across the globe to explore sustainability, ecology, and healing. These events will take place online daily and will feature opportunities for dialogue and questions. Contributing to these workshops are New York based storyteller Laura Simms, ecology, social and environmental activist Grian Cutanda and Julie Cajune and Douglas Mackay, whose work explores connections between Native America and Scotland. Also featured in this year’s Festival is Edinburgh’s long running story night Guid Crack, which has moved online along with Open Hearth, which showcases live digital participation in a ceilidh of cultures. Community groups and schools can also take part in the Big Scottish Story Ripple by holding an event led by a professional storyteller. Groups can apply for funding that will cover the cost of their storytellers’ fees, in return for a promise to do a good deed for their local community on or before St Andrew’s Day, continuing the ripple of kindness. This year’s Festival closes on Halloween, and fittingly ends with a hunt for Scotland’s Greatest Ghost Stories. The call is going out to find local ghost stories and to encourage people in Scotland to discover those in their own area. If you’d like to learn more about the seas and waters that connect Scotland to other coastal countries, and discover new tales about your own home and community while you’re at it, do it this Autumn through songs and stories presented by the Scottish International Storytelling festival, beginning on 17th October. For more information and details on how to participate, visit sisf. Storytelling by Holly Fleming Page 25

Lantern-led tours t h i s h a l l ow e e n

book o n li n e n ow

This Halloween, explore one of Scotland’s most haunted sites with only the flicker of a lantern to illuminate your way. Step beneath the Royal Mile and hear about Edinburgh’s hidden history during this 1-hour immersive experience.

When 26th October to 1st November Time 6-8pm Price £19.95




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Graffiti: Akhine

Zimbabwean-British singer/bassist Shingai Shoniwa is best known as the vibrant frontwoman of genre-defying band Noisettes; October 2020 sees her release her solo full-length debut. On the heels of her 2019 EP Ancient Futures, new album Too Bold is as dynamic and eclectic as Shingai herself. We sat down with her to discuss releasing independent music, book recommendations, and making music to reflect the times we live in. How have you found making this record, knowing you won’t get playing it out live any time soon? A journalist asked me: ‘Because you’re such a vibrant performer, how are you coping with the COVID-enforced exile from the stage?’ And it really does feel like that! We’re having to take stock of all the shows we’ve done and hope we can be united one day soon. I approached this record as a sonic, visual experience. The music I make tends to provoke a lot of imagery, and there was a lot of genre-fluidity in the Noisette records. I’m always going to be a musician brave enough to step outside their comfort zone, to keep challenging themselves. I went into the studio with three or four people I love, like my brother KWAYE, who bring out different energies in me. Hopefully the record will feel like you’re in the presence of live musicians. This is my fourth album in ten years and it feels like a real arc for me. Too Bold is the natural zenith. I’ve dug deep into my feelings to create a record of the best emotional equality possible. Trying to make it over lockdown was a challenging feat, but people deserve it. I know it’s going to bring light and hope to so many people. It’s time for musicians to dig deep now! There are so many dynamic shifts on the album, from the upbeat ‘Turning Heads’ and ‘War Drums’ to the more subtle ‘Too Bold’. I feel so lucky and sometimes feel spoiled that I’ve got such an open mind when it comes to music and creativity. I grew up in a family where my parents were revolutionaries fighting in the war for emancipation. It’s hard for us to imagine what it would’ve been like but what they experienced was really Music by Jonny Stone Page 31

hard; so whenever they listened to music, it was always such a wide range of powerful stuff: Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin... This record shows where I am as a versatile, fearless maker of music. Music is there to provide common ground, and while it’s important for you to be unique in your sound, the music I make is indiscriminate. I try to put in as many colours as I can. I relied on Ancient Futures over lockdown as it really emanates joy, and on ‘War Drums’ you marry this joy with heavier explorations. How easy is it to strike this balance? We need music to match these times. In Too Bold, I’m able to address some really important things but still never allow the music to be a slave to those issues. The music has to make people feel a sense of hope. When you’ve got a great group of creatives around you who relate to your vision and add to your sonic palette, it helps bring the right energy. But there are challenges when you start veering into production, especially as a female of colour. There are studios and people in the industry who aren’t used to seeing girls around, but we’re starting to see more coming through. It takes courage to create a sound that is authentic and timeless, one that can tell your story. Have you found yourself being pigeon-holed despite the range in your voice and your persona? In the early days, it was heartbreaking to walk into marketing meetings with bigwigs from labels who were more concerned that my hair was natural and cut into a heart shape. It was disheartening to be surrounded by people so focused on my appearance because I’m a young Black female and this is the sort of music I should be making and I should stand there and twerk, providing an aesthetic that might work for other artists. But for me, Back to Contents



Photography: Joyal Antony Dominic

I didn’t grow up with that fixed idea of what a girl should be. You take so many risks to be an amazing singer and musician, so as a female of colour, when you end up going into an industry that tells you they just want you to perform as a type of character, it can be really disheartening. Things are changing, and there are musicians who have taken brave risks to give us alternative models of what we can aspire to. Nina Simone, Grace Jones, Bjork… The UK has a small, old boy establishment who only want girls who are mouldable and do what they’re told. How does it feel to be releasing your music independently? It’s important to have gone independent, but it wasn’t necessarily by choice. The industry creates a sell-by date for female musicians, and the only female musicians they tend to let carry on for longer are those who conform. I had to go independent as I didn’t get the support and it was clear there was a conveyor belt at play. There is a quota for successful women, let alone women of colour: you can draw a chronological chart. Start with Winifred Atwell, a Trinidadborn singer who was the first artist in the UK to sell a million records. Then Shirley Bassey, then Sade, Skin, Beverley Knight, Jamelia, VV Brown, Shingai, Lianne la Havas, Laura Mvula… we’re never allowed to be part of musical popular culture at the same time. There’s something insidiously lonely about that. At festivals, you’d be the only girl or the only brown girl, and the rest of the line-up would be 98% white males. Now I’m independent, I can build a community around me. I’m one of the creative founders of The Floor, an alternative model that allows artists to reach the fans you’ve cultivated on a social media platform to engage in your content. Monopolising people was only going to last for so long. Such an effort has been made to divide society: I’m rebuking that Music by Jonny Stone Page 35

in the name of great music. I want to ask about the KG remix of yours and Dennis Ferer’s ‘Hey Hey.’ We’re doing this thing called The Carrier’s Mixtape to celebrate voices that have contributed to the best dance and electronic anthems ever. But you don’t know their names; many died in poverty or had to turn to non-musical work. How is that right? 95% of the time a white DJ finds an amazing singer, a great collaboration happens and you never see that singer’s name. They don’t appear in the video and the press doesn’t want to interview them. But when you see Norman Cook do a Glastonbury set to 200,000 people, where is the vocalist? Why don’t we know her name? The narrative is that brown girls don’t sell records, but if that’s the case, how do all these guys make so much money? We’re the carriers of those tunes, and there’s something insidiously wrong about that. You should read the book written by Viv [Albertine] from The Slits about punk and how women were written out of the story. Those women were inspiring the guys, like Poly Styrene from X-Ray Specs. Same for Pauline Black. Have you read Black by Design? How come people don’t know about this book? If I didn’t know about this book, that’s crazy. Can you imagine doing this ten years ago? You wouldn’t be doing book recommendations in interviews! There’d be a lot of personal stuff edited out. Even if you did have great interviews, it would be hard to find any substance, and it would really be all about the next album, tour dates… People want to know about the artist’s heart and soul. Like you’re saying about Pauline Black, people want to know why music had to be her refuge. Back to Contents


Music by Jonny Stone Page 37


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At the apex of Wild Young Hearts and appearances on Jools Holland, did it feel like you were on a conveyor belt? No, I’m very much a present person. Sometimes that’s to my detriment! But it’s what gives me my energy and spark. I lost a lot of people when I was young and in my family’s post-colonial story, there was a lot of tragedy. My upbringing was centred on making the most of what you’ve got. My mum literally had to fight in the war, and I understand the emotional impact of this and the sacrifice she made so I could have a future. I’m not here to just survive: I’m here to thrive. So if I’m on Jools Holland, you’re gonna get a cartwheel! If I’m on Glastonbury, I’m going to be climbing the riggings. You go for it because you know there are people who’d never get the chance, or you go home and your family ask ‘What was that? You just stood there!’ I always have my mum’s voice in the back of my head. Looking back on your career, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned? That there are so many more good-hearted people than there are bad. A lot of the negative aspects of the industry have been so amplified, but I think it’s just as important to amplify the good in the industry. Don’t allow yourself to be burdened down in negativity, because that creates fear. Try to lead from the heart: for every bad thing that’s happening, there are nine amazing things that are happening too. The press won’t tell you, as it’s not in their interest…so you tell them where to stick it! Too Bold is out on 12th October 2020 via Zimtron Records Music by Jonny Stone Page 39

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Photography: Julian Bailey

Zoe Graham’s new EP, Gradual Move, sees a seismic change of direction from her previous release Hacket & Knackered. It’s a collection of perfect pop songs, full of nostalgia and self-reflection, pinpointing her at a crossroads personally and creatively. Sonically, it’s pure sunshine. With the light fading on 2020 and the nights fair drawing in, taken in conjunction with your daily Vit D, it could just be the answer to Scotland’s collective seasonal affective disorder. How have the last few months been for you? Yeah, it’s been fine. Being in my flat, kicking about is kinda my comfort zone anyway. I’d rather not go out sometimes, so I’ve not totally hated it but, you know, it’s really starting to wear now, to be honest. At the very start there was a novelty about it, and now that there’s the prospect of another six months it’s kinda bad. I’m quite happy just getting on with writing. I’ve managed to get an EP out, which is good. Has it been a positive experience for you, pulling the EP together over the past few months? Yeah, it’s been great. Not that I’m not happy with the reception, but I think things would have been a bit better if the world had been normal. I’d have been out gigging and pushing it in that way. What I’ve realised over this time is that doing live shows has actually been quite an integral part of what I do. I suppose it’s something I’ve probably taken for granted, how important it actually is. I pick up a lot of new fans at shows and that’s been, obviously, very difficult at the moment. It’s been fun, I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s been different. It’s made me think about things a bit differently. The EP itself, now it’s out, and it’s something you can hold Music by Kenny Lavelle Page 41

in your hand. I guess that must be a bit of a moment for you? It’s your first release on vinyl, right? On vinyl, yeah. I’ve brought things out on CD before. It’s always exciting but it’s a different kind of energy with vinyl. You’ve changed your sound a lot recently. It is different. As you know, the first EP was quite acoustic-based and quite folky, in a way, and now this has turned into something else completely. Over the last two years, what I’ve been doing is having a lot of writing sessions with different people, which when I was working on Hacket & Knackered, I wasn’t particularly doing. So what I’ve learned in these writing sessions is to write a three minute and thirty second song, you know, say as much as you can, get as much as you can in a short amount of time, and write something to a pop structure. I learnt that sport, if you like, of getting something together in a short amount of time and making it all come across well. I think that’s where this EP came from, it was a by-product of that, even though only one of the songs on the EP is actually a co-write. I’ve been scrutinising what I’ve been writing down a little bit more. The stuff I’ve been writing recently, during lockdown, has kind of worked its way into writing songs for writing a song’s sake – I’ve gone back to writing without necessarily having a structure in mind or a pop song in mind. I think what I’m actually doing now is a healthy middle-ground between Hacket & Knackered and Gradual Move. But yeah, I think a lot of the new EP has so much to do with working in a pop structure, writing these pop tunes. At that time as well, when working on these songs, I was very into listening to Christine and the Queens, and St. Vincent’s last record as well, a lot of pop-synthy stuff, and that [what I’m listening to] usually ends Back to Contents



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up being the thing that I’m writing at the time. You did your remix for Man of Moon recently too. Yeah, that was fun. I was well up for it, because during lockdown I’d been focusing a lot on my production skills, that’s been my main thing. So to have the opportunity to play about with a track just sounded so much fun. Although it took me a while to figure out how to approach it, I think, when you listen to the other remixes, you can hear that I’ve come to it from a songwriter’s standpoint. In my head I’ve made a verse, and a chorus, and then a middle eight, while other people have taken it on more of a dance/ house/producer route. I really enjoyed it – it was great fun. You’ll be looking forward to getting out and playing these new songs to an audience when you can. I’m always thinking about how things are done live. When I first started working with my manager, Michael [Lambert], when I started really playing live properly, I’d a bad habit where every time I’d write a song, I’d box myself into ‘Oh, I can’t write that cause I wouldn’t be able to play it live’. I was hindering my songwriting. Thankfully now I’ve broken out of that bad habit. I’m definitely still thinking about live stuff, though. When we first went into lockdown I was nearly finished a live set with my band. Up till this point I’ve been known as somebody who plays by themselves, whereas I do have a band, it’s just been a work in progress for quite a long time. We had nearly finished a full set, we’d gigs planned, we’d a show planned for over in Cologne – which obviously all got cancelled. But at the same point, it’s good to still get to the point of ‘It’s done’. We’re just not doing anything with it yet. I think there’s a lot I’d change now, from when we were rehearsing. So I’m Music by Kenny Lavelle Page 45

definitely so buzzing about getting back to it. Though I need to get myself in gear and start practicing, to be honest. Have you made it back into the rehearsal studio at all yet? No I can’t, unfortunately I have to shield. I’ve got Crohn’s disease which puts me in a high risk category. I’ve not managed to make it back into the studio, but that’s fine. All in due course, it’ll all come. The time to reflect has been useful then? Yeah, it’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it. There’s an interesting piece on Vintage Society Music where you list your influences for the EP. That’s well worth checking out. Do you look outside for influences while you’re writing? Yeah, I think it’s super important. I think what I listen to dictates what I’m writing. Back when I was writing Hacket & Knackered I was listening to a lot of folk music. I was also listening to a lot of C Duncan, although production-wise the sound doesn’t match that record. I feel that the song ‘Hacket & Knackered’ itself was influenced by C Duncan. Like I said, when I was making this new EP I was listening to a lot of Christine and the Queens, a lot of real pop. People like Cate le Bon, I look up to her for her songwriting, but I also look up to her for her stage presence and image. I take a lot of what other people do and mix it about and recycle it, throw it at the wall until it sticks. Recently, during lockdown, I’ve been listening to the new Declan McKenna and Dan Croll albums and that’s been really influencing my songs. Can you tell us a bit more about each song on the EP? Gradual Move This is the opener to the EP. It’s kind of a coming-of-age anthem. At the time I was writing it, I was moving out of my family home, Back to Contents

my childhood dog had just died, and a long-term relationship had just broken up. I’d got to the stage where a whole lot had changed and I was coming to terms with the fact that life as I knew it wasn’t necessarily going to be the same again. Half way through the second verse it says: I’m gone / I live alone / and there’s a dog that’s dying back home I wrote that initially on the piano back at my mum and dad’s place. I just left the song there for a while and didn’t go back to it. Then a couple of months went by; my dog had passed away, and other things had happened. So I went back to the song and wrote the lyric ‘Oh God she’s gone’, which is funny to me in a way, because between those two lines, there’s quite a lot. Although they’re right next to each other in the song, there’s a whole couple of months that happened between those lines that I think made a path for how the rest of the song would turn out. It’s all about changing and things moving on. Sleep Talking ‘Sleep Talking’ is about how I wake up in the middle of the night and see things. I get recurring night visions where I wake up and see spiders all around my room. I see a whole bunch of stuff happening that isn’t there. I’ll usually wake my partner up and say ‘Oh, look at these big spiders climbing about the room.’ So that came from that avenue. It kind of relates back to a relationship that kind of felt like it was coming to an end. I’d wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats, thinking I’d said “I don’t love you anymore”, in my sleep. I’d woken up delirious, I didn’t know if I’d said it, I didn’t know if I hadn’t said it. That was a real weird, stressful time. Music by Kenny Lavelle Page 47

Know by Now ‘Know by Now’ is about coming to terms with truths; being honest with myself, which in the past I’ve struggled to do. If there’s something urgent I’ll get it done. But if there’s a problem in terms of friendships or relationships or family things, I’ll bury my head in the sand and not really address it. So that’s what ‘Know by Now’ is about, where [there has been] one too many times of not being honest or times when I’ve ignored the issue, and really ‘I should know by now’ to not ignore it, cause that doesn’t help anybody. Fault Lines ‘Fault Lines’ ties the whole EP up, for me, as one package. There’s a theme throughout the whole EP of rocks and stones and things like that. A rock to me is a symbol of pressure and friction, years of pressure and friction that have built up to make this one beautiful object. I think that’s beautiful and quite a good analogy for life. We’ll all go through trials and tribulations and we’ll all have pressure and friction thrown our way, but at the end of the day you need to have the dark to have the light. On the back of the EP there’s an emblem of a rock, which is a rock that I have on my mantlepiece in my flat, that kind of sums it all up for me. The ‘Fault Lines’ chorus is a kind of mantra, saying, ‘Didn’t I tell you it’d be alright / Didn’t I tell you it’d be just fine’. All of these worries that I’ve had all this time, the world hasn’t ended, the world is still spinning, it’s all ok. ‘Fault Lines’ is a kind of relief to everything else. Gradual Move is out now via A Modern Way and is available to stream, as well as to purchase on special gold vinyl, on Zoe Graham’s Bandcamp.

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Photography: Shiara Bell

In 1990, ‘Drive Blind’ helped launch the career of Ride, bringing the songwriting skills and guitar virtuosity of Andy Bell to the fore. In 2020, it appeared also that Drive Blind had become a questionable initiative on the part of the UK Government, when Dominic Cummings embarked on a road-trip to test his eyesight. Thankfully, we are focusing on the former, with Bell stepping firmly into the spotlight. SNACK caught up with Andy during the build-up to his debut solo album, and we discussed listening parties, YouTube covers, and cartoon horses. The album is called The View From Halfway Down, inspired by the (stunning) Bojack Horseman episode/ poem. Have there been many works of art/creative output that have stopped you in your tracks and made you think deeply? Yes, absolutely ...and I do like putting little references to those things into my music now and again. You’ve said the lockdown changed your plans to make an EP into making an LP. How have you been through the last few months – are you the sort of person to be challenged/ motivated by the restrictions we’ve faced? I’ve had a pretty OK time during lockdown. We’ve stayed healthy, which is something to be grateful for, and as a family we’ve been going through all the same things as everyone else with young kids, just the whole home-schooling thing and the working from home thing too. I was anxious before lockdown started, because the government was acting too slow, but when lockdown finally kicked in, I relaxed completely and we just got on with life in our little bubble. Music by Andrew Reilly Page 51

While its right to be angry and fearful about what will happen to the music industry because of the pandemic, are you hopeful it will inspire great work from artists? I’m not sure I’m ready for a COVID-inspired concept album from anyone except maybe Tierra Whack, who did a pretty cool lockdown song. Opening song ‘Love Comes In Waves’ is the album’s lead track: were you pleased with the reaction to it? Yeah, I was knocked out by the reaction, to be honest. A lot of it I think was about the video, by [UK visual and psychedelic artist] Innerstrings. There was a heatwave, and the video was very heatwavey and it just lifted the song a lot. How did you feel announcing the album/dropping the first track? Was there a notable difference to how you’ve felt with recent Ride releases? Similar in a lot of ways. These days, on that first day, the single is being heard and the album is announced and you’re trying to keep up with all the things going on. In the old days you’d release something and go straight on tour. That’s obviously different this time, but it’s been different the last couple of albums too. We haven’t done gigs with the first single - you tend to hang back and then do the record stores on the week of the album release. It will feel weird not doing that. You’ve never been one to hide your influences, and the album blends a lot of styles. Did you set out to make a record that touches on so many of your inspirations, or did it naturally come out this way? I just did what came naturally. What are you listening to these days? Back to Contents


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Just listening to the new Tricky album at the moment, and liking it. I’ve been listening a lot to Sonic Boom, All Things Being Equal, this summer. Daniel Avery’s new stuff - both his new albums. The bdrmm album, the SAULT stuff, Paranoid London in general. You’ve said the album is a ‘listening experience’, and it is really immersive. Do you hope people will now find or make more time to delve into albums? I hope so. I think people might be listening to albums a bit more again. It’s just a feeling, but if that is true, then we have lockdown and Tim Burgess to thank for that. His Twitter listening parties are an absolutely genius idea, one which has put the idea of listening to an album back into people’s minds again after years and years of that being eroded. It’s funny because we as musicians tend to take a lot of trouble compiling track listings for albums when hardly anyone seems to listen that way. Myself included, on both sides of that fence. I’ve joined in with a couple of Tim’s listening parties, and to sit and listen to an album feels so alien the first time you do it again. It really hammers home how much things have changed. But there is still a place for appreciating albums that way, for sure. It’s just a skill that’s been lost, the skill of listening. Do you have a quick take on streaming music or is it too complicated a matter for soundbites? I’m fully integrated into a life with Spotify now. As a user I see, use and enjoy all the really good things about it. As an artist I wish they paid us properly. I feel like Spotify should be trying to emulate Bandcamp, who have been heroic this year. Now you have this album under your belt, do you think there’ll be more solo work to come from you? Music by Andrew Reilly Page 55

Yes, I feel that the follow-up won’t be far behind. Now that I’ve started this ball rolling, it has its own momentum. As the record is your first solo album, we’d like to take a select look through your non-Ride back catalogue. Can you name a better song released in 1997 than ‘Step Into My World’ and do you look back thinking Hurricane #1 [the post-Ride band formed by Bell and others] should have been bigger? Haha, thanks. I can probably name a few. 1997 was a good year for music. Are there any things you would have done differently with Hurricane #1? Possibly, but then I wouldn’t have ended up where I am now. So I think maybe it’s best to let it be. How was it working with Gem on this new record, and do you think you’ll work together again? It was great! Gem is brilliant, I have no doubt we’ll work on more stuff together in the future. Did the release of your GLOK electronic material give you confidence to release under your own name? I don’t know, something kind of clicked with me a little way ago, and I just started to take opportunities that came up, rather than passing on them. It has led to good things. GLOK started out of me getting signed as a composer to a film-score based record company. Initially I put those tracks out one at a time over a period of a few months, to try and get soundtrack work, and nothing happened at all. Crickets! Then a couple of years later I had a call from Joe at Bytes who had found the tracks, figured out it was me, and wanted to put out a cassette of them. It all came from there.

Photography: Shiara Bell

Music by Andrew Reilly Page 57

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To be honest this is pretty much how everything has happened for me over the years. I don’t have a masterplan. What was your favourite cover during your Lockdown YouTube recordings? It was cool working out ‘Wichita Lineman’, which was a request from a mate of mine. Is there any point in talking about expected/hoped for gigs or is it all just speculative right now? Ride’s world tour was cut short and we lost a festival season that was going to finish the tour for This Is Not A Safe Place which came out last Summer. It would be cool if we could pick that up in Spring / Summer 2021, but I have a feeling every single band in the world is going to be fighting for those festival slots, so maybe that will be it for that album. I don’t know. We can’t plan for anything yet. We’re going to start making a new record over the winter anyway. Did the challenges with the livestreamed Ride gig make you feel we’re still a long way off from finding a substitute for ‘proper’ gigs? Yep. We need gigs in 2021 – Sonic Boom is touring! When things move forward, are there any artists you would be particularly keen to see or even share a bill with? Sonic Boom would be amazing, I was a big Spacemen Three fan back in the 80s, and I have been ever since. His new album is cool as well - as I mentioned. Andy Bell’s solo debut album The View From Halfway Down is out 9th October via Sonic Cathedral.

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Photography: Harrison Reid

Liam Shortall is a multi-instrumentalist, musician, composer and producer. A band member and key player in the likes of Tom McGuire & The Brassholes, Graham Costello’s STRATA, Aku!, and Fat-Suit, he’s also played with The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. Always keen to push boundaries and experiment, corto.alto is his own ground-breaking project where he fuses his love of many different genres with jazz. Liam Shortall’s latest release with corto.alto, Live from 435, Volume 5, marks the conclusion of a year-long passion project. Nu-jazz, neo-soul, hip-hop, breakbeat, ragga, spoken word and scat all feature in an entirely impressive five-volume musical mosaic. On the phone to us from his Glasgow flat, he chats lightheartedly on the topics of recording, awards, collabs, labels, and London. How have you been? I’ve been alright. Not financially, haha. I’ve been writing, recording, and arranging, which has been pretty good. After Live from 435 finished, which was mental for a year, I took some time off and chilled over a couple of weeks and then got back to it. How did Bristol-based label Worm Discs get involved in Live from 435? I released the first four volumes myself but it was actually on the second release that they got in touch. I’d had loads of messages from people around then; they [Worm Discs] would contact me on Facebook and I always just missed them. They wanted to do something but I’d said I’d look at it after I’d finished this project, after a year. We had planned to do a vinyl release but then COVID happened, so that all got put back. Watching the impressive one-take music videos from the live series, it’s clear that the corto.alto lineup changes regularly. The videos are filmed by Justyńa Kochaska, who is an ex-dancer. Music by Donald Shields Page 61

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She has great rhythm and choreography, which translate into her video skills. With the changes, I’m lucky enough to have loads of friends who are sick at playing music. In total there’s about twenty people involved in corto and then we’ve had special guests as well. There’s an advantage in playing with the same people every time, as you get used to each other, but bringing in new people can be exciting and can bring something unique. Your latest guest is MOBO award-winning British saxophonist Soweto Kinch. How was it, having such a big name in the jazz scene on your record, and how did it happen? I’ve listened to him since I was a kid, and always loved his music. I love that mix of jazz/hip-hop he has. His latest album is like New Orleans hip-hop and in the past he’s got into electronic and trap music - he’s always pushing boundaries. He’s a really good rapper too, so I’ve always wanted him to play and rap on a tune. Agnese Daverio - the booker at Edinburgh Jazz Festival, who I’ve known through booking bands like Aku!, corto... All your bands... Haha yeah and Brassholes, and Strata. She [Daverio] was booking Soweto and I’d asked her if she’d put me in touch - they also have an artist fund which helped us with the collaboration and getting him involved. How easy was it, working with him? Having someone you look up to playing a composition you’ve written? I’d written the majority of it, apart from the rap. We were gonna do it together, y’know, record it live like the others, but because of lockdown we had to record it all separately. There’s Music by Donald Shields Page 63

three drummers on that tune with Soweto, two bass players, six horn players. It’s a big collaboration. I basically made a demo, got people to record their parts I’d written, and then they sent them back in and that was it. It was super easy. Did it come out as you imagined? Yeah, well, probably not at the beginning, but you kinda shift your ideas of what it’s gonna be like and it just gets better, so after Soweto sent me stuff I’d spliced and changed a lot of it. It’s interesting to get loads of people to record - it’s a lot of moving parts. I was really happy with the way it turned out. I was really happy when it finished because I was the last one [to record]. I was like ‘Get this over with!’. And you write each individual part for each player in the band? I write the score, then I write everyone parts and send them to them. Sometimes it can be loose around the edges, or quite detailed. For example, I dont wanna tell a drummer - as I’m not a drummer exactly what to do. I’ll write a rough piece, then they’ll take it and make it way better than anything I could ever come up with. I’m lucky to be working with people so talented. What would they say about you as a band leader? I’m pretty laid back, I think. You’ve gotta have a balance. I’ve been in a lot of bands where you go in and record for a singer/songwriter and they ask you to write them a part - they have no clue, they just want brass. The other end of the scale is where people are too specific and try to tell you how to play trombone. I feel like I’ve experienced both ends throughout my career. For me, you’ve gotta have a real leader with direction and a vision. I’m always open to suggestions you don’t wanna limit someone’s creativity. Maybe a different intro or a different drum groove. But if it’s shit, I’ll let you know. You’ve gotta Back to Contents

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have trust, and I trust everyone there. I wouldn’t have them there if I didn’t. With Live from 435, I was never really attached to a release as they were so frequent. A release was coming out every three weeks. When recording, the mistakes are often the things you remember. If you try and go for perfect every time you’re never gonna get it. You supported Joe Armon-Jones back in February this year, who was touring not long after releasing his second solo album Turn To Clear View. How was he to hang around with? That was the first time I met him, that day. We’d done an interview on WW Glasgow, Rebecca Vasmant’s show on Worldwide FM. He’s a super nice dude and I’d love to do something with him in future - I think we will. His music is awesome and he’s such a good producer. He’s not just playing straight-ahead jazz from the 60s - a lot of jazz is the type that’s just for jazz musicians, whereas his music is very open and accessible. Joe is certainly a mainstay on the London jazz scene. You’ve also got the likes of Kamaal Williams, Ezra Collective, and Giles Peterson with Brownswood Recordings. Is there a resurgence of jazz? Or are people just paying attention because it’s nujazz, which has elements of hip hop or reggae and is more modern? Fusion Jazz in the 90s/2000s was someone playing a keytar. Whereas now it’s definitely more fused with hip-hop and a lot of music that people already listen to. I think it’s a combination of the music being more accessible and more in line with the mainstream. It’s also to do with the advent of Spotify; I mean people 10-15 years ago would maybe find one track on the radio, one time. Now people can find one track they like and an algorithm will suggest all this other stuff. I think robots are better than some old guy trying to tell you Music by Donald Shields Page 67

what’s cool and what to listen to. So you’re pro-Spotify… Hmm...I’m pro-technology in communicating music. But I am not fucking pro-17 quid a month for 100,000 streams. How important is bridging this gap between the London jazz scene and the rest of the country? Does it make it hard, trying to break through? Going back to how you consume music - you could be living in Shetland and make good music and people will find it and buy it. If you’re good you can make the cut and break through. The London jazz scene has definitely resurged, but I think Glasgow has got a huge part to play in the future; like Bristol and Manchester, Glasgow is one of the cities trying different stuff. We have amazing musicians here, the same as London in terms of quality. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same number of venues or labels like London. It would be great if there was a jazz label up here and I think someone will start it. Maybe Rebecca [(Vasmant] - who knows. Running a label isn’t the most tempting business model - especially a jazz record label. But if you were the first one in Glasgow, with so much going on right now? Look what Brownswood and DeepMatter have done in London, and they’re making bank. (Liam reminds me he has to leave to make rehearsals with Tom McGuire & The Brassholes). Where do you rehearse these days? We’ve got this mad space in Maryhill; I rehearse there with corto. alto as well. It’s run by this guy called Zambo who’s a fucking nutcase. He has this warehouse and he’s building a studio there. We’ve got a sweet deal to get this practice space. So more Tom & the Brassholes music coming soon? Back to Contents

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So much, we’ve written so much music. Tom has 18 new songs. Some are in the early stages and some are almost done. Tom has spent a lot of time in lockdown writing and now everyone is just getting back to rehearsing again, so that’s exciting. How does Tom compare to yourself, with him also being a band leader? He’s an amazing songwriter and very passionate. Tom’s really good at writing bangers. We wrote the bulk of the last Brassholes album together. It’s such a fun project and different from what I normally do. It gets me back to what I started doing: jazz, funk and trombone playing. I love funk and soul, so it’s indulgent for me as well. The gigs always look like shitloads of fun… Yeah, it’s nice to have a band where the performance is so much about bringing energy and a real feelgood atmosphere. It’s something I really enjoy doing. Finally, coming up are the Scottish Jazz Awards. Five possible awards to be nominated for and you are up for four of them. That’s pretty impressive. You’re missing out only on ‘Best Vocalist’. I’m actually pretty gutted I didn’t get all 5 nominations, haha. My dad asked ‘Why aren’t you singing?’. I feel awards in music are nice for the recognition and it’d be nice to win but I really don’t want to win all four that I’m up for. For corto.alto though - I worked my ass off, so I would appreciate the recognition there. I think I know everyone up for the nominations, and everyone is totally deserving. It’s cool to be nominated, but I’m just making tunes, really. All five volumes of Live from 435 are available digitally now on Worm Discs, including latest single ‘Is That It?’, featuring Soweto Kinch. Keep your eyes peeled for an Aku! album release at the end of the year, featuring Harry Weir, Liam Shortall and Graham Costello, also on Worm Discs. Music by Donald Shields Page 71

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Laura Waddell is a writer, publisher, critic, and journalist, and has been a prominent figure in Scottish writing for many years. SNACK spoke with her about EXIT, her debut non-fiction book, out now from Bloomsbury. EXIT is part of Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series of books. Can you tell us a bit about them and how you got involved? Object Lessons explores the hidden lives of everyday objects – telephone booths, golf balls, remote controls, shipping containers – and I’d been a fan of the series for a while. Writers are given free reign to dive down their rabbit hole, and they are very fun books. Some focus on the history and development of their object, others tend more towards cultural analysis, but they are all weird and wonderful. I was particularly drawn to Hotel by Joanna Walsh, which reflected on both her experience as a hotel reviewer and the surreality of hotels. I’m also very fond of High Heel by Summer Brennan and Burger by Carol J Adams. I just loved them, their scope for thinking about ordinary things in a different way, so I pitched through the dedicated Object Lessons website, and was delighted to have my idea commissioned. Why choose EXIT as your topic? I have always been a fan of Exit signs. That gorgeous glowing green. They’re just cool looking objects. When I started researching their development, it turns out they reveal a lot about social history, particularly the Workers’ Rights movement that spurred on health and safety signage after industrial disasters. In their history is also the evolution of technology, such as how signs are illuminated to withstand chaotic scenarios when once they were just painted signs. Exit signs are also a great bit of design history. Pictograms such as the ‘running man’ in the exit sign communicate across language barriers. The 1960s were a fascinating time for pictorial language, which was notably used at the Books by Alistair Braidwood Page 73

1964 Olympics in Tokyo. But I soon realised that exits themselves are everywhere. This political decade is defined by Brexit and the Scottish Independence movement, and immigration as a major area of conflict. But they’re also everywhere in our personal lives, and in evictions and evacuations. Exits reveal a lot about how we move around in our everyday lives. Exits are a class issue. It’s the only book I have read which brings together artist Jenny Holzer, Brexit, Sesame Street, and the cultural policy of the Nazis. How do you approach writing about such an abstract idea as EXIT? Is it a case of expanding ideas rather than defining them? Let me tell you, it’s a difficult book to describe for exactly that reason. As I said, once you start to look, exits in a metaphorical and literal sense are everywhere. But my unifying theory of exits is that they reveal how people move around the world; the opportunities that are open, the doors that are closed. I’m grateful that my editors gave me free reign to pursue the idea, and when I was writing I really felt like I was exploring. I didn’t write down rigid, pre-existing ideas; I wrote as a process of discovery. It’s a wormhole of a book, drawing on highbrow and lowbrow culture, a patchwork of inspiration from books and history to online culture. I went a bit mad while I was writing it, but it was a wonderful experience to head out on the exit trail. It’s a book that makes you think about the world, and yourself, in new and intriguing ways. Did you feel









Yes. I had written previously about class barriers, but this was an opportunity to expand that idea.

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Brett Easton Ellis ends his novel American Psycho with a sign that reads ‘THIS IS NOT AN EXIT’. Do you have an artistic EXIT which has stayed with you? It has to be Sesame Street. I wrote about the artist Jenny Holzer’s subversive use of city signage and neon, and Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s Imponderabilia, which was an interactive installation where audience members would squeeze through a doorway flanked by two naked people. But you know how Sesame Street has all the zany A-Z and number songs? They have a surprising number of songs and skits about exits, and while they’re ostensibly to teach kids about safety, they’re totally joyous and trippy. One is illustrated and animated by Keith Haring. Sesame Street is interested in what the experience of everyday life feels like and so am I. The final chapter, ’Exit This Way’, is one of my favourite bits of writing in recent times. How did you know that this was your, and our, way out of the book? Thank you so much. That chapter is saying look, here are 30 very short stories about exits, about comings and goings. It’s my way of saying goodbye to the subject, and I felt tender towards it. You’ve worked in many aspects of the book industry - writer, publisher, critic, journalist. Do you think they all feed into each other in a positive way, or does your knowledge of one or more sometimes impinge on the others? While I would love to exist only by writing, I have to work. I have to pay my bills. That’s the reality for the majority of writers. As a result, I have a career that I’m dedicated to and proud of, that I work hard at. I think that’s always going to be the case. I am fascinated by publishing, by arts criticism, by words in all forms, and my interest in it is really the same thing I’m writing about - it’s about expression, it’s about getting ideas out there. It’s often about emancipation, whether creative or personal. EXIT is out now, published by Bloomsbury. Books by Alistair Braidwood Page 77



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Upon its inauguration in 2015, SQIFF (Scottish Queer International Film Festival) held what could be deemed modest goals: to bring more opportunities for audiences to watch queer films; to give a platform to queer filmmakers and programmers; and to offer a space for viewers who were uncomfortable with watching queer films in straight spaces. Half a decade later, the Glasgow-based festival’s success has allowed its ambitions to evolve to tackle wider issues of access, and play with its programme. This year strands include ecology, islands and oceans, South America, and science fiction. “The reason for that was partly our general love of sci-fi”, says Festival Coordinator Helen Wright. Yet the heart of the festival remains the celebration of queer films, while elevating a broad spectrum of voices that touch on areas relevant to queer culture. Even science fiction, that most fantastical of genres, can address issues that affect marginalised communities, whilst also offering escapism from problems such as difficulties faced by LGBTQIA+ people seeking asylum in the UK and what Wright believes is a resurfacing of queerphobic attitudes. Like the majority of festivals, SQIFF is going online for 2020. The technicalities of the move include placing all films on Vimeo on Demand (UK only) and supplementing these with live events via Zoom (no geographic limit). The live events will incorporate discussions, workshops, and watch parties, ranging from lessons in film criticism and film-making to a closing ceremony pub quiz. One advantage of being online has been the ability to corral a few speakers who would normally have been unable to travel to Scotland, although Wright confirms the Scottish concept remains strong as the festival cooperates with local Film by Jamie Wills Page 81

organisations such as LUX Scotland, LEAP Sports Scotland, and the Scottish Documentary Institute. Holding a mantra that all queer people should have access to queer culture, access and affordability have always been a major presence at SQIFF. This year films are ‘pay what you can’, starting at £1, although anyone who feels they are unable to pay can contact the festival for an access code. Events are similarly flexible, with participants choosing from a sliding scale of free to £8 – although paying more is certainly welcome. Meanwhile BSL, live captioning, English subtitles and audio descriptions will be prominent across the two weeks. And individuals or community groups in the Glasgow area without internet connectivity can borrow laptops with elements of the programme pre-installed. With regard to the programme, this year’s is diverse enough to cover pioneering titles such as Marlon Riggs’ Tongues Untied and modern shorts showcasing new talent, with a viewers' vote for the Best Scottish Short. A Shu Lea Cheang retrospective, entitled Cruising the Future, will showcase two of her feature films, Fluidø and I.K.U., as well as a variety of her experimental films from the early 1990s. “It’s really a unique chance for people to access her work, which is otherwise not very available” says Wright. Other highlights include The Cancer Journals Revisited, a thought-provoking return to Audre Lorde’s Cancer Journals writings that will be accompanied by a Q&A with director Lana Lin, and Blindsided, a documentary following the life of a deafblind lesbian woman. Furthermore, the individual strands are providing a rich well of work, with Queer Back to Contents

Film: Tongues Untied

Film by Jamie Wills Page 83

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Film: The Cancer Journals Revisited

Ecologies offering Derek Jarman’s The Garden, musings on H2O and sex from Annie Sprinkle in Water Makes Us Wet, and LGBTQ community responses to climate disaster in Fire & Flood. Two accompanying shorts programmes will air the voices of queer people of colour and indigenous people. Also worth noting is the Islands and Oceans strand, and not merely because it will show a world far removed from Scotland’s shortening days and dream-deflating travel restrictions. Island nations are seldom shown in any form of cinema, and films exploring their queer culture and history are a rare breed. Documentaries Leitis in Waiting and Tchindas, respectively about the culture of trans women in Tonga and queer identity in the Cape Verde archipelago, promise to educate on an under-represented portion of the world. The live screening of Tchindas will be shown alongside The Whole World is Turning by Ada M. Patterson, who will be in conversation afterwards. That message of education is important to SQIFF, and is one reason Wright hopes the festival can continue to reach viewers both inside and outside the queer community. “It is important for us to reach people who aren’t queer to some extent, because there is so much ignorance that leads to real life discrimination and oppression. So, it’s important that straight people and straight society have access to queer culture, as it could be educational.” However, that serious note is followed by a tongue-in-cheek aside: “And, of course, queer art is better than straight art, and straight people should learn to appreciate it more.” Scottish Queer International Film Festival 2020, 5th till 18th October

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ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK Finally, the season of the witch is upon us. And while there is a plethora of horror classics to keep you at the edge of your seat through the month of October, there’s no denying that Halloween is gay Christmas. When the community has endured so much adversity, Halloween embodies the revelry that we desperately deserve. You can be whoever or whatever you want for a night and are encouraged to shock, repulse, and have fun. And in the spirit of dissecting pop culture, we present this month’s

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inductee into The (Not) Gay Movie Club; certainly one to scratch that itch you have for camp one-liners, absurdity, and spooky glamour. Last issue, we inducted dark pageant comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous, and this month, we indulge in our penchant for Halloween by paying homage to one of my all-time favourites, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Full disclosure: I adore Elvira. She may not enjoy household recognition in the UK, but her shtick as a B-movie horror hostess has cemented her as a true pop culture icon across the pond. Styled after demonic leading ladies like Vampira and Morticia Addams, Elvira is a character conceived in 1981 by Groundlings comedian Cassandra Peterson, who would send up old school horror and sci-fi on her TV show Elvira’s Movie Macabre. The show launched her to stardom thanks to her use of double entrendre, usually regarding her cleavage, and surprising sarcastic commentary. And she took this cult status to the bank: comics, costumes and action figures followed suit. In fact, hers is the highest-selling female Halloween costume of all time. In 2011 I happened to be in Albert, France, a town with a population of fewer than 10,000, and stumbled upon an Elvira pinball machine in a bar. How does that happen? Plus, she has emerged as an alternative gay icon. She’s said in the past that gay guys often tell her they used her posters to convince their parents they were straight, and if that doesn’t make her an American hero, I don’t know what does. Her fame was at its peak when she co-wrote and produced Elvira: Mistress of the Dark in 1988. The movie is a fish-out-ofwater comedy, following Elvira as she moves to a small town where her spooky shtick and penchant for the macabre do not go down well. Fired from her cable TV show and in dire need of LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 87

raising $50,000 to finance her Vegas residency, Elvira travels to Fallwell, Massachusetts to claim her great aunt’s inheritance. She shakes up the town, introducing teens to camp horror classics (“Have you ever seen I Married Satan? What about the sequel, I Married Satan Too?”), flirting with the wrong men and battling her scheming, possibly demonic great uncle. One major factor in its cult status and inclusion on this list is its poor reception upon release. It did not perform well, losing $2 million against its budget, and Elvira herself was nominated for the Worst Actress Razzie Award (considered a badge of honour around these parts). But, as we have established so far in our exclusive, selective film club, underappreciated gems tend to make for glorious camp classics, and Mistress of the Dark has developed a cult status and loyal fanbase since its release. And suffice to say that Mistress of the Dark is gleefully over-the-top, in true late eighties style. One need look no further than Elvira’s car – a black convertible with leopard print fur lining – and her leopard print driving ensemble to find the camp in this movie. But Peterson’s creation is drag at its finest: the perfect blend of hyperreal femininity, humour, and pop culture references. There is a glorious Flashdance-inspired dance sequence near the end, complete with hammy acrobatics, balanced beautifully with tongue-in-cheek nods to Elvira’s appearance. With a face mask on, her make up remains intact; as a baby, Elvira dons a black beehive. And the Back to Contents


LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 89

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dialogue is perfect: Peterson wrote the film herself, and it is full of dad jokes, camp one-liners and misdirects that only improve every time you watch it. This film is endlessly stupid, and I live for every second of it. Where, then, does the queer sensibility appear in Elvira? Granted, there are no LGBTQ+ characters in the film. But there is something inherently queer about Elvira being thrown into this strait-laced, traditional community and being unapologetically herself. As a result of being so radically different to everyone around her, she is tormented and derided – literally burned at the stake in one scene – yet she survives unscathed, oozing unshakeable self-confidence. She’s like a punk rock Joan of Arc, with a beehive. This tenacity is ultimately what draws queer audiences to Elvira, the film and the persona: she has cultivated this unparalleled career for 40 years, dominating her field, and looking somehow better with every passing year. There is an endless list of queer-centric horror movies that capture the essence of otherness, explore gender identity, and provide commentary for society’s treatment of gay people. Elvira is not one of these films. Instead it is a camp, uproarious comedy that celebrates one of the horror community’s most important icons. Elvira is the timeless hero we all need, one that may actually outlive us all, and that is why she has earned her rightful place in The (Not) Gay Movie Club. Unpleasant dreams…

LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 91

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In the lead up to Halloween – my favourite time of year – many will be indulging in the macabre, especially the horror films that have captured their hearts over the years. And while there is no one demographic that enjoys horror more than another, in my own experience those within the LGBTQ+ community tend to have a real affinity for scary movies. After all, so many classic titles are camp gems, like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and Plan 9 from Outer Space. And there is a clear, significant link to be made between queerness – its history, characteristics and people’s perceptions of it – and the horror films audiences have enjoyed for the last century, even if they’re making monsters of us. From gay subtext and queer interpretations to exploitation films, the relationship between the LGBTQ+ community and the horror genre is complex and fascinating. It’s important to establish, firstly, that film critics and experts have often discussed the intersection of queerness and horror. This is especially apt when looking at parallels between the monsters onscreen and the monsters LGBTQ+ have historically been portrayed as in various parts of society. Harry M. Benshoff, in his stellar book Monsters in the Closet, contends that in pop culture, homosexuality has historically been considered a monstrous condition: “Both movie monsters and homosexuals have existed chiefly in shadowy closets, and when they do emerge from these proscribed places into the sunlit wood, they cause panic and fear. Their closets uphold and reinforce culturally constructed binaries of gender and sexuality that structure Western thought…monster is to ‘normality’ as homosexual is to heterosexual.” Perhaps gay audiences see something of themselves in these larger-thanlife caricatures, especially when each group has, literally or LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 93

figuratively, been demonised by those around them. To dissect queerness in horror movies, we must go back to the 20s and 30s, when the perceived immorality of Hollywood movies, namely the discussion and suggestion of homosexuality, led to the Production Code (often referred to as the Hays Code) of 1930. Of course, there are several rules the Code mandated that prohibited profanity, nudity, surgical operations and much more. But from 1934 onwards it’s significant that openly gay movie characters ceased to exist, with mere inference becoming the key tool in portraying anyone who may have fallen under the queer umbrella. Sapphic vampire film Dracula’s Daughter was allegedly so explicit that Production Code enforcers demanded rewrites of the script ahead of production. In a situation where explicit reference to gay themes is prohibited, we must be more symbolic and nuanced with the references we wish to make. And therein lies queer coding, where characters evince often subtle clues that they fall under the queer umbrella. Thinking of the Universal Monsters – Dracula, The Wolfman, The Mummy to name a few – Frankenstein(‘s monster, thank you very much) may well be the purest embodiment of queerness in this era. After all, he has been created by a doctor wishing to achieve physical perfection, but ultimately shunned and derided by his creator for being imperfect. And when let loose among the community, the monster is treated with disdain and rejection, despite not actually doing anything to hurt anyone. Ultimately, he becomes the monster that everyone assumes he is. By the middle of the century, horror films and sci-fi were starting to explore otherness: the likes of Night of the Living Dead and Psycho were touching, not too subtly, on the horrors human beings are capable of inflicting, and reflecting attitudes that were beginning to emerge in the racial and feminist civil rights movements. Back to Contents

LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 95

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There is a fascinating parallel to be made with key moments in the LGBT civil rights movement and what is projected on the big screen, specifically in contemporary horror. At the tail end of the 20th century, HIV/AIDS decimated the gay community and its sociocultural impact was enormous. And when politicians and the media are portraying AIDS as a consequence of immorality, it’s inevitable that this attitude and fear of contracting the virus would be reflected in sci-fi and horror. It pays, for example, to be abstinent, as seen in Friday the 13th. The Kiss, released in 1988 at the height of the AIDS epidemic, features a parasite that is transmitted woman-to-woman by an open-mouth kiss. And of course films like Silence of the Lambs (which has had a distinctly dangerous impact on trans representation) and even Basic Instinct created villains out of the LGBTQ+ community in various forms. However, few horror films of this era explore homosexuality as provocatively as A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. Nightmare 2 immediately bucks tradition, for example, by presenting our ‘scream queen’ as male, rejecting the trope of a young woman as the focal point/target in horror. The character of Jesse is effectively the damsel in distress, whose body is possessed by Freddy and who is ultimately saved by his girlfriend. The film is notorious for its gay subtext, although it’s so explicit that there’s very little nuance about it. I would list the ways in which the film indulges in camp and overtly homosexual imagery, but I would blast through my word count entirely. The film’s LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 97

presentation of repression and gay panic feels like an accurate time capsule; Freddy himself is inherently camp and gleefully maniacal (those cheesy one liners…). The screenwriter David Chaskin, after years of denying his awareness of the film’s gay subtext, eventually confirmed he understood exactly what he was doing: “Homophobia was skyrocketing and I began to think about our core audience – adolescent boys - and how all of this stuff might be trickling down into their psyches. My thought was that tapping into the angst would give an extra edge to the horror.” The actor who played Jesse, Mark Patton, was gay himself but closeted, and became negatively associated with the gay subtext and camp legacy of the film. I recommend the film Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, a documentary that delves into Nightmare 2 and the impact the film’s homoeroticism had on Patton’s life, personally and professionally. Horror has since become more explicit in its queer representation (Hellbent, The Covenant, arguably Black Swan), and our fascination with the genre remains as fervent as ever. In cinema, LGBTQ+ characters never really fare well, if they make it into the film at all. But horror has, in some way and with varied intentions, featured queer characters since the beginning of cinema. It’s just unfortunate that these characters usually end up as the villains. Whether you revel in the camp of B-movies, enjoy the outrageous spectacle of slasher movies or understand the resonance of a particular title in its historical context, be sure to indulge in queer horror this Halloween season. Back to Contents


LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 99



RETROSPECTIVE Back to Contents

Photography: Jim Dyson

Twitter is what you make of it. If you follow angry people, reactionary accounts and aggressive posters, you deserve to have bile funnelled into your phone. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are more than enough good people in the world sharing their opinion to have a pleasant and enjoyable experience on social media. However, even with a tailored timeline, you sometimes get bad news that stops you in your tracks. On 27th July, news started to spread that Denise Johnson had passed away. You might have known her for her work with Primal Scream, Electronic and A Certain Ratio. Perhaps you enjoyed her performance in BBC3’s The Manchester Passion, which first aired in 2006. You might even have stumbled onto her because of her football tweets, supporting Manchester City while saying she had the full kit on and was ready if Pep Guardiola needed to throw her into the fray. To be fair, given Pep’s choice of centre backs, Denise wouldn’t have been the worst selection at the Etihad. Even for all that though, there’s probably a great chance you saw Denise’s name and tweets being shared because they were upbeat, positive and spreading the word about music she admired. It’s sometimes hard to see great musicians as people like the rest of us, but the outpouring of love that followed the sad news of her death showed that Denise was loved by people for her music, but more importantly, as a person. The Manchester music scene is busy. It’s bustling, but it’s bruising. It’s a competitive place - band-mates quickly become former friends, brothers become sworn enemies, and of course, everyone wants to give Mick Hucknall a right good kicking. Music by Andrew Reilly Page 103

The positive plaudits and accolades for Denise didn’t just come after her passing. They were always there. For some reason, Denise and I spoke a fair bit on Twitter. Not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things, but certainly more than I speak with many family members. However, that might say more about me and how I view some of my relatives! The reason we chatted was just because she was nice, and when people spoke to her pleasantly, she responded in kind. It certainly wasn’t because she thought I could further her career. Heck, if I had that sort of power, I’d do something for my own, let alone anyone else’s. Denise Johnson was a great person, and as the musical legacy she leaves us shows, a tremendous vocalist. Elsewhere in the magazine, you can read an interview with Shingai, who was formerly in The Noisettes, and who is now a solo artist in her own right. She talks of unknown female artists being at the heart of songs loved and adored by millions without any recognition, let alone financial reward. Shingai said; ‘The narrative is that brown girls don’t sell records, but if that’s the case, how do all these guys make so much money?’ When you read these words, it’s hard to shake Denise’s performance on ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’ from your mind. Denise Johnson wasn’t omitted from history; she was a known presence and force in the bands she represented, but perhaps she never received the credit or adulation she deserved. There is no denying her exit from Primal Scream hurt Denise. The band went in a different direction, releasing two stunning records in Vanishing Point and XTRMNTR. However, even allowing for that, the way Denise’s name barely Back to Contents

featured in official announcements regarding Screamadelica reissues, anniversary tours or The Original Memphis Recordings of Give Out But Don’t Give Up was shameful. To her credit, Denise never slaughtered the band. Social media sees so many meltdowns, takedowns and spats played out in public, but that was never likely to unfold here. Many pointed to Primal Scream’s belated and brief mention of Denise’s passing as being nowhere near sufficient. Given Screamadelica means the world to so many people, there is a great sadness in thinking that Throb, Andy Weatherall and Denise Johnson are no longer with us. And so, to Where Does It Go, Denise’s debut solo album. Originally planned as a letter of love to some of the finest Manchester acts, it stands as her farewell to us all. The covers, as you would expect, are played straight, allowing the singer to shine. There have been far too many indie and cool hits reimagined in the acoustic and female vocalist mould in recent years, but thankfully, this is made of sterner stuff. Most of the modern remakes soften familiar songs, but here, they’re given a different form of strength and energy. In ‘True Faith’ and ‘I’m Not In Love’, Denise grapples with the classics - songs people know every inch of in great detail. Of course they’re done differently, but not for the sake of being different. You buy into the personal nature of the lyrics, because the delivery is warm yet measured. There’s nothing here that will surprise you, but that’s a compliment regarding consistency. Also, with ‘Well I Wonder’, you have the chance to listen to a song by The Smiths without thinking about Morrissey, which is all we can ask for. Music by Andrew Reilly Page 105

However, it’s on ‘Sunshine After The Rain’ that Denise sparkles the brightest. This featured in The Manchester Passion, and whether you think it’s about love, faith or never giving up, you’re right. Allow yourself to smile as you listen to it. The two songs written by Denise, ‘Nothing You Can Do’ and ‘Steal Me Easy’ (co-written with Fabien Lefrançois) benefit from a freshness, and are pretty uplifting and inspiring. There’s a comfort here, hopefully one where the singer, so often in the shadows, felt at ease in her talent and abilities. We didn’t need this album to know Denise Johnson was a fantastic singer. Everyone would rather the circumstances around this release were very different, but as a fitting legacy, it’s pleasing to see something so worthwhile attached to Denise’s name. Where Does It Go is out now on Adassa. By Andrew Reilly

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Photography: Pete Smith

Robert Kilpatrick is the General Manager of the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) and is heavily involved with their flagship project The SAY Award, which continues to grow year on year. He spoke to SNACK to discuss the award and why it is important. The longlist for this year’s award has just come out and the conversations about who is and who isn’t included are well under way. It might be an idea for you to take us through the process of the award. Of course! The SAY Award is the SMIA’s flagship project, and given that we exist to represent and develop the music industry in Scotland, the idea that we would put up barriers for participation in The SAY Award completely counterproductive to why we exist. So, unlike many awards where there is a meaty listing fee or other barriers before you can even be considered, any album, as long as it meets the criteria, can be considered for The SAY Award. You can submit an album for free. There’s no cost, and it can be submitted by the artists themselves, someone on their team, or any music fan. Back to Contents

So, it kicks off with The SAY Award website accepting eligible album submissions. There’s a set of criteria: four key things that an album has to meet to be deemed eligible. If it meets those criteria and is submitted it’s added to the ‘Eligible Albums’ list. This year 1st July till 31st July was our submission period. We had 362 eligible albums submitted, beating last year’s total of 293, which is a record number. And that’s essentially crowdsourcing those albums, calling on our community and asking, “what are the albums that meet these criteria?” Every year we discover amazing new albums through the process. It’s a great way for the SMIA to discover exactly what’s going on in terms of output across all genres and across the country. Once the submissions are closed, it’s then down to 100 impartial industry nominators to help whittle that down to our 20 album longlist. To do that, each nominator has to pick their top five albums from the eligible list, and each choice is assigned points - first gets ten points, second gets eight points, the third six, etc. Once we get all the nominated choices back, the top 20 scoring albums go to make up the longlist, which is the stage we’re at just now. The longlist is then promoted over a two-week period, and is then reduced to a shortlist of ten albums, nine of which are chosen by The SAY Award judging panel. The panel changes every year - we’ll be announcing this year’s panel shortly - and one album is chosen by music fans. There’s a public vote for 72 hours which will be available at All albums that make the shortlist are automatically guaranteed £1,000, and then the judging panel reconvened to decide who scoops the big £20,000 prize. It’s fantastic for bands to get that sort of financial support, but I think that it’s the all-encompassing nature of the process, and the transparency of it, which makes it so democratic. You’ve got that ‘Eligible Album’ list which is an amazing way of discovering new Music by Alistair Braidwood Page 109

music. The breadth of 362 albums is always going to be diverse, but what gets me is not just the diversity, but the quality. 100%. Every year I’m in awe listening through the records, and I take great pride in the musical output of Scotland. Who makes up the 100 nominators for the longlist? It’s a cross-section of Scotland’s music and arts communities. The main emphasis on the nominators is their impartiality. We would never pick someone from a record label or a management company because of their commercial interest. So we’ll have people representing venues, music media, journalism, radio, podcasts…right across the board they’re people who have their finger on the pulse of what’s coming out of Scotland. Every year we mix the nominators up a bit so we have diverse voices in there, new voices in there. This year, for the second year in a row… well, we’ve always been pretty close to 50/50 anyway, but for the last two years we have made it a requirement that our nominators are gender-balanced 50/50, same with our judging panel. And when you think about the longlists over the last two years especially, the awards have showcased not only an outstanding selection of albums, but a really diverse selection with something for everyone. Which is exactly what The SAY Award should be. So you have a clear idea of the ideals behind the awards? One of our co-hosts, Nicola Meighan, says that, rather than a competition, The SAY Awards is a celebration of Scottish music. And I agree with that. I think it’s a bold, unifying platform to discover, celebrate, and champion all music across Scotland, rather than thinking about which album is better than the other - I never, ever, see it as that. It’s very much a celebration of Scotland’s musical community. You can listen to all the long-listed albums (and see the recently announced short list) at Back to Contents


Readers of last month’s edition of SNACK magazine, and anyone with even a passing interest in what’s generally classed as alternative music, will surely be familiar with that issue’s cover artists IDLES: a band who have created a fairly successful niche for themselves as the sensitive men of the UK music industry. Back to Contents

Photo of Cate le Bon

Often praised for their political lyrics and manifesto-like albums, IDLES are keenly concerned with social justice. Hand-in-hand with this picture, however, goes the controversy in which they regularly find themselves entangled: the accusation that their actions do not always live up to their words. IDLES are divisive, quite clearly. One criticism levied at the band is the lack of diverse talent with whom they choose to work with; the bands IDLES tend to book as support acts on tour are overwhelmingly white men. Gender diversity in the music industry has long been an important discussion and there are many questions to be asked regarding how artists, management, promoters, and publications can encourage diversity in a practical way. Recently this conversation was rekindled by an NME article in which IDLES casually mentioned that Nadine Shah was ‘too expensive’ to book as a support act. Shah quickly addressed this on Twitter, stating that IDLES had only offered her ‘a few hundred quid’ for the gig. The British music industry has a long history of undervaluing the time and talent of female artists - as we move further into a digitally literate world, can criticism on platforms such as Twitter begin to effect real changes to this system? Creating change by making noise can seem daunting, but IDLES are a good example of how criticism should be responded to appropriately; following this incident, the band acknowledged that they could be doing more to uplift the female artists around them. The support acts announced soon after for their upcoming Brixton dates, for instance, is a female focused line up including Cate le Bon, Anna Calvi, Big Joanie, and Jehnny Beth, amongst others. Women like Nadine asserting what they believe themselves to be worth within these spaces – and addressing publicly the times they are sold short – is clearly a high-profile and effective way to bring attention to these issues and influence change. Music by Maya Uppal Page 113

There are, of course, many bands that have made it their consistent and continuing mission to support female, trans, and non-binary young artists throughout their careers; Dream Wife are a good example of an established band trying to critically address the gender gap. They are vocal about the need for wider inclusivity – not just for performers but in all aspects of music. On their latest release, second album So When You Gonna…, they worked with an all-female production team. This decision was a response to massive gaps in production opportunities, as evidenced by many recent studies. These gaps are clear to see: the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that 96% of music producers in the top 100 charts were male. As a band, Dream Wife also highlight how the issues surrounding gender inclusivity in music are far wider than cis men and cis women fighting for space; there is a whole spectrum of gender identities sidelined by these discussions. In 2019, Dream Wife released a mixed collection of tracks by their tour support acts. The digital mixtape ‘Alice Go – Tour Support Reimagined’ includes songs not just by women, but also non-binary and trans artists such as Queen Zee and Bobby Kakouris. All proceeds from this collection were donated to support Girls Rock, a volunteer-run organisation which encourages girls, trans, and non-binary kids making music. Bobby Kakouris (they/them) had this to say: ‘I believe that practicing feminism in music is more important than pursuing conventional success. For a small artist like me, this stance could cost me a career – when you are starting out, being very picky about who you work with and what gigs you book can be detrimental. But for artists who already have a platform, there is no excuse not to actively practice feminism wherever possible. This is why I really appreciate what Dream Wife are doing and think other artists should follow their lead.’ Back to Contents



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Photography: Paul Hudson

New artists like Bobby should have the right to be picky – to play gigs in safe and inclusive spaces. It is the responsibility of the people who hold influence in their industry to ensure that those industries are as safe as possible. Often the marginalization of certain acts becomes the fault of gatekeepers within small venues: people who find themselves in a position of power and can cater environments to their personal taste. According to the Glasgow Accountability Network, there are numerous accounts of discrimination, harassment, and abuses of power that have taken place within much loved venues in the Scottish music scene. The network aims to protect the community of Glasgow's music scene from damaging individuals and has written open letters to a prominent Glasgow music institution, asking for the removal of specific harmful people employed by the venue. It is clear to see that when venues are reluctant to take responsibility for the safety of those within their space, there are often smaller communities dedicated to holding them accountable instead. The more venues to take chances on new, diverse performers and the more bands who follow Dream Wife’s lead, the more inclusive live music can become. In my opinion, IDLES have made a good start: by responding to critics with meaningful actions rather than defensive statements, they show themselves to be actively trying to practice the social values they preach in their lyrics. They have begun to join Dream Wife in carving out opportunities for marginalised artists. Although, it could be argued that IDLES’ response is motivated less by the desire to support gender diversity and more as a form of damage control. It is hard to say whether this is a genuine statement or simply a PR response to being called out. Whatever the truth, that is for their audience to decide for themselves. Lauren Mayberry, of Glaswegian band Chvrches, spoke to SNACK Music by Maya Uppal Page 117

back in 2019 about the importance of creating chances for young girls in music. Chvrches (like Dream Wife) are involved with raising money for Girls Rock: ‘I don’t know the reasoning behind how funding is given out or denied, but I think it’s a very valuable thing. We all complain about festival line-ups but change needs to come from the top down and the bottom up. It’s really about empowering young women and telling them they are allowed to be in those spaces.’ The idea of being ‘allowed’ into certain spaces is an important one to learn – young creatives often feel discouraged from pursuing opportunities within music because of their marginalised gender identities. Girls Rock actively encourages young people between the ages of eight to sixteen to engage with a supportive community of musical female, non-binary, and trans peers to begin to gain confidence in an industry dominated by cis men. However, the organisation is largely volunteer-based and relies on funding. Some of this comes from Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative, as well as donations from interested parties, bands and the public. Organisations like Girls Rock are incredibly important to the future of the arts industry, but with Boris Johnson’s Tory government greenlighting ever-increasing cuts to the live music industry’s funding – and their recent callous (in)action to the plight of those working in the UK’s arts sector – programmes like this are in danger. It is becoming incredibly important, now more than ever, for existing bands, managers, promoters, festivals, and arts supporting publications to do all they can to help bridge the gender gaps in music. Whether it be by supporting the artists around them, helping sponsor programmes for young artists, or simply beginning by acknowledging that there is always more that we can learn and do. Back to Contents


Music by Maya Uppal Page 119



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Historian: Carter G. Woodson

This October marks the 33rd year that the UK has celebrated Black History Month. After an explosion in awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement following the burning outrage over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May, I believe that 2020’s Black History Month carries an even greater importance. Back in the July issue of SNACK, we discussed the Black Lives Matter movement and events which took place that still feel raw and painful for so many. As a Black mixed-race female who grew up in Scotland, I have always felt strongly about Black History Month being a time for everyone to celebrate the Black community and Black culture. But to understand the significance of these celebrations in the UK and specifically in Scotland, we must first look back at our history. In the United States and Canada, where the commemorations were established, Black History Month is celebrated in February and is sometimes referred to as African American History Month. Prior to the first celebrations of what Black History Month, historian Carter G. Woodson had founded an association called the Association for the Study of African Life and History (ASALH). Its purpose was to acknowledge and research Black history, after noting that American history largely overlooked the Black American population. This prompted the founding of Negro History Week in 1926. The week fell in February, to correspond with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Not long after Negro History Week’s launch, it was extended to a month-long event to help guarantee the teaching of essential Black history and to preserve Black culture within American society. An increasing awareness of Black identity and of the Civil Rights movement allowed Black History Month to gradually become established across the country, and in 1976 it was officially recognised as an event by President Gerald Ford. Black History Month celebrations Community by Aisha Fatunmbi-Randall Page 123

took place in London in the UK just over a decade later. While it’s vital that we recognise Black History Month, what’s key is acknowledging that despite the similarities between the UK and the US in having to work to reveal and examine our uncomfortable history, it is important that this is tailored to our context. Scotland’s first coordinated programme for Black History Month was launched in 2001 and included shared experiences of racism and oppression from Black, Caribbean, and Asian communities. I have found in conversation that there is often a tendency for Scots to view ourselves as far more progressive than our English neighbours. I myself have been guilty in the past of letting my pride in and love for Scotland cloud my judgement into believing we are far more accepting of diversity. The Brexit vote of 2016 confirms that there is some truth to this, with Scotland voting 62 percent to remain in the EU. This was an indication that the majority of us didn’t share the same vision of a future that limits free movement and multiculturalism. We haven’t voted for a Conservative government since 1955, after all, but the reality is far more complicated. Although we may have different values, we have our own blind spots, and have failed to address the issue of racial inequality, past and present, within our society. The truth is that by 1817, Scots owned almost 30 percent of the plantation estates in Jamaica, which amounted to an astonishing 32 percent of enslaved people there. Though the numbers of enslaved people in Scotland itself at any one time often sat below one hundred, our country prospered from the hardships endured by those forced to work in the sugar, cotton and tobacco plantations. The profits from the labour and trading of enslaved people brought great wealth to Scotland, and helped fuel us through the Industrial Revolution. Scotland’s complicated relationship with slavery and colonialism has been highlighted by the recent campaigns to rename several streets Back to Contents



named after Scottish merchants who accumulated their fortune off the backs of slavery. Glasgow’s streets are scattered with names of those who profited, including Oswald Street, Cochrane Street and, probably the most well-known, Buchanan Street. Buchanan Street was named after Andrew Buchanan, a prominent tobacco lord who owned plantations in Virginia. In central Edinburgh, the statue of Henry Dundas stands 150 feet high, perched on top of the Melville Monument. Dundas played a key role in the continuation of Scotland’s involvement in slavery, causing 630,000 enslaved people to wait over a decade for their freedom. Even though these names and references to this past are etched into our cities and lives, it has still been all too easy for us to distance ourselves from the cruel facts of our colonial history. Having been subject to racial discrimination myself, I grew up wanting to do my own research, to learn the fundamentals of these stories that shaped a society which directly affects me as a Black woman. I was then able to gain a much better understanding of my country’s past and why it’s important we work collectively to dismantle remains from darker times. For this reason, I feel that Black History Month is essential in Scotland, where we have a form of collective amnesia about our past. A critical aspect of overcoming this ignorance would be to reform our school curriculum to include history of our involvement in slavery and the British Empire. Education can contribute massively to dismantling racism and amending the injustices of racial inequality, by fostering empathy and understanding. Over the last few months, campaigns have arisen which express concerns over Black history being absent from education, and call upon Scottish MPs to act. A petition was set up by a Black student calling for the realities of British imperialism and colonialism to be taught in British schools. The petition gained over 350,000 signatures, with a separate Scotland-specific Community by Aisha Fatunmbi-Randall Page 127

campaign gaining 16,000 signatures. UK-wide surveys have shown that 69 percent of BAME Britons are in favour of updating the school system to include Britain’s colonial past, which shows that a large majority of minority ethnic groups feel that we are left uninformed about our own past by our schools. Black History Month is a great opportunity to educate ourselves despite this failure of our education system. Recognising our history is imperative to moving beyond a society that is still rife with racism. In Scotland, racial crime is the most commonly reported hate crime, accounting for a total of 3,036 charges in 201920. This number showed an increase of 4 percent from the previous year. Throughout this month, we have an opportunity to raise awareness and challenge the narratives that fuel this hatred. I believe the simplest way to do this is by showing solidarity through celebration of Black culture and Black accomplishments. The African diaspora has had a profound influence on the culture of the United States and beyond, and we now see an abundance of Black influence in music, fashion and pop culture. Blues, soul, gospel, rhythm and blues and jazz are just a few genres which came to life in the 20th century and which originated in African American music. Influence from Black music spurred on the popularity of rock ‘n’ roll, funk, disco, reggae, and hip hop, as well as house and techno which originated from the Black community in Detroit. In Scotland, hugely successful artists like Paolo Nutini have spoken about how they’ve drawn influence from Black American Motown, soul, and R&B artists such as Ben. E King and The Coasters. In our interview with Shingai Shoniwa in this month’s SNACK, the Zimbabwean-British singer spoke of the difficulties Black female musicians are still facing in the music industry today: ‘When you see Norman Cook do a Glastonbury set to 200,00 people, where is the vocalist? Why don’t we know her name?’ she asks, rightly. Back to Contents


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‘The narrative is that brown girls don’t sell records, but if that’s the case, how do all these guys make so much money?’ There have been numerous instances of Black female singers being featured or sampled on tracks that went on to be hugely successful, but their iconic vocals often miss out on the recognition they deserve because they weren’t credited. On 90s Italo-house mega-hit ‘Ride on Time’ by Black Box, Loleatta Holloway’s vocals from her own 1980 track ‘Love Sensation’ featured heavily, but Holloway’s name wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the credits. Racial discrimination against Black females has encouraged the idea that Black women won’t make as much money as their lighter-skinned competitors, so many producers choose not to publicly acknowledge their work. This makes it incredibly difficult for these singers to make a career for themselves as solo artists. Black History Month is about understanding the people and stories that paved the way for Black influence and readdressing the balance of a world that ostensibly values Black contribution, but often fails to acknowledge Black suffering. On any other year, Black History Month has been celebrated with a vast and superb selection of live events, including music, social gatherings, educational talks and culinary specials. But with COVID-19 still causing disorder, this year is a little bit different. Here is a small list of some valuable resources and events available for education and celebration this Black History Month:

BLACK HISTORY MONTH RENFREWSHIRE An extensive programme of online cultural events spread across the month, with events for different ages including online live performances, storytelling, and webinars.

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH LIVE! Presented to you by the African Caribbean Society of Scotland, Black History Month Live! is a video series going live at 6pm every day from 1st–23rd October, focusing on a different theme each week. There will be events including spoken word, music, history, workshops and more. There will also be an all-day (12noon – late) online celebration on the 24th October.

UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW The University of Glasgow are hosting several discussions, taking place over Zoom and covering different aspects of Black history and related topics. You can sign up to the events for free via Eventbrite.

BLACKHISTORYMONTH.ORG On the official Black History Month UK website, you can find full listings of online events taking place up and down the country. These events include online courses, storytelling projects, history sessions, webinars and lots more.

BBC IPLAYER, HORRIBLE HISTORIES – BLACK HISTORY MONTH WITH OTI MABUSE Only 12 minutes long, this CBBC episode is great for families and children. A Horrible Histories episode full of Black history sketches and songs, featuring Rosa Parks, Civil War spy Mary Browser, pioneering boxer Bill Richmond, plus Mary Seacole and Martin Luther King Jr. Black History Month runs from the 1st to the 31st of October, but being anti-racist is a full-time requirement. We must be devoted to actively educating ourselves and supporting groups who have suffered oppression, segregation and humiliation. In the July 2020 issue of Back to Contents


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SNACK you can find a selection of documentaries, films, and books which can be used as resources. If, like many, you are wondering how to become a better ally in your everyday life, here are a few simple tips: Follow the hashtag #Blacklivesmatter on your social accounts. This is a simple way to guarantee that you’ll see useful resources, updates on campaigns and relevant information on your feed. Be involved in anti-racist work. Follow the progress of campaigns and movements by subscribing to their mail updates. A link to one is here: Buy from Black-owned businesses. Investing in a Black business supports the Black community directly and there are several tools to help you locate and support them. @BlackdirectoryUK on Instagram puts together posts promoting Black-owned businesses of all kinds, and Jamii is the UK’s first discount card for Black-owned businesses: Have a look at the official UK Black History Month website for articles, resources, news, features and lots more covering every aspect of Black History Month 2020.

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It's starting to get dark earlier and there's a nip in the air, so much so that I've had to get the electric blanket out of storage in preparation for chillier nights. The dark and cold may not be welcome, but the change in weather means one thing to us from a food perspective: soup season. There's always time for soup in this household, but the winter weather makes me want to sit down on the couch with a big bowl and a blanket to get all cosy. Soups are a budget-friendly way to eat healthily. Once you've made a few you'll realise that making soup is actually really easy (ssh, don't tell!). Use whatever you find in the local shops on special offer to make something which may seem boring. exotic, with the addition of a couple of herbs or spices. Every vegetable can become soup; I've yet to find one that can't be soupified. [Ed. We’re making that a word now, right?] From sweet potato to beetroot via cauliflower and broccoli, if you like the taste of a vegetable, make a soup from it.

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For almost all soups, you will need a basic group of ingredients. These are stock - vegetable, chicken or ham – vegetables of your choice, plus oil and seasoning. After this, think of what would add additional flavour – consider ingredients such as onion, garlic, leek, and celery. Celery creeps into most soups I make. Mark [one half of Foodie Explorers] hates the stuff, but when used in soups you don't really taste it; instead, celery adds depth to the flavours of the other vegetables and provides that sought-after umami taste. So once you have a base, think of ways to make the soup zing - which could be kidney beans, parmesan cheese, or sour cream. No matter what kind you are making, cutting the vegetables into blocks about an inch across will enable the vegetables to cook evenly. Start by sauteing the vegetables on a low heat, adding a tablespoon of olive oil to develop the favours and to soften them. Once the vegetables are starting to become tender, add your stock, and simmer until everything is cooked to your liking. At this point, you can keep the soup chunky, or puree it until creamy. By pureeing a soup you can create a rich consistency without adding dairy. Hint: sweet potatoes and squashes become thick and creamy when pureed. Here are some recipes to act as inspiration for your imminent soup-making journey.

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PUMPKIN, GINGER, AND APPLE SOUP (VEGAN) There’s more to pumpkins than Halloween. Or, if you are sick of looking at pumpkins, try this with butternut squash. There's no need for a soup pot if you have a food blender. Otherwise, get to it with an old-fashioned potato masher.

INGREDIENTS: 1 medium pumpkin 1 apple 1 medium onion 3 cloves of garlic (peeled) 1 can of coconut milk 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger ½ teaspoon ground cardamom ¼ teaspoon cayenne Olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD: Preheat the oven to 200°c, 180°c fan or gas mark 6. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the insides (the seeds can be roasted for nibbling later). Roast the half-pumpkin cut side up for 20 minutes. Flip over and roast cut side down for 20mins. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Remove flesh from the skin and place aside. Slice the apple and onion into wedges. Add to a roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Back to Contents

During the last 10 minutes add the whole garlic cloves to the apple and onion mix. Add pumpkin, roasted onion, apple, coconut milk, ginger, cardamom and cayenne to a food blender (or pot, if you don't have a blender, combining by hand with a potato masher). Blitz until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. Garnish by sprinkling a few pumpkin seeds on top, and serve.

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COURGETTE AND PEA SOUP Here's another colourful soup: courgette and pea, with the addition of thyme and nutmeg to liven things up. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock for a vegan-friendly version.

INGREDIENTS: 1 tbsp olive oil 2 leeks, sliced 3 garlic cloves, chopped 4 large courgettes diced 200g fresh or frozen peas 1 litres chicken (or veggie) stock 4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and finely chopped 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 2 bay leaves Salt and pepper

METHOD: Place the olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute the leek and garlic on medium heat for a few minutes. Add the courgette and cook for about five minutes. Add the peas and the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the thyme, nutmeg, and bay leaves, plus salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another five minutes. Remove the bay leaves and blend until smooth (or just use a potato masher if you don't have a blender). Serve and enjoy with crusty bread. Back to Contents

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? We’ve all been hit pretty hard this year, but the hospitality industry has really struggled. And while Sober October is a great initiative, it could have a negative impact on the hospitality industry at a time when they really don’t need another blow! If you’re cutting out the booze for Sober October or because you just feel you need a break from drinking, why not use it as a time to try some non-alcoholic beers, so you can still go out and support your local? Gone are the days of Beck’s Blue being the only non-alcoholic choice, and loads of breweries are now adding low or no alcohol beers to their repertoire. Back to Contents

Alcohol can be removed from beer by a number of different means, but the most common is to brew a regular beer then heat it once brewed to boil off the alcohol. Most low and no alcohol beers are labelled as 0.5% alcohol, because it can be difficult to remove every trace of alcohol from beer using this method, and 0.5% gives them some leeway in case a small amount is still left. I must admit, really low alcohol beers aren’t something I usually go for, so it was quite an interesting experience to sit down with all these and compare them. I’ll be honest, they don’t quite pack the same hit as big, juicy IPAs, but the subtlety and lighter flavours were quite refreshing and they’re definitely a great alternative. The fact that more and more breweries are experimenting with lower ABVs is a great step forward and I can only see this category growing over the coming months.

THORNBRIDGE BREWERY – ZERO FIVE Thornbridge are a fantastic brewery and have a few low alcohol beers in their range, including Little by Little milk stout, and Zero Five pale ale. Zero Five is really drinkable and reminds me of a light pilsner. It’s very delicate and sparkling, with a nice punch of bitterness and some lemony notes.

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TEMPEST BREWING CO. – SLEIGHT OF HAND Although this is described as a pale ale, Sleight of Hand has an acidity to it which was more like some of the fruity sours that are very popular at the moment. This tartness brings a big punch of flavour which can sometimes be a little lacking in low alcohol beers, so it was nice to try something totally different. The sharp lemon sherbet sourness is balanced by a smooth mouthfeel and tropical fruitiness. Back to Contents

HAMMERTON BREWERY – ZED Zed is London-based Hammerton’s first foray into brewing low-alcohol beer. Lactose has been added to this pale ale to give it a smoother, more rounded mouthfeel, but this sadly rules it out for any vegans out there. This is a much less hop-forward beer than the others in the line-up, with not much in the way of bitterness and a stronger cereal flavour.


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BIG DROP BREWING CO – PARADISO Big Drop only brew low-alcohol beer, so are experts in this style. Paradiso is made with citra hops which, as the name suggests, usually creates super juicy and fruity beers, with this being no exception. Paradiso tastes the most like a regular ABV beer compared to the others and has quite a deep complexity of flavours, combining earthy, malty notes with that juicy, bitter hoppy flavour. They’ve won quite a few awards and I can definitely see why.


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BREWDOG – PUNK AF Punk AF is Brewdog’s alcohol-free free take on Punk IPA. It does taste a little bit like a watered-down version of Punk IPA, but those same bitter yet fruity flavours that Punk IPA is famous for are still at the forefront. If you like Punk IPA, this is a great low alcohol alternative. Food and Drink by Isla Mercer Page 149




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It’s hard to put across to anyone who wasn’t around then exactly how important and feared Public Enemy were as the eighties bled into the nineties. As the Berlin Wall fell in Europe, the USA faced its own internal demons, and the rise of intelligent, combative, hip hop caused more fear and alarm in white America than gangsta rap and the hyperbole around it. From afar, the USA appears to have socially regressed in recent years, and the time has never been more appropriate for Public Enemy to be front and centre. With new album What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?, they’ve teamed up with a roster of collaborations that will catch the eye of both a younger and, possibly, a returning audience. It also signals their return to Def Jam, the label they helped build. The end result is a curious mish-mash of revisited classics, loquacious rage, and end-of-a-long-life ruminations. Not being a big fan of needless intro tracks, ‘When The Grid Go Down’ is a pleasantly groovy surprise right off the bat. Swirling wah guitar and a guest spot for the legendary George Clinton set an immediate tone, before a holler from Flavor Flav kicks off ‘GRID’, a stylistically classic slice of nodding PE. Dr Funkenstein and Cypress Hill chime in to give the track massive presence, and Sen Dog even does his trademark repeat of the chorus hook. ‘State of The Union (STFU)’ is a slouchy, deliberate, punchy groove from start to finish and is a direct missive to the current White House incumbent. ‘Whatever it takes / rid this dictator / POTUS my tail / ass debater’ spits Chuck D in the same smooth but directly aggressive flow he’s always had. ‘Merica Mirror’ is basically an intro to ‘Public Enemy Number Won’, a new version of the PE classic standard with added Beastie Boys and Run DMC. The original squelchy synth line upon which both versions hang is at the front of the mix, but Mike D and Ad-Rock rhyming over it brings a really different flavour to the original. However, something about the mega-eighties production of the original has always been part of its charm, and this update isn’t really necessary. Music by Stephen McColgan Page 153

Previously released in 2017, ‘Toxic’ is a stuttering track, again directed at that regrettably half-Scottish guy that hangs about Washington DC. The track shouts out the names of a couple of basketball players, before segueing into ‘Yesterday Man’, which includes an unnecessarily brash metal guitar line, before giving way to James Bomb’s spoken word ‘Crossroads Burning’. I approached ‘Fight The Power: Remix 2020’ with trepidation – not wanting an old masterpiece spoiled with unnecessary bells and whistles or the removal of the famous James Brown sample drumbeat. I needn’t have worried. The verses from the likes of Nas, The Roots’ Black Thought and MC Rapsody have further embellished what was already great, and when Chuck brings back his famous ‘Elvis’ verse, I literally jumped in triumph. One of the more forgettable moments on the album, ‘Beat Them All’ nonetheless has a second half that salvages its first plodding couple of minutes. ‘Smash The Crowd’ brings us a much more agreeably compressed guitar line, and features Ice T and PMD. The production is pleasingly saturated, meaning Ice T’s sneering delivery sounds all the more succinct when it takes centre stage. ‘If You Can’t Join Em Beat Em’ is just under a minute long, but sees DJ Lord focusing on the sort of turntablism that made Terminator X’s historic contributions so scattily enjoyable. Jahi (who fronted PE 2.0 – a sort of licensed PE tribute act with slightly more invention) features prominently on ‘Go At It’, which is the best original track on the album. There’s a lot going on in the mix as samples, basslines and breaks meet and split and Jahi’s raspier delivery contrasts with Chuck’s smooth interjections. Every time the beat comes back it’s a funky revelation. The last few tracks of the album turn their attention to loss and the passing of time. ‘Don’t Look At The Sky’ is a spoken word track that introduces ‘Rest In Beats’, another re-work from 2017’s Nothing is Quick in the Desert. The track is still an audio version of pouring one out for lost friends, name checking various lost legends of hip hop. Here it’s been remixed to give a more dynamic, growing Back to Contents

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track, where the layering of elements probably owes more to the sensibilities of dance music than hip hop. ‘RIP Blackat’ is Flav’s direct tribute to graphic artist and friend Clyde Bazile Jr. It’s a hitherto unseen side of Flav, conveying a sweetness that’s at once childlike and brought from the voice of experience. Final track ‘Closing: I Am Black’ is a simple poem by Ms Ariel that sounds like an acrostic but is really a list of identifying qualities. Despite me earnestly loving WYGDWTGGD, it is a strange album. The reworked older tracks aren’t a waste of anyone’s time but are unlikely to make anyone rethink whether they love Public Enemy or not. The first half roars like a defiant lion at 21st century America and its political authoritarianism, but it signs off with all the sombre reflection you’d expect from men that have lived the Black American experience, from the sixties, through an era of a Black president, and back to whatever the hell is going on over there just now. What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? is out now on Def Jam

Photography: Ollie Millington

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ALBUM: ADENINE It’s common to be told that the Inuit people have a lot of words for snow, even if the stated number of variations differs depending on who is telling the tale. There are at least 100 Scottish words for rain, and every one of them can be enhanced with an expletive in front of it. On Adenine, Ailie Robertson provides us with five tracks, each titled with a Scottish word for precipitation. She could forge a lifetime’s career recording songs of this nature, and if the music remains as good as the songs on Adenine, it would be a life well spent. Opener ‘Smirr’ has a deft touch, delicately unfolding over nearly ten minutes. The harpist creates a delicate soundscape which washes over you, moving slowly but leaving a strong impression. If you’re seeking space and solitude, Adenine is a suitable soundtrack for time spent indoors while pining for a safe outdoors experience. Adenine is out now on Lorimer. By Andrew Reilly

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SINGLE: ASPARTAME With new track ‘Aspartame’, Edinburgh’s Redolent have managed to perfectly encapsulate that unsettling sense of waiting in limbo – a feeling that many of us are undoubtedly experiencing right now. The track is hypnotic and intriguing from start to finish. We are taken on a memorable journey, lasting just under five minutes, reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s depiction of falling down the rabbit hole, always unsure of where we are going to land. Singer Robin Herbert’s falsetto vocals remain as captivating as the depth and movement of the music. Our journey becomes all the more mesmeric towards the latter half of the song; the intensity of Andrew Turnbull’s drumming increases and Danny Herbert’s intricate guitar riffs take prominence, carrying us to the track’s sudden and abrupt end. ‘Aspartame’ is out now. By Orla Brady

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With a clampdown on house gatherings and most social settings involving alcohol, you might be missing out on a great night with your mad auntie. Every family has one. You wouldn’t rely on her for babysitting duties, but when it comes to getting the party started and filling a room with laughter, she’s your number one choice. Thankfully, Róisín Murphy is back to fill that void. Roisin brings the cackles, the energy and positive spirit, and more importantly here, she brings a discoladen album that could start a party in an empty house. Which is just as well. Murphy’s voice is still glorious, gliding over shiny surfaces, and all feels familiar. You should know the singer’s pedigree and class, but with that, it’s fair to say she’s more of a singles artist than an album performer. The consistency here might shift that narrative, but the focus is on fun. Róisín Machine is out now on Skint Records By Andrew Reilly

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EP: RAVE ON TIME It feels cruel, or perhaps even perverse, to serve up an homage to the lure of the dancefloor when we can’t reach that hallowed space. However, life must continue and techno stops for no one. Not when you have the relentless energy, and even more pulverising tempo, of Charlotte de Witte. The DJ’s previous release was a wistful one, blending monk chants with her modern style. On this EP, the nostalgic step back is more recent. Those of us with a few miles on the clock are instantly transported to sweaty nights, emerging friendships and too much we don’t need to relive ever again! Youngsters can just love the tunes. Rave On Time is Charlotte’s third EP of 2020, and a casual reminder that some good has come out of this God-forsaken year. Not much, but some, and this is a collection of songs we’ll all hopefully hear together someday. Rave On Time is out now on KNTXT. By Andrew Reilly

Photography: Rene Passet

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ALBUM: FAKE IT FLOWERS Beabadoobee’s debut album wouldn’t sound out of place as the soundtrack to a late 90s/early 00s coming-of-age movie; a jukebox musical of a young woman’s life practically writes itself as the album unfolds. A combination of grungy guitars and Beabadoobee (Bea Kristi)’s soft, sweet vocals often accompany darker topics, including heartbreak, self-harm, and regret. Painfully honest, no-frills lyrics prove that the 20 year old isn’t afraid to say it how it is and be truly vulnerable with her audience. Fake It Flowers opens with lead single ‘Care’, a punchy pop song with a sing (or shout) along chorus that establishes the sound of the album, firmly rooted in 90s grunge and pop. Described by Kristi as a ‘female record’, the album includes heavier sounding tracks alongside stripped back acoustic numbers, showcasing the artist’s range and strength of writing. The contrast between the subject matter and the overall sound of each song makes the album an interesting listen; it’s easy to sing along and be carried away by the music without realising the significance of the lyrics, making it enjoyable on more than one level.

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‘Dye It Red’s lyrics inspire a feeling of strength and independence and discuss how refreshing change can be, while the breezy-sounding ‘Worth It’ talks about infidelity in a relationship. ‘Horen Sarrison’ (named for Kristi’s boyfriend, Soren Harrison) is an upbeat confession of love, with delicate strings complementing her vocals; ‘How Was Your Day’ was recorded on a four-track cassette recorder in Harrison’s garden during lockdown, the raw sound combined with the acoustic guitar creating a dreamy moment in an otherwise punchy album. Kristi has been recording music since 2017; Fake It Flowers comes after a string of EPs and singles, and maintains the singer’s open, direct style and recognisable vocals while addressing some more mature subjects – the combination works beautifully to create a memorable album with a song for every mood. Following on from supporting Clairo and The 1975 on tour (she is signed to The 1975’s record label, Dirty Hit), Beabadoobee is set to embark on her first UK and Ireland solo tour in autumn of 2021, including dates in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Fake It Flowers is out on 16th October. By Lily Black Email: Page 163


Glasgow-based musician Zoe Graham’s newly released EP Gradual Move combines lyrically captivating tracks with a new, for the artist, electronic pop sound. This four-track EP is structured as a chronological journey of nostalgia, healing and acceptance of the changes life brings, both good and bad. It’s a bit of a triumph: Graham has created an incredibly relatable, emotionally mature, and reflective collection of songs. As Zoe herself says: ‘Each track marks one of these emotions and tells a story of how changes in my life have affected me, and how I have now accepted them as part of the overall story.’ A particularly relevant message, as we all try to come to terms with this new covid-skewed world. The influence of some of Graham’s favourite artists, Christine and the Queens and St. Vincent to name two, can be heard both in the production and emotionally bare lyrics – artists whose work is used as a gentle touchstone rather than as a template. EP opener and bona-fide mid-tempo pop banger ‘Gradual Move’ documents the transition from adolescence to adulthood, holding on while letting go, and pinpoints Graham at a creative and personal crossroads. It’s perfectly made for playing loud while driving away from the sunrise.

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Photography: Julian Bailey

‘Sleep Talking’ is the most straightforward of the four tracks: it sneaks in with its low-tempo groove, featuring some luscious vocoder work and a chorus that will find a way to haunt your days. ‘Know by Now’ is, much like ‘Gradual Move’, a widescreen pop gem. It’s epic in all the best ways. All verses lead inevitably to its endorphin-hugging chorus. ‘Fault Lines’ starts off relatively low key, before everything kicks into gear come the first chorus. The outro is mind montageinducing bliss. Gradual Move should be all over daytime radio. It’s a brilliant collection of sparkling pop songs delivered with the softly expressed confidence of someone who knows she’s getting it done. Gradual Move is out now via A Modern Way and is available to stream, as well as to purchase on special gold vinyl from Zoe's Bandcamp. By Beth Cook Email: Page 165


With the nights getting longer and colder, the heat of Thurston Moore’s By The Fire blasting through my headphones is just what I need. The Sonic Youth veteran has produced an album capable of transporting us for an hour and twenty minutes to a world of surreal electric distortion. Consisting of only nine songs, Moore’s seventh solo album is like a film for the listeners who just crave thick, ever-changing guitar jams that go on forever; free jazz for the psychedelic rockers. Moore describes these nine works as “love songs in a time where creativity is our dignity, our remonstration against the forces of oppression”. Taking that description, creativity is certainly Moore’s dignity, with the 16-minute piece ‘Locomotives’ sounding like one long, eclectic experimentation. The first ten minutes is a completely distorted build, exuding with reverb and delay, which then transitions to softly sung lyrics about peace (bit cliché, but we enjoy the vibes), and finally finishes with a masterful guitar jam filled with satisfyingly crisp solos. Moore’s love songs, whether they be romantic, platonic, or on the subject of life’s poisons (I’m looking at the opening song ‘Hashish’), are executed by a superb line-up of musicians. Bassist Debbie Googe (My Bloody Valentine and Primal Scream), fellow Sonic Youthian Steve Shelley, and Moore’s frequent collaborator James Sedwards all make up the perfect crew to pull off this alternative showcase. Despite only a handful of the songs including vocals, By The Fire is certainly not the Classic FM background music you listen to whilst studying, nor does it particularly fit the Miles Davis record you put on for your dinner party – or maybe it does – you might have particularly awesome dinner parties? By The Fire is an album that needs to be blasted out and appreciated, whether this is with a glass of red wine at two in the morning, or looking out of a misty window on the bus on the way to work. It will fulfil all your angsty needs. By The Fire is out now via Daydream Library Series By Emily Silk

SINGLE: MAGAZINE GIRLS After the success of debut EP The Calgary Tapes, Rachel Jack is back, with a slightly different sound this time around. Veering away from the soft, folk tones of her previous music, ‘Magazine Girls’ is a fun and modern pop track, challenging 21st century beauty standards. It’s sparse, tough, and an absolute pleasure to listen to. With comical nods towards the ever changing trends of how we should look, Jack creates a relatable musical commentary on a subject that’s unfortunately, still, entirely topical and relevant. As a taste of upcoming releases, we’re excited for what’s to come when the remaining three songs from the EP, also titled Magazine Girls, are available early next year. The EP is potentially set to be a punchy and poignant release, being produced by Glasgow based DUNT. With its altpop, tough electronic sound, the single gives off vibes similar to CHVRCHES and Lorde. Is a powerful single by a female artist on the deception of mainstream media and the horrifically unrealistic beauty standards in todays’ society needed? It bleeding obviously is, and Rachel Jack does just this with ‘Magazine Girls’. Jack said on the content of her release, "‘Magazine Girls’ is about realising that I could never look like those girls in the beauty magazines, because on a normal day, they don’t even look like that." Her articulation of this serious problem is stunningly translated into her music, as she resonates with the struggle of living up to photoshopped images, a hard part of growing up that most of us are sadly familiar with. ‘Magazine Girls’ will be released on the 9th of October, available on Spotify. By Beth Cook

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SINGLE: CROCODILE ‘Crocodile’ starts off coolly. The sparsely-picked guitar and electronic background hum potter along nicely, but, and spoiler alert here, there’s a twist. There’s a touch of Slint (or any act who followed) in the menacing rise to the finish, and of course that’s a fantastic thing. There’s no shortage of Scottish acts who have the quiet-quiet-loud modus operandi down to a tee, and it looks as though Deer Leader have what it takes to join that hardy bunch. It’s the sort of song where on first encounter you question why they wasted time in getting to such a driving finish. Of course, after a few listens, it’s the anticipation and build that makes the pay-off all the more rewarding. None of us are going anywhere anytime soon, so you’ve got more than enough time to spare five minutes to listen to this. It’ll be worth it. ‘Crocodile’ is released on 9th October via Last Night From Glasgow. By Andrew Reilly

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EP: BRING YOURSELF TO COMPLETION Over the summer, Loup Havenith (Supercloud) has been recording and experimenting with cassette tapes and simple acoustic songs. The resulting self released EP is an intimate and cosy joy that warms with its rough edges and untidy charm. Ideas blossom then tail off or suddenly fall away, together collected like a journal of sketches depicting tiny personal islands. Nothing is given remotely the opportunity to outstay its welcome The first four lines of BURNING (all song titles are in caps, in contrast to the musical content) sound like a snippet of a long abandoned Belle and Sebastian song gently picked up and nurtured back to health. At times it brings to mind Crowded House or Daniel Johnston. Despite, or perhaps because of, the limitations of recording to a 4 track there’s a fair amount of gentle experimentation going on. As Loup himself says, ‘it’s about making do with what you have.’ Bring Yourself to Completion is out now. By Kenny Lavelle

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ALBUM: SHORE Fleet Foxes’ new album Shore is perfect for those who want to wallow. The Seattle band have made a marvellous return to gentle folk familiarity after their last, more experimental, album Crack-Up was released in 2017. Shore delightfully journeys back to the classic 2008 Fleet Foxes that we all found comfort in, with soft acoustics, sweet melodies, and poetic lyrics. The album comes complete with an accompanying film, also entitled Shore, shot on 16mm film in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Whilst staying true to their usual feel, nostalgia is still a big part of what makes them...them. However, the production of Shore does offer an updated, fuller sound with a pop-like feel. The fifteen songs are all pleasantly upbeat, almost merging into one another and creating one big happy soundscape. On the surface at least, it’s hopeful, and yes, self-acceptance is a strong theme, but a well-worn anxiety is ever present. Similarities to The Beach Boys don’t end there. Living amongst the chaos of 2020, Shore offers a soothing escape. If you are not able to staycation by the water during this terrible, turbulent year, just sit by a fire, have a pint of cider and put this charming album on; you’ll certainly get the effect, even if it takes a few ciders to kick in. By Emily Silk

ALBUM: THE VIEW FROM HALFWAY DOWN ‘I wish I could’ve known about the view from halfway down.’ You’d have thought Andy Bell was more Crazy Horse than Bojack Horseman, but it’s the 1980s cartoon horse who inspires the title of the Ride frontman’s debut solo record. Opener ‘Love Comes In Waves’ is as close a perfect homage to amphetamine psychedelia as you could hope to find. Thankfully, it’s not a one-off. ‘Indica’ hurtles us forward to early 90s acid-pop, and the pace of change doesn’t let up. Bell doesn’t just wear his heart on his sleeve; he has served it up for you on vinyl, CD and in digital format. The guitarist’s DJ sets and radio shows have long proved what a fantastic record collection he has, and this album is a great advertisement for his ability to absorb and assimilate these tunes. It’s a sonic joy from start to end. The View From Halfway Down is released on 9th October on Sonic Cathedral. By Andrew Reilly

Photography: Shiarra Bell

ALBUM: DEATH & MORE Post-glam-wonky pop, anyone? If anyone can splice genres to dazzling effect, it’s the Fife-based composer and producer, Ben Seal. Having worked with such beauties as Kathryn Joseph, Eliza Carthy, Karine Polwart, and Kirsty Law, their knowledge of pop, folk, jazz and indie is extensive, and it’s this nous they lend to their own material. Death & More, their own solo album, is lovingly crafted, hugely personal yet elusive, delighting in ambiguity over straightforward narratives. Seal’s own queer, polyamorous identity cannot help but leak out of the speakers. Their voice, ranging from falsetto to a more moody purr (think Thom Yorke in the lower register) has enough character to satisfy the most jaded indie palates. The quiet-loud dynamic of indie anthems is deployed beautifully, and given an upgrade for the twenty first century with ‘Parents’ and its stadium-sized refrains. ‘CU Around’ is the most twinkly euphoric kiss-off which seems destined to fill student union dancefloors – it even explodes in a Mystery Jets-circa Twenty One era in the middle eight. The opening track, ‘Death’ has a teasing, cabaret-like strut, sweet, even as it ruminates on the vagaries of communication within a relationship. The influence of Brian Eno’s lesser-known but wonderful Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) which elevated pop into an art form, in terms of both lyrics and inventive instrumentation, is all over ‘Moonrise’, whereas ‘Truth’ has the sequinned crackle of Sparks in its insistent synthy hook.Yet Back to Contents

somehow, they transcend such blueprints, putting their own unique stamp on the songs. There are enough left turns here (tempo changes, shifts in mood) to keep it all consistently interesting. The waltz of ‘Krystal’ is evocative of a sad-eyed performance artist being let loose on an unsuspecting prom, flitting between melancholy and playfulness, and, unusually, the vocoder used in the bubbling pristine electronica of Jean doesn’t make me want to tear my own face off – it is used to enhance, not disguise. Final track ‘Everything’ has a kind of delicacy akin to being enveloped in bubble wrap, a fragility that adds finality and poignancy. Above all, the album is about finding the sweet spot between introspective oddball pop and wilful experimentation, before tickling it into submission. Death & More will be released 30th October via the artist’s label Piggery Records By Lorna Irvine

Video Still: Ben Seal, DEATH

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ALBUM: WAITING OUT THE STORM Jeremy Ivey was recently in the news due to contracting and recovering from COVID-19. And while he might not have shaken it off quite as quickly as the US President, Waiting Out The Storm sees the artist in rude health. Opener ‘Tomorrow People’ sets the tone, while leaning heavily on 60s doomclassics by Zager and Evans or Barry McGuire. It’s savvy and satirical, leftleaning; a song that will split opinion instantly. Good: let’s avoid sitting on fences for the rest of the year. The instantly familiar feel to the music is the key here. Your brain can’t help but join the dots from songs like ‘Paradise Alley’ or ‘Movies’ to artists like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, or Tom Petty. The whole record is comfortable, warm, and of course comes with the Margo Price [singer-songwriter and Ivey’s wife] golddust, which continues to sparkle brightly. It kicks up a notch or two on ‘Hands Down In Your Pockets’ but it’s on the more sedate moments where Ivey really gets moving. Waiting Out The Storm is released on 9th October on Anti Records. By Andrew Reilly

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SINGLE: HOW TO HAVE FUN London up-and-comer Molly Payton’s new single ‘How To Have Fun’, from the upcoming EP Porcupine, is a grungy pop-punk critique of cool. Bringing a sweet-hitting mid-90s alt-rock sound, this track is totally inspired by the likes of Soccer Mommy – though her relationship with ‘cool’ is very different. The main theme at play is disillusionment with this coolness, framed by a relationship with a boy who is ‘the kinda guy that my mama would hate’. Avril Lavigne may have the classic take on the same general concept, but Payton’s version is fun all the same. Does anyone actually know how to let go and enjoy themselves? ‘We’re always talking ‘bout how we don’t have anything to talk about’. Maybe the people who take all the good drugs and party are cool and hip, or maybe they’re just a bit vacuous and sullen? If this new single is anything to go by, Payton’s upcoming EP Porcupine will definitely be something to keep an eye out for. ‘How to Have Fun’ is out now and Porcupine will be released 21st October via TMWRK Records. By Dominic V. Cassidy

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For anyone gunning for eerie, psychological spooks over jump scares for their Halloween viewing, here is the film for you. This September, Iain Reid’s debut novel I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2016) is brought to Netflix by Charlie Kaufman (screenwriter of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) in an interpretation that will leave you doubting your own mind and memory. Starring Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley, Kaufman’s adaptation stays mostly faithful to Reid’s psychological thriller, taking artistic leaps, playing with the images we see, and making for an intentionally inconsistent and mind-boggling experience. Kaufman takes Reid’s stream-of-consciousness text and turns it into an uncomfortable visual experience. The narrator, a young, unnamed woman, attempts to ruminate on her life and decisions she has to make, but is constantly interrupted by boyfriend Jake. It’s frustrating to watch. The discomfort builds as the young woman is introduced to Jake’s parents; we see her addressed by a variety of names, from Lucy to Louisa. You’ll find yourself itching to rewind as you doubt your own memory. What exactly is her name, again? As the main character is essentially eroded by being renamed and interrupted, there’s a sense that she might just be going mad along with the audience - neither are in control of what’s happening. At the family farmhouse, her personality, occupation and clothes change along with her name. The malleability of the human mind and memory is not a new topic to Kaufman, with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind treading somewhat similar territory back in 2004. Back to Contents

The night descends further into weirdness as we see Jake’s parents begin to undergo drastic changes. In one shot, they are old and sickly. In the next, Jake’s mum takes on the energetic persona of a 1950s housewife, with a cutting and dangerous ego. As the film progresses past the farmhouse, Kaufman continues to tell us nothing. The film is cut with scenes depicting the night shift of a janitor as he cleans a high school; he eats a sandwich and watches a movie on a break, catches glimpses of teens rehearsing their school play, mops, and happens upon two costumed students dancing in a hallway. The janitor is not named and barely says a thing. What role does he have to play in all of this? We’re left to guess. This movie is nothing short of a trip. Reid’s already vague novel is practically an encyclopaedia in comparison to Kaufman’s adaptation. If you’re interested in being kept completely in the dark about everything that happens in the film, consider waiting to read the book until after your viewing. The book and film carry the same unnerving tone, both evoking a distinct feeling that something is about to go wrong, and that you are seeing something that perhaps you shouldn’t be – something private and horrible. This will make a fantastic Halloween watch for anyone seeking insidious psychological murk over cheap shocks. By Holly Fleming

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Being a UK-based Hong Kong movie fan, who’s also partial to a physical release of a film as opposed to digital, the last few years have been complete bliss for me, with many golden age films being given the HD treatment. Over the last 6 months, despite dark times for all of us, there have been various Blu Ray gems that have filled me with joy. One of the UK’s foremost Blu Ray distributors, Eureka!, have announced that due to Covid-19 there will be only one more release this year. Thankfully, it comes in the form of a revered classic: Ronny Yu’s fantasy swordplay extravaganza The Bride With White Hair. The film is set in a mythical past, and takes its lead from Chinese swordplay fiction, a world wherein humans have magical powers and fantastical surrealism is commonplace. The movie centres on the Wu Tang Clan, a fictional sect with their own particular style of swordsmanship, and their war with an evil cult. The Clan’s leader, Cho Yi Hang (Leslie Cheung) is a tired and brooding figure. That is, until he meets the evil cult’s best warrior, Lien Ni Chang (Brigitte Lin) and the two fall in love. Their illicit love affair angers the crazed leaders of the cult, who are conjoined twins, and the stage is set for an ultimate battle. Many see the film as a watershed Hong Kong movie, one that showcases cinema of great imagination and aesthetic beauty, and as a great introduction to the early 90s heyday. I am no different. Working within the limitations of a relatively low budget, the film ravishes the senses with expressionistic lighting, costume and set design which is among the best in any Hong Kong movie, and flashes of surrealistic swordplay. At the time Hong Kong filmmakers were experimenting with a style of shooting action nicknamed ‘blur-fu’, which gives the sequences a stop motion-like visual effect. It suits the overall mood of the picture very well, although this papers over the cracks where some action lacks conviction. Back to Contents

Despite planting itself firmly in the fantasy swordplay genre, at its core the film is a fatalistic romance. No actors could have filled the roles better than Cheung and Lin, and both give committed, intense performances at a time when they were incredibly popular in Asia. Be prepared, though, for a hefty slice of cheese, Hong Kong-style. This means a musical score that is over-emphatically romantic and scenes such as the two making love in a cave pouring with water in soft focus. The film also contains two of the most memorable villains I have seen in cinema, with Francis Ng and Elaine Lui’s absolutely insane cult leaders. From the first reveal of their condition to a gory demise, not a frame is wasted in depicting their creeping, over-the-top performances. Even the distortion of Ng’s voice reminded me of the flesh-eating spirits in the classic horror Evil Dead. The Bride With White Hair serves the viewer well as an introduction to Hong Kong cinema’s stylings, with enough to please those who appreciate sumptuous film-making and action. The melodramatic and cheesy aspects may be offputting for some, but personally, this drew me in to what proved to be an unusual and exciting mix of love, loss and violence. The Bride With White Hair will be released on Blu Ray on 26th October via Eureka! Entertainment. By Martin Sandison

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BOOK: XSTABETH I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect this. David Keenan’s latest novel, the intriguingly titled Xstabeth, confirms that he is a writer who defies as much as delights. It’s experiential, almost existential, in that you don’t read so much as feel. It is sensational in a very specific way – a book which seems to create a bond between writer and reader which is rare. While reading you can’t shake the feeling that you are sharing in Keenan’s love of writing, not so much a love for the word on the page but for the effect it has on his being. Phrases, sentences, even individual words, seem to come from nowhere, taking you by surprise and making you giddy with delight. To try and explain it seems almost crude. This is writing not meant to be defined – that would be to do it a disservice. But, of course, that’s why I’m here. Set mostly in Russia, Xstabeth is in part a tribute to the great Russian writers, especially Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, and Nabokov, but also other Europeans such as Camus, Kafka and Sartre. It’s the novel Alexander Trocchi dreamed of writing, but never dreamed up. David Keenan’s previous novels, This Is Memorial Device and For The Good Times, felt like a writer who had to get it all down, an exorcism of ideas and stories which had been caged for years, straining to be free. Xstabeth has the feel of a writer at peace, at least with the undertaking of writing and the role it plays in his life. And in writing for himself he is writing for us all. Xstabeth is out on 12th November, published by White Rabbit By Alistair Braidwood Back to Contents

BOOK: THE LYING LIFE OF ADULTS I was fortunate enough to discover Elena Ferrante’s novels with no preconceptions. If you are in this position now, I would ask you to stop reading this review, cancel whatever else you have planned and take yourself away to a quiet corner to fall into her world. If you do this, not only will you discover the sprawling streets of Naples, but her words will reveal to you hidden secrets about yourself and the women around you. Ferrante’s novels illuminate the complex layers of femininity that are so rarely revealed, and she is the kind of storyteller who makes you want to write and yet give up any hope of writing all at once. The Lying Life of Adults once again reveals the hidden emotions and narratives that take place inside the minds and lives of women. The novel tells the story of Giovanna, a quiet, studious, 12-year-old, who overhears a throwaway comment likening her to her estranged Aunt Vittoria, someone her father has continuously monsterised. Giovanna becomes obsessed with this comment, and discovers its truth, which sets off a chain of events which transform her understanding of the adults around her and her own fluctuating identity. The novel follows Giovanna through her adolescence as she sheds her childhood illusions and discovers the deceptions of adult life. It is perhaps apt that Ferrante, who hid her own identity for many years, has chosen this story of the tangle of deceptions we weave around ourselves as her first novel to be released postunmasking. The Lying Life of Adults is out now, published by Europa Editions By Laura Woodland

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Super Mario: plumber, doctor, unparalleled Olympic athlete, kart racer, supplement popper, and quintessential Italian. In the 35 years since the hero of the Mushroom Kingdom’s first solo outing in Super Mario Bros., a lot has changed. One of the main changes, the advent of a new dimension, has been neatly packaged in the clumsily named Super Mario 3D All Stars. Nintendo, eh? They don’t do game names like anyone else. This anniversary bundle includes the first three of Jump Man’s 3D adventures: Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy. All three are established classics, receiving pretty much universal acclaim on their initial release. They’ve been remastered for the Nintendo Switch, with Mario Galaxy taking off into the realms of high definition. Reviewing these games from scratch seems unfair; they are all classics of the platformer genre, and while the old issues persist – including a somewhat hard to control camera – you don’t get any issues you wouldn’t expect while playing older games. Super Mario 64 and Sunshine are of legal drinking age here in Scotland – they’re going to be a little rusty. To me, this benefit of this bundle is that it allows newer players to see the

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genealogy of modern day, three-dimensional Mario games. It’s like a museum exhibit, taking you through the life and times of the much lauded, often unlucky, but always exciting, plumber. Playing the three titles on the one cartridge is an interesting experience, as it allows you to really examine the progression from game to game. The three games showcased here all had, and still have, a massive impact on the videogame world. Super Mario 64 was the first game to feature an analoguecontrolled 3D camera, something which is so commonplace in modern games. Younger gamers may have assumed this feature was always just there, but it was Mario that first took this new mechanic for a spin. From F.L.U.D.D. in Sunshine to the planetoid traversal of Galaxy, it’s these changes that have gone on to be super influential in the canon of video games as a whole. It’s this aspect of continued creativity that I feel Nintendo does so well, and is typified by the 3D Mario games – even though their thirst for creativity might sometimes get the better of them, creating more useless and unused peripherals than probably all other manufacturers combined. All that said, the main concern when thinking about purchasing a game should be: ‘is it any good?’ The answer is a resounding yes. 3D All Stars is worth the hefty Nintendo price tag, hand over fist. With nostalgia feels, kinetic gameplay, and accessibility for gamers at all levels, this 3D collection is, I dare say, a must have for any Switch owner. However, while all three games are classics, if you have no nostalgia for the older games and little patience, you may find yourself frustrated at the often clunky mechanics. I would advise new players to start with Galaxy, which reminded me multiple times during my recent play why it is regarded as one of the best platformers of all time. Galaxy is easy to pick up and play, incorporates the Switch’s motion controls, and can be played by two players, to an extent. Bleeding it for every star, 1-up, and hidden collectible is addictive and the only thing that’s likely to pull you away is an empty battery. Woo-hoo! By Dominic V. Cassidy Email: Page 183



LAST LUNCH BREAK FOR A WHILE Wet leaves slide me into Stockbridge and your gloved hand, which you withdraw when the ground resumes its grip. You tell me your cobblestones: the beauty of well-run meetings and your life laid out ahead of you, the toe-width cracks you trip on trying to make it all happen. This place is so pretty it’s embarrassing, big roundabout eyes and cheekbone clocktowers. Next to your peacoat and quiff I pretend to belong. We sit in a sandwich shop where the loo quotes A A Milne and E E Cummings, instructions for being in love. Eating my dressed-up sausage roll I think about what we each carry, how you massage your arms when we talk. I don’t finish the roll. I’m too full of frayed wires and you’re needed elsewhere. I walk you back, making fists in my pockets. By Allie Kerper



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