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We believe that 'you have to see it, to want to be it'. SNACK is a supporter of the global Keychange movement and has pledged to achieve at least 50% representation of women and under-represented genders in our content, staffing, and beyond. We will ensure women and people of under-represented genders working within SNACK have a strong and ongoing influence in decisions made within the organisation. SNACK gives priority in our coverage to organisations who work to ensure even gender representation in their activities.
TRIBUTE TO BRIAN HAMILL
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Brian Hamill’s love for literature was only surpassed by his love for people and his burning desire to bring the two together. A champion of writing, no matter when or where it was written or who wrote it, it’s not an exaggeration to say his was an obsession. He once stated in an interview: ‘I am a machine programmed to purchase books. It is a vice, and I cannot stop.’ In conversation he was always enthusiastic about his next project or publication, often ending a lengthy and detailed message along the lines of ‘Expect a wee literary treat in the post.’ From his time as a member of Cargo Publishing in the early 2010s (which is where I first met him), through his vital work with Thi Wurd magazine, which he co-founded with Alan McMunnigall, to the outstanding undertaking that is publishing imprint The Common Breath, which Brian started in October 2019, he helped to publish and promote many writers who would come to define the decade. This went hand-in-hand with his own work (notably winning the Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award for Writing in the Scots Language in 2013), being published all through that period in various journals and collections – including some of his own – and holding his own no matter the company. Perhaps the best example of this was the short story collection Good Listeners, the debut Common Breath title he shared with his mentor and friend Alan Warner.
Words by Alistair Braidwood Page 5
We should never, and nor will we, underestimate Brian’s work with The Common Breath. Created over a relatively short time, it stands as a substantial and essential body of work, publishing the aforementioned Alan Warner, Tom Leonard (from whose work The Common Breath got its name), and A.L. Kennedy. The short prose anthology The Middle of a Sentence features work by literary luminaries Duncan McLean, Janice Galloway, Bernard MacLaverty, Jenni Fagan, and James Kelman, alongside more recent acclaimed names such as David Keenan and Graeme Armstrong, as well as, crucially, many new and up-andcoming writers – too many to name here. He understood that for a nation to have a literature worth the name then all voices must be heard, which is why The Common Breath’s Voices In the Dark pamphlets were the logical next step. Brian described them to me as ‘[…] an attempt to find just that – writers we perhaps didn’t know as yet, people writing loud, dark, and different work, and writers/work looking for a breakthrough opportunity’. He went on to say that central to The Common Breath was ‘Finding and promoting and showcasing new and marginalised writing.’ Having been lucky enough to read some of the ‘voices’, I can confirm they fulfil those criteria and more.
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But Brian’s love of literature was never going to be confined to the local or national; he was a true internationalist in this respect, publishing writers from around the world, and championing the cause of ‘forgotten classics’ such as the American Tom Kromer’s Waiting for Nothing and New Zealander Frank Sargeson’s All To Blazes. He wanted a cultural conversation which had no boundaries, and which benefited us all as a result. Brian Hamill was central to much of what was good in Scottish writing over the last decade and more – his expertise, rigour, knowledge and intelligence (which he wore lightly despite his many achievements) made sure of that. But, when talking to and reading from those who knew him, other words keep occurring – supportive, considerate, generous, enthusiastic, gentle, and, above all, kind. We have lost one of the very best of us, but Brian Hamill lives on in the books he brought to the world, and the people whose lives he touched. He leaves an inspirational legacy that is twofold – one of literature and love. thecommonbreath.com
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CONTENTS WHAT'S ON
Wolf Alice – Jimmy Cauty – TAAHLIAH Carla J Easton – Kirsti Wishart – Her Ensemble
FILM P74 LIFE P82 LGBT+ P96 The (Not) Gay Movie Club – Queer Ear Records
FOOD & DRINK P102 Recipes: Jammy Dodgers – Mushroom Stroganoff (vegan)
REVIEW P112 Wolf Alice – Malka – Bethan Nia – Sister John – Co-Accused Oh Baby – Auld White Label – Ruth Gillies – Midnight Ambulance Callum Easter – The Riot Vans – Gnoss – Eliza Shaddad NOVA – Ty Lumnus – Victoria McNulty – David Linklater Alan Warner – Alan Gillespie
GAMING P142 Fetch it Yourself
CREDITS Editor/Sales: Kenny Lavelle Sub Editor: Leona Skene Food and Drink Editors: Emma Mykytyn and Mark Murphy LGBT+ Editor: Jonny Stone Design: Kenny Lavelle Cover photo credit: Andrew Reilly To advertise in SNACK firstname.lastname@example.org 0141 632 4641 SNACK is a supporter of the global Keychange movement.
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Hello and welcome to issue 28 of SNACK, Things are looking up. By the time you read this all of Scotland will have been lifted out of level 3 and we’ll all be able to meet up inside again – long may it continue. So this month’s magazine straddles that weird moment between lockdown and something approaching the world we knew before all this began. We’re still digital exclusive (for the moment) but, now the pubs and cafes are open again, we’re looking to July with an optimism that we’ll be back to making precious paper and ink magazines again soon. Thank you to everyone who has read, shared, or in any way contributed to the magazine in the last year and a bit – it’s been a hell of a ride and we couldn't have done it without you. You’ll have seen from the cover that this month’s magazine has tonnes going on. We caught up with Ellie and Joel of Wolf Alice to chat about their ambitious (and fantastic) new album Blue Weekend – if you’ve sorted yourself for next year’s sold-out Barrowland gigs then you’ve got one of the hottest tickets in town. We also spoke to Jimmy Cauty (The KLF / The JAMs / acclaimed visual artist in his own right) about his latest creation, ESTATE, which is coming to Edinburgh and Glasgow now/soon. The rest of this month's mag? Have a dig through and you’ll see for yourself. See you in July. Kenny Lavelle Editor
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GABOFEST YouTube, 4th till 6th June The first weekend of June signals a cross-cultural online celebration of music and storytelling, showcasing Glasgow and Scotland’s artistically diverse communities. The Glasgow African Balafon Orchestra had a mission to bring the afro-fusion sound to more mainstream audiences, drawing upon the band’s collective experiences and cultural backgrounds to fuse ideas and sounds. That mission sparked an idea for this premier digital festival, and the creation of a welcoming platform to share the sights, sounds, and stories of culture. The 3-day line-up features improv-jazz band Amara, Afro-fusion/confusion from Edinburgh-based Ramuyapiko, exploratory rock outfit Dead Otter, 2019 Celtic Connections Danny Kyle Stage Winner Djana Gabrielle, Nigerian poet Ojo Taiye, Experimental Industrial duo Skrot Centralen (who can inspire untamed rage on the dance floor), and exuberant fusions of funky mbalax/ Afrobeat grooves from Samba Sene & Diwan. gabosounds.com/gabofest-21
Photo credit: Karolina Niemierko
Ramuyapiko What’s on by Lindsay Corr Page 15
DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY ARTS FESTIVAL Online & various in person locations –16th till 25th July This rurally-focused showcase, now in its 42nd year, continues in its tradition of ticking all the boxes, with 60 events blending music, theatre, dance, comedy, and spoken word. Centred around the theme 'Hame’ll Dae Me', the programme celebrates both burgeoning and established talent from the region, featuring an outdoor travelling stage, pop-up performances in unexpected locations, and and an engaging digital line-up, so you can experience it locally or from the comfort of home. Events include Smith & McClennan showcasing their new album, Mark Nelson stand-up, The Firelight Trio celebrating European music, and a night of song dedications accompanied by their stories in Love Letters at Home. There’s also a sneak peek into the world of emerging five-piece band The Lucky Doves, and a creative response to photographer Kim Ayres’ nude portraits of women over 50, in short film Gaze. dgartsfestival.org.uk Photo credit: Laura Sparrow Photography
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NOVA SCOTIA THE TRUTH
Photo credit: Alison McBride
SCOTTISH BOOKS LONG WEEKEND Online –10th till 13th June Bookshops are open again and this online showcase of dynamic and diverse publishing will no doubt see you visiting soon to pick up some of these titles, especially as the livestreams are freebies. 14 digital events shine a spotlight on Scottish writers, from Graeme Macrae Burnet’s exclusive pre-publication interview about his new novel Case Study to a children's illustration workshop with Kate Milner, plus YA writer Estelle Maskame talks about her ten-year career and upcoming book Becoming Mila. Other events include a discussion on Covid-19’s impact on education, the legacy of slavery since the start of the Black Lives Matter era, Scotland’s flair for crime fiction, Edinburgh’s presence in Gothic storytelling, a demystifying panel talk on getting into publishing, and a topical Talking Politics panel chaired by Ruth Wishart. booksfromscotland.com
What’s on by Lindsay Corr Page 17
Looking Out To Sea 4
JOCK MCFADYEN: LOST BOAT PARTY Dovecot Studios – 11th June till 25th September, 10am to 5pm A celebration of Jock McFadyen’s 70th birthday year and 50 years of artistic practice, with an exhibition of recent paintings exploring the romantic grandeur of the Scottish landscape, alongside renowned works of urban dystopia. Known for cool detachment while retaining an emotional punch, McFadyen’s paintings depict the exterior world he sees in the same way tourists capture snaps on their phones. Over 20 large paintings feature, showcasing a mastery of landscape traditions and seascapes which dually suggesting threat and indifference, perfectly encapsulated in the exhibit’s title piece. This depicts a seaside funfair which has seemingly detached itself from land, slowly drifting out to sea. Dovecot’s commissioned piece, The Mallaig, will be unveiled at the exhibition alongside documents of the process, which combine McFadyen’s brushstrokes with blended yarn, allowing for light absorption which offers a depth of colour to lure the eye. dovecotstudios.com Back to Contents
Make a connection with Edinburgh Science Festival this summer Embark on an exploration of the ways that science and technology weave us together, with events, exhibitions and happenings across Edinburgh and online in your home.
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What’s on by Lindsay Corr Page 19
UNFIX FESTIVAL Online – 11th till 27th June The sixth edition of the innovative festival, which explores the human impact on the planet and entire natural world, is packaged in digital format, synchronising with sister events in Bologna, New York and Tokyo. A 17-day international virtual line-up combining art, ritual, dance, film, music, debate and workshops awaits. Artists will celebrate the physical environment, find joy after grief, and call audiences to take a stand against the climate crisis, with over 70 events, in an inspiring combination of ecology and the arts. unfixfestival.com
REFUGEE FESTIVAL SCOTLAND Various locations across Scotland –14th till 20th June After cancelled celebrations in 2020 and 2021 marking the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, the Refugee Festival is back with aplomb. Offering a colourful, diverse, and vibrantly-packed programme, the festival celebrates reconnection, aiming to unite communities across Scotland and build bonds of friendship after months kept apart by Covid-19. Featuring live music, dance, online art shows, film screenings, poetry and family-friendly picnics, there is something here for all. Gaming marathons also feature, such as Gaming Against the Hostile Environment, which utilises the platform for good to raise awareness of policies against refugees and asylum seekers which leave thousands in precarious and often inhumane situations. refugeefestivalscotland.co.uk
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Looking Out To Sea 4
EDINBURGH SCIENCE FESTIVAL Various locations across Edinburgh & online– 26th June till 11th July Europe’s biggest celebration of smarts returns with its 33rd incarnation, moving from its usual Easter dates to a summer slot. The aim is to bring more people together, online and in person, to celebrate the power of science and connection in the wake of the pandemic. Programming for the planet is a longstanding festival objective, and audiences can engage with a world-class line-up highlighting the urgency of tackling the climate crisis and how science binds us together. And with the recent news of Professor Catherine Heymans becoming the first woman appointed Astronomer Royal for Scotland, 60% of the festival's speakers are women, leading the way forward to gender balance. Look out for the Syncrasy exhibition at Summerhall, for the chance to interact with physical matter, aethereal spaces and the limits of human perception. sciencefestival.co.uk What’s on by Lindsay Corr Page 21
Hame’ll Dae Me 16th – 25th July 2021
Streaming a mix of local and national artists that will create a performance experience in your own home. www.dgartsfestival.org.uk @dgartsfest #dgartsfest #HamellDaeMe
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WOLF ALICE JIMMY CAUTY TAAHLIAH CARLA J EASTON KIRSTI WISHART HER ENSEMBLE
Photo credit: Jordan Hemingway
Some bands have an instantly definable sound, a consistency to their music that leaves listeners in no doubt about who is behind the track. This can be a positive thing for new acts, but in the longer term, having a singular sound is often more harmful than good. Wolf Alice are not one of those bands. The group are one of the most eclectic UK acts of recent years, balancing mainstream acclaim with a determination to undertake a path less followed. With each passing album, the group ventures further, challenging and seducing listeners along the way. SNACK caught up with Ellie Rowell (ER, vocalist and guitarist) and Joel Amey (JA, drums) to discuss West End breakfasts, Scottish wedding invitations, and the small matter of their third album, Blue Weekend. How is the mood in the Wolf Alice camp? ER: I think we’re really excited. Joel? JA: 100% excited. I can’t remember what excitement was like until this started happening. I feel alive! I think it’s different, as every release has felt different because we change as people. It’s not strange in a bad way, but in a new way. You’ve said, ‘This album is for other people’. Was that your aim when writing the songs, or is that something you felt after the album was completed? ER: When you put something out there, it is instantly for other people, or otherwise you would keep that for yourself. I don’t think when we said that, that we meant something unique from every other album.
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You’ve also spoken about realising how important music is for people. Is there any way to reconcile delivering music to people while making sure artists are paid properly? JA: There’s a lot of politics involved. Not literal politics; there’s people and businesses bands can partner with. It’s tricky. I’m going to do my bit by buying as many albums and gig tickets as I can. I’ll try and support independent music shops as well. One of my favourite things to do is receive links from Ellie about new songs, or send links around and see what other people think. We’re all big music lovers, and there’s amazing music coming out now. I get really excited with stuff right now. Even on social media with teaser videos, I feel it’s a new way of getting excited; and there’s some intelligent ways of engaging fans.
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Without the lockdown occurring during the recording process, how different would the record have been? ER: Yeah, having no touring plans because of the pandemic meant we didn’t feel rushed to finish it. That allowed us to experiment more. That doesn’t mean make it more experimental, more that if you had an idea, you had the time to try it. That benefitted the album, getting it to a place where we felt as sure as we could that we got it to the right place. We tried a lot of possible routes, so it benefitted it in that respect. ‘Lipstick On The Glass’ is such an interesting song, musically. How did that come about? ER: We had a couple of versions of that song; a demo version and then more of a full band version. It was last-minute that we met in the middle and made this version towards the end of the recording process. We have phrases we bandy around the studio, like ‘simple is effective’ and ‘less is more’. When we abandoned these mottos and threw everything at the track, it began to take shape. It was more fun. It had three drum takes on top of each other, I think, Joel? JA: We started hitting our head against the wall, trying to reinterpret something we came in with rather than letting it evolve. One evening I was in with Markus [Dravs, producer], on my own, and he suggested flipping a snare drum over and playing a rhythm quietly with brushes, on the wrong side of the snare. It was cool, compressing it, and that stemmed into a Massive Attack-type of rhythm. We then had three drums over it, and then someone else came in the next day, putting amazing layers over it. We were working backwards as opposed to forwards.
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Joel, you’ve been more involved with programming on this record. How has that been, and is it something you want to do more of? JA: Yeah man, we’re all quite whizzes with that, but I had more time because I did the drum tracks early on – I had around two and a half months to play with synthesisers. As I’ve grown older, I still love organic sounds, but I’m fascinated with electronic things as much as I was when I was in my teens. Markus is very supportive in that if you have a sound on a synth, he’ll say, ‘Let's hear if it works’. It was really fun. ‘Safe from Heartbreak (If You Never Fall in Love)’ has an excellent sound, and a 60s feel, but the lyrics are a bit down. Is that a note for yourself? ER: No, I hope not. I just had the line ‘safe from heartbreak if you never fall in love’ and I really liked it, and I ran with that. No, I don’t live by those rules…well I do, but I shouldn’t! Are you ready for the challenge of playing this album live to an audience? ER: No [laughs]. JA: I told you, we’re not ready for anything any more! No, we’ve been doing a lot of rehearsals, and it’s been fun, so yeah, I’m ready. We’ve got a new person playing with us, so that elevates things.
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Have you picked up any new hobbies or pastimes in the past year? ER: I mean, no. JA: Neither have I. I didn’t make a lockdown record, I didn’t make bread, I can’t drive so I haven’t been anywhere new. That is really worrying! Making bread is the sort of thing people do to share on social media. ER: I’d just buy something and take a selfie with it. JA: Watch out if the wrapper is still on. Photo credit: Jordan Hemingway Music by Andrew Reilly Page 31
What are the songs that speak to you right now? JA: Out of our own songs, removing yourself from the fact you are involved with the process, we have a song called ‘How Can I Make It OK?’ For me, I know what that means, and I’ve played it to people close to me, and I’ve seen their reaction. That’s as important as me having a reaction, seeing how they’ve been affected. So that’s really special to me. Also, Theo [Ellis, bassist] and I, we’re into John Prine, who unfortunately died of coronavirus last year. We’ve delved into him. He did a cover of ‘Clay Pigeon’, the Blaze Foley song, that really speaks to me, that’s beautiful. He’s exactly the kind of music I love and I saw his name a lot without listening to him. Then I saw his name in Pitchfork and that he had died. I finally started listening to him and I thought, oh God, why have I got to this point without listening to his music? How have you felt about the initial response to the new songs? ER: When we came back with ‘The Last Man On Earth’, we weren’t sure how people were going to take it, but the response has been amazing. We’re super lucky that everyone, so far, has been really kind, and it’s making us feel more excited. JA: There’s nothing compared to playing live, definitely not social media. The moment ‘The Last Man…’ came out on the radio, I felt then it was a release, we’ve got here. It was powerful seeing people’s reaction, and it moved us to a different space, even with who listens to us as a band. We have Annie Mac to thank for that. It was a different reaction, but nothing compares to being on stage. Songs like ‘Smile’ and ‘Play the Greatest Hits’...it’s going to be thrilling to open the set. Can you imagine that at the Barrowlands? Back to Contents
You’ve brought me nicely to the next question. You start 2022 with three nights at the Barrowlands. People are looking forward to that. The roof might come off! ER: I can’t wait for that. I love the Barrowlands. JA: If the roof comes off, that’ll be the fans. It’s a special experience for us to go to Scotland and get the reaction we have; it’s a huge privilege. They are some of the best crowds in the world, and we were told that. There are a few things you get told before you go to places, and that’s one. I really hoped it was going to happen and we’ve been really lucky so far, and I’d love for it to happen again. We’ll hopefully have Barrowlands gigs in September and October, but we’ll see if they happen. It’s not as if Scottish fans need an excuse to go crazy at a concert, but if we haven’t been at a gig for close to two years… JA: I’m a bit scared now. I was quite excited before you said that. To play three nights as well, that’s overwhelming. It’s special, and I can’t wait. I’m going to get my breakfast at Òran Mór. ER: Oh yeah. JA: I’ve got my list, and there’s that little record shop down from there too. ER: Yeah, the vintage shops. JA: When we first played in Scotland, I was like ‘We’ve fucking made it.’ It was insane to be playing a show out of London, and then you travel, and you develop nostalgia for these places. I love Glasgow.
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How was the Live at Worthy Farm festival experience for you? ER: It was really fun. It was so nice to be in a field, and we got lucky with the weather for our performance. It’s not comparable to Glastonbury, but it was a really good experience, and it was seriously flattering to be part of the line-up. The BBC have announced they’ll show highlights of it, as part of a wider Glastonbury series between June 25th27th, so that’ll be good to help more people see the show. JA: I think they’re showing it over the actual Glastonbury weekend. It was amazing to be asked. You’ve created videos for the whole album. Do you think the past year will see visual components become more crucial for bands? ER: I’m in two minds. It was important over the past year because there wasn’t much going on, with no gigs. It was fun to stay in touch with the bands you like. A good music video is great, but I don’t base my opinion on a band on whether their videos are good. It’s really fucking hard to make a good video! We’re really lucky – we had a good experience with the videos, and Jordan [Hemingway] who directed them is talented. He made it easy for us. It was good to create visuals for songs that aren’t obvious singles. We’re lucky. Well, not lucky. It was a lot of hard work. JA: It was a huge effort from a huge team. I think people were so glad to be out of the house that they went above and beyond.
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It’s probably not wise to make predictions or second guess what comes next, but what do you hope to see and do in the next 12 months? JA: We have shows in the summer, and it would be great to play them. The album release is coming soon, and I’m buzzing to see the reaction. Also, after the way we have spoken about Glasgow and the January tour, I’ll be gutted if that doesn’t happen. Any final words for our readers? ER: If anyone wants us to play a Scottish wedding, I’ve always wanted to go, so please invite us. If you can learn ‘Loch Lomond’ by Runrig, that’s played at the end of the night. And that gives people a great reason to hire you. ER: Alright. I will finally learn to do something new as lockdown ends, so that is good. Blue Weekend is released 4th June on Dirty Hit
Photo credit: Jordan Hemingway Music by Andrew Reilly Page 35
K Foundation musician, DJ, and producer Jimmy Cauty needs no introduction for anyone who came of age in the 1990s. Alongside Bill Drummond, he formed The JAMs, later to evolve into hitmakers The KLF. The duo were often reductively deemed by the music press of the time to be arch acid house pranksters, with notorious acts like sampling ABBA and Whitney Houston without permission, burning one million pounds on the Isle of Jura, and delivering a dead sheep to the Brit Awards. But their legacy now, with the benefit of hindsight, is that they were and still remain hugely influential. They were truly prophetic, bringing genuine anarchy to the mainstream, and had a deep understanding of the malleability of pop music, creating mash-ups before they were a thing, and wildly inventive visuals and slogans in a pre-meme culture. Now Cauty, an acclaimed visual artist in his own right, brings his latest creation, ESTATE, across the country. Conceptually, ESTATE comes across like a post-JG Ballard landscape on steroids and smart drugs. A dystopian model village, featuring four abandoned concrete tower blocks at 1:24 scale, housed in a 40 foot shipping container, these incredible constructions are not only massively ambitious, but, as ever, feature his typically playful thematic provocation. We had to find out more. You have always taken a wonderfully idiosyncratic approach to making art. What can visitors expect from ESTATE? I like to spend a ridiculous amount of time working on the detail of things, way more time than anyone else would ever attempt. It's an obsession I've had since doing The Lord Of The Rings posters in the 1970s, and this obsession is evident in ESTATE. Visual Art by Lorna Irvine Page 37
I'm happy to embark on projects that require huge amounts of time to complete. The Lord Of The Rings poster took twelve months, The KLF five years, Smiley Riot Shield painting is four years and counting. I didn't attend an art college, and left school at fifteen with no qualifications, so I guess no-one told me there was a much easier way of making art. I've had to invent my own method of working over the years, and this can sometimes look idiosyncratic. Visitors to ESTATE can expect upsetting architecture and authoritarian announcements, but also amusing scenes of mass social environmental devastation. Plus, military-grade levels of smoke, strobes and noise - a bit like a very right-wing threeminute acid house rave in a shipping container. We like to say it's suitable for those who have been brutally desensitised by the system...and children. Is ESTATE a real labour of love for you? If you mean was I paid to do the work, then the answer is no. I make these things just for the hell of it, because I'm inspired to make things happen even if it makes no sense. Luckily I have the L-13 to back me up on projects like this. It's more a labour of love/hate. I spent over 5,000 hours building the interiors of these tower blocks, mostly during the various lockdowns. A lot of the time that kind of work is very repetitive and boring, but it's interspersed with the odd moment of joy. To give you an example, there was a fault on one of the 391 LED lights on Tower Block 2. This meant the other LEDs were heating up and would eventually blow. Most of the wiring is hidden in the walls, and I had to unpick the wiring and test each LED light individually to identify the faulty one. The fault was behind the fridge in the canteen on the top floor. Evidence of all this strife and joy is contained in the Instagram build page @towerblock1 Back to Contents
Is ESTATE a deliberate reaction against the homogenisation/gentrification of the UK? Homogenisation and gentrification are all part of the natural life cycle of cities: without these things, cities will not be able to function. It's been going on since the first upwardly mobile Stone Age inhabitants started refurbishing their basic caves by installing doors and garden fences, or upgrading to a supermodern hut circle dwelling. It's how we got from caves to skyscrapers... so, no, it's not a reaction against that. The tower blocks are showing early signs of entropy; like most man-made structures, their primary function is to disintegrate over time and return back to the earth, or in the case of concrete, plastic and expanded foam, to gradually destroy the earth. ESTATE is more like a stage set where people can come up with their own stories. One of my stories and the ESTATE Netflix mini-series synopsis goes something like this... ESTATE. The ESTATE is a housing estate situated in the garden of England region called North Kent. The estate was taken over and run by a group of crisp-eating children called The Iceni Tribe. Their leader was an older girl called Brenda. They escaped from the local high security children's prison (Camp Delta-Zulu) and ran riot across the estate, destroying everything and driving out the tenants. They painted themselves blue, and built a stone circle on the top floor of Tower Block 4. The Iceni Tribe were pursued by law enforcement officer and disgraced former British home secretary Amber Rudd and her squadron of sonic weapons-enabled Chinook helicopters. The battle continues every week... Okay, it's not a very good story, but we are working on it. Visual Music Art by byLorna Andy Irvine Reilly Page 39
ESTATE: Stoke-on-Trent All images courtesy of L-13 Light Industrial Workshop
Photo credit: Mark James
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Are there any artists that you currently have an affinity with? Harry Adams, Miss Pokeno (Alannah Currie), and Cold War Steve.
Jimmy Cauty's ESTATE tours the UK throughout 2021 North Edinburgh Arts
28th May till 26th June
28th Jun till 30th July
SPECTACLE, a programme for ESTATE Edinburgh, is available at societyofspectacles.com Further information: I-13.org/projects/jimmy-cauty/estate jamescauty.com/work/thekfoundation
An ESTATE Edinburgh Spotify playlist can be heard here.
Visual Art by Lorna Irvine Page 41
Image credit: Vasso Vu
There is a growing excitement and anticipation surrounding TAAHLIAH. From being the first Black trans artist to be nominated for the Scottish Alternative Music Awards, and going on to win both Best Electronic and Best Upcoming Artist, to supporting the late SOPHIE, and Jamie xx this coming summer, her debut album adds to the sparkle of her already glittering career. TAAHLIAH brings the glamour and flare of pop to hard-hitting electronic music, whilst remaining immensely down to earth. SNACK caught up with TAAHLIAH to celebrate the release of her debut 7-track project, Angelica. How has the last year been? You’ve been super busy – you’ve just got your new album out! The past year has been fun – it was just at the beginning of lockdown that I got signed to my record label. It has been quite hectic. There have also been really nice bits like the Scottish Alternative Music Awards, doing stuff at Boiler Room, working with different institutions and establishments within music that I hadn’t really dealt with before. I feel like before I was signed there was kind of like no backup for me. Everything that I was doing then people would come to me personally to do it, or like, opportunities would just kind of fall on my doorstep, whereas now I have a team to seek stuff out which is a lot more fun, because it just makes aspirations and goals a lot more tangible.
Music by Zeo Fawcett Page 43
I love the production on your new album, Angelica. I feel like in particular it’s such a strong start to open with the track ‘Brave’; it’s inspiring and moving. I’m wondering, in return, what individuals would you say have inspired you to be brave? My friends first and foremost, and the closest people to me, provide me with the strength to keep going. It’s a good question and a tough one. Musically, it’s kind of everywhere. There’s no definitive selection of people – which I’m very happy for. There’s all these strands of ideas and strands of influence which all combine into my work. I think this idea of having lots of strands tied together makes sense. Yeah, everything is a remix of everything at the end of the day, and if you’re inspired by a particular artist or genre then they would’ve been inspired by another artist. It’s this lovely kind of ladder of creativity. I feel like I talk about this a lot. Every single artist is influenced by such a different set of things; like when you think about genres, for example, or particular classifications of music, an electronic music artist might be very influenced by classical music, but then like the artist next door might be influenced by dubstep, or whatever. But people will bridge these two artists together because perhaps they sound the same, but the threads of thoughts and connections are totally different. I feel there should be more of an explanation of the artistic process. I’m very interested in the artistic process and how other people create work, I wish that I was able to see more of that in a wider context. So perhaps like YouTube tutorials and stuff, where you could get Lady Gaga or Beyonce on how they made a specific track; that’s so interesting. Why is that not more of a thing?
I wonder if this new focus on the internet created by the Covid Landscape has affected your artistic output? I guess I’m still making the music that I want to make but everything is a lot more restricted. Like I can’t get people into the studio, but I’m very much excited to perform IRL! I’m sick of doing mixes for people that will be put on a listening platform or virtual club spaces, like they’re great, and needed, but I’m just getting bored of them. It’s not the same. I’m still sitting in my bedroom, and I’m listening to great music, but it’s on a webcam video. What’s some really great music that you’ve listened to recently? Um, Angelica by TAAHLIAH? [Laughs]. No, but really, me and my friends have been listening to Art Angels by Grimes a lot, but that’s quite old. That’s quite a toughie question. I’m listening to a lot of Nicki Minaj and Lily Allen. Chippy Nonstop actually, they’re really cool, and I’m kind of always listening to SOPHIE, Purity Ring, and FKA Twigs. I just have them on repeat all the time. It’s the familiarity of it all that I really enjoy. Image credit: Vasso Vu Music by Zeo Fawcett Page 45
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be? Probably Nicki Minaj! I doubt it would happen, but she’s great. Her artistry is fantastic, like the way she writes, what she writes, the way she puts two and two together and gets two hundred; it’s amazing. She’s just so clever! I was wondering if you could tell me about one of your favourite performance experiences? For example, is the connection to the audience significant to you? I’m very conscious of my audience and I find it strange to use the word fans, because I grew up with a lot of bullying and so my voice was never the one to be heard; my voice was never the one to have meaning. I’m very aware of the listeners and the audience, and who’s coming to my performances, and what that means for the space I'm performing in. Probably one of the best performances, or the one that I felt the most energy in, was one of my last gigs before Covid. It was Weirdo Warehouse at the African Arts Centre, and a lot had gone into the energy. It was just really nice and homely, and it was nice to be back home because Glasgow is home. I hope that when things open up again there will be a lot more moments like that. What would you like to change about the music industry? I think in a broader sense, financial support, predominantly streaming costs, and how much you get from streaming, because it seems like, unfortunately, streaming is the future of music. Then there’s the gender imbalance of everything! Women make up less than 3% of music producers and that’s really messed up! Plus the racial side of it; why is there such a lack of Black pop stars, and I mean like, quintessential pop stars? There’s such a lack of blackness in the pop industry.
Do you feel like representation is improving, or simply shifting? I think it’s improving, definitely, but the rate it’s going at isn’t enough. Just because people are visible doesn’t mean that they’re on an equal playing field. I know for a fact that my music would be listened to more if I was white. People would interact with me more if I was white, and it’s just how the cookie crumbles. It’s great that representation is slowly opening up, but I think what I’m more interested in is the rate that it happens. The fact that perhaps I can’t think of another Black, trans artist that is in a similar field to me then that’s an issue. Using my own experience in context, a lot of people see ‘BLACK TRANS ARTIST DOING THINGS’ and it’s like, okay, that’s great, but could you name anyone else? Are there any other Black trans people in this line up? Just because there’s one doesn’t mean it’s cushty, because it’s not. What excites you about the future? I think currently, first and foremost, experiencing new things. Appreciating the mundane, because when you appreciate the mundane it makes the beautiful even more beautiful. I’m excited to continue on this artistic journey, and hopefully work with new and interesting artists, and make really really nice music that people are able to connect with and listen to. That’s what I’m excited for – being alive! Angelica is out now on untitled (recs)
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SINCE YESTERDAY Photo credit: Norman Bell
The Twinsets Carla J Easton, documentary maker Blair Young, and producer Miranda Stern have spent much of the last four years researching and documenting the untold stories of Scottish female bands from the 60s to the present day. They've recently launched a Kickstarter to fund the completion of the film project, called Since Yesterday. We caught up with Carla to find out more and discuss the importance of preserving and telling these stories.
Can you tell us a bit more about the documentary? I want to provide a historical, accessible archive of Scotland’s girl bands, which I think is important for inspiring the next generation to ‘pick up and play’. The documentary is tracking down girl bands from Scotland and telling their story, and preserving these stories before they’re lost. So there’s a danger of what is in existence being lost? I think a lot of these women have been hard to find: their music, to be able to listen to it, find out more about them. I think that questions are raised about who gets to decide what is deemed success, what gets preserved and gets written about. I hate using the term ‘Lost girl groups’ but I think in terms of moving forward you have to go back and look at the past to contextualise that and where we’re going. Do you think it’s important for people to see people they can identify with doing well, to lead to thinking, ‘I can do that’? Massively. I think with all the debate going on with festival lineups, and how women are represented, a big thing is normalising a collective of women picking up instruments and forming bands together. You know, within the pop world, in terms of collectives of women that are maybe vocal groups, there's been success and there's been stadium-filling acts with long careers, or even individual pop stars. But in terms of women actually playing instruments as a collective, we still don't seem to reached that level. Music by Kenny Lavelle Page 49
Why do you think that is? I wish I had the answer. It’s not for there being a lack of talent, and certainly at a local level all the scenes that these bands have come through that I’ve spoken to, the local scene’s very nurturing, in terms of peers and other bands and things. But I do think there's a question we need to look at: why is there no female version of The Beatles or The Who, or more recently, Coldplay? Where are these worldwide-selling multi-platinum artists filling stadiums the world over, with longevity in their careers? We've not had that. We touched on it with The Bangles and Heart, but would they sell out Hampden these days? There’s something not quite right. Even in the last year with the industry on pause, it’s been a good time to reflect. Everyone kept talking, certainly amongst me and my friends, about how we’ll build a better scene, it’ll be more equal and more fair. Then when you see festival lineups come through, it's still not a diverse representation of those making music. To say that it’s disappointing is an understatement.
Photo credit: Graham Gavin
Lung Leg Back to Contents
It’s been talked about for so long. And yet, nobody making decisions seems to be listening, and nobody seems to think that something should be done. Well that’s it. There are initiatives like Keychange that have come along, which are great, but amongst my peers who are working right now in Scotland there's a general consensus that you don't really want to be booked for something because of how you identify with your gender – you want to be booked because of your music. Unfortunately we're still at this point where your gender identity is getting attached to your music; I'm not a singer songwriter, I'm a female singer songwriter. Teen Canteen aren’t a band, they’re an all-girl band. I'm very aware of the irony that the bands that I'm interviewing for this documentary, and myself included, we just formed bands with those around us. We term ourselves ‘bands’ but we get attached to ‘girl band’ and we're having to use that term in order to tell our stories. Music by Kenny Lavelle Page 51
Photo credit: Asuka Chen
Photo credit: Simon Clegg
Sophisticated Boom Boom
I guess by using the term ‘girl band’ you're using something that has been used against you to your advantage. I hope so, I hope that’s how it comes across. Speaking to a few people from as far back as having been active in the 60s right up to modern day, there's still things that don't seem to have changed. Whether that's been like, ‘we're not going to invest in you because you're of an age where you might decide to start a family’, or casual sexual assault, or sexist comments. I think it's very important to stress that the documentary is not trying to victimise any of these women; far from it. It’s to celebrate these stories, and that music, and get it out there so it does inspire the next generation. I’m very much of the opinion that I want this film to be the kind of film I would have seen at 15 years old. With Teen Canteen, for example: the drummer and I, we've been best friends since we were 11, but we didn't form a band till we were very much into our late 20s and didn't even bring out an album till we were 30. I’d like it to have been totally normal and acceptable for us to go into high school one day and be a band.
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Photo credit: Graham Gavin
The film is still in development: who have you interviewed for it so far? It’s very much still in development: we've been working on it for five years but it’s been a real eye opener – making a documentary takes longer than an album, I’ll tell you that. We’ve spoken to Jeanette Gallagher of The McKinley's, members of Sophisticated Boom Boom, His Latest Flame,The Twinsets, The Ettes, The Hedrons. There's other bands we’re in contact with that we’d like to interview, like Lung Leg, Sunset Gun, Pink Kross. We're looking at 1960 up until just after the turn of the millennium, when social media really took off, because I think that's been quite an empowering way for women to record and get their music out there.
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Are there any bands that you’ve come across while making the documentary that you'd never heard of before? I’ve always been looking into these bands. I think as far back as 2009, I was like ‘someone should make a documentary about this’ – I just didn’t envision that it would be me. It would be a lot easier if it wasn't me, I’ll tell you that. But I think it's a frustration, as a music fan first and foremost, when you find something and you want to find more about it and start to make these connections. Any time I've discovered a band, it's been brilliant. I remember pre-2007, DJing with my friend Jenna at art school parties, and she knew I was obsessed with girl groups. I just remember her whipping out the 7-inch of Strawberry Switchblade’s ‘Since Yesterday’ and she was like ‘You're gonna love this’. I remember the excitement of DJing in Edinburgh, and finding a group you could tell was ‘the girl group’ morphing on. But it was localised; It was just down the M8 from me. That was really inspiring and it was like ‘They're making music, like me, and in East Scotland’. Photo credit: Simon Clegg
Strawberry Switchblade Back to Contents
Massively. When we’re discovering so many key players in terms of women making music in Scotland, we're very much focusing on allgirl bands, but there's enough to do a series, to be honest. I love collecting records and have got obsessed with this compilation series called ‘Girls in the Garage’. There's women in every city in every country of the world that have been making music. I think it's human nature to want to make a noise. I think that would be something I would hope comes from this, that maybe someone else looks at their local music scene and goes, this is something that's global. It's like looking at a global issue but on a local scale. The Kickstarter for the film has been going well so far. We’re just sitting under the first stretch target of £20,000, which is really important because archive is so expensive to use. For us to use one minute of BBC footage for theatrical and broadcast release could cost us three grand. So, if we can hit our first stretch target, that would be great because it just means you'd have the chance to collate all the archive, clear it for use, package it up in a way that contextualises it with the stories, with the people behind the music and the performances. We’ve done really well with that: the Kickstarter finishes on the 16th of June and then we’ll be straight into more production and working with an archive producer to make sure everything's catalogued and cleared, as well as filming more interviews. Music by Kenny Lavelle Page 55
Photo credit: Asuka Chen
I think you'd mentioned it; these hidden stories will be there all around the world, not just Scotland.
We've also got the issue of there being a lot of archive that is either lost or doesn't exist, because of when these women were making music. So there's a really exciting chance to create what we're calling ‘new archive’ for the documentary. There's a lot of work still to do: we hope to have a rough cut ready for December for the private screening, and then we could do the film festival circuit in 2022. You mentioned ‘New archive’. Can you explain that to me? We were very conscious from the off that we don't want to make a ‘talking heads’ film: we want it to be as best as it can be, so it reaches the widest audience possible. We're willing to go completely DIY if we need to. We’re quite keen to bring an animator on board to create little sequences to some of the music, to visualise some of the stories better, and really get a sense of the energy of the scene these bands were active in at the time. Animation is quite a nice way to look at it: when you look at the animated world, all-girl bands rule. They rule the world, they play concerts in outer space – they’re kind of superheroes. You've got Josie and the Pussycats, Jem and the Holograms, even Barbie and the Rock Stars. It's this nice sort of conceptual comment of: ‘Well in the fantasy world, it's successful. So how can we translate that to real life?’ Find out more about Since Yesterday and donate here. Back to Contents
Photo courtesy of A Morrison
Anne, The Ettes
Music by Kenny Lavelle Page 57
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Kirsti Wishart is a critically-acclaimed writer whose work has been widely published in a variety of literary journals and anthologies. The Knitting Station is her first novel, and she spoke with SNACK to tell us all about it. What can you tell us about The Knitting Station? The novel’s set in the early 1960s and features Hannah Richards as its heroine, gay at a time before liberation. Hannah’s a former Bletchley Park code-breaker who’s suffered a breakdown and along with a group of other patients she’s taken to Tharn, an island famed for its fantastic knitwear, for a bout of knitting therapy. Supervised by experimental psychologist Doctor Frederickson, she’ll be staying at the Knitting Factory, a Studio 54 for the Highlands, run by the mysterious Madame Jeanne. The Madame’s innovative concepts in knitwear have brought her into conflict with the native knitters, most notably the formidable Mrs Montgomery. Whilst negotiating the tensions of the island, Hannah becomes convinced it’s about to be invaded by Russian agents, but can’t be sure if it’s a symptom of her madness or not. In her various escapades to find out she’s assisted by a Glaswegian teenager called Senga, East End starlet Elsie Brixton, and Bette, a sinister sheep. It’s been described variously as ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Nancy Drew’ and ‘John Buchan on mushrooms’, which pretty much sums it up.
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What were the influences you drew on? The initial inspiration was a collection of knitting patterns from the sixties a friend at work brought in. They depicted a fascinating subculture, with each cover seeming like a screenshot, showing such scenes as an older gent giving a younger lad a lesson in archery or one young woman showing quite an intense interest in her friend’s cardigan. Stars like Roger Moore and Twiggy appeared in them, and while they maybe weren’t quite the TikTok of their day, I could imagine people obsessing over the glamorous, wool-centred world that was depicted. There’s a film I almost hesitate to mention, as on watching it readers will realise just how much I ripped it off. It's called Went The Day Well? and it features the likes of Thora Hird and the Home Guard having to defend an English village from an invasion of Nazis. It’s also a tribute to a certain type of middle-aged woman you don’t tend to find too often these days, working as a sturdy, slightly fierce receptionist/school teacher/nurse called Margaret, Hilda or Muriel. In Primary Three one afternoon our class joined a Primary Six one. Mrs Bremner, a tiny, wren-like, white-haired teacher chose to read to a bunch of impressionable seven-year-olds the opening chapter of The Thirty-Nine Steps, ending with a character ‘skewered’ to the floor. We were led away mildly traumatised and had to wait until we were old enough to read the rest to find out what happened. That combination of the genteel old wifie and sudden violence obviously stayed with me for the later chapters. It could result in an Ofsted inspection these days, but who knew it would lead to a lesbian-led cosy thriller caper years later?
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Although this is your debut novel, you have been widely published in literary journals and collections. Did you differ in your approach to writing it? If so, what difficulties did you encounter, and how did you overcome them? Whilst this is my first published novel, it’s my third written, so I felt fairly comfortable with the novel form by then. I’m also fortunate enough to belong to an excellent writers’ group who provided a huge amount of help and guidance along the way. The novel started out being a tricky mix of a sensitive, Sarah Waters-like portrayal of a damaged heroine offered recovery by an island community and a straightforward romp. It took a while to realise where my true strengths lay, and so out came the literary stuff and it was full pelt with psychedelic Highlanders, drug-fuelled stovies and knitters toting machine guns. The shadow of Scottish writer John Buchan is cast over The Knitting Station, someone who divides opinion among readers. Why are you drawn to his work (assuming you are), and can you understand other people's reservations? I can completely understand why people might object to Buchan’s work and they’d be right to do so! He worked for the Ministry of Information and his novels are imbued with an imperial, hierarchical view of the world we’re still in the slow process of dismantling. My PhD was about Scotland’s place within the British Empire and it was inevitable a chapter would be devoted to Buchan, his novels seeping into my subconscious. A few years ago, though, I tried to re-read The Thirty-Nine Steps and couldn’t get beyond the views expressed, albeit through the mouthpiece of that character who ends up pinned to the floor. While I might object to his political views, he is a hugely influential figure, grandfather to the likes of James Bond and Jason Bourne. Books by Alistair Braidwood Page 61
The narrative momentum pulls you along, not unlike the set of handcuffs Hitchcock introduced to the film version of The 39 Steps, locking Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll together. Books like Huntingtower or The Island of Sheep are perfect holiday reading if you’re staying in a cottage with a roaring fire and the rain lashing against the window. Hopefully The Knitting Station interrogates that appeal, playing with certain tropes whilst attempting to undermine some of the social attitudes. Are there other Scottish writers who also inform the novel? Robert Louis Stevenson is an obvious influence, with Hannah more a Stevensonian heroine than a Buchanite one. Although Stevenson’s regarded as one of the godfathers of the modern adventure story, his heroes, like David Balfour in Kidnapped, offer a complex, sensitive exploration of masculinity very different to the confident Hannay. Davey is surprisingly useless as an action hero: he’s nearly tricked to his death by his Uncle Ebenezeer, gets stuck on an island for so long that he starts trying to eat limpets, until the passing locals point out he could have walked off it. He bursts into tears at the end of the novel because he suspects he’s never going to see his best friend again, ending a fine bromance between him and Alan Breck. The ground, both physically and emotionally, is always unsteady under Davey’s feet, which creates an appealing vulnerability I hope Hannah emulates. It almost feels sacrilegious to say this, but Muriel Spark was an influence and there’s deliberately more than a touch of the Miss Jean Brodies about Madame Jeanne. Spark's novel The Abbess of Crewe is an odd, mystifying and very funny book about a nunnery under the watchful gaze of the Abbess.
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It riffs on the Watergate scandal and I wanted to emulate that yoking together of the seemingly antithetical; in Spark's case surveillance and nuns, in my case knitters and guns. Another excellent Edinburgh-born writer, Shena Mackay, whose prose has a vivid lushness, provides the inspiration for the novel’s colour palette. Scottish visual artists such as Phoebe Anna Traquair were a strong influence, along with Steven Campbell’s paintings of tweed-clad, ginger-haired heroes trapped by unbiddable landscapes. The Knitting Station is published by a fairly new publisher, Rymour Books. Was there something about working with them which appealed, and did the reality live up to your expectations? Working with Rymour was a happy accident and goes to show how random getting published can be. I’d sent a proposal to 404 Ink’s excellent Inklings series on psychogeography and been rejected, saw a tweet welcoming Rymour to the Scottish publishing fold and followed them. They followed me back and I cheekily DMd them asking if they’d be interested in a book on psychogeography. To my delighted dismay, they got back within the hour to say they’d be very interested. After years of waiting nine months for a publisher to say, ‘Thanks but no thanks,’ this came as a shock and I had to confess the book was yet to be written. Would they be interested in a novel instead…? Thankfully Ian Spring, the eccentric (I hope he doesn’t mind me saying) genius behind Rymour said yes. Publication has been a steep learning curve; there’s a vulnerability to having your book out there, but it’s fantastic finally having the opportunity to experience it.
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What's next for you in terms of your writing? The Projectionist should be published by Rymour later in the year. It’s about a world famous film critic, Cameron Fletcher, turning up at the Film Festival held at Seacrest, a town obsessed with cinema in the same way Tharn is obsessed with knitting. As Fletcher was presumed to be either dead or an entirely imaginary character dreamt up by a ‘Luther Blissett’-like group of critics and directors, this causes shock waves throughout the Seacrest inhabitants. Then it’s hopefully a book about some very Scottish superheroes and then…oh yes, that psychogeography one. So I’d best get out walking. The Knitting Station is published by Rymour Books
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Photo credit: Noëmie Bottiau
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Her Ensemble is the UK’s first women and non-binary orchestra. Formed in November 2020 by violinist Ellie Consta, it seeks to address the gender gap and gender stereotypes in music. Why did you start Her Ensemble? I'd always felt really torn between loving classical music whilst not really loving all aspects of the scene. During the first lockdown I started writing string parts for my friends who are singer/songwriters, which allowed me to view music making from a totally different perspective. It made me question why we do things so differently in the pop and classical worlds. Around the same time I stumbled across some shocking statistics – the main one being that in 2019, just 3.6% of the classical music pieces performed worldwide were written by women. That's the highest percentage recorded to date. I’d been through music school, music college, the profession, and yet I could only name a handful of female composers off the top of my head, let alone name a single non-binary or transgender composer. I guess Her Ensemble was born out of this – it happened quite organically. What differences did you notice between the pop and classical worlds? So many differences. I’m not really sure where to start. The whole vibe feels different to me - the aesthetic, the approach to rehearsing/ creating. It feels less rigid and more fluid. Trying to explain ‘orchestral etiquette’ to my non-classical friends is so funny.
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Being in an environment with fewer rules and surrounded by people who were unashamedly expressing their authentic selves was so refreshing. It made me feel like I could be accepted in all my imperfections, which allowed me to be vulnerable and explore parts of myself that I had previously censored or suppressed for fear of judgment in the classical world. I wanted to take the things that I loved from both worlds, combine them, and put my own spin on things. Do you think that the classical music world is inherently sexist? I think the scene encourages patriarchal behaviours, for sure. We recently asked our followers if and how they alter their appearances to ‘fit in’ to classical music scenes. There were a shocking number of responses – they’re still on our Instagram highlights. The weirdest thing was realising how many similar experiences we’d all had and casually brushed off. I think it’s important to take a step back sometimes to see the bigger picture. Challenging the status quo is important. But yeah, we still often see binary gendering of concert clothes, most conductors and section leaders are men, women are encouraged to cover up skin, tattoos and piercings are often hidden, instruments are still gendered, there’s the whole ‘laddy’ drinking culture, we still see a majority white people, there’s an erasure of queerness...it’s all related.
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Even concert programmes are still majority white male composers, and often when female composers are included it can feel somewhat tokenistic. I’d love to see large-scale works by female composers being celebrated as the main event of the programme. Are you choosing to perform repertoire written by female and non-binary composers? Absolutely. There’s so much music to discover! Often it’s difficult, time-consuming and expensive to find, because the same amount of time and effort hasn’t been invested into the research, publishing, or recording. But it’s also really cool to discover! We’re arranging a lot of music ourselves.
Photo credit: Shane Benson Music by Sam MacAdam Page 69
It feels like if you perform a programme full of works by female composers it's a big deal, whereas no one bats an eyelid at a programme written entirely by male composers. Yeah, weird right? It’s kind of annoying that we still have to say ‘female’ composers, but I guess that shows the issue. A lot of people are surprised to hear that we are only performing music by women and non-binary people. We’ve been asked so many times if we’d ever perform any music by men. I find it interesting that that’s often the first concern. I mean we already know there’s incredible music written by men. Maybe they’re shocked because it’s not common knowledge that there is a plethora of music written by women? Or maybe it’s just the bloody patriarchy, eh? Hopefully one day there’ll be a real gender balance in the music we’re taught, the music that’s programmed, our accessibility to sheet music and recordings. And maybe someday we’ll overhear conversations like 'What's your fave Ruth Gipps symphony?' and someone else will be like, 'I’m more of a Florence Price fan'. Until then, I think there’s a real need for women to take up more space generally. It’s societal. For centuries women have been told to take up as little space as possible and there is still a total lack of acknowledgment of non-binary people. Even between women, there’s a competitiveness instilled in us – we’re pit against each other all the time.
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As an ensemble, how are you changing those societal expectations? I think the fact that it’s 2021 and it’s still shocking to see a diverse group of 'women' in suits, playing classical music?!?! kinda says it all! (let alone with piercings/tattoos/body hair on show...) I hope that by subverting gender norms, we are encouraging people to question the status quo. It's vital for any progression. And I hope that we will continue to grow and evolve as a group as times change. It’s also why it’s so important for decisions to be discussed within the group, and for the group to have a real mix of people. So many of my initial ideas for the group have changed through talking about stuff together. We’ve learnt so much through the process in just 6 months. Image credit: Noëmie Bottiau & Shane Benson Music by Sam MacAdam Page 71
It’s the same reason I feel it’s important for us to rotate positions within the group too, so we can put ourselves in each others shoes and see things from different perspectives. I’m not saying it’s the same thing at all, leading or playing tutti. They require different types of playing, but they're just as important. Music isn’t about ego and things work better when people are valued. It’s difficult because there's so much historical shit to untangle. Things obviously need to change from the grassroots, but I also feel like there’s room for so much more change now. I don’t want to be passive for fear of making a mistake. It’s about making space for each other. Her Ensemble are performing with singer/songwriter LITANY at Jazz Café, London on June 26th thejazzcafelondon.com Her Ensemble are collaborating with BISHI, commissioned by Zeitgeist and premiering digitally on their international sonic arts platform Zeitge-ist.com
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Photo credit: Shane Benson
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LOCAL CINEMAS LOCAL HEROES
In September, as disease stalked the land, the Highland Cinema opened in Fort William. Built like a red-roofed bothy and containing two screens and a cafe bar, it came to life because a local millionaire read that a small town ought to contain two things: an independent bookshop and an independent cinema. He already had the bookshop. Three months later, the Highland Cinema was forced to close due to Covid-19. ‘It was a bit of a surprise that we had to lock down at all, because the Highlands was one of the best tiers in Scotland,’ says Hamish McIntyre, the cinema’s marketing manager. Back to Contents
Now, after a long hard diet of grants and furlough, the Russian winter is finally over for this little picture house. It may properly commence life as a community cinema, which means blockbusters. There’s also more local fare on offer, such as a collaboration with the Fort William Mountain Festival, screening Free Solo and Touching the Void, and a talk from cameraman Keith Partridge. Special events like this, notes Hamish, can massively help independent cinemas, as they are less likely to involve large distributor’s fees. They also highlight a positive away from the multiplex: the flexibility to screen what local audiences want. In Fort William that equals outdoor pursuits, understood via communications with the bike shop and the yacht and mountaineering clubs. However, it isn’t all Gore-Tex. ‘We were approached by a chap from the Polish community here who wanted to put on a Polish film. We said that’s great, if you have the numbers – and if you could tell us the name of a film because we have no idea whatsoever. But we’re quite happy to put on events for groups like that.’
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While Highland Cinema is a new kid on the block, the past year has been all about hanging tough for the Dominion in Edinburgh. In October, its £20,000-a-month losses made national news. Established in 1938, this family-owned cinema – one of only two in the country – was wheezing. ‘It took six weeks to close the books and ensure every supplier was fully paid,’ explains director Alastair Cameron. ‘Negotiations with the bank started in the first week and took eight months to resolve. The company increased its lending by over 30%, taking us back ten years.’ Nonetheless, the Morningside doyenne forged on, and in November was one of the 30 independent cinemas awarded money from the Independent Cinema Recovery and Resilience Fund [ICRRF]. It was the first time in 83 years of trading that The Dominion had required a grant. That financial support was resuscitating. Just as necessary, however, was the support of the community. If the Dominion’s Covid story has a moral, it is that tough times reveal true affection. ‘We didn’t know how our community felt about us until the pandemic,’ Alastair notes. ‘People would say nice things, but once we made a direct appeal we received an outpouring of love. So many people invested in private hires, tickets, and champagne packages, not forgetting generous donations.’
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‘However, it was the memories people shared of visiting the Dominion over the decades that touched us. It was very uplifting when we were seven months in with no funding.’ Covid-era cinema funding schedules can be criticised. It was, after all, 5th July when the UK government’s ‘world-leading £1.57bn rescue package’ for Britain’s ‘world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions’ was announced. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden claimed such institutions were ‘the lynchpin of our world-beating and fast-growing creative industries’. But it took four months to slice the world-conquering pie: £59m for Scottish culture and heritage became £31.5m for culture, then £15m for the Culture Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund; and finally, on 3rd November, £3.55m for the ICRFF. Other buoyancy aids kept cinemas afloat while accountancy overran arts. There were grants, Bounce Back Loans, ‘super’ tax deductions promoting equipment purchases, and extended rent protections. Furlough, says Alastair, ‘was a godsend’.
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Ultimately, however, the twin tales of the Highland Cinema and the Dominion, one old, the other young, have a commonality: community cinema matters to people. Moreover, it is a commonality the ICRFF confirms is widespread within Scotland: although a third of money went to the GFT, Filmhouse, and Belmont, there were venues in Orkney, Elgin and Campbeltown, art centres in Stornoway and Stirling, and Aberfeldy’s community-owned Birks.
Community cinema required handouts to get the doors open and projectors running. But it is the people who come together in the Highland Cinema, the Dominion, the Kino, Filmhouse, and the GFT that prove every town ought to contain a bookshop and a cinema. Such places exist for the community, and because of the community. For them to move forward, we must go back.
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for all your retro/vintage wishes 0141 553 1936
firstname.lastname@example.org Kings Court King Street Glasgow G1 5RB Film by Jamie Wills Page 81 www.mrbenretroclothing.com
STAY IN THE MOMENT
STAY IN THE MOMENT
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Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, many have found it better to concentrate on the now rather than look to a future that is always uncertain. As someone who has schizophrenia, I’ve had to develop techniques that ground me in the moment, so that I can take control of my anxiety and fear. Centuries-old teachings such as the Tao Te Ching from China and Zen Buddhist texts from Japan have been part of my life from a young age, thanks to my parents. Modern spiritual writers such as Eckhart Tolle communicate the idea that our natural state is being, which can only happen when we live in the now. As the world begins to open up again, with the virus still a threat, it can be natural to feel anxious and scared. With these techniques, anxiety and fear can dissipate, and we can still be mindful of ourselves and others while enjoying the things we used to take for granted. For a long time I’ve had the thought, and have talked about it to many people, that if we do one thing and one thing alone, we are meditating. By doing something instinctively and immersing ourselves in it, the fear of the future and clinging on to the past evaporates and there is only the now. And this can be anything. Many find this in the work they do, for example. The trick to it is: do this as much as we can, with anything and everything we encounter. Being the watcher of our thoughts, so that they do not create negative emotion, is one of the ultimate ways to centre ourselves. Instead of getting lost in compulsive thinking, we can accept feelings or thoughts we have, so that they dissipate and we are able to concentrate on The Euphoria of Being Mental Health by Martin Sandison Page 85
the moment with calmness and clarity. Everyone speaks about ‘vibes’, another word for the energy that we are all made of. When we feel them from someone else, it proves that we are all connected, on a deeper level than our egos, thoughts and opinions. If we become triggered by a situation, or by another person's actions, words or feelings, we can realise it, and not allow the negative thought and emotion to take control. This leads us to realise that the voice in our heads is not necessarily who we are; the presence and being behind the mental noise is the real us. It’s easier said than done. Sometimes we can't help but be triggered by things. A thought I’ve had recently is: they are just feelings and words. They can’t end our lives. When we truly accept them, we go to a deeper level of consciousness, where duality doesn’t exist, and we can enjoy the molecular dance of a beautiful universe. Reading that back, it’s definitely the most wanky thing I’ve written so far. Despite it sounding that way, it’s coming from my heart. Some years ago I was waiting on a bus to Aberdeen, in Dundee bus station. I saw a lady talking to people in an exasperated manner, and recognised her energy as the way I feel when in the clutch of schizophrenia. The people were looking away, trying not to engage with her. As I waited in the queue she approached me and said: ‘I’ll be alright, won’t I?’ I looked deep into her eyes and said: ‘Yes. Yes you will.’ She turned and walked away. I’ve always hoped she took comfort from another human recognising her suffering, and being one with it, not turning away.
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When we support each other in this way, despite how difficult this may be, we open ourselves to the idea that we are all connected. One person's suffering is our own, and the other way around. The road out of the situation we are in will be a bumpy one, as we have already seen. By centering ourselves in the moment and having empathy and compassion for each other, taking care of each other and ourselves, we can get through it with a minimum of anxiety and fear. As soon as we take a step down the path of being, it can’t be reversed. That first step will help create a conscious world without division, one that isn’t based around the contents of our minds but the contents of our hearts. I guess that sounds even wankier, but it’s genuine. As soon as we look outside the thinking mind, we enjoy everything so much more. That includes pints, and the shared laughter we Scots couldn’t live without.
Mental Health by Martin Sandison Page 87
THE (NOT) GAY MOVIE CLUB QUEER EAR RECORDS
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Drew Barrymore is many things: a Hollywood veteran from childhood, a producer, a chat show host, an Angel (Charlie’s). But for me and a plethora of horror fans of a certain persuasion, she is the actress capable of bringing a film’s most intense, and truly iconic, moment to life and stealing the show despite only being onscreen for a near-continuous ten minutes or so. Her turn as Casey Becker in Wes Craven’s 1996 horror classic Scream has been the target of so much parody and commentary for the last 25 years, that one may be guilty of overlooking how good that scene really is: the audience is treated to a masterclass in high camp, dark humour and obscene, grotesque ultraviolence. All these things considered, we couldn’t resist revisiting the doomed streets of Woodboro and dissecting (pun fully intended) Scream as this month’s inductee into The (Not) Gay Movie Club. Just as the first anniversary of definite non-adult Sidney Prescott’s mother is fast approaching, a spate of gruesome murders are occurring across her town. She is aware these deaths are connected to her mother’s somehow, and as more and more people are dropping like flies, there’s no telling who the suspect might be or who can be trusted. Scream, of course, was a colossal critical success, and remained the most successful slasher movie of all time until the 2018 reboot of Halloween. Its influence on the horror genre and pop culture at large can’t be overstated. The film’s cutting-edge irony may have lost its impact, ironically following decades of parody at the hands of Scary Movie and beyond, but such send-ups pale in comparison to this camp, grisly slasher mystery.
LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 91
The difference between experiencing it as a (–n insufferable) teenager at a sleepover is quite profound. For one, I actually understand and appreciate the plethora of horror-movie references that make up the entire film. I have now actually seen the movies Scream gloriously sends up, as opposed to merely claiming I have for kudos, and so the film presents an extra layer to enjoy. But watching Scream through an adult lens makes for some surprising realisations, including appreciating the houses our characters live in. Casey Becker’s house is stupendous, open-plan with a beautiful porch and a divine garden – I’ve never been more jealous of someone who has been brutally disembowelled. Pastiche and parody are staples of camp. Scream is a celebratory sendup of Hollywood’s best and bloodiest slasher movies, and is so proudly referential. The meta approach of the film allows Craven to subvert the tropes with which horror audiences had become nauseatingly familiar – the blonde cheerleader inevitably dying first, having lost her virginity to the closest jock, camera-angle cliches, and twists on twists in turn create a fresh take on the genre without feeling contrived itself. Not an easy balance to manage. But there are clearer homoerotic links to be had in Scream, namely in the ambiguous rapport between murderous duo Billy and Stu. Aside from their high-energy, high-camp delivery in the film’s crescendo, Billy and Stu arguably display genuine intimacy with one another – seen when the are literally hanging off each other as they torment Sidney, or in the codependence they demonstrate both as their plan is executed smoothly and as it unravels spectacularly.
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The dynamic is amplified further when you look at the rest of the cast, which consists otherwise of women that subvert the female horror character trope: Sidney is determined and surprisingly autonomous, Gale is ruthless and at times cruel but wickedly funny, Tatum is a savvy, ssarcastic confidante fully in control of her sexuality. The way they speak – witty retorts that are equally cruel and hilarious – embody the retorts every gay boy wished they could muster up in the thick of whatever homophobic bullying reared its ugly head. It comes as no surprise that Kevin Williamson, Scream’s screenwriter, is openly gay himself. Wouldn’t you kill to have an ounce of Gale’s wit, her savvy (more on her later)? This film’s script is absolutely hilarious, and with this cast it is executed with aplomb. Rose McGowan is at her acerbic, subversive Valleygirl best as Tatum, especially. The ever-affable Barrymore asks her assailant, ‘What do you want?’ to which he replies, ‘To see what your insides look like!’ Good Lord. Scream is chock-full of camp moments: I cackled when, in a woefully stupid sequence, Casey Becker’s parents, moments after she has been stabbed in the chest, return to their home, complimenting the flowers in their own garden before finding their daughter hanging inside out. LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 93
And in Sidney’s first encounter with Ghostface, upon realising her phone is disconnected, she manages to secure police intervention by turning to her trusty desktop computer (the size of a small horse) and messaging the police through instant messenger. Dialogue aside, suspending one’s disbelief is essential when watching Scream: there is no reality in which Neve Campbell is a teenager, or one in which Matthew Lillard can survive countless lacerations without bleeding out immediately. The gleeful joy of Scream is found in indulging in its lunacy, celebrating it as a pastiche of the slashers that came before it. But as funny as the film can be, there is no denying that it is genuinely unnerving. The murders themselves are brutal, nauseating, and Craven is a master at provoking terror in his audience, using camp satire to lure us into a false sense of security.
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The star of the show for me, however, is arguably Courtney Cox in her turn as the ruthless news anchor Gail Weathers, a total departure from Monica Geller. Not only does she look incredible, making metallic lipstick look like a timeless fashion choice rather than a regrettable error in judgement, she is cold, heartless and devilishly selfish. Instant gay icon. She speaks to her long-suffering camera man Kenny with utter contempt (‘Look Kenny, I know you’re about fifty pounds overweight, but I say, ‘hurry,’ please interpret that as ‘move your fat tub of lard ass, now!’’) and is fully aware of the power saving someone’s life as a result of her investigation will have on her book sales. Every line is delivered with a cadence reminiscent of (Not) Gay Movie Club icon Elvira, and every scene where Cox is onscreen is priceless. Scream makes for the perfect queer horror viewing: camp, referential and truly terrifying, this film has earned its place in our illustrious hall of fame. Kids may not go as Ghostface for Halloween in their masses like in the late 90s, but the impact of and adoration of Scream is felt to this day. Come for the revolting violence; stay for the metallic lipstick.
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QUEER EAR RECORDS
As Pride season progresses, we will be inundated with corporate sponsorship and affirmations about the perceived progress made in our global fight for LGBT+ equality. However, it is vital to remain vigilant and consider our blind spots, asking ourselves: what more can be done to create queer-centred spaces and amplify the voices too often silenced? Turn, for one, to the arts. We rely so heavily on the contribution of LGBT+ artists in pop culture, but do they receive the support – financial or otherwise – of which they are worthy? Back to Contents
A new LGBT-focused record label, Queer Ear Records, has launched in Glasgow, marking the first time an LGBT-focused record label has been created in Scotland. Founded by Ryan Martin in late 2020, Queer Ear’s mission statement is clear: 'At Queer Ear Records, we believe that every artist deserves a place to express themselves without limitations. We aim to create a community that allows LGBT artists the chance to do so, regardless of genre.' While the primary focus is on pop music, artists of all genres are welcome, according to Martin. Queer Ear’s goal is to promote diversity in all forms. For one, Queer Ear Records worked in collaboration with Glasgow-based singer-songwriter Joseph Miller on the release of his new self-written and produced single, 'Fade Away', which achieved over 1,000 Spotify streams in its first week. 'Fade Away' was released on 30th April and marked the first release by Queer Ear Records. Artists who are interested in working with the label are encouraged to get in touch via the 'Contact Us' section of the Queer Ear website. SNACK sat down with Ryan Martin to discuss the importance of promoting queer voices, and creating the space for them to thrive in Scotland.
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What is your background, and how did you become involved in Scotland's queer music scene? I’m a second year music business student. Initially, this project started as just an idea that I didn’t think I would actually pursue, but I was pretty surprised to find out there wasn’t really a similar label that I could find in Scotland. It’s an idea I’m really proud of, so why not go for it? I’ve always loved music and my course has really helped me kind of find my place in the music industry. What are some of your own favourite acts? Have they influenced the vision you have for the label at all? Honestly my own favourite acts are the divas – Britney, Mariah, Janet and so on. They are what inspired me because, growing up, it felt like I was the only little boy who wanted to be like Britney! Thankfully, I grew up and found that I wasn’t as unique as I thought. I love that a lot of gay people have that shared experience and are so united over music. I just wrote a paper about the connection between gay people and female pop stars – that was really interesting! I found Joseph Miller because we followed each other on Twitter, solely because we were both into the same kind of music (Aaliyah, Brandy, Mariah...) and I think it’s really cool that it led to this opportunity to promote his own music. And it’s really inspiring to see artists like MNEK and Kim Petras representing the LGBT community just by being unapologetically themselves. I wish I had a role model like that growing up.
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What moved you to create your own label, and why do you believe it is so crucial to promote queer voices in Scottish music? I think something like this is needed. Drawing from my own experience, I remember the first time I went to a gay club and it was a totally free space; there was no judgement, and I realised how much of my personality I had learned to suppress, but not there. I want to create that atmosphere for musicians, one in which they can just be their authentic selves and not feel, even subconsciously, that they have to tone their queerness down for anyone What unexpected hurdles or challenges have you come across (if any!) in founding an LGBT+ label? Definitely funding! Not that that’s unexpected. Doing this myself isn’t easy, and I would definitely love to partner with someone who is more experienced in the industry. And there’s also the issue of being 'labelled' an LGBT label... I’m not really a fan of the 'alternative' label. It’s like how straight people don’t have to announce their sexuality to anyone, but gay people have to come out again and again to every new person they meet. It would be nice to just exist without it seeming like a political statement, but I suppose that as a gay person, your existence is a political statement in itself, so it’s unavoidable.
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Can you give us a flavour of some of the acts you have on your roster, who you're most excited for us to hear? That’s a work in progress! It would be great to work with Joseph again, and I’ve also been in touch with some great, talented artists from outside the UK... that’s all I can say right now! As we're moving (slowly) back to normality, are there any public events/showcases you envision putting on to celebrate the label's launch? Good question! Nothing is set in stone, and honestly given the uncertainty when I was planning this project I didn’t want to make any immediate plans, but some kind of showcase/launch event when it’s safe to do so would be amazing! queerearrecords.com
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US snackmag.co.uk email@example.com 0141 632 4641
LGBT+ by Jonny Stone Page 101
JAMMY DODGERS MUSHROOM STROGANOFF
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After the success of our Custard Creams recipe in the March issue of SNACK we decided to try our hand at another famous British biscuit, the Jammy (or Jammie) Dodger. Another ideal companion for a cup of tea. They’ve been around since the mid-1950s, taking their name from the popular Beano character Roger Dawson, better known as Rodger the Dodger, who has a penchant for avoiding school homework and household chores by concocting mad plans but if he gets away with it then that would make him a bit ‘jammy’, right? Going further back in time, these biscuits actually base their true origin on the Linzer torte from Austria, which spawned the smaller Linzer biscuits and subsequently resulted in Empire biscuits – you’ll find our recipe in issue 25. If you want to get the heart shape just right you need a mould. We acquired one from eBay – in fact we bought a set of four that included a Custard Cream, Bourbon and iced (party) ring mould as well. However, should you not have one, don’t let that deter you as you can still create a hole for the jam easily enough. We found that using the lid from a plastic drinks bottle on the pastry did the trick just fine, and of course it tasted just as good. This recipe is also vegan, so no-one needs to miss out on these jammy treats. Also, before you begin baking ensure that you have a suitable airtight container to put any uneaten biscuits in to keep them as fresh as possible.
INGREDIENTS ▌ 120g vegan butter or margarine ▌ 55g caster sugar ▌ 180g plain flour ▌ Jam – raspberry or strawberry Food and Drink by Mark & Emma, Foodie Explorers Page 105
METHOD ▌ In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and vegan butter until they are fully combined. ▌ Add the plain flour, a small amount at a time. ▌ Mix together until it forms a smooth dough. ▌ Shape into a ball and wrap the dough in cling film ▌ Chill the wrapped dough in the fridge for about half an hour. ▌ 180c/160c fan/370F/Gas Mark 4. ▌ Line a couple of baking sheets with greaseproof paper. ▌ Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out to about ½ cm thickness. ▌ Cut out your biscuit shapes. ▌ Remember to use a smaller cutter to make the holes in half of the biscuits. ▌ Lay out your biscuits on the baking trays and bake until slightly golden brown. ▌ Keep an eye on your biscuits, as they cook quickly – 10 mins should do. ▌ Leave to cool. ▌ Add about half a tsp of jam to each full half of the biscuits and place the cut-out centre variety on top to create a complete jammy dodger.
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Food and Drink by Mark & Emma, Foodie Explorers Page 107
Stroganoff is a famous Russian dish, named after the Stroganovs, a famous and wealthy Russian family who rose to such a level that they were answerable only to the Tsar. In the 16th and 17th centuries, they helped colonise vast areas of Russia, including Siberia and the Ural mountains, and also created a school of icon painting. Outside of Russia they are most well known for Beef Stroganoff, a dish of beef chunks served in a sour cream sauce. Over time and with Western influence the sauce has become less sour – often wine and mushrooms are added. Sometimes it is served with rice, other recipes have it with pasta or noodles. Our take is a vegan-friendly version using mushroom as the main flavour, coconut milk to achieve the right level of creaminess, and nutritional yeast to give it a moreish, addictive quality. This recipe also includes wine that can be excluded and the end result will be almost as good. It’s up to you whether you want it served with rice, pasta or noodles – have it with whichever you prefer.
Food and Drink by Mark & Emma, Foodie Explorers Page 109
INGREDIENTS ▌ 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil ▌ 4 shallots ▌ 4 cloves of garlic ▌ 400ml can coconut milk ▌ 2 tins sliced mushrooms (approx 580g mushrooms) ▌ 120ml white wine ▌ 1 tsp paprika ▌ ½ tsp Dijon mustard ▌ 1 vegetable stock cube ▌ 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast ▌ 1 tsp dried thyme ▌ 1 tablespoon of soy sauce ▌ 300g rice (cooked to serve with the dish) ▌ Flat-leaf parsley
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METHOD ▌ Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. ▌ Finely chop the shallots and add to the oil. ▌ Cook for a few minutes, then add the crushed garlic. ▌ Cook until the onions are soft. ▌ Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. ▌ Add the wine and crumbled stock cube. ▌ Mix together and let the mixture simmer until the liquid has almost fully reduced. ▌ Add coconut cream, mustard, thyme, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and paprika. ▌ Simmer until the sauce has thickened. ▌ Sprinkle with chopped parsley. ▌ Serve with rice, pasta, or thick noodles. Food and Drink by Mark & Emma, Foodie Explorers Page 111
WOLF ALICE MALKA – BETHAN NIA SISTER JOHN – CO-ACCUSED – OH BABY AULD WHITE LABEL – RUTH GILLIES MIDNIGHT AMBULANCE – CALLUM EASTER THE RIOT VANS – GNOSS – ELIZA SHADDAD NOVA – TY LUMNUS VICTORIA McNULTY DAVID LINKLATER– ALAN WARNER ALAN GILLESPIE
WOLF ALICE ALBUM: BLUE WEEKEND
Wolf Alice have always been more interesting than your standard indie band, on Blue Weekend, they’ve slipped comfortably into a higher zone. On an album of personal and at times, brutal awareness, the line of ‘I am what I am and I’m good at it’, could be its most insightful. Whether any band truly feels confident in themselves is one thing, but Wolf Alice are surely more at ease with themselves than ever before. For a record with no single style, it pulls together outrageously well. The thrash assaults mingle with piano balladry, the lush overtones jostle with piercing screams and melodic breaths. Musically, it’s a playlist for your moods, lyrically, a pathway to somewhere better than where we are today. The internet will likely drown in praise and analysis of Blue Weekend from this point on, but it’s well-deserved. Give it time to breathe, and it’ll never leave you. Blue Weekend was released on 4th June on Dirty Hit Words by Andrew Reilly
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MALKA SINGLE: ALIVE
Following on from her excellent 2020 album I'm Not Your Soldier and itchy but banging Lau.ra mix of ‘Moving Together’ comes Malka’s new single ‘Alive’. Self-produced, this purposeful electro-pop gem builds on a gently needling synth arpeggio and Malka’s eerily innocent, whispering vocal. The chorus’ reverb-tinged bass and analog rave stabs reminisce on the feeling of pulses echoing back off a brick arch – ah, if only. If nothing else, ‘I don’t wanna feel just fine / I just gotta feel more alive’ seems like a decent mantra for prising yourself out of lockdown hibernation to me. Give it a listen. 'Alive' is available to stream now
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Page 115
BETHAN NIA ALBUM: FFINIAU
Award-winning harpist Bethan Nia haa released her debut album Ffiniau (Borders). Self-described as ethereal Celtic folk, Ffiniau combines harp, vocals, strings and synths along with field recordings. Nia steers unapologetically into the woodland-harpist vibe to present her mystical Celtic music. The natural world is echoed in her choice of traditional Welsh source material, such as ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’ (Watching the White Wheat). Producer Charlie Francis, of R.E.M. fame, lends his talent and keyboard skills, which adds to the atmosphere and plays with the border between traditional and contemporary. Ethereal is the important word here. As an album, Ffiniau takes the listener to a particular place – if you allow it to. Nia’s vocals are lullaby-esque, whilst also being clear and focussed. If ethereal Celtic folk isn’t quite your cup of tea, then there are two tracks that stand out nevertheless. In ‘Beth Yw’r Haf I Mi’ (What is Summer To Me?) the synths and electric drum kit are much more prominent. The bass balances the higher frequency twinkling harp and provides a round bed to support Nia’s powerful Welsh fricatives. This track combines the traditional and contemporary into something greater than the sum of their parts.
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‘Kananaskis’, composed by James O’Grady, is another shining moment on the album and is an instrumental which features harp and crwth – an ancient Celtic instrument. Nia’s skill as a harpist is evident, whilst the oscillating patterns are punctuated by off-kilter rhythmic string stabs. The hypnotic rhythms of the harp contrast really satisfyingly with the medieval crwth (bowed lyre) sound. Nia hopes Ffiniau will ‘soothe and enchant listeners’, which is something we probably all need right now. Ffiniau will be released on Bethan’s own Pili-Pala label on June 21st Words by Sam MacAdam
Photo credit: Kirsten McTernan
Photography: Rene Passet
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SISTER JOHN SINGLE: IN MY PLACE
A few issues ago we mentioned the fact that Sister John are a band who consistently knock it out of the park; I think it’s fair to say they’ve hit another home run with ‘In My Place’. The Glasgow-based four-piece, consisting of Amanda McKeown, Jonathan Lilley, Sophie Pragnell, and Heather Phillips, are consistent in their ability to create silky-smooth music. Unsurprisingly, this new track about growing up continues in the same vein. By scratching at the softer sounds of Courtney Barnett riffs combined with Amanda’s somewhat Sharon Van Etten-esque vocals, ‘In My Place’ is swirling guitar bliss for the ears. This, coupled with previous release ‘How Can I Keep It Alive’, makes for a good bet that new album I Am By Day, released on 30th July, is shaping up to be an absolute topper. For all ravenous trippy Americana and lo-fi heads out there, it has the potential to become your favourite album of the year. ‘In my place’ is out now on Last Night From Glasgow Words by Paul McTaggart
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CO-ACCUSED EP: THE PSYCHONAUT SOCIETY
The Psychonaut Society EP from Co-Accused may hail from outer space, but it’s filling an earthy gap which many will currently hold for dark electro. The underlying steps bubbling away are the sort of thing distant dreams of dark and smoky rooms are made of. The Co-Accused are set to feature on some of the biggest Scottish line-ups this summer, which will be great, but oh for the days when we hear this blasting out after midnight as sweat drips from the walls. ‘Wormhole Warzone’ is as gloriously whirling as the name suggests, circling around and forward at the same time, if such a thing is possible. Closing track ‘Restricted Access’ is so bleeping on-point, you’ll get Radioactive Man flashbacks. With Dave Clarke giving the EP a thumb up, you don’t need any more approval than that, but we are more than happy to endorse this superb slice of electro-techno. The Psychonaut Society EP is out now on Co-Accused Records Words by Andrew Reilly
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Page 119
OH BABY SINGLE: CRUEL INTENTION
Last year was a fairly cruel, cruel summer, and none of us have any intention of repeating that fallow period again. We need tunes to get us out of our sleepy slumber, and ‘Cruel Intention’ by Oh Baby is a slow-burner, primed to fire you up. There’s a strong Goldfrapp feel to the song; and that is never a bad thing. No doubt your lush-electro favourites will come to the fore, as it’s a genre many of us hold close to our hearts. It’s not derivative, but it’s familiar, and comfortable. You don’t need to know the artist inside out to find yourself propelled onto the dancefloor; all you need is the beat and an intro with a striding yet shimmering sense of cool. ‘I Need Somebody To Love Tonight’ is deeper, less for the dancefloor, more for the taxi ride into town when on a mission. It’s all good. 'Cruel Intention' is out now with album Hey Genius to be released 24th July on Burning Witch Records Words by Andrew Reilly
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AULD WHITE LABEL ALBUM: HITS FROM BEYOND
Concept albums are tricky. Too often, in an attempt at universality, the concept can become too grandiose to truly connect with people. However, a concept album based on finding the meaning of life at an afterparty in Lanarkshire then immediately forgetting it? Well, that’s a different kettle of assorted seafood. It might not be globally universal, but it should be relatable to anyone who has spent more than 4 days of their lives in the central belt of Scotland. Formed in Hamilton, Auld White Label are an intriguing mixture of grubby electro beats and dreamy lo-fi pop. Their releases until now have largely passed without much impact, including last year’s album, the excellent Shared Isolation, but Hits from Beyond could be about to change that. In March, they released 'Wan Mair', a much more club-friendly track, complete with a pleasing shuffling locomotive of a groove – this album is the extended but not unpleasant comedown from the shambolic night 'Wan Mair' soundtracked. They’ve continued their use of Scottish vernacular in song titles, which is to be encouraged, with tracks called ‘hingin’ and ‘veranda moment’. All in all, Auld White Label are to be encouraged and Hits from Beyond has enough varying influences and quirk to warrant continuing to keep an ear out for them and wherever their sci-fi caravan ends up. Hits from Beyond is out on 2nd July Words by Stephen McColgan Email: email@example.com Page 121
RUTH GILLIES SINGLE: WAKE ME UP SLOWLY
‘wake me up slowly’ is the debut single from Edinburgh- based singersongwriter Ruth Gillies, not that you could tell this from hearing it. The polished production and catchy chorus of this airy pop anthem could easily be mistaken in passing for the likes of Taylor Swift or Lennon Stella, both of whom Gillies cites as musical influences. Originally from the Highlands, Gillies moved to Edinburgh aged 18 to study music, and began performing at venues across the city. Now aged 24, the time spent refining her songwriting and sound has certainly paid off. With lyrics focusing on the dreamy moments of a new relationship, Gillies’ light but distinctive vocals combine with piano, punchy percussion, and understated synths to make pure pop delight. After a first listen it’s hard not to come back for more; the track is sure to make a perfect addition to your summer 2021 soundtrack, with Spotify already featuring it on a number of their ‘new pop’ playlists. ‘wake me up slowly’ is available to stream now Words by Lily Black
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MIDNIGHT AMBULANCE SINGLE: 5AM
Midnight Ambulance have got the blue lights on, speeding to another sonic emergency, and dropping off this excellent track. Complete with soft, floaty, often spoken vocals, these are set against a dark and brooding sound. Hot off the back of their excellent debut single ‘Black Gloves’, which was released back in March, ‘5AM’ sounds like a dream gone wrong: starting off simply creepy, and growing to become a full-blown nightmare by the end. ‘5AM’ offers a reflection on those times of sitting up, waiting for someone to come home, and the perceived righteousness of doing the right thing, leading to inevitable anger and disappointment. This idea is reflected in the track’s structure: there’s a backdrop of a climbing, menacing instrumental, which at around the halfway mark delivers the listener unto hell, with loud shredding guitar sounds that create a dark, consuming soundscape. ‘5AM’ is out from 11th June Words by Paul McTaggart Photo credit: Andrew Laing Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Page 123
CALLUM EASTER SINGLE: WHAT YOU THINK?
The Edinburgh-based multi-instrumentalist continues to expand his versatility, as he slaps down his new single ‘What You Think?’, a distinct switch from a honeyed folk-and-soul sound to a more gravelly, antagonistic, post-punk rumble. This is the debut single from new album System, out in September, and it could be paired seamlessly with Ewan McGregor’s gazelle through the streets of the city. As always with Easter, the music remains intriguingly lo-fi, unpredictable, and best served as a singalong when the malt gets cracked. It’s only fair that Easter answers the question posed by the sardonic title: ‘I want to believe there’s love and goodness despite the evidence of news reports, fragments of conversations overheard, dripping like acid on concrete. I know how lucky I am, most of us are, despite the deep veins of anxiety running through our lives’, Easter says. 'So what do you think about the world today?' ‘What You Think?’ is out now on Moshi Moshi Records / Lost Map Words by Paul McTaggart Photo credit: John Mackie
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THE RIOT VANS SINGLE: SCARY FACES
We all know by now that rock n roll will never die, but it will take different forms. If you are yet to make your peace with this, The Riot Vans might not win you over, but the rest of us can get a little bit greasy in a good way. It seems as though the Scottish punk scene remains in good hands, with new waves venturing into the fray with fast songs and a sneering contempt for all. ‘Scary Faces’ is relentless, as it should be clocking in well under three minutes. It’s tiring to keep thinking of what we’re missing out on right now, but this is a song for live shows and your car as you race out of your street and town. It’s snotty, possibly naughty, repetitive, and an exhilaration of life that crosses all ages. Whatever you think punk rock should be, this isn’t too far away. 'Scary Faces' was released 21st May on Disobedient Records Words by Andrew Reilly
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ALBUM: THE LIGHT OF THE MOON The Light of the Moon is Gnoss’s second studio album. Created throughout 2020, it consists of entirely original material – seven instrumentals and four songs. The four Gnoss members Aidan Moodie (vocals, acoustic guitar), Graham Rorie (fiddle, mandolin, electric tenor guitar), Connor Sinclair (flute and whistles) and Craig Baxter (bodhran and percussion) are joined by James Lindsay (Braebach) on double bass. Incredibly talented and accomplished musicians in their own rights, this album goes beyond a display of technical ability – the human connections that weave throughout make it feel particularly special. It’s a conversation, not only between the musicians but also between the musician and the listener. Intimate, but not small in scale, Gnoss have clearly taken time to craft not only phenomenal melodies but also the atmospheric textures and arrangements that surround them. Captivating and sonorous even in the faster-paced tunes, there’s a cohesive sound that is inherently Gnoss. Each musician is respectful of their bandmates in a manner which is rare outwith the best ensembles. Moodie’s finger-picking guitar style, often finding its home as ostinato beds to the melodic content, never once overpowers the much gentler flutes and mandolin. Textures are a feature throughout the album – soaring flutes and background fiddle stabs on ‘Honey Dew’ flow seamlessly from background atmospheres to foreground melody, so that we are constantly enveloped within an undulating soundworld. Clever textures on ‘Good Crieff’, bookmarked by a rousing reel, take us into the Perthshire countryside. Like an impressionistic painting at times, Back to Contents
‘Sun That Hugs the Ocean’ uses reverb and production techniques on the flute and electric guitar playing to aurally represent Moodie’s vivid imagery. Many of the tracks on the album are written for friends and family, which makes for a very personal listening experience. ‘Becky’s’ – written by Rorie for his girlfriend – has a vulnerability and simplicity of arrangement that tenderly supports the waltz. Rorie’s impeccable violin playing, with minimal vibrato and raw tone, present an unpretentious and honest account of love. The journey from ‘Becky’s’, through ‘Prelude’ and into ‘Adelaide’s’, switches us firmly from waltz time into jig time and lifts the mood from reflective and private to joyous and life-affirming, with a tune about Sinclair’s late grandmother. It’s hard not to feel emotional, as after a rhythmically driven reprise of the melody the contrasting final three tutti chords signify a warm, yet final, ending. Every note and timbre is carefully considered throughout this album, which means these new compositions immediately feel like classics, with a camaraderie and warmth that immediately connects. The Light of the Moon was released May 7th on the band's own Blackfly Records label Words by Sam MacAdam
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ELIZA SHADDAD ALBUM: THE WOMAN YOU WANT
Effortlessly blending influences from her diverse heritage, Sudanese Scottish artist Eliza Shaddad has released her new album, The Woman You Want. A truly delightful listening experience, it plays as a manifestation of an artist whose lyrical prowess and devoted musicianship has allowed them to finely hone their skills. It was mixed by Grammy Award winner Sam Okell (PJ Harvey/Celeste/Graham Coxon), mastered by Tim Rowkins (Rina Sawayama) and features Michael Jablonka (Michael Kiwanuka) on guitar. With luminaries such as these in tow, the album boasts impeccably welljudged musicality. Recorded at home in Cornwall with producer and husband B J Jackson, The Woman You Want sees the critically-acclaimed artist exploring new dynamic soundscapes, as she delves into classical guitar harmonica, mandolins, drum machines, and strings. The three tracks already released earlier this year, ‘Blossom’, ‘Heaven’ and ‘Now You’re Alone’ sparked excitement, as we caught a glimpse of the dynamic range of the album. Opening the album is the short and gentle track ‘The Man I Admire’, which introduces some of the main themes as Shaddad explores feelings of compliance in sour relationships. Following on, we hear folk-pop sounds with soft grungy undertones on ‘Heaven’ and ‘Fine & Peachy’, intertwined with infectious guitar hooks and intimate lyrics that allow the artist's personality to shine through. Similarly, ‘In The Morning (Grandmother Song)’ is a delicate number, with intricate instrumental work that illuminates the sombre tone, before lifting alongside Shaddad’s mesmerising vocals. Back to Contents
Lulling us into the depths of the album, tracks like ‘The Woman You Want’, ‘Waiting Game’ and ‘Tired of Trying’ introduce us to the kaleidoscopic influences that make this such a vivid listening experience. Experimenting with electronic sounds and animated guitar work, ‘Waiting Game’ and ‘Tired of Trying’ edge themselves along with a dramatic intention. These tracks give the album an ominous feel that recalls the sounds of acts like Portishead and Björk. Taking us through the seasons, the album finishes with the dainty and uplifting ‘Blossom’, which matches its spring-like title and reinforces the sense of things coming together. The Woman You Want is out June 16th on Rosemundy Records / Wow Words by Aisha Fatunmbi-Randall
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NOVA EP: WWND?
Coming off the back of the 2020 Scottish Album of the Year award, Nova seems to be riding a tidal wave when it comes to making moves in the world of Scottish hip-hop, and quite frankly is a one-of-a-kind artist at the moment. Her new EP WWND? (What Would Nova Do?) is a clear-cut example of an artist exploring new melodic terrains, and the payoff demonstrates real versatility. The 6-track EP deviates from the bar-spitting confrontational grime sounds of the award-winning album RE-UP, to a cleaner mixture of low-end 808 drums and snappy hooks delivered with trap and Afro-Caribbean beats. Nova, real name Shaheeda Sinckler, provides the conceptual goods, with producer $1000 Wallet at the helm. The track listing mirrors the artist’s aspirational goals, after becoming the first grime artist and also the youngest person to win the SAY award in its 9-year history. WWND? comes with a bit of something for everyone; although there’s a showcasing Nova’s true lyrical prowess, it more than makes up for it with its melodies and beats, creating what are certified club bangers. From the thundering RnB rhythms of 'Get Bands' to tropical chopped flows in 'Stay Blessed', the EP offers a lot in terms of being both artistic and adventurousonly to be further fortified by the eerie auto-tune on 'Be Free' that pulsates sheer Kanye energy. The real cream of the crop, however, comes in the form of ‘Lift Up’, an irregular breakbeat rhythm that floats back to the sounds of the garage era-defining anthem ‘Flowers’ by Sweet Female Attitude. This will leave you fondly reminiscent of those dingy, sweaty, basement nightclubs, with enough of a tune to get anyone two-stepping. Back to Contents
And where better to place one of Scotland’s top hip-hop artists than at the forefront of the SAMA’s HANG (Hip-hop Aimed Networking with Grime) discussion? You can catch Nova on 31st July alongside fellow genre pioneers Ransom FA and Darren McGarvey, as they look to inspire and empower hip-hop communities throughout the country. Undoubtedly, it’ll be a great conversation, with an artist whose career trajectory is following a similar path to fellow SAY award winners Auntie Flo and Young Fathers. WWND? is out on Bandcamp via Nova Scotia The Truth Releases Words by Paul McTaggart
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ALBUM: WHAT IF THEY TRIGGER A MEMORY? Glaswegian producer Ty Lumnus returns with his first solo release since 2019’s Decompression EP. New album What If They Trigger a Memory? is so good that you shouldn’t just go and immediately find a way to listen to it; it should be available on prescription. Dripping in complimentary cascades of synths, there’s something reminiscent of Orbital in the way chiming, shamisen-like sounds bounce around enormous buzzy pads. There’s also a lot to admire in the relative sparsity of beats across the record. Some tracks meander without a hint of a kick drum, others force up the heart rate with inventive fills and driving rhythms. The result of this could’ve been a narrative mess, but each track flows into the next like a journey using multiple forms of transport that haven’t yet been invented. The atmospherics in tracks like ‘Infinite Consumption Will Ruin Us’, the subtly shifting snare patterns in ‘Tempered, To Allow Some Time’ and the clever use of tonal noises as shadowy beats in closer ‘Enough To Excite The Mass’ will give you enough of a sonic palette for three records, yet they all somehow combine to make one of the cleverest extended soundscapes you’ll hear this year. What If They Trigger a Memory? is immediately reminiscent of the decadesdeep sound of underground Glasgow. That’s not to say this is a collection of 3am bangers – it’s a thoughtful chunk of noir electronica from roughly four years in the future. But it’s unmistakably a product of its environment, if not of its time. What If They Trigger a Memory is out now on Bricolage Words by Stephen McColgan
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VICTORIA McNULTY SPOKEN WORD FILM: EXILES
From artist Victoria McNulty comes this stunning spoken word film, directed by poet and theatre maker Kevin P. Gilday and filmed for the screen by David Hayman Jnr. The film explores the urban history of the city of Glasgow, telling stories of the underdogs of society, those who felt unheard and misrepresented. Her words bring to light questions such as: What really matters in life? Why are the voices which are heard not the voices that should be heard? Exiles delves into the class system of the city and how the events of Glasgow's history ultimately shape its past, present and future. McNulty said of the film: ‘Exiles is a eulogy for a forgotten city and a caution for a future that is already here.’ The film is rich in poetic excellence, from McNulty’s performance to the way the story unfolds on screen. Her realism and exploration of societal Glasgow stands as a must-see, not only for lovers of spoken word, but also for anyone who seeks to understand, to stand for what is right, and to listen to the words of people who have to fight to be seen. Exiles is available to stream on The Stand's On Demand website Words by by Ross Wilcock
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IMOGEN STIRLING SINGLE: SPEAK
Imogen Stirling, writer, poet, performer, and playwright, returns to the music scene with spoken word piece, ‘Speak’. It was written as a creative response to her involvement with this year’s Paisley Book Festival where she was the event’s first ever Writer in Residence. The poem speaks of the power within words; a message of hope in a time where life has been difficult for us all. Imogen spoke about the piece ‘It is rooted in the power of speech: trusting your own voice and your ability to communicate during a time where the media influence is strong, at times overwhelming, and community is fragmented.’ 'Speak' is strong and captivating, rooted in empowerment, paying homage to Paisley's rich, radical history. Imogen’s bold performance, backed by dramatic and characterful instrumentation by Michael Hamilton, is a delight. ‘Speak’ is available to stream now Spotify Words by Ross Wilcock
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POETRY COLLECTION: SCENES FROM A GOD MOVIE
Glasgow-based David Linklater has published a third poetry collection, his second with homegrown indie press Speculative Books. A graduate of the University of Glasgow’s MLitt Creative Writing programme, Linklater was shortlisted for the 2020 Edwin Morgan Award, and in 2015 was recipient of a Dewar Arts Award for poetry. Scenes from a God Movie is a thoughtful, seemingly delicate array of poems, but once you delve deeper there’s flesh on the bones. Evocative, with a deft, Millennial-ish touch of irony, the collection spans topics such as the pull of the heart between city and countryside, misremembered dreams, environmental panic, and the bright lull of an Orcadian ferry trip. The collection begins with ‘For Your Information’, an exploration of the body as dissection subject and of half-forgotten childhood events. There’s a surgeon-like dismembering of the past, with parts and memories set out for inspection: ‘my appendix removed / because it was stuffed like a goose / my heart laid flat on the ironing board / because that’s just what happens sometimes.’ Taken as a whole, the poems are finely attuned to the relationship between nature and the body: the workings of our inner lives, mind and nerves and organs, and how they’re presented to the world. We see this again in ‘A Heap of Stories’, which has a still, fathomless feel: a pool is a ‘stomach of green histories’ and the hillside painted ‘orange, vein-blue / a breath of wind milking branches / throwing leaves, dancing grasses.’
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‘The Bee Lady’ is a golden gem of a poem. The quiet, devotional hum of the hive is beautifully recreated, with the beekeeper’s covered head ‘floating in a mesh of air’. As the hive’s acolytes are gently roused and smoked out, we see plumes unfurl into the ‘calligraphy of the ashen ceiling’. ‘Found These Synchronicities’ slams into view with an impression of whitepainted bulk: HM Hamnavoe as a vast metal beast, barrelling across the sea with passengers in its guts like swallowed souls. There’s intensity here too, as the ‘pilgrim’ tourists at Orkney’s Ring of Brodgar ‘circle with kisses’. Later, in the dark belly of the boat, a neat bed is unmade and there are ‘archaic shapes / with lips like a roof to keep the fire in’. Elsewhere, in ‘Dearest Multitudes’, we’re forced to reflect on our own sickness. The human race is ruinous and selfish, with decay and infection our inevitable reward. We’re ‘sugar on a rotten tooth’, and the world is reduced to a scrambling, panicking mass: ‘Earth with her hair/tangled in an illness, faculties dislocated.’ For obvious reasons, it hits close to the bone. Scenes from a God Movie is an accomplished collection, with a smoothing of the rough edges you’d expect from a poet who’s developing their finesse. There’s still enough of a rawness to draw you in and hold you there, though. And if we’re being truthful, I don’t ever want anything else from poetry. Scenes from a God Movie is out now, published by Speculative Books Words by Leona Skene
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ALAN WARNER BOOK: KITCHENLY 434
There are some writers whose work isn’t easily categorised, who try something new each time, refusing to simply repeat past successes. Alan Warner is undoubtedly one such writer. From his acclaimed and muchloved debut novel Morvern Callar, he has kept readers guessing – not only from novel to novel, but often within the novels themselves. His latest, Kitchenly 434, is a return to a more unexpected and experimental style, recalling earlier novels These Demented Lands and The Man Who Walks. Like those, it's more about the writing than the story. It does feature regular Warner tropes, such as left-field musical references, central characters who find it difficult to ‘fit in’, actions which could either be innocent or sinister, unconventional relationships, quirky and memorable characters, and an uncanny attention to detail which places the period precisely – in this case, 1979. As regular readers would expect, there are passages which are beautifully written, even, or perhaps especially, when not that much happens. The plot, such as it is, is about one man’s attempt to adapt to an ever-changing world as his protected bubble of an existence threatens to pop.
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The central character, Crofton Clark, has been looking after Kitchenly Mill Race, a baronial country getaway belonging to Marko Morell, star guitarist in ‘70s rock giants ‘Fear Taker’, since 1973. With Marko and his family regularly on tour or at one of their other homes, Crofton is left to manage the estate, seeing himself as ‘faithful retainer’ rather than simply the steward. Crofton is a man out of time, leading a sheltered life as the often bleak Britain of the 1970s moves through its cultural, social, and political changes. When the brave new world arrives at the gates of Kitchenly Mill, his reaction is that of a child looking to fit in with new friends and once again belong. It’s very funny, excruciating at times and verging on the slapstick at others. If you are honest, you may recognise something of yourself in Crofton Clark, and you may not like it. Kitchenly 434 is a novel that never allows you to settle; which makes sense, because with Alan Warner, you should always expect the unexpected. Kitchenly 434 is out now, published with White Rabbit Books Words by Alistair Braidwood Photo credit: Gemma Day Email: email@example.com Page 139
ALAN GILLESPIE BOOK: THE MASH HOUSE
Alan Gillespie is a writer and teacher from Fife who has studied at the Universities of Stirling, Glasgow, and Strathclyde. In 2011 he was awarded the Scottish Emerging Writer residency at Cove Park. The Mash House is his debut novel, notable for being fully crowdfunded by publishing platform Unbound.
A thriller set in the fictional village of Cullrothes in the Scottish Highlands, The Mash House is dense with nods towards the genre. It's a pacey, island-set crime novel that renders readers invested with a brilliant tale that successfully alludes to the darker, less picturesque side of the Highlands. And this is where our attention is turned: a close community bound together by the local distillery, drugs, and derangement. The Mash House centres around couple Alice and Innes, who move to the village for a teaching job and a cosy cottage for rent. It’s not long before Innes becomes a known face, managing the local pub; but in doing so, feels disrespected and derided. In the same village, aggressive distillery owner Donald floods the countryside with narcotics alongside his single malt. When his son goes missing, he becomes haunted by an anonymous American investor intent on purchasing the Cullrothes Distillery by any means necessary.
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Schoolgirl Jessie, who briefly assists Innes in the pub, is trying to get the grades to escape to the mainland, while Grandpa counts the days left in his life. There are many weaves to the tapestry of this tale, and Gillespie succinctly captures the close-knit nature of these types of communities. Gillespie describes Cullrothes as being akin to many villages in this particular area of Scotland. It’s one of those places where the mountains are overwhelming and the loch freezes over in winter, stunning yet sombre in its duality. A place with only one road in and out. We all know those islands, where we endure long storms, furious midges, and dreadful phone signals, right? Let’s not forget the tourist trap distillery amongst it all. The police are compromised, the journalists deceptive, and the seemingly innocent folk of Cullrothes have agendas, motives, and secrets. We as readers are as keen to unearth these as we are invested in the destiny of the village and its distillery. The Mash House is a brilliant debut work, a page-turner of a thriller which motivates the reader to inhale more of its amber beauty and malicious characters, none of which are without their own hidden skeletons (some more literally than others). A confident first novel, it's intriguing to wonder what Gillespie will come up with next. He fleshes out the characters just enough to leave the reader invested; the four hundred-plus pages seem appropriate. Gillespie’s descriptions of the close-knit community, nestled within what can be an isolated way of life, are vivid and visceral, and will spur you to read on. The Mash House is out now, published by Unbound Words By Keira Brown Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Page 141
FETCH IT YOURSELF
FETCH IT YOURSELF Stardew Valley
Bars, pubs, cinemas, and restaurants are back open, in some capacity, and with this lots of folk are back to work. Getting told to do seemingly random shit for little-to-no thanks – this is something that some gamers love doing in the virtual world. A fetch quest is a quest or side-quest which sends you across the map, chasing some MacGuffin (a random item which only exists to further the story), if you're lucky. You fetch it, you bring it back, and that’s it. These quests usually function to let the player see the world, and check out some set pieces. In the grand scheme of things, leaving some of these missions incomplete will not impact your enjoyment of the game at all. Big, large -scale RPGs, or games that use lots of those game mechanics are often the worst offenders in getting it wrong. Back to Contents
As with real world jobs, some games make it easier to do these little quests – sometimes they’re a great way to explore the world and spend time in the game, sometimes not so much. Dragon Age Inquisition was rife with quests that amounted to the general ‘get five fantasy metal, five fantasy cloth, and kill two monsters’. This turned what could easily be a 30-hour, tight, fantasy RPG, into a huge sprawling chore. But hey, this game has so many quests. Other games have the fetch quest down to a fine art; take Stardew Valley for example, which is made up almost entirely of busy work. While there is obviously a farming system in the game, and a dungeoncrawling combat section, all of these mechanics work towards ticking boxes and filling up bundles. Stardew Valley does a good job of making these tasks fun: if you go and make a gold bar for Clint, the town's blacksmith, he will appreciate it, pay you, and possibly send you a recipe for an item to help on your farm. Sweet – it's nice to be appreciated. If you fill one of the bundles in the community centre you will receive a gift. If you fill each bundle, a bridge will be repaired, or a bus will get fixed, which opens up whole new sections of the game. Here fetch quests expand the game as a whole, not just giving you an item incrementally better than one you already have. Stardew Valley turns the agency of fetch quests on its head, making them the key way in which the game progresses, which completely flips around the expected way these work in games.
Gaming by Dominic Cassidy Page 145
This idea of improving quality of life for the player and actually furthering the game is what is usually missed with the worst in fetch quests; they waste the players time, eating up time and giving you nothing in return. Animal Crossing for example does fetch quests the right way – it makes use of these to allow you further your own experience on the island and let you do more to suit it towards yourself – it is a means to an end. Skyrim makes use of them to show you parts of the world. For example, when you head to Bleak Falls Barrow to grab the Golden Claw which functionally kicks off the main quest, and can be picked up at the first village the game leads you to, this furthers the whole game. But when the scripted quests have been used up you begin to get randomly generated chores, which have so much less depth. You end up repeatedly going somewhere, killing some dudes, collecting something, and heading back to where you started.
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Adventure for a Bit
Breath of the Wild
I suppose, in a way, my considering these thoughts on fetch quests is just a way to distract myself while doing the kind of busy work now expected of me going back to the service industry. Funny, that. No matter how pointless it can feel, you do them because you enjoy playing the game, inhabiting a world which brings you joy and distracts you from the woes of modern life. This is why we are happy to fetch and walk in games; because we do enjoy them – isn’t escapism what video games are kind of about? Finding a good comfy game to sink into and just enjoy is a great feeling, and realising there’s plenty more content to get into can be like hitting a gold mine. Play games you enjoy, and soak them in as much as you can, cause even a padded-out game is better than a good day at work.
Gaming by Dominic Cassidy Page 147
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Scotland's wee what's on, arts & culture magazine WOLF ALICE | JIMMY CAUTY | TAAHLIAH| KIRSTI WISHART | CARLA J EASTON |HER ENSEMBLE
Published on Jun 4, 2021
Scotland's wee what's on, arts & culture magazine WOLF ALICE | JIMMY CAUTY | TAAHLIAH| KIRSTI WISHART | CARLA J EASTON |HER ENSEMBLE