FIND OUT MORE ABOUT GUITARGUITAR

We have been working with guitarguitar on our free short course programme across the year, offering a £50 voucher to anyone who successfully completes the course.
We thought it was would be a great opportunity to share more information on the instrument retailer before the courses round up for the summer. Read on to find out more.

guitarguitar is an employee owned, award-winning musical instrument retailer for players, by players.

Founded by Kip McBay and Graham Bell in Edinburgh in 2004, guitarguitar takes pride in being the UK’s largest guitar retailer. Running for 18+ years and counting with over 160 expert employees, stocking everything a musician could possibly need. Whether you’re beginner, intermediate or rocking the main stage – guitarguitar have got the instrument for you and are here to help you find it.

They have incredible offers available including pre-owned guitars available at a variety of price points. Including benefits such as:

  • 12 month warranty with pre-owned instruments and 90 days for electronic
  • All pre-owned items are inspected, play-tested and set up before resale
  • Condition report and professional quality photography listed for each product
  • Second hand guitars are strung with quality D’Addario strings

For new equipment guitarguitar stock a wide range of acousticelectric and bass guitar brands. This includes leading manufacturers such as Fender, Gibson and Ibanez, as well as lesser-known boutique brands. You can find the full list of brands they stock here.

We recently visited the guitarguitar Edinburgh store and enjoyed a guided tour with their expert team, staff performances, demonstrations and we found out more about the team’s top production picks. Check out some photos from our visit below.

Our last free short courses start Monday 4th July, why not sign up for a course of your choice and be in with the chance of receiving one of our £50 rewards vouchers?

Check out the courses on offer & guitarguitar below.


"Women are at the forefront of UK Hip Hop": Arusa Qureshi Interview

We sat down with Arusa Qureshi, Edinburgh based author of ‘Flip the Script: How Women Came to Rule Hip Hop’, to discuss her life long connection with hip hop, the genres impact globally and closer to home as well as her career pathway, from her role as editor of The List to working with We are Here Scotland.

If you are considering taking part in one of our Rap & Hip Hop or Women in Music short courses coming up in June, make sure to check out Flip the Script as a great starting point to learn more.

Hey Arusa! Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Arusa Qureshi, I’m a writer and editor based in Edinburgh. I write mostly about music, but I also do a lot of work in diversity and accessibility in arts and culture. I used to be the editor of The List and now I’m a freelancer and I write for various places like NME, The Guardian and Gold Flake Paint. And most recently I’ve written a book called ‘Flip the Script: How Women Came to Rule Hip Hop’, which is a love letter to women in hip hop in the UK specifically. 

At the start of your book, there’s a section all about hip hop being your safe haven and drawing the reader in with sharing your own connection with music from a young age, why don’t you tell us about that.

So hip hop is something that I’m really passionate about. Growing up, just seeing those women on TV owning their confidence really did something for me. It’s not just a genre of music, it’s more than that. It’s a cultural movement and it’s something I do love to analyse and write about and delve into the political and cultural aspects of it. I’ve written quite a lot about American hip hop and the roots of the genre. But I wanted to shine a light on what women in the UK were doing because I really feel like women are at the forefront of innovations that are happening in hip hop. 

Yes, hip hop started in the Bronx, but it has travelled the world and it’s morphed and picked up things as it’s traveled. So, I’m really interested in where we are in the UK at the moment.  

You can sense that lifelong connection, what really kicked off writing the book for you back in 2020?

Both the Scottish Album of the Year Award and the Welsh Music Prize were both won by women rappers, that’s Nova (SAY Award) and Deyah (WMP). It felt like we were in a really exciting period, that there was something special going on and I wanted to capture it in some way, and that’s what the book was. 

You talk in the book about writing your dissertation on hip hop in 2015 and being strongly advised against it by your lecturers. What was that experience like?

My tutors didn’t see hip hop as a genuine art form. Which made me sad at the time and it still does thinking about it. But I went ahead and did it and I’m really glad I did because it really ignited this passion in terms of writing about hip hop and writing about the political aspects of music. 

Personally, I think, in the UK we’re still a little bit behind America in relation to hip hop in academia, things are definitely much further ahead. I think partly because when Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018, that was just a huge deal because hip hop was finally entering this sphere of being like a real art form, of being really respected. 

I really do think even though it is born in New York, hip hop represents and tells you a story about very specific communities or groups of people, people with a very specific political history. And for that reason, it should be taken seriously. 

The Academy of Music and Sound is proud to be the developers of the first Rap & Hip Hop pathway and short course into full time higher education in Scotland. Find out more about the educational opportunities we have on offer here.

Absolutely, we’ve seen a large scale shift in the media and education even in the past few years. What has your career looked like since finishing up your degree?

I went on to do a Masters at Napier in magazine publishing. I don’t think that doing a masters is the most important thing in the world at all. But it was the right choice for me at the time. I was really lucky that I got a scholarship to do it. So, because I was so grateful to be there, I really put myself forward for absolutely everything. I took advantage of all the free tickets that we got to conferences and events. I really didn’t close myself off from any experience that came my way. And I was interested in writing and editing, but I was willing to try out different things in that industry. The List had an opening and I just wanted to learn everything I could. I gradually became a part of the content team, and then in 2017 the editor was leaving. I applied for her job and somehow, I got it. And I say that because it was unexpected at the time. Unfortunately, because of COVID, my role as editor was made redundant in August 2020.  

That must have been really tough.

Yeah, I was at the company for almost five years in total. So, it was horrible. But I became a full time freelancer shortly after. And I’ve been doing that since, and I’m really grateful to say that it has worked out. I’ve been able to do all kinds of different things. So, like, writing for publications like NME and The Guardian and and Time Out. And I’ve done some radio work, and I worked on a BBC podcast for a little bit. And then I wrote a book. And none of that would have happened if I hadn’t lost my job.  

You’ll have built up a number of transferable skills in your time in the industry. That’s kind of what our short courses are about, giving people the chance to discover something new or up-skill. Which has been vital for so many creatives.  

I think first of all, what you’re saying about the short courses, that kind of thing is so perfect for if you are wanting to just build on what you already have or you know what you don’t have in terms of skill sets. Over the past two years it’s things like that I really looked out for I guess to try just push myself in different ways in the industry. It’s sometimes the case that you think you’re good at one thing and you can’t really do anything else but there’s so many things you could do with the skills that you have and that’s really what I’ve learned over the past two years. 

Do you think your transferable skills made the transition to freelancing easier?

I took the time to try all opportunities that came my way. It’s about really looking at the skills that you have and seeing what else you could use them for. And I think in terms of the skills I had from my earlier job, being organised, attention to detail and good with deadlines honestly helps me in everything I do. I think you have to really think outside the box a little bit when you’re looking at what you could use your skills for. You might think, “well, I’m a writer, so I can only write.” 

But you can work in TV, you can work in radio, you can work in film. You can work in all kinds of things. It’s just about being open to trying things. 

Would you say there are any resources you’ve used specifically to find hip hop opportunities throughout your career?

When it came to just looking for opportunities and applying for jobs, I subscribed to a lot of different newsletters that were free to subscribe to. They would send out regular specifically writing opportunities, but also ones that would say whether there was a role in the music industry for example, and it was just a good thing to keep getting that in my inbox. Just to remind me that there are things out there in terms of resources for hip hop. I really wish there was more written about just hip hop generally, but also specifically about women and hip hop. And there is a lot of written about it in in the US, but not as much in the UK. 

You can look at my bibliography in the book, which has everything that I read and that will give you a really good idea of resources in the genre. 

Are there any organisations to look into too?

I think it’s also worth drawing attention to another organization I work for called ‘We Are Here Scotland’, which is basically all about amplifying voices of creatives of color in Scotland and we do various things. We’ve been working on a creator fund, so artists of color in Scotland can apply for £500 bursaries for things like equipment or studio time or something like that. And I think it’s been a really good resource so far because as well as the fund we offer mentorship. I think mentorship is one of the most important things for people starting out. 

“Hip Hop is not just a genre of music, it’s more than that. It’s a cultural movement.”

That sounds incredible, having even 1 person in your corner can make such a difference.

Absolutely! And not just for people who are just starting out, but even people who are further on in their careers. Just being able to speak to people who’ve made that step or done what you’re looking to do. It is just so important that you’re getting the advice from somebody that has already been there and done. It can be totally valuable. 

Tell us a little more about We Are Here Scotland.

We Are Here was founded by Ica Headlam, and the project was initially funded through crowdfunding and now has received Creative Scotland funding to support the next round of people and it’s just been so great so far. The first round of people who got the funding, that was a little while ago, they’re all in their process of using that money and doing the mentorship and stuff and it’s really cool to see. £500 isn’t a huge amount of money to some people, but for somebody just starting out when you’re looking for materials or you’re looking to even just pay yourself to be able to do a project, it can be so important.  

We’re just trying to demystifying things a bit and help people that maybe think that they don’t belong in not just the music industry, but the wider creative industries. We want to really show that there is a place for them. And there’s people here to help. 

That’s really incredible. How do you feel about Hip Hop in the UK right now?

I’m honestly so proud of where we are at the moment when it comes to hip hop in Scotland. Hip Hop in the UK is always traditionally revolved around London and that’s makes sense because it’s kind of where it started in the UK. But there’s so much going on beyond London and the levels of talent that we have in all regions is just insane. I feel like hip hop & offshoots like grime and drill etc. are thriving. We can’t just look to London automatically as the place to find the best of the next big talent. Nova winning the SAY Award, I think that meant a huge amount to the Scottish music industry and just to the industry taking hip hop seriously and even beyond Scotland this. 

You know it is a hugely respected and really popular genre. There is a statistic in my book, I think it was from 2020 or 2021 that states, hip hop accounts for over a fifth of all UK singles consumption, which is like a sixfold increase on 1999 and that’s huge. 

Before you go Arusa, why don’t you share what’s in your playlists at the moment? Who are some of your favourite artists right now?

In Scotland I love BEMZ, Washington, Clarissa Woods and The Honey Farm. Elsewhere, I love Lil Simz and ENNY as well. If anyone is interested in just hearing more hip hop generally in the UK and I made a playlist that goes along with the book, at the moment it’s over 8 hours long, but I keep adding to it as things come out!  

Check out the Flip the Script Playlist here.


If you would like to find out more about the culture of hip hop and rap performance AMS are running a series of short courses across Edinburgh & Glasgow in June. Classes take place across a variety of weekdays and run from 10am-4pm.  We are also running a weekend online Women in Music short course across 3 Saturdays and Sundays from 11th June until 26th June with classes running from 10am-4pm. You can find more information about all our courses below.


Wallpapers for Forms

Meet Scotlands Audio Designers Ahead of The Music & Sound for Games Short Course

Our Music & Sound for Games free short course sets out to allow sound designers to gain experience and learn the essential transferable skills needed when working within this globally recognised sector.

From ‘Grand Theft Auto’ to BAFTA winning ‘Crackdown’, the Scottish game sector has made indispensable contributions to the global games market. The sector is made up of a strongly connected network of freelancers and companies set out to create immersive gaming experiences for each player.

The Academy of Music and Sound looks forward to opening opportunities for people in Scotland aiming to access the sector, and support students as they take their first steps towards a potential career in music & sound for games. 

The online Music & Sound for Games course is free to all Scottish residents over the age of 14. You can find out more information about the course and apply below.

Purple visuals that read ‘free short course, Music & Sound for Games'

We wanted to give a direct insight into working in the games sector ahead of the course. We managed to sit down with two of Scotland’s’ own sound designers, Luci Holland and Kenny Young to discuss working in the games sector. Kenny and Luci have both spent a great deal of time building up their skills and network within the games sector and have worked on some outstanding projects.  

Luci Holland smiling while holding an instrument. Featured interviewee ahead of the music & sound for games short course

Meet the audio designers

Luci not only composed the dynamic score for Blazing Griffin‘s multiplayer-stealth game Murderous Pursuits, but she has worked as a freelance composer and sound artist across games, film and interactive sound installations for over 10 years. She also runs her own UK game show, ‘The Console’ on Scala Radio along her freelance Programme Manager position within Glasgow’s own, Tinderbox Collective. While Luci enjoys working on all types of music for media, it was playing games like LoZ: Ocarina of Time, Broken Sword, and The Secret of Monkey Island as a child that first hooked Luci into music, and music & sound for games especially. 

Kenny Young, music & sound for games specialist

 

 

For Kenny, his combined interest in how sound and the moving image worked together, and games and technology made audio for games feel like the best fit for him. Considering a career in both film and gaming, the latter won due to the nature of the film industry being less appealing than that of sound design for games. Kenny has worked on an impressive variety of projects. From running the audio department of Media Molecule for many years and developing sound experiences such as ‘LittleBigPlanet’ and ‘Tearaway’, to working with Sony Japan on Astro’s Playroom, Kenny may be part of the Scottish industry, but his work truly reaches the international market.  

When asked if there was anything in particular that interested them in audio for gaming, they had the following to share:  
Luci

“There are a lot of things that I find fascinating about games audio, but I find just the puzzle of making interactive experiences quite inspiring – for example the process of figuring out what role the player has when interacting with the game, and how the sound is shaped to respond to this in interesting and immersive ways.”

Kenny

“It’s challenging to create an interactive audio experience, so if you enjoy working with and wrangling technology then that’s part of the draw. You definitely need to have good problem-solving skills, and a love of technology absolutely helps.

There are other tangential benefits that come with the complexity of making games such as the need for teamwork, and the industry is therefore intrinsically rather collaborative, relatively flexible and often quite meritocratic in nature. The audio community has a reputation for being welcoming to newcomers, perhaps because it has always had such a high percentage of freelancers and so the support and social networks tend to be strong.” 

They also shared their pathways into the games industry. 
Photo Credit: Scala Radio
Luci

“I’ve probably been more largely involved in the games industry for about 5 years now, working as a freelance composer for studios and independent developers. Outside of games though I’ve been working as a freelance composer and musician for around 10 years.  

My path has been a big mix of work but with a focus on composition both in and out of games – I’ve worked on creative commissions and collaborations, recordings, performances, with local arts organisations, some teaching, and various other mixed artform projects.  

Within the games world as I have built a portfolio of work and gained more experience, I’ve connected and built more relationships with more game developers and other creative studios, both locally and further afield.” 

Kenny

“I’m originally from Edinburgh and had a musical background, playing violin and guitar as a kid and student. I decided not to pursue performance and went on to study Music Technology at Edinburgh Uni, before going on to study a master’s degree in Sound Design at Bournemouth.  

Outside of my studies, I spent the year of my MA really focusing on researching the industry and trying to get a job in games, and I was fortunate enough to go straight into a junior sound design position with Sony London Studio in 2004. I left Sony in 2007 to start up the audio department at Media Molecule, which is when I began writing and contributing more music in addition to my sound design and audio direction duties. 

I decided to go freelance in 2015 and moved back to Scotland at the end of 2020. So, geographically speaking, I’m absolutely part of the Scottish industry now, but my work is international, and I haven’t worked with any Scottish developers yet. I’m sure I will one day!”


the best work comes not from talented individuals but from talented individuals collaborating. Collaboration has shaped and informed my career. - Kenny Young

As we are launching a new educational pathway of audio for games, we were curious to hear Kenny and Luci’s opinions on education in their specialist field.  
Luci

“It’s great to see more local institutions exploring and teaching more in this field – I would love to see game music composition and audio become a thriving creative hub here in Scotland, showcasing the importance of these roles and helping to continually advance both games audio and games themselves.”

Kenny

 “Outside of learning bread and butter topics, I think the most important thing I got from my studies was inspiration. Not just in terms of studying the best of what had come before, but also the context in which it had come to fruition – the understanding that the best work comes not from talented individuals but from talented individuals collaborating has shaped and informed my career. 

I think it’s important for students trying to get into the creative industries to know that nobody is going to hire them based on a qualification they have. The point of studying is to learn new skills so you can level up and apply yourself in a relatively efficient manner. The trick is being able to show the fruits of that to prospective employers or clients. So, your portfolio is crucial, and you need to take every opportunity you can to add to it and make a real effort to work on projects with other people rather than just personal projects because this will help you to grow the collaboration and communication skills that are necessary to succeed.”

We all have a connection with games in one way or another, whether it’s a memory from a long time ago or a current favourite hobby. We were keen to know the first use of audio in a game that really caught Luci and Kenny’s attention and what their favourite soundtrack / score or use of audio effect is now.
Luci

“One memory that comes to mind is a simple one, but it was probably the first time I really took notice of reactive music – it was while playing Pikmin and noticing the interactive musical layers shifting as you explored the level! Different instrumental layers play based on whether you are near treasure, or enemies – very satisfying.  

In terms of favourites, that’s such a tricky one to answer as I have so many and it’s also constantly changing! I’m a huge fan of these scores:  

  • Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (Jessica Curry),  
  • LA Noire (Andrew Hale & Simon Hale),  
  • EverQuest II (Laura Karpman),  
  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (Mikolai Stroinski),  
  • Kingdom Hearts (Yoko Shimomura),  
  • The Last Guardian (Takeshi Furukawa) and 
  •  Hollow Knight (Christopher Larkin) 

Those are some regular favourites I constantly return to.” 

Kenny

“I have fond memories of PC games in the 90s – Doom, Sim City 2000, X-Wing, Wing Comander III amongst many others. Messing about in Doom level editors was my first introduction to game engines and design tools. But Deus Ex stands out as a particularly formative experience – it really sucked me in with its branching story line, use of gameplay as narrative and Alexander Brandon’s wonderful, evocative music. 

Ah, there’s so much good stuff! Off the top of my head, I’d say my favourite soundtracks were Monkey Island 2, the Portal games, Martin Stig Andersen’s amazing work at Playdead on Limbo and Inside, Austin Wintory’s music in Journey. All great scores but, more importantly, all great games with the audio experience contributing significantly to the end result. 

 And that’s a key point – the job of the composer is not to “write music” it’s to contribute towards the music experience as part of the wider player experience. It’s all too easy at the beginning of your career to focus on the technical side of writing music but writing music that fits an experience is a whole other skill and you need to develop that muscle and understanding too.”

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Make sure you check out what Luci and Kenny are working on at the moment over on their socials.  

Luci Holland

 Twitter | Facebook | Website

Kenny Young

Twitter | Facebook | Website

 

Apply now for the Music & Sound for Games free short course.


AMS Student using Manson Guitar Works Guitar

Manson Guitar Works Gift AMS Exeter Iconic Guitars

Manson Guitar Works has supplied iconic instruments to some of the music industries’ biggest names. From Muse to Led Zeppelin to Foo Fighters, Manson have crafted guitars that have played a part in entertaining audiences all over the world. As much as Manson has a global influence, after being based in Devon since the 1980’s, they have a connection to music much closer to home.  

Manson Guitar Works is a long-term supporter of the arts and music education, reflected in their recent generosity in the form of a guitar donation for the use of our AMS Exeter students.

This donation offers our students the opportunity hone their craft using some of the best quality instruments available. Learning skills that will take them forward into their musical careers. We could not be more thankful to Manson Guitar Works for this outstanding gesture.

We spoke with co-owner of Manson Guitar Works, Adrian Ashton recently about his time in the music industry, working with Manson and the generosity the company has shown to AMS.  

When asked about the motivation behind the donation, Ashton had the following to share: 

“We’ve always supported music education and the arts. Having a recent tour of the AMS premises and seeing familiar faces reminded us of the importance of collaboration between all the music industries. No new musicians means no new guitars!

We created an allocation of instruments that can be donated to charities and institutes that normally have a musical theme. So it made perfect sense to equip the AMS sites with some instruments that can take a lot of use and being played every day. It’s great seeing the instruments in the academy, Jon Wilson, Exeter manager was a student of mine in the past, it just all made perfect sense.”

As well as Manson’ joining us on campus, members of staff from AMS Exeter were also welcomed into the Manson Workshop earlier this month. Having a tour of the premises and seeing the instruments being made was a unique experience for our team.

Check out some behind the scenes images below.

Ashton is actually a bassist, not a guitarist some may be surprised to know. When asked about why he chose to pursue the bass as his instrument of choice he said: 

“My early music influence was punk rock and, in my view, all the exciting players in that genre were playing the bass guitar. JJ Burnel from The Stranglers, played very intricate lines, but you could also include Paul Simonon of The Clash, Paul Gray of The Damned and many others.

Once set on the bass, the legends of technical bass appeared on my radar, including of course the late, great Jaco Pastorius, who really set the bass world on fire. It served me well at B.I.T. where every live playing workshop required a bass player but with a mix of 40 guitarists to each bass player you found yourself getting to perform 10 or more times over the guitar students at the college. Definitely a plus for bass.

I really enjoy bass and have been fortunate enough through founding Bass Guitar Magazine to have met and spoken to almost every one of my bass heroes. On one occasion I interviewed Billy Sheehan of Mr. Big, Steve Harris of Iron Maiden and John Entwistle of The Who in the same morning. I’ll never forget that!

Being musically educated helped my journalism career.  When professional players knew I could talk their language, I could earn their respect and create a more successful interview. “How do you solo through a II, V, I progression?”, usually gets more respect than, “What star sign are you?” Music education gives you that.” 

AMS Student using Manson Guitar Works Guitar

Ashton not only studied music at Berklee College of Music and The Bass Institute of Technology in Los Angeles but also obtaining a degree in Law. We thought it would be interesting to share Ashton’s insights on music education how it has effected his career.  

“I’ve spent a good time in music education, with courses at Berklee College of Music and The Bass Institute in Los Angeles. Whilst there is always the time-tested and, if you make it, great alternative of just joining a band and hoping you’ll be successful, music education allowed me to gain skills I probably wouldn’t have got that way; plus, at 27 I was already past my sell-by date! Whilst establishing my business, music education allowed me to get sight-reading gigs, teach, write for magazines, and set up my own music school, which as well as being great fun, allowed me to have an income. Performing at the school was also a great way to get ready for gigs in styles that I wasn’t so familiar with such as jazz, big band and blues.”

Image: Jolyon Holroyd Photography

We were also curious about his career highlights from his time working within Manson Guitar Works. He shared the following:  

“There have been so many moments I’ve had working with artists and the team here that occasionally I do have to stop and just remind myself of how great the music business can be. I am not sure I can single one moment. Recording with Martin Grech with us both using Manson guitars was a playing highlight, our recent ORYX guitar project with Adam Nolly Getgood has also been an amazing venture. Having Matthew Bellamy as a business partner makes each day exciting; we aim to achieve new heights in the business as he does with his music. They all sit equally with coming to work with a small but really dedicated team I’m super proud of.”

 ___________________________________________

This donation from Manson Guitar Works is one of those moments within our team here at AMS that has made us stop and consider how genuinely great the music industry can be, as Ashton has said. We know that for our students at AMS Exeter, this donation could spark a new sense of inspiration, leading our students to play something new and exciting for the first time. 

To find out more about the history of Manson Guitar Works and their outstanding clientele base, head over to their website & socials.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Twitter


steg g reccomends loki empress stanley odd

Steg G recommends. . .

During our recent interview with the Scottish hip-hop artist and academic Steg G, Steg recommended to us a few of his favourite Scottish rappers, hip-hop artists and musicians. A mini who’s-who of Scottish hip-hop for those who hadn’t heard it before. We’ve listed his top 3 here. Scroll down to find out where to go first for your Scottish hip-hop fix….

Empress

Empress is one of Scotland’s finest female MC’s. With an impressive freestyle repertoire, and an empowering stage presence – she really knows what she’s doing. Having collaborated with the likes of Steg G and Loki, Empress is really making waves in the scene, and we can be sure to expect great things from her in the near future. With a great flow, beats and rhymes, she is a natural talent and we’re excited to see what she bring to the stage next. As Steg says, she’s simply a “fire rapper”.

Listen on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, or Spotify.

Steg G on Impress Quotes

Stanley Odd

Stanley Odd are an experimental and alternative hip-hop collective. They are know for playing around with and combining instrumentation, with samples, loops and raps. It’s no surprise Steg recommends them as one of our 3 go-to artists.

Formed in 2009, the band have supported acts such as Arrested DevelopmentSage Francis and The View, and played at major Scottish festivals T in the Park and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party. Their first album was released in May 2010 on Circular Records. Their self-released follow-up, Reject, was shortlisted for Scottish Album of the Year Award 2013, and A Thing Brand New in 2014.

See more on their website.

Steg G on Stanley Odd Quotes

Loki The Scottish Rapper

Loki (AKA Darren McGarvey) might be best known now for is TV and media appearances, plus social work and books, but as Steg reminds us, at his heart he’s a hip-hop head, and a talented one at that.

McGarvey was brought up in Pollok on the south side of Glasgow, and went on to study Journalsim – now well known for his social commentary. Between 2004 and 2006, he wrote and presented eight programmes about the causes of anti-social behaviour and social deprivation for BBC Radio Scotland. McGarvey has worked with youth organisation Volition in the past, teaching young people to rap, and in 2012 he led a workshop as part of a PowerRap competition for schools, encouraging young people to explore important issues through music and language.

But as Steg says, his actual hip-hop is also top tier. And we highly recommend you check it out.

Listen on Bandcamp now.

Steg G on Loki Quotes

ams glasgow may playlist

The AMS Glasgow May playlist is here!

Sunnier times are surely ahead. And with that hope, comes our fresh monthly playlist…

The AMS Glasgow regular staff playlist feature is here once again. This month features some darker sounds, packed with angst about the past, but also some rock and indie bangers, looking forward to the future and a brighter day. A playlist for the country’s mood right now? As usual, we’re featuring Glasgow and Scotland’s best up-and-coming talent including this time, Dinosaur Pile Up, Ceiti, Tigercub, Nothing But Thieves and Against the Current.

Stay tuned for the next AMS Glasgow playlist coming next month, and look back on previous playlists here.

Listen via Spotify using the player below now.


Steg G interview -hip-hop hip hop is for everyone AMS uk Scotland glasgow edinburgh

Steg G Interview- "The best hip-hop is still to be made"

Words: Isobel Trott

Ahead of the free hip-hop workshop he is running for us on 3rd May, academic, teacher, hip-hop head and musician Steg G took some time out of his hectic teaching and music making schedule to tell us a little bit more about what they can expect from the digital workshop. Steg dives into why teaching hip-hop in various contexts is so important, and gives us some expert knowledge and recommendations on the flourishing and varied Scottish hip-hop scene.


So Steg, what are you up to at the moment? What’s happening for you music-wise?

I’m always working on music and got a few new projects in the pipeline at the moment. About to relaunch my record label as well in the autumn and got quite an ambitious plan for that too. And definitely excited about that.

 

You’re also involved with Sunny G Radio in Glasgow, is that right?

Yeah, I’m the station manager for Sunny G Radio. I love being part of Sunny G, it helps to do a lot of good work for the community. It helps support local artists, it helps to join the dots of community life together, such as [with] musicians, with activists, with community workers, with young people, with older people. I really see Sunny Govan as like a tapestry of Glasgow. We’ve got like a hip-hop element, a folk element, our young people, our old people, our recovery element, you know, it’s just all these different patches that make it a very colourful broadcast. That’s how I like to see it anyway!

Steg G interview -hip-hop hip hop is for everyone AMS uk Scotland glasgow edinburgh

And how’s the fundraising going for Sunny G?

Yeah fundraising is good... Fundraising is always challenging for being a small Scottish charity, we kinda rely on fundraising, even pre-COVID as well we would be quite active fundraising. Sometimes it’s hard to get money for radio activities. Although that’s changed a little bit – changed a lot actually because of COVID, because people now realise the value of radio. Whereas pre-COVID people were sort of bypassing radio for new media, etc, etc, etc. Not realising that accessibility is really, really important. And also what we offer is up to the minute – up to the second – updates, so that people can find out a bit what’s happening.

At the moment we’re [all] thinking about reopening – as in society reopening. So that means certain businesses are reopening. But they’re only maybe half reopening. So we’re hoping to attract some advertising to let the public know ‘this business’ has reopened ‘this day’. But there’s going to be some conditions to that as well.

 

In terms of the hip-hop workshop on 3rd May, you’ve got coming up with us, could you tell people a bit more about that, what it’s going to involve? What they can expect?

Well, firstly, the hip-hop workshops we do with the Academy is fun. You don’t need to have a big, massive, huge experience of making hip-hop or being involved in hip-hop. If you enjoy hip-hop music, that does help a lot, but certainly, we will help participants learn more about how they can refine their rap skills. Maybe they’ve never rapped before and its all about helping them find their voice and give them confidence to express themselves. Because putting yourself out there sometimes – well, it is – it’s really personal. And that can be a big jump for people going from the paper to performing. 

We give people who are maybe a bit more advanced in songwriting and lyric writing some tips, some tricks, some examples about how they can refine what they do. And again, we never really want to the take away from the participants’ creativity, we just want to support them to grow in a direction that suits them. Not everyone wants to be a rapper though, a lot of people want to be involved in hip-hop and find out how to make music or record raps or get into the music production part of it too. So we talk about that. And we show people how they can make music using a phone, or a tablet, or a laptop using free software which is widely available.

I’m a big advocate of music for everybody. That’s one of the things that attracted me to hip-hop initially, the fact that this is music which does not necessarily have a barrier to entry. You don’t necessarily need to save up to buy an instrument. You don’t necessarily need to spend years on your music theory. If you’re creative and you’re passionate and you’re wanting to get involved in music, then hip hop’s always been a great vehicle for that. And I always encourage people to get involved in music because it’s a vehicle for everyone. We live in such a time of technology it has made it… not necessarily dead easy, because you still need to be creative, still need to have good ideas to make music… But the technology can help us to speed up the process, and maybe get rid of a lot of the… a lot of time that we take maybe to even master [things like] playing a guitar. We can bypass that a little bit with technology these days. And that’s not taking away from the music that’s made via technology, the music is still incredible and still very, very expressive and creative. It’s just, I like people to know that music is for everyone. Whether they’ve done music before or are not experienced in music. And hip-hop is a great tool for that.

Free Online Workshop

You’ve run a few short courses for us before. I know you’ve had some interesting people turn up like Karen Dunbar before. What’s the response to those been like?

Oh, yeah, I love the short courses that we do because I never know who’s going to come through the door – metaphorically speaking on Teams at the moment. But I always get inspired by the participants too. I get inspired because they are keen to develop their musicality, and that inspires me to see they have made a jump, a significant jump, to go and get involved in music education and a music training programme.

I’m also very inspired by the diversity of the participants. And of course, there’s young people, there’s older people, there’s celebrities, there’s Reverends, and everything in between. Really to see how such a wide demographic can embrace and get something out of being involved in making hip hop music is dead exciting. And I also almost get an insight into the future of Scottish hip-hop – because I get to see the talent before everyone else does. So I quite enjoy that too.

 

It’s interesting you say there’s been such a broad demographic in attendance and lots of people seem to be interested in it. Do you think hip-hop tends to have a stigma around it? And some people have a certain pre-judgement about it?

Yeah, there’s a stigma. Or, an idea of what people think hip-hop is. Unfortunately, that’s due to mainstream media, sensationalist journalism, etc. The hip-hop that we hear on the radio, see on TV, it’s not really reflective of ‘true’ hip hop. That’s reflecting a mainstream Hollywood record industry style of hip-hop. And not necessarily hip-hop that gets played in people’s houses, or people’s cars or people’s Spotify playlists, you’ll find that’s a lot more underground what people are listening to as well.

I like people to know that music is for everyone. Whether they’ve done music before or are not experienced in music. And hip-hop is a great tool for that.” 


It’s good it’s increasingly being seen as more open. And that hip-hop is being taught more as well!

I think people are seeing themselves reflected back in hip-hop and Scotland as well. For the first time, people are seeing people like myself, people are seeing female MCs, people are seeing transgender rappers, people are seeing older people, younger people, celebrities, all getting involved in it. And not necessarily seeing big gold chains and that model of gangsta rap that we get subjected to a lot. It’s really starting to relate to more people as a vehicle. And people are thinking, ‘I could do this’ or ‘I could use this in my music,’ or ‘I could use this to express myself as well’.

Also, I know that people are sometimes scared to go to hip-hop shows because they don’t know what to expect. They think that crowd is gonna be hostile, or a testosterone-filled environment, which is not a friendly place to be. It’s the total opposite! In Scotland it’s the total opposite. When people do go to these events, they find that everyone appreciates people for coming and [they] want to get involved and to find out more. We don’t have a certain ‘dress code’,  people can look like they want to look. And also the music that people are rapping and performing is relating to a wider audience too. So people might come and they might go and witness a rap battle, but when they go, they realise it’s just normal people having fun, enjoying music, and they’ll tend to bring the friends along the next time. So I definitely see it building.

 

In terms of the Scottish hip-hop scene, from what I can tell it seems like there’s definitely a real underground flourishing scene going on. What are your thoughts on that?

Yeah Scottish hip-hop is at a very exciting place at the moment. It is a little bit behind England. And England is a little bit behind the rest of the world as well [laughs]. We’re also starting to see English MCs like slowthai being critically successful, critically acclaimed with their music [globally], people like Stormzy are always top of the charts. There’s also an underground movement in UK hip-hop as well.

Scotland is a little bit behind that, Scotland has always been a little bit behind on media because of geographic position as well. And maybe a little bit of the ‘Scottish Cringe’ has held us back throughout these years. Scottish people used to hate to hear themselves back in the media. They call it the ‘Scottish Cringe’, and basically we were told – taught by school – that our accents, our voices, sounded lower-class. Because we never used to hear Scottish accents on TV, that’s why I didn’t hear people sing in Scottish accents, the only one that we’d hear was The Proclaimers! Years and years ago. And they would get a lot of slagging for that too.

But you know, there’s always been Scottish bands, from punk to funk, to folk to rock. They all use their own accents now. So we’ve come through quite a transition as a culture, as a society, where we’re embracing our own accents, own words, own identity. And that’s a very very powerful thing. Again, the media, the mainstream things like the BBC saying that you need an Inverness accent – that this is the acceptable Scottish accent. If you live in Pollock in Glasgow, your accent is only on the TV for comedy purposes, mostly at the butt of a joke. Thankfully we have people like Loki now who is challenging that and flipping that narrative on its head now. So exciting times for Scotland for Scottish hip-hop. And I do feel like we are on the cusp of having our first superstars, whoever they may be. I don’t know who that is. Obviously, I did wish I knew who that was [laughs]! But I think we’re on the cusp of that, well, that’s this year or next year, but very soon.

How about yourself, how did you get into hip hop? What introduced you to it?

I got into it because I was always into music, playing guitar. Then I discovered hip hop through breakdancing, through what they call B-boying. But I was really into the music first, the dancing was sort of a reaction to the music. But I loved the fact the music was so different from the music that I was being brought up on. I was brought up on my parents’ music collection and their influences. But when I heard hip-hop it was raw drum machines, samples, and recorders. It sounded like music of my generation. It wasn’t my parents music, it was something that was new, something that was fresh, something that I could get involved in. I always loved a bit of hip-hop, even being a white person from Pollock in Glasgow, I always knew that hip-hop was for everyone because the messages rappers would say – it was always about reflecting their environment, reflecting their community, reflecting their own experiences. And I love that about hip-hop, so I really got into it quite quickly, and stuck to my guns, and said I’m just gonna go blinkered, do hip-hop, and be a hip-hop artist.

 

Which artists acted as your first introduction into hip-hop? Who are your favourites?

I have to say Public Enemy. Public Enemy was a massive influence on me for lots of reasons. They had the Sonics. They had the message. They had the team behind them as well. Public Enemy was a movement. It wasn’t just one person rapping a song, it was – let’s reflect our community, our society, let’s try and change, let’s educate people. And let’s empower people as well.

So I really liked that about Public Enemy. But then technically, Chuck D is a great lyricist, he’s got the voice of power, such a powerful voice – and the production of Public Enemy is so intricate and layered, and dense and musical. But it sounds almost like a wall of sound at some points just due to how advanced they were back in the day. It still really sounds good too. And Public Enemy are still doing great records in 2020 as well, making amazing albums right now. So really, it’s about the day. Lots of people coming up now – far too many probably to list! But then I’m also the kind of person who doesn’t look back too much in hip-hop. I like to look forward and see what’s coming next, what’s coming up right now. I will look back more one day, but not jus’ now.

Yeah. It’s easy to get nostalgic about.

Yeah, I think so! There’s still a lot to be done, that’s what I think. And I think, I mean, I’m optimistic, but I think the best hip-hop is still to be made…

 

In terms of teaching hip-hop and applying it to education and in music schools, what do you think the value of that is? Why hasn’t it been done as much as other areas of music teaching?

Yes. It’s a great question. I guess there’s a few reasons for that. There’s been a stereotype of hip-hop, that it’s derogatory to women, it causes violence, it’s materialistic – that’s not going to work in the classroom. That stereotype straightaway is a block. But again, that’s the element of hip-hop that people experience through the mainstream. So if you are an educator, and you don’t know hip-hop, and you’re only exposed to Tupac, and NWA and Dr. Dre or whoever, then that’s what you’ll think hip-hop is. So it won’t translate to the classroom. But if you experience some of the great lyricists, some of the great hip-hop records, some of the canon of hip-hop, you’ll learn why that’s respected and why it’s part of the canon. Then that certainly can access the curriculum and open up teachers’ minds.

Although teachers are changing. A lot of hip-hop people are now involved in education. Whereas before it was maybe traditional musicians or rock musicians or mainstream musicians that moved into education. Now hip-hop artists are moving into education as well. And not just music education – and not just hip-hop artists! Hip-hop fans can be head teachers, they can be police people, they can be the pillars of our society now. And I know that they are.

Hip-hop’s not a scary thing. And also, it would be silly for teachers and academics not to recognise that’s where the kids are listening to and learning from, in terms of engaging in music. Hip-hop is a massive thing in communities. My experiences in communities in Scotland, hip hop’s a massive thing for young people in communities in Scotland, and I think teachers are kinda catching up on that and thinking, how can we embrace this energy? How can we channel this into positivity and how can we use this as part of our curriculum as well?

I do see pockets in Scotland, like I worked in Peterhead, and Peterhead is a very remote, North of Scotland, fishing Village. I was sent up there to do some work last year. I didn’t know what to expect, but all the kids up there were listening to hardcore drill music! They’re listening to the same music the kids in London are listening to and making the same music. Because of the internet there is no such barrier anymore. There’s not even that time delay. Whereas before, you’d have to wait til a record came out or seen a video on MTV. It’s quite instant now. And it’s great to see the young people up there – and I’m talking people from 8 till 14/15, – kids at that age are really into hip-hop music. And thankfully the teachers up there identified that and knew there wasn’t a lot of educators in that area, so they brought me up to help get the kids a little plan of action and to give them some tips to make their music.

 

It’s sort of taking away those negative attitudes towards it and finding the value in it to teach it as well? It’s such a global thing, it would be silly not to acknowledge its power and its influence?

Yep. What I find myself teaching young people a lot is Literacy as well. Sometimes our Literacy or our English lessons get neglected in school because of the way they’re delivered. People are not interested. But if you talk about some of the poetic techniques that you might learn in English, but learn it in a hip hop context, then you start to learn what alliteration means, what assonance means, you start to learn more about language. And that’s a great skill for young people.

  

Yes! Much more accessible to some kids than just teaching Shakespeare or something?

Yeah, yeah. And that makes young people more confident with using language and grammar. And that obviously gives them some great life skills as well.

 

Like you said, using the patterns and rhythms and rhythms of hip-hop can be used to teach subjects like English too – writing and poetry. As well as they themes and stories a lot of hip-hop talks about can be applied to History and other subjects. It’s great more people are aware of it in that sense, as well as just teaching the music.

Exactly. There’s a lot of life skills to be learned from getting involved in hip hop, like any musical genre, there’s a lot of skills that will benefit people in lots of ways throughout their life.

Is there anything else you’re working on at the moment? 

It’s all top secret the moment! [laughs] – I hate to say it but yeah. No, it’s not top secret, there’s just nothing 100% confirmed at the moment. I’m waiting for a couple of commissions to be confirmed in the next couple of weeks. And then I will know my lay land for the next few weeks. But I’m always keeping busy, I guess my big news is the relaunch of a record label Power Cut Productions to give a home for Scottish hip-hop artists again.

I did notice through my last release – my last release did extremely well in terms of sales and engagement. So I definitely see a growth and interest in Scottish hip-hop and music, but nowhere really promotes and supports and gives home to Scottish hip-hop. So that’s what we’re aiming to do for the winter season.

 

One last thing, if you were to recommend three Scottish hip-hop artists for people to go to and listen to if they hadn’t heard any Scottish rap before, who would you suggest they listen to?

Straight away my mind goes to Empress, Empress being one of the greatest rappers in Scotland. She’s based in Paisley, she just put out an album last year called Love Wins. She’s just a fire rapper. Going to have to say Loki, Loki he just gets better with age like a fine wine you know! Or should we say whiskey in this country! [laughs]. Even though he’s in the public eye in a different light, that’s made his pen game a lot stronger when it comes to hip-hop. Because in his heart, Loki is a hip-hop head, who happens to write books and make TV programmes. But hip-hop is his thing. And really he’s just been phenomenal. I don’t know if the world sees that, but his hip-hop is at top tier at the moment, I think it’s getting overshadowed by his TV and media coverage, etc.

And I’m going to shout out my good friend Dave Hook from Stanley Odd as well. I think that’s three good examples. Stanley Odd are a more…  You can’t really put Stanley Odd in a bracket either, they’re such a great innovative outfit. Poignant lyrics, heartfelt songs, some songs you can just party to as well. So that’d be by three artists. Empress, Loki and Stanley Odd.

Sign up to the upcoming free workshop with Steg G here.

Check out Steg G online: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Words and Interview: Isobel Trott
26 April 2021


Guest playlist: Delaina Sepko on hip-hop, women and gender-balance in radio

Guest playlist, Scottish hip-hop and the best female rappers of all time

We invited Sunny G Radio host Delaina Sepko to write a very special guest blog for us on women and hip-hop – part of a series of features we’re running focused on hip-hop, to mark the start of our new HND hip-hop and rap module. Alongside that, she’s even curated a hip-hop guest playlist for us! It’s an eclectic mix packed with Scottish hip-hop, and classic bangers from some of the best female rappers and MC’s of the past and present – all in the same place. Nice.

Delaina is a music researcher, with her own show on the Scottish radio station Sunny G called ‘Breaks and Beats’. She writes for us about how her passion for hip-hop often conflicts with the sexism engrained in some of it’s content, and how this motivated her to start a gender-balanced hip-hop radio show. Her playlist for us reflects that, a bangin’ mix of Scottish hip-hop’s best talents, and a fantastic array of some of the best female rappers, hip-hopppers and MC’s of all time – the likes of Queen Latifah, Da Brat, Missy Elliot, Lil’ Kim, Roxanne Shante, Salt N Pepa, Little Simz, Eve and Lady Leshurr all feature.

Read her guest blog here, and listen to the playlist in the player below.


About the Author

Delaina Sepko is a music researcher, radio presenter and life-long hip hop head living in Glasgow, Scotland. She trained as a sound engineer at Sarm West under Trevor Horn, Tim Weidner and Robert Orton and was a finalist for the 2005 Music Week Woman of The Year award for being Sarm’s first female assistant engineer. After working with the Pet Shop Boys, Seal, Tinchy Stryder, Transglobal Underground and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly., she earned an MSc and PhD in Information Studies and audio preservation from University of Glasgow. Now she is a contributor to the long form blog Hip Hop Scotland, presents Beats & Breaks on Sunny G Radio every Wednesday from 8-10 PM and uses the show to promote gender equality and showcase Scottish hip-hop.

 

Website: www.dmfresearch.com

Twitter: @delainasepko

Listen to Beats & Breaks archived shows on Mixcloud.


Guest blog: Delaina Sepko on hip-hop, women and gender-balance in radio

Guest blog: Delaina Sepko on hip-hop, women and gender-balance in radio

We invited Delaina Sepko to write a very special guest blog for us on women and hip-hop – part of a series of features we’re running focused on hip-hop, to mark the start of our new HND hip-hop and rap module. Delaina is a music researcher, with her own show on the Scottish radio station Sunny G called ‘Breaks and Beats‘. She writes for us about how her passion for hip-hop often conflicts with the sexism engrained in some of it’s content, and how this motivated her to start a gender-balanced hip-hop radio show.

And she’s even curated a hip-hop guest playlist for us too! It’s an eclectic mix packed with Scottish hip-hop, and classic bangers from some of the best female rappers and MC’s of the past and present – all in the same place. Nice.

In May 2020, while the UK was deep into the first COVID lockdown, I started a hip-hop radio show at Sunny G Radio in Glasgow called ‘Beats & Breaks‘. The show is a mix of 90s American hip-hop, modern tracks that have that vibe, a wide range of Scottish hip-hop artists and a lot of discographical information. Every week, I put on all my hats – sound engineer, hip-hop head, broadcaster and music researcher – to make what I have come to think of as another part of my life-long love letter to hip-hop. The first cassette tape I bought with my own money was Ice T’s O.G. Original Gangster. I was 11 years old and ever since then, most of my jobs or hobbies have included hip-hop in some way. 30 years later, I’m still writing that letter every week with Beats & Breaks. But as a woman, hip-hop hasn’t always loved me back.

While it is not the only genre with misogynistic elements, hip-hop has (arguably more than) its fair share. As a teenager in the 90s, it was common to hear male artists and even a few women rapping about violence against females, sexually using or abusing women, and reducing them to victims, subjects or trash. Dr Dre partly built his career off the back of a “bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks” image. The artwork for Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle graphically depicts the fuck ‘em and leave ‘em attitude that runs through every track on the album. Eminen even rapped about killing the mother of his child and riding around in the car with her body propped up in the front seat. All this was hard to hear as a young woman, and while I didn’t automatically discredit these rappers or others like them for their lyrics – Dre was and still is one of my favourite producers – it felt almost impossible to reconcile what I was hearing with my love of the music. Granted, these are some of the more extreme examples from an era of hip-hop when a lot of male rappers asserted their authority through violence and sexual dominance. Not every artist took this route and if they did, it wasn’t always so extreme or degrading but it was always there. 

delania hip hop

More recently, that overt rhetoric has quieted down and changed to a less violent but equally harmful narrative: ‘she’s good for a female MC/DJ/Engineer/Producer/etc’. Women have always been active in hip-hop and helped build it up from the very beginning. From the late 80s, women like Roxanne Shante, DJ Jazzy Joyce and Baby Love were rapping, DJing and breakdancing alongside and against men and although there were far fewer women taking part, the comparisons were more or less equal. Now there’s a divide between men and women with females working in hip-hop getting paid less, promoted less, praised less and these practices perpetuate the idea that women have less value to the genre. The scales are still tipped in favour of men and after all these years, I still can’t reconcile this imbalance with my love of hip-hop.

Radio airplay is one area where there’s a pretty big imbalance. In August 2020, Linda Coogan Bryne and Womxn In CTRL published Gender Disparity Report: UK Radio that in part surveyed UK airplay of the top 20 songs by domestic artists on commercial stations between 1 June 2019 and 1 June 2020. The report broke down the results by male, female and collaborations and showed that every station assessed gave male artists more airplay than women and some stations were heavily, if not entirely, favouring men. Kerrang! and Absolute Radio, we see you. For example, BBC Radio 1 and BBC 1 Xtra – the two stations in the BBC network you’d be most likely to hear hip-hop – favoured songs by male artists 85% and 76.2% respectively. The effects this imbalance has on female artists are many and profound, with two of the most important being less exposure and less PRS or PPL payments for airplay. Add hip hop’s less than favourable attitude towards women to the general practice of giving women less radio airtime and you’ll find that there aren’t many hip hop shows that play female artists, fewer fronted by female presenters and almost none that present a gender-balanced track list. 

Screenshot 2021-01-06 at 16.05.42

At points during the last 30 years, I thought it would be better for me – particularly my peace of mind and self-esteem – to just give up on hip-hop. Why continue to love the music and to work in the industry when I had to put in 3 or 4 times the effort just to sit at the table and get paid less? Some of the worst experiences I had as a sound engineer came from male hip-hop artists that simply couldn’t stomach the fact there was a woman behind the board for their sessions. Sometimes it was awkward when I was mistaken for the studio’s receptionist. Other times it was demeaning. And only once was the name calling accompanied by physical threats. One bad apple doesn’t spoil the bushel – as my gran used to say – and I agree but it sure does give you the boke when you bite into it. 

Beats & Breaks is a way for me to stop fretting about all the things I feel are off about hip hop and focus on one thing I could do to help put some of it right: even out radio airplay. At first, I thought I’d just programme a gender-balanced track list and that would be good enough. Normalise it, and not make a fuss. But once I saw the Report’s results, I knew I’d have to be more open about what I was doing. I wasn’t just playing music; I was also giving all hip-hop artists an equal footing on the same platform. As far as I can tell, I host the only female-fronted hip hop show in Scotland and Beats & Breaks is the only one with a gender-balanced track list. I want to be wrong about this. I want there to be other shows I haven’t heard about because I don’t want to hold on to this title. 

Screenshot 2021-01-06 at 16.00.42

I understand not every radio presenter has the luxury of playing whatever she or he wants. Commercial stations have much stricter and tighter constraints on what songs their presenters can choose from but as a community radio presenter, I have no such obligations. Beats & Breaks is my opportunity to not just settle the discomfort in my own heart and soul but also to encourage other women to present hip-hop radio shows and generally raise awareness about the airplay imbalance. I realised early on that wasn’t going to happen if I didn’t share what I was doing with Beats & Breaks. I want more women in Scotland involved in hip-hop as MCs, DJs, producers, promoters, sound engineers, radio presenters, event organisers and managers and part of seeing that happen – at least my part – is to reach out to anyone considering those roles and let them know that Beats & Breaks and Sunny G are spaces where the you’ll never be called “good for a female.” 

 

About the Author

Delaina Sepko is a music researcher, radio presenter and life-long hip hop head living in Glasgow, Scotland. She trained as a sound engineer at Sarm West under Trevor Horn, Tim Weidner and Robert Orton and was a finalist for the 2005 Music Week Woman of The Year award for being Sarm’s first female assistant engineer. After working with the Pet Shop Boys, Seal, Tinchy Stryder, Transglobal Underground and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly., she earned an MSc and PhD in Information Studies and audio preservation from University of Glasgow. Now she is a contributor to the long form blog Hip Hop Scotland, presents Beats & Breaks on Sunny G Radio every Wednesday from 8-10 PM and uses the show to promote gender equality and showcase Scottish hip-hop.

 

Website: www.dmfresearch.com

Twitter: @delainasepko

Listen to Beats & Breaks archived shows on Mixcloud.


karen dunbar interview academy of music and sound ams hip hop workshops online

Karen Dunbar on Hip Hop Workshops, the arts, and why she gave up watching the news

Back in November we held a Hip Hop and Rap online workshop with a very special guest in attendance – Scottish legend Karen Dunbar. We were thrilled to find out what a great experience she had on the course, and fascinated to discover about the new community Hip Hop workshops she’s been hosting online since the first lockdown. So we boldly asked her for an interview! 

We chatted in depth about her Hip Hop workshops, which are currently mostly being held online via Zoom. Although it’s been an idea and a passion of hers for a while – the spread the power and positivity and Hip Hop and its empowering spoken word aspect – it was the conditions of lockdown which made it happen. Karen has been working with different community groups, from refugees to venerable young people, to a community theatre group, helping them to devise and create meaningful and personal rap stanzas. She even hopes to one day get their tracks played on the radio, and host a concert to showcase their work.

It was also a chance for us to catch up with Karen about how her lockdown(s) have been. 2020 was a trying year, not least of all for actors and comedians, with gigs and shows ripped from under them. But Karen is admirably optimistic, throwing herself into her new project and happy to face all the changes in our world with a headstrong, grin-and-bear-it attitude. She’s also stopped watching the news, which helps…


So why hip-hop then Karen? How did you get into that?

I love hip-hop! I’ve always loved it. It’s not as if I’ve been a huge hip-hop effiiardo for decades so I’m not gonna claim that, but I’ve always enjoyed rap music and been intrigued by it – the history, the culture. I was into a wee bit of Scottish rap music but the last couple of months it’s really took off for me. Just enjoying listening to it, discovering.  And it’s because rap is essentially spoken word – it’s performance spoken word – and I’m an actor so that’s a big part of what I do!

[It] just kinda exploded! To almost an unmanageable point, which is just lovely in some ways but it’s a bit hectic. I’m working on a track now actually. But I am really enjoying it, really enjoying it.

karen dunbar

Has music always been an interest?

There was a social club round the corner from where I grew up, and my big sister and my dad used to take me round, and I’d go up on stage and sing sometimes – I must have been about 4 year old. I mean this was in the mid 70s so you were allowed to take 4 year olds into a big pub and let them sing at the time! Full of smoke and everything. And you know I’ve got two sisters, and my mum and dad, and their influences – they’ve very different influences you know! One of them was prog rock – one of my sisters – the other was Motown, my mum and dad were much older so they were the classic references… 

I always had a kind of musical ear. I don’t play any instruments – apart from the mouth organ and I only play ‘Oh Suzanne’ on the mouth organ! But when I was in primary, I was able to pick at tunes on a keyboard or on a xylophone – so if someone said ‘doe a deer’ I could play it. And I thought everybody could do that! A bit like seeing and hearing you know, that everybody could jus’ do that, but it wasnae until years later that I was like, oh that’s a thing not everybody has… So aye, music obsessed, obsessed!

There’s an old 70s song called ‘Music..’ by John… I can’t remember who sings it, there you go! John somebody! Anyway, he says, the first line has a big dramatic, big piano behind it, and he sings ‘music is my first love and it will be last‘ – and it always makes me laugh, because it’s true, it’s true for me.

 

What do the workshops involve?

Well, I’m saying they’re basic right now but it feels like there’s an awful lot in them! [laughs] I’ve been doing most of them on Zoom. They’re 2 hour sessions which are great, people are really enthusiastic, and they’re up for it, and they’re open minded, and they’re creative! The idea is to get a group of people, maybe 6 or 8, and give them a topic and ask them to write a short paragraph up about that topic and then to take each of their paragraphs and help them write it up into a rap stanza. Then, help them develop that and help them rap it and perform it – you know, [it’s] on Zoom, but we’re doing it!

I’ve been recording them and then taking the recordings. I’m doing some of them acapella, sometimes I give them a beat behind it, but obviously with Zoom it’s very limited. Then I’ll go and make the music up for the track on GarageBand, and edit their voices into the song. So I’ve just finished one about 15 minutes ago! I think I’m finished – I’m no sure! I might go back and faff about with it for another 5 hours! [laughs] But I’m hopefully finished with it. I’m really having a ball with it.

“There’s a strange mix of resignation and gratitude.
We’ve gotta do it like this, but at least we can.”


What has the response been like to the workshops?

Well, it’s so strange how it came about and, I’m not too arty farty or airy fairy [laughs] but it just seemed to happen and it just seemed to flow very easily, and usually that’s a good sign!  I’ve done 5 workshops with 5 different groups over 3 week periods for each of them, I’ve got another 3 to do, and that’s intentional that I don’t have any more to do at the moment, because I could’nae handle any! [laughs] 

When I started off, one of my friends – he’s a business advisor but a pal you know, I was talking to him about it, and he says, ‘so what are you charging for it?’ I’m nae charging anything for it! And he said you gotta charge something! I say – you know, typical artist – I don’t want tae make money, I want tae make music! And I meant that, I really meant it. That does’nae mean I don’t need to pay my rent and things… But I don’t want to attach money to this because it starts to sully things. SO, all that being said it gave me a really good place to come from, because the inference wasnae, ‘oh let’s see how much I can get financially out of this’. It was more, ‘lets see what we can do together.’  I think that’s been helpful in creating a useful atmosphere for it. 


Who can get involved?

I had a group of refugees who live in Glasgow, that was my first group – fantastic! I was overwhelmed with enthusiasm and creativity, just brilliant. Then I was out at the Good Shepherd Centre out in Bishopton with some teens – and I was out there because they could still operate because it was a closed school environment. Again overwhelming, just wasnae expecting what I got from them at all. I thought it would be good but I didn’t realise it would be so moving! 

I’ve just a couple of groups with the Citizens Theatre, they have a thing called the Community Collective, and that’s one of the songs I’m working on just now. That was so different as well! They’ve all been so different and I think that’s what’s making me so excited about it and quite purposeful, because every-single session is different, with a different mix of people and different backgrounds. And I think In fact, 4 of them – or 3 different groups – have asked me to come back and do it again, which is great because I’ve only just finished! So that’s heartening as well. And then another 3 groups coming up in the next month.

It’s just these groups that have come to me at the moment – and I haven’t even advertised it! I haven’t put it out anywhere, I’m just testing the ground right now – but the ground seems pretty fertile!

singer

Are attendees new to hip-hop or do they have an interest already?

Yep, some of the students out at the Good Shepherd were fantastic MCs! I’m learning all the time… I didn’t know the difference between an MC and a rapper.. So they were educating me on that! But mostly, I mean the group I was working with yesterday I would say they were at the ages of 40 upwards, a couple of them in their 60s, which is brilliant! Each individual in that group, their attitudes to rap, what they liked and what they didnae like, and what they thought could be done – that’s so interesting as well. 

Each group at the end has come out of it with a formed, structured rap song. I think that’s surprising to a few of the participants, I didnae see how this could work and yet here it is and it’s brilliant and it flows! And I’m LOVING that! I’m actually In love with it now! I’ve got all the chemicals of being in love, I’m off my face on dopamine! It’s all fleeing through me – adrenaline – I cannae wait to get back into it!


And the tracks they create – will they be available for people to listen to?

I’ve been talking to Steg G at Sunny G Radio, who’s one of your tutors, I said to him, what I’d like to do is, I’ve not had the chance to do it yet (you know, Zoom novice) but what I’d like to do is get the recordings together, and mix them as best I can. I’ve actually signed up to your sound engineering course, because I don’t really know what I’m doing with it. I just recently got back into Garageband, so I’m just learning that now. The quality of them is pretty dubious right now but what I’d like to do, and Steg has agreed, is make individual shows for each group and put them on Sunny G. Along with different music as well, but play that and play interviews with the group. 

Essentially what I’d like to do is make an album of it and put it out. Then if the world ever opens back up do a concert at the Royal Concert Hall with each group – I would love that! But if its never anything more than what it is now, it’s fantastic. And I mean that, because if I keep it within that realm, I don’t project too much and I don’t try to force things like; ‘we need to do this better, because I want it to be recorded and who knows who might be listening…’ Pardon the expression – but f* all that! I just want the experience of being in the room – or being on Zoom – with participants. Anything else is a bonus. 

Do you know much about the Scottish Hip Hop scene? 

Nooo, this time 3 months ago all I knew was Stanley Odd and Loki! I didn’t even know Steg G did hip-hop. So there’s my ignorance level on it, but I’m getting more familiar with it now. 

I’m also watching the Rap Game, which I had actually watched last year, without any thoughts on watching it because I was doing a workshop, and I don’t really watch a lot of reality show type competitions, but I was really interested in that, and I watched Hip Hop Evolution when it came out. So I’m watching Shogun on the Rap Game right now, and I’m very interested in his stuff. So aye, getting into it more – and I’m intrigued! 

 

Some people have a negative perception of hip-hop – how it sometimes is sexist, homophonic or violent. It’s good that it’s being seen more as a positive tool for learning and expression. Because as you said, it’s spoken word and poetry! 

Yeah, most things when they become so commercial turn… You know the two main sources of power are sex and money. And if you look at anything really, well most things, you’ll see that element when it gets to a certain degree. And as you said there, that’s now how it started off and that’s not what it needs to be. There’s other channels of hip hop as well – or there’s other ways to channel it. 

“Each group has come out of it with a formed, structured rap song. I think that’s surprising to a few of the participants. I didnae see how this could work and yet here it is, and it’s brilliant and it flows!”


What about 2020, how has it gone for you? I saw you were set to play Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Ernest in Perth in March, did that go ahead?

We did yeah! We got so far into it. It was only a 3 week run, so we got 2 weeks out of the 3 weeks in the end. I’m really glad we got that but that was disappointing because I felt it was a huge role… One of the hardest in terms of muscularity– the vocal muscularity! The annunciation, the breath work I had to do, never mind any emotional stuff I had to do! You know so much of it was technique. And that sounds like I know what I’m doing – I’m not trained in anything, my training has kinda been on the job, so I made it up as I went along, and that… I felt I was just getting into the part and we lost the last week! 

So yeah, that was disappointing. It was a lovely wee theatre in Perth, a great director, fantastic cast, the set, what they’d done, because it was a very low budget, and what they’d done with the set and the costumes, it was such a good job that we all pulled together, and we only had 3 weeks rehearsal! There were 5 cast members and the 4 were all playing other roles! So it was a huge undertaking. So aye, it was disappointing, it would be lovely if that was remounted, but god knows where and how and when now! 

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How was lockdown?  Was the workshop something that came from lockdown or had you thought about it before?

Well, to answer the hip-hop question; a bit of both. I’d spoken a bit at the beginning of the year [2020] to a friend, it might have been even at the end of last year [2019]… Before I even knew what COVID-19 was! So it wisnae a thing that I wanted to do because of lockdown, but I had nae time! I had been wanting to do something like that for a long time and was just too busy… So yeah it did come from the lockdown in terms of how I could do it, because obviously I couldn’t have go into rooms with people, so the majority of it’s been done on Zoom, which I very hesitant to do, but if it was between that and nothing, then I was doing that, and actually that [is] working out. 

I’m a Zoom novice but I seem to be getting better at it every 2 hour session! It’s just practice like anything. But I’m limited to what I can actually do, because if I was in the actual room with people I would be sitting working with them you know, you can get the energy of people as well, especially when it’s creative and it’s musical and it’s rhythmic and you’re picking that up off people… But we’re nae doing a bad job on it, and I think [the participants] are – I cannae speak for everybody– but I think there’s a strange mix of resignation and gratitude. We’ve gotta do it like this, but at least we can. 

It’s strange to say this, I try to be very mindful of the suffering that’s happening… I’ve had my own stuff to deal with and that as well, it’s not as if it’s not touched me – ‘cos all my work was cancelled, and that’s a big thing! There’s nae furlough for me! There’s naebody paying me anything! But I hardly did anything. I couldn’t see anybody, but at the same time there was an awful lot less money spent. It was readdressing a balance personally for me in how I spent money, how I spent time – because that busyness! You know it’s funny, there’s kind of a perpetual motion that’s going on and then, coming into lockdown, was left panting! Almost like… [she mimics breathing fast]… 


Left catching our breath!

Yeah. There’s some part of my brain mechanism that’s still running and looking to attach to the busyness, the level of energy it was used to. And that eventually ran out you know, with enough episodes of the Gilmore Girls [laughs] – that ran out! It was quite scary because I’m used to being very busy….. And then I went into the inertia period of, what the f*ck am I doing… What can I do? What do I want to do? What do I need to do? So all those questions on a small level.. and on a – micro and macro, because those sort of existential, ‘who am i, what is this’… 

I hav’nae watched the news or read a newspaper for 20 years. Now in saying that, I was still on Twitter quite a lot – funny I came off Twitter a couple of years ago, and then I reinstalled [it]… I wasnae tweeting anything but I was reading you know so much, so I was infused completely with all sides of everything! Then the arse fell out of that.. I know I jus’ thought I cannae look at this anymore, so a couple of months ago jus’ deleted Twitter again. So I don’t have any news that I look at. My mates keep me posted on what I need to know. And that’s been really, really conducive to my creativity. I cannae stress that enough!

karen dunbar interview academy of music and sound ams hip hop workshops online


We’re aching for the arts industry right now! What advice would give those still interested in pursuing a career in the arts?

Well this might sound a bit strange – and I hope it does’nae come across as patronising in any way – but do not worry about it. Not because, in that kind of ‘everything’s gonna be alright’ way, but we must create, as the creatures we are ya know. I don’t mean us as artists, I mean the species – we must create. So whatever that creativity is inside each person, whether it’s about creating a good soup, creating a wee baby, creating music – we’re driven to do it. 

There’s a surface level to me that’s like ‘oh my god, the theatre is shut, live events are shut, the bulk of my work is in that, what’s gonna happen’.. One of the ways that I’m able to calm down is to come back to what my needs are. And I’ve got a kind of mantra of, ok what are my needs? Food, water, air, shelter, love – sleep potentially! But even if I don’t get that I’ll probably still live for quite a bit. Food, water, air, shelter, love – that’s what I need. And I’ve never been without that! So I know that’s maybe no advice to an artist because I don’t really know how to give it other than; Don’t worry, we will find a way to create – we cannae not!

If we’re gonna live online then we will create online and that will take off… It’s already taken off but that will take off more – and I know that’s not the same and I know there’s a huge loss in that but.. There’s an old bumper sticker that says ‘change = loss + gain’ so there’s gotta be gain in it too.

 

It’s human nature isn’t it, to create?

And when I’m questioning and doubting everything myself creatively, that’s why for a few months of lockdown, my go-to place would’ve been – write a monologue, write something that you can do online – but I just was’nae there, there was a huge block! And I know a lot of creative people had that, but it was nurturing that belief, which is a core belief that as a species we’ve got to create, you know. This isn’t just about me being a suffering artist or something, that’s what we do as humans. Knowing that that was true, and thinking – ok leave it alone and it will come. And when it did it was a bit tsunami-like! It was like – ‘I’m going to do hip-hop! That’s it!!! HIP-HOP!’ So, it’ll come. And I think stressing about it can create a barrier to it. Sometimes it’s good to have a wee bit of stress to give us some umph, but there’s levels to it.

How are you feeling about the current lockdown?

I mean it’s a terrible thing that we’ve got to go into any level of it again. I feel so lucky, so lucky to be doing what I’m doing right now. I feel… it’s unfair to say this but to a certain degree I’m not really thinking about the lockdown too much. I’m waking up in the morning right now and thinking I’ve gotta find a baseline for that hip hop track! And I’ve gotta find a way to splice that.. And put a beat into this and I cannae mix yet, so I’m gonna Google that and watch a tutorial [laughs]! That’s what I’m thinking about just now. 


Are you feeling more positive for 2021?


Next year? Nae idea! Don’t know, don’t care! Because it’s too far, it’s too far. Tomorrow’s a wee bit too far for me. What I manage is what’s happening right now. And that’s.. I was going to say a coping mechanism, but it’s not, it’s a dealing with life mechanism. An awful lot of the time –not in any kind of bhuddist-zen-medative kind of way– but I actually try to check in with my body; ‘Are ye in any pain?!’ Are ya hungry? Tired? Thirsty?’ Because this is reality what is happening here and now. And everything else, past or future, it’s all in my head! And that sort of brings me back into the room if you like. Which is good, that’s been a really useful tool over the years. Never mind tomorrow, never mind yesterday, what’s happening in the now.

And it’s not easy because we live in a society that’s so led towards we must try harder, better, higher, faster… bikini-body ready, blah blah… Oh man, we’re so immersed in it, just to come out of it for a while and think I’m gonna try this GarageBand loop, because my ears can hear it and that’s reality… 

There’s me saying I don’t think about 2021! I am looking to expand [the workshops] next year, so if you know any groups that would be interested in that, then please put that out there. But we’ll see, we’ll see what happens today! 


Read more about Karen on her website.

Check out more news and blogs from us here.

 

Words & Interview: Isobel Trott


Many Hats with Chloe Heatlie, producer at Adelphoi Music

Many Hats with Chloe Heatlie, producer at Adelphoi Music

Welcome back to Many Hats. This week our Edinburgh centre manager Alyssa got to sit down and catch up with her old pal Chloe Heatlie, producer at Adelphoi Music, a Music Agency based in Central London. Chloe has a set of impressive music qualifications including a Masters in Musical Theatre at the Royal Academy of Music and since joining Adelphoi, she has worked with a range of high profile clients including Nike, Armani x Hypebeast, Zara, Walkers Max, and Google Cloud.

Their conversation spans all things music production, as Alyssa gets all the details on what Chloe’s fascinating role involves, and her commitment to music beyond her day-job including her lockdown-inspired Podcast ‘A Little More Conversation’. Alyssa and Chloe also chat lockdown tips and the impact of this ‘toxic productivity’ we’re all feeling just a little bit right now. Read on and discover all…


Hi Chloe! Tell me a bit about yourself! What do you do and how did you get where you are today?

I live in London and I work as a producer at a music agency [Adelphoi Music].  Before that, I studied musical theatre in Glasgow at Motherwell College and then moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music. After that I worked as a performer before I decided I wanted to work in the music industry. When I decided that, I started to work hard to gain experience, so temped on reception at places like Universal Music, I volunteered for Sofar Sounds, read a ton of books, wrote a music blog and eventually (after a couple of years) I got a job at Adelphoi. And that’s where I am now!

 

Tell us a bit more about your role at Adelphoi?

I’m a producer – we work with creative agencies, production companies and brands to either find or create music and/or sounds for advertising campaigns. We have a team of composers who work for us but we also work with freelance composers, musicians and artists to create compositions! We work with record labels and publishers to brief out searches if we’re looking for a specific type of track for a project, we’ll work with them to find tracks that are in-line with what we want and are licence-able for the budget we have.

We also do audio branding, so that’s working directly with brands to find a specific sound to represent them. For example we worked with Norwegian Air to create a sonic identity for them and they use it on board all of their planes, we also revived Gillette’s existing audio identity for use globally across their advertising. We also do sound design to picture too.

Many Hats with Chloe Heatlie, producer at Adelphoi Music


What’s a typical day in the office for you? – Pre-covid!

A typical day pre-COVID! [laughs] Our office is in Covent Garden, there we have studios and we have a production room where we all sit and work together. We usually have production meetings, so all the producers get together and we talk about projects we have. We also talk about sales a lot, part of our role is new business. So we’re reaching out to producers, creatives and creative directors, to tell them about the company and try to get them to think of us when they next need music on a project.  We have sales catch-ups in the morning, then during the day we’ll just be working on whatever projects take priority. A lot of the time our projects are a very quick turn around, 1-2 days to make a composition for an advert, so that’s doing demos, working on them and then delivering, so getting them mixed as well! [We’re] sometimes in-and-out of the office for industry events too.

 

And how have things changed with COVID this year?

It’s quite different yeah… So all of the ‘nice’ bits of the job – getting to meet people and socialise and attend events and screenings – are all non-existent! [laughs] There are a lot of online events which we are trying to attend more and more. But yeah the sad thing is not being able to meet people and chat face-to-face and do all those things which are the big perks of the job really! But yeah we’ve been working remotely since March, everybody, all our composers and producers.

Academy of Sound and Music


Has your job been effected by the impact of COVID on the music industry?

We’ve noticed [it] in terms of the types of projects that we’re getting. We’re getting a lot smaller budgets this year, so brands just don’t have as much money, or they’re choosing not to spend as much money on music so we’re getting a lot of back catalog searches and library music searches. Rather than brands spending £50k on a composition job, they’ll spend £10k on a piece of library music that maybe isn’t as special but is cheaper and does the job. So we’ve definitely noticed some budgets being slashed, but there’s definitely still work out there so we’re still working which is nice!

 

That’s good – it’s a bit doom and gloom and we’re having to adapt! But musicians are used to being versatile?

I think that’s true. Most people I work with have some kind of ‘side hustle’ whether that is DJing or being part of some sort of collaborative group, or volunteering, they do have things they do on the side. Definitely agree.

 

When you graduated from RAM, how did your degree help you to get where you are today?

My degrees did help me in terms of the musical knowledge you need to get my job. Everyone that works for the company is a musician or a DJ or is totally involved in music in some way, shape or form. So it’s really important. And also to be able to give feedback to performers, if you don’t understand music you’re not really able to give that feedback. It’s something that adds value to companies like us. You get agencies coming to us and saying things like… ‘I want music that’s happy’. Okay, what kind of music are we talking about here? So it needs to be happy, is that all you can give us? [laughs] So it’s kinda like translating what people want into music – which is essential. 

“For my job I have to have an understanding of a range of genres. Our briefs can be anything from opera to 80s disco! It could be anything.”

I also think, with my degree in musical theatre… It wasn’t all about the music, it was more about your confidence and your character.  I think it was those things that really helped me in terms of getting up and being able to talk to people or being able to approach somebody you don’t know and say, hey look at what we’re doing over here, do you wanna hear more about it? It’s also those skills that are really valuable!

 

So from graduating from RAM to where you are today, what experience did you gather along the way?

I had to have passion for music to get my job, you had to have experience in music. You have to have an understanding of a range of genres – our briefs can be anything from opera to 80s disco, you know! It could be anything. So you have to kinda understand a lot of different styles, or at least have an awareness of it. 

I was also doing loads of voluntary work at the time too.  In those 2 years where I was looking for a job in music, I was applying for jobs like mad! There’s paid internships down in London but they don’t really pay you enough for you to actually do them, unless you’re living with someone and not really paying any rent or student loans or bills. I didn’t do an internship, I just needed to get a job! And I think Adelphoi did take a bit of a risk.

I think it’s important to note I didn’t have experience in the job, I just had passion and I had degrees and I had knowledge. I was teaching myself, I read so many books all about the music industry and I was volunteering at live events, doing all sorts of things from artist liaison to making sure people at the events were safe and comfortable. And I was blogging as well!  I was constantly looking online to find artists that weren’t signed and I was blogging about them, just writing ‘check out this song, this is really cool, and she’s from here, and she’s this old, and this is the kind of music she does or he does.’ So yeah, a big part of me getting the job was the company taking a chance, but also proving I was passionate.

What about the best thing about working in music?

The best thing I think is the people. We get to meet so many people, not only is our team so nice, we have a good family feel! But there’s just so many interesting people. As I said before, aside from the day-to-day projects we might be working on, you might not be really passionate about making an advert, or what the advert is about, but a lot of the people have things that they believe in and they’re part of things outside of work they get involved in. That might be charity projects… The other night we went to an online… What do you call it when it’s like naked drawing? [laughs]

Anyway! It was an online naked drawing [life drawing] event for Breast Cancer Awareness and these girls from an agency were like, we’re gonna do an event with naked drawing and you pay £8 for a ticket, all the money goes towards Breast Cancer Awareness and you have a bit of fun! And there’s loads of those sort of initiatives which I really like. So definitely the people. 

 

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job or working in the industry?

One of the challenges actually is getting through all the music! So everyday we each get 10s and 10s of emails from sync companies, publishers, record labels, freelance composers and artists – we just get sent so much music! And we’d love to listen to it, and we do try to go through as much as we can but we can’t sit and listen to music all day, so that’s the sad thing, we get a sent a lot of great stuff that we might miss because we just don’t have the hours in the day. But we do always try to reply, especially if it’s someone new that we haven’t heard from before just to say thanks, I’ll take a look, and we’ll keep you in mind and if something comes up maybe we can work together. But yeah, that’s the day-to-day trouble for sure.

 

What advice would you give students or graduates who want to get into your line of work?

Yeah, passion! If you’re not, why are you in the music industry really! That’s a given. But for this year obviously it’s really challenging for everyone in terms of working, there’s been a ton of redundancies all over the place especially in the live sector, I think just don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t happen straight away. It took me a few years to get a job in music, and I think just do your research! 

If you’re passionate about something, just learn. Watch YouTube videos, read books, email people, add them on LinkedIn, just say hey, I’m really interested in your career, would you be up for having a coffee or a zoom and just chatting. Maybe find a mentor as well, somebody that’s willing to give you advice or check over your CV. But I think passion will definitely help you on the way!

 

And what’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received? 

I think for me I’ve always been quite driven to the point where I just want to get things done and get to the finish line. It can be a really good thing, but it’s important to take your time sometimes and enjoy the moments… And not always be pushing for the next thing. Just taking it a bit slower sometimes would probably be the best advice I’ve had. Not that I always listen to it! [laughs]

Academy of Sound and Music

Especially during the pandemic…

There was that saying which was like, if you’ve got out of bed in the morning and made your bed, then you’ve done something, you’ve achieved something.

 

That’s a good way to look at it. There’s so much pressure on achieving stuff during this time – I’m not in the mood to do anything creative, just trying to get through it.

I think it’s totally common. Obviously everybody is different and everybody is dealing with it differently and has different situations, but I don’t think it’s a time to be putting pressure on yourself and stressing out about it. You know, do what you can do. If you can make 10 albums this year then go for it – it doesn’t really matter, but just make sure when you come out of it you’re in a good place. 

 

That takes me to my next question… You’re working on a podcast that covers mental health in the industry, is that right?

Yeah sure, so the podcast is called ‘A Little More Conversation‘ and it basically came up during coronavirus. Me and a colleague Lacyn were thinking how hard all this was, and we bet there’s other people out there who are really struggling, but there’s actually nothing for people – in advertising especially – to turn to. There’s a charity that provides counselling but that’s all really. So we decided to start a podcast that talks about mental health in the advertising industry. It’s been really popular so far. We’re going to talk about things like the pressures of sales, the pressures of creativity, job sharing, working from home, returning to work after paternity or maternity leave, things like that. Anything that might be presenting challenges for people in the industry and openly talking about it. It will hopefully give people in the industry somewhere to go and listen to other people’s problems, which they can probably relate to!

It’s good to feel you’re not alone in the way you’re feeling. A lot of what we’re seeing is the highlights of people’s lives on social media.

Yeah it’s true – it’s not real what you see on social media – but it’s the same in the industry, you might have a company saying ‘we’re really busy, we have so many projects on..’ but they don’t! They’re just saying it because they want people to think that they’re busy, which is their prerogative really. But actually I think this year especially it’s fine to say, we’ve had a hard year, you’ve probably too, is there anything we can do to help each other out?

Academy of Sound and Music

How would a budding artist go about approaching you to get their tracks featured in one of your projects?

So there’s a couple of ways. If you have a publisher, the publisher should be pushing out your music to people like us, not just for advertising but for film and TV as well. But not everybody has a publisher, so if you’re doing it yourself, just research companies – companies like us, music production companies. You’ll also find on LinkedIn lots of freelance music supervisors. They want to be sent music, you know, we want to be sent stuff, we need to know what’s current, what’s cool.  And also if you’re an artist, there’s some really interesting reasons for a company to work with you, one it’s supporting up-and-coming talent, which is huge, hugely important. And 2, it’ll give you good money for you to go and make more music! 

Also it often works well for lower budget projects, or projects that are maybe more creative. So I think there’s definitely good opportunities. Our emails are on the website, just go around, do some research, send some emails. Make sure that when you present your music you do it in a good way. So don’t send too much, maybe send a couple of tracks and just explain who you are and what kind of music you’re making – and that’s it!

 

And one last question – what’s the most exciting project you’ve been involved in at work?

Oooo… I’m actually working on one at the minute, I actually can’t tell you what who brand is, it’s a luxury fashion brand, but we’re basically mixing an old out-of-copyright classical piece of music with very modern, ugly sounds, an so it’s going to be a total mash up of beautiful classical music and really ugly, industrial sounds! And the film is really cool, it’s got loads of dancers in it and the people are beautiful and hopefully it’s going to come together in the end!


Sounds interesting!

Yeah it’s bold definitely! I’ll send it ya!


You can read Chloe’s blog here, and listen to her podcast A Little More Conversation on Spotify.

Find out more about Adelphoi on their website

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Interview: Alyssa Renwick
Photos: © Adelphoi Music


women in music short course free scotland female artists kate mccabe

Meet 9 incredible Scottish artists from the AMS Women In Music course

Our latest Women In Music (Empowerment and Employability) short course took place online a couple of weeks ago, and was a roaring success. The free online event saw a huge number of passionate female artists and women in music, come together, network and share their knowledge.

Hosted by our own Karlyn King and Melisa Kelly, the event saw female-identifying artists currently based in Scotland come together to share knowledge and skills in a welcoming and inclusive environment.  Some of our wonderful attendees have been kind enough to share with us some of their work and music. Take a look below for a short bio on each artist, and links to some of their music.

Our next WIM event will take place over 2 weekends from 21 November to 29 November – oh, and it’s completely free! Follow the link to book your place now.


Kate McCabe

Kate McCabe is a 23 year old singer songwriter from, and based in Scotland. She’s been writing songs since she was 10 and in 2014 released her debut E.P ‘Fault’ at 15 years old. Most recently in 2018 she released she second E.P ‘WOMAN’. Kate said that music has always been her passion and she hope that her work will “emotionally engage people with melodies and lyrics not only make you stop and listen, but make you stop and think”. Check out her music on her Bandcamp artist page and get updates on her music on her Facebook.

women in music short course free scotland female artists kate mccabe


Jeri Foreman

Jeri is a big name in Australian folk music – now residing in Scotland! A fiddle player from Adelaide (South Australia), Jeri’s debut in the Australian folk scene was winning back-to-back Young Traditionalist’s Awards at the Victor Harbour Folk Festival, age 11 and 12. Sh’e won plenty of awards since then, including Most Outstanding New or Emerging Artist/Group in the Folk Federation of SA Folk Awards in 2007 and 2008, and in 2009, her performances with Adelaide band, Garida, won the inaugural Peter Daly Award for the finest performance of Celtic music at the National Folk Festival.

She’s also gone onto being awarded music scholarships 2010 to study with many of the world’s top fiddle players, and in 2014, she won the Best Composition Golden Fiddle Award for her tune, “No Bigger Than an Envelope”.  She is a multifaceted fiddler, fascinated by finding similarities in fiddle traditions. Jeri holds a Bachelor of Music with Honours (majoring in violin performance) from the Elder Conservatorium. She has released two albums of compositions in the Celtic style, in 2013 and 2017. She continues to play with a variety of musicians in multiple genres. Check out her LP The Blue Album on Spotify now.

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Amy Ross (Baby Taylah)

Scotland based Amy Ross (artist name Baby Taylah) is know for her fusion of dark electronica with distorted, breathy vocals, which flicker relentlessly between angelic and ominous tones.

“Combining dark electro pop with a classic Celtic sound, Baby Taylah’s music is fuelled by a sense of empowerment. Born Amy Louise Ross, the 27-year-old singer-songwriter had been active in the Glasgow music scene since the late aughts before she decided to take a three-year break from songwriting. More confident than ever, she returned late last year having signed to Swedish label Icons Creating Evil Art with a bold new single called ‘Reclaim’, a track whose power lies in its minimal yet effective production, presenting Taylah as a force to be reckoned with. There’s a lot to be excited about in Baby Taylah’s future, and we can’t wait to hear more….”

Listen to Baby Taylah on Spotify now.

baby taylah

Alison McNeill 

Alison is 1/3 of Reely Jiggered – “a Scottish folk rock band with a twist”, who’s recent album Tricky Terrain is cone to check out. Alison has performed as a soloist all over the UK, Holland, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Japan, Pakistan, America and Mexico and has been broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio nan Gaidheal and Spanish, Pakistani and Mexican TV.

As a freelance portfolio musician, Alison enjoys a busy and varied career as a Classical lyric soprano performing as a soloist in top venues including Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Minami Aizu Concert Hall (Japan) and the National Auditorium of Galicia (Spain). As gifted recitalist, Alison formed the McNeill Savaloni Duo with Classical guitarist Sasha Savaloni which has seen the pair broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland’s Classics Unwrapped and become the 2015-2017 Artists in Residence for Enterprise Music Scotland‘s Chamber Music Project.

reely jiggered

Ellie Morrison

Ellie is an Artist Manager and Musician. After receiving a first class honours degree in music business at SAE Institute, I decided to set up my own artist management company called Ellie Morrison Artist Management. Since then, she has been working with singer/songwriter Megan Black for around a year, in which time they have released two singles and organised a series of independent events and gigs.

“Not every day is the same,” she said in an interview with SAE. “Most of the time I am updating her social media, depending on what event is coming up next, and then making sure everything is organised for whatever we are working on at the time. Right now we are working on an EP, so over the next few weeks I will be making sure the songs are finalised, uploading them to a distribution company, creating an EPK (Electronic Press Kit), which includes the tracks, music videos, promotional photographs and press release statement, which I will then send out to different press outlets.”

Get updates on her Facebook page.

Wooden Woman Out Now!


Sonia Duignan

Based in Scotland, Sonia D is an Irish singer-songwriter whose fingerstyle picking and melodies take their influence from Folk and Indie Folk music. Sonia’s acoustic based music contains thought provoking lyrics and emotive vocals intertwined with hints of piano and strings. With her haunting tones and honest expression she sings about her life experiences and hopes that her music resonates as a form of escapism or therapy to any who listen.

Growing up in Galway, Sonia started writing songs at the age of 10 immersed in the influence of artists such as Nina Simone, Pete Yorn, Fiona Apple, Glen Hansard, Jeff Buckley, Heather Nova and Chantal Kreviazuk. Today’s influences number the likes of James Vincent McMorrow, Wallis Bird, Dodie, and Dermot Kennedy, whose music has inspired her to be brave in baring her soul through her art form. Sonia loves live streams and plans to gig both locally and abroad. Currently focused on releasing singles, an E.P. and an Album are also in the pipeline.

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Jen Athan

Jen Athan is a songwriter, composer, producer and multi- instrumentalist from Aberdeen.  She found her passion for music after learning to play the violin, piano, guitar and drums throughout her youth. Whilst studying music at North East Scotland College, she found herself becoming more involved in music production and sound design and decided to pursue a career in writing and producing music.

In 2018, Jen released her solo piano EP Vinter Allée with one of the pieces ‘For Sebastien’ featuring in the sold-out performance of Kid Astronaut –  an early years theatre show which she also co-wrote. She has worked with Scottish Youth Theatre, Tron Theatre Young Company, Ipdip theatre, Glasgow Life and BBC The Social.

Listen & learn more on her website.

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Emma Milligan

Emma is 22 year old singer songwriter based in Edinburgh. On her artist page, she says her influences are the likes of artists such as Fleetwood Mac, and Ed Sheeran. She plays guitar and ukulele. Find out more about Emma on her Artist Facebook Page.

Emma is 22 year old singer songwriter

Emmy Leishman

Otherwise known as Big Girl’s Blouse, Emmy Leishman is a Glasgow based artist. Listen to her radiant music on Soundcloud now.

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