Industry insiders on their hopes for Scottish music in 2016

The Twilight Sad. Picture: Robert Perry
The Twilight Sad. Picture: Robert Perry
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CHRIS McCall speaks to some of Scotland’s key music tastemakers and asks what’s in store for the scene in 2016

LEO CONDIE, SINGER

Adam Stafford. Picture: Alan Murray

Adam Stafford. Picture: Alan Murray

Leo Condie is the frontman of Glasgow post-punk group WHITE, who recently released their debut single on RCA.

What live events are you most looking forward to in 2016?

In truth we have been bunkered down recording and preparing for our tour, and our diaries have been breathing heavily and grumbling, so I haven’t taken stock of who’s coming and going in the great Scottish music merry-go-round. Television are playing ABC in June! I’ve seen them a couple of times and I’m always the only one of my pals who enjoys their gigs. Verlaine’s vocals are throwaway in the sense that nuclear waste is throwaway, and yet… I love it. No rock poses or languorous solos, head-bangers shown the door; if you’ve ever listened to Yes in anger, here is your chance for penance.

Which 2016 record releases are you most excited about?

Catholic Action

Catholic Action

PJ Harvey’s last album still finds it way into my life semi-regularly so I’m excited to hear the follow-up. I loved Let England Shake’s under-the-radar reclamation of the concept album (see also, bizarrely, Ry Cooder). All ears for this one. A couple of other veterans - Pet Shop Boys and Iggy Pop - have put out some great teasers for their 2016 LPs. Hopefully some young people will also release records, and they will be very good records.

Which Scotland-based artist do you expect to make a breakthrough in 2016?

I’ve got a lot of love for Tuff Love, The Van Ts, Declan Welsh, Catholic Action, Eyes of Others, and more.

What trend do you hope to see continue in Scottish music in this year?

Bossy Love. Picture: Facebook

Bossy Love. Picture: Facebook

Edith Bowman’s Quay Sessions have been a great addition to the circuit for Scottish and touring acts - I hope the BBC build on what they’ve created there and find a spot for it on the telly, which is sorely lacking in music shows. They’re great shows, well programmed and Edith is brilliant - we had so much fun doing the Christmas special.

READ MORE: White, a disco-punk quintet all about rock ‘n’ roll fantasy

HALINA RIFAI, BLOGGER

Halina Rifai is founder of the Scottish music blog Podcart and runs Bloc+Music, the non-profit record label attached to Bar Bloc in Glasgow.

What was your personal music highlight of 2015?

It has to be seeing The Twilight Sad at the Barrowland in December. It was one of the most emotional moments of the year by far. Having following them since around 2006, it’s been a real pleasure to see them sell out my favourite venue in Glasgow.

What live events are you most looking forward to in 2016?

I’m really looking forward to the Electric Fields festival. I’ve heard it has new bookers and is looking to make things a bit bigger with the artists they book, and also be a bit of an alternative to T in the Park - which is something I think would be really welcomed, particularly by older music fans and those not as much into the mainstream. Brew at the Bog is also going to be awesome. It is really fantastic for a festival to give a chance to so many up-and-coming bands.

Which 2016 record releases are you most excited about?

Adam Stafford is one of the first. His record is coming out on Song, By Toad and I am so excited about it. He is one of the most underrated artists I have ever come across and this is sure to be a great record. I’m also really looking forward to AmatrArt’s new release in April - they are definitely a band to keep an eye on – they remind me of bands such as Wild Beasts and Alt-J – but they have their own thing going on. Finally, if we’re going for a big gun then it has to be PJ Harvey. She is faultless, an idol and I cannot wait to hear what she has for this year.

Which Scotland-based artist do you expect to make a breakthrough in 2016?

Bossy Love. This is a really easy one. They are absolutely incredible, they just have ‘it’. They are fantastic live performers, really well-produced and you can see how much they love what they do, it is infectious.

What trend do you hope to see continue in Scottish music in this year?

The DIY label trend has always been a favourite and I would love to see that continue. Also, I would love to see more promoters continue to start up in areas outside of Glasgow. We have so much here and take it for granted sometimes. It would be great to see more networking and support of shows in Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling and other places. Not everyone is in Glasgow or Edinburgh and it would be great to continue to reflect that.

BJORN SANDBERG, MANAGER

Bjorn Sandberg runs WCSP MGMT, and manages Glasgow glam rockers Catholic Action, among others.

What was your personal music highlight of 2015?

Seeing Catholic Action perform to 3,000 people at the London Roundhouse was a special moment for me. It was also their best performance to date.

What live events are you most looking forward to in 2016?

Optimo always kick it out the park, whatever they’re up to. Also, Belladrum - now that is a very special festival indeed, I’ve not missed one since 2011, and had the pleasure of being there with Casual Sex and Catholic Action the last three. I can tell you a certain band beginning with C and ending in N will be performing there in 2016.

Which 2016 record releases are you most excited about?

I’m really looking forward to hearing what War on Drugs do, now they’ve made a move to a major label at Atlantic Records. Also, Woman’s Hour, their former labelmates at Secretly Canadian, must be due a new record. Scottish stuff, I think the Franz [Ferdinand] guys might be working on new material. I can’t wait to hear what they do next.

Which Scotland-based artist do you expect to make a breakthrough in 2016?

I think 2016 has to be KLOE’s year. She has an excellent team around her, none more so than my good friend, Scott Kirkwood, who is her manager. I’d like to see her do the business this year. Also, anything that Ross Keppie is putting out on Fuzzkill Records deserves widespread acclaim. Fuzzkill are the coolest label in Scotland.

What trend do you hope to see continue in Scottish music in this year?

Scotland has such a supportive scene. It sounds cliche, but it is so true. I’d like to see more labels like Fuzzkill Records come though. I’d also like to see Tenement TV build on their momentum as the best media platform in Scotland for music – those guys really put in the hours.

READ MORE: 10 essential Scottish record labels

ROSS KEPPIE, LABEL BOSS

Ross Keppie established the Glasgow-based label Fuzzkill Records in 2014.

What was your personal music highlight of 2015?

If I had to choose something I was part of, I’d say the Fuzzkill house party BBQ was my favourite moment, with seven bands and 100+ people partying in The Bellybuttons’ house on a long hot day in the summer. Also, finally seeing Black Lips live – that was cool.

What live events are you most looking forward to in 2016?

In the next few months I’m looking forward to shows from Hinds, Black Tambourines, Tacocat, Tomorrows Tulips and the Beaches Brew fest in Italy. And the Fuzzkill Valentines party on February 13 at Nice ‘N’ Sleazy.

Which 2016 record releases are you most excited about?

The next New Swears album, Martin Shkreli’s Wu-Tang album, and plenty more that I can’t think of at this moment.

Which Scotland-based artist do you expect to make a breakthrough in 2016?

There’s loads that could do it, but I’d say Breakfast MUFF - they are one of the hardest working and most entertaining bands around for sure so it’s only a matter of time really. I also think The Bellybuttons and Sweaty Palms could definitely do big things this year. Maybe I’m being biased though.

What trend do you hope to see continue in Scottish music in this year?

It’s been good to see a lot of bands move on to bigger things who deserve it. In the past few months a few of my favourite bands that I’ve released music from, or put on shows for - Catholic Action, Spinning Coin and The Pooches - have signed to bigger labels and its thoroughly deserved and long may it continue. There’s loads of really great bands round Glasgow.

KEVIN BUCKLE, RECORD STORE OWNER

Kevin Buckle has operated his Avalanche Records store from a variety of locations across Edinburgh since first opening in 1983.

What was your personal music highlight of 2015?

The Laurie Cameron album The Girl Who Cried For The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Great title, great album and appeared out of the blue. Lyrically very strong, and was our best selling album of 2015. My favourite song was the appropriately titled We’re Still Here by Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat from their album The Most Important Place In The World – which also includes my favourite lyric, “these ****ing amateurs in their sisters’ clothes and unnecessary spectacles.”

What live events are you most looking forward to in 2016?

I’m hoping to plan something very special for Record Store Day this year with a week of live events leading up to the big day.

Which 2016 record releases are you most excited about?

I’m very keen to hear the new Frightened Rabbit album, which was produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner so that will be interesting. The Star Wheel Press’ second album won’t disappoint, I’m sure, and I’ve heard there may well be a second Quickbeam album later in the year. As I do every year, I hope for a There Will Be Fireworks album. The new Emma Pollock album, out this week, is a great start to the year.

Which Scotland-based artist do you expect to make a breakthrough in 2016?

Star Wheel Press. They’re fronted by charismatic singer Ryan Hannigan, but this is very much a band. I’m looking forward to the artwork and sleeve for the second album, as Ryan is also a respected artist with his Temple Gallery in Aberfeldy and is involved with Scottish tweed and tailoring company Haggart’s 1801. Initially championed by Lauren Laverne and Ian Rankin, they have gathered many more celebrity fans since to add to their ever-growing fan base.

What trend do you hope to see continue in Scottish music in this year?

Great second albums from artists whose first album we have supported and done well with.