Young Fathers to aid Edinburgh live music debate

Young Fathers performing live. Picture: Richard Gray
Young Fathers performing live. Picture: Richard Gray
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SCOTLAND’S breakthrough band of the year have offered to help broker a peace deal to try to resolve the mounting crisis over Edinburgh’s live music scene.

Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers say they are prepared to take part in talks with council chiefs in a bid to help struggling promoters and venues secure a better deal from the city. A crisis summit of music industry figures was called last month to address growing protests over levels of red tape for venues, noise restrictions for live music and a lack of protection for key sites from developers.

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The band, who were formed in a venue which has since been bulldozed to make way for an office and hotel development, said they wanted to hear an official explanation of the city’s policies and their plans to turn things around.

The hip hop trio, who won the Scottish Album of the Year award in the summer, told Scotland on Sunday there was no comparison between the live music scenes in Edinburgh and Glasgow and accused the council of adopting an inconsistent approach to arts and culture throughout the year.

Rapper Alloysious Massaquoi said: “It is so frustrating. Edinburgh is a vibrant, beautiful city and it would be great if it had a thriving live music scene. I just think a lot more could be done.

“It’s obviously not good at the moment. We’ve been trying to do events for years. It’s pretty bad when someone from the council turns up with a noise meter and says ‘you can’t go any higher than this’.

“The council has been aware of this problem for years, so it’s positive that they are now taking the initiative on it. I don’t see why we couldn’t go and speak to them and talk about the issues. It would be good to get an explanation of how it is and why it is.”

The band won the Mercury Prize just days before the music industry summit in the Usher Hall, where councillors revealed plans for a taskforce to address key issues, including the demise of venues such as the Bongo Club, where Young Fathers met, the Venue and the Picture House.

Many promoters and venue managers claim the council’s officers are too swift to clamp down on the basis of just one noise complaint, even when new properties have been built next to an existing nightspot.

Massaquoi added: “It just needs to be much more balanced. They must know there are people out there who complain about anything.

“It seems ridiculous that one person can get a whole thing shut down.”

“The best times to come to Edinburgh are either at Hogmanay or during the Fringe. All these people come here from other cultures and think Edinburgh is like this all the time, but it’s not. People tell me how great they think it is. I tell them to come back after August and see what it’s like.”

The city council said Young Fathers had been invited to attend last month’s summit and would be contacted again over the setting up of the taskforce which had been announced at the event. It is due to report back to councillors in the spring.

A council spokeswoman said: “As home-grown talent and a band due to take to the stage at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, we very much welcome views and suggestions from Young Fathers on how we can enhance Edinburgh’s live music scene.

“We know musicians and live music venue owners have strong perceptions around the council’s noise licensing. That is why we have now set up a working group to look into how we, as a council, could do things differently.”

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