Among the many big music names appearing in Edinburgh this month, the return of Summerhall’s Nothing Ever Happens Here music strand is an all-Scottish affair. Among the artists playing are Sacred Paws, Stanley Odd, Siobhan Wilson and James Yorkston.
“At Summerhall we operate at the heart of our local arts community, and we viewed it as our duty to get local musicians performing to their local audiences as a statement of trust and faith in them,” says NEHH promoter Jamie Sutherland. “There are a lot of musicians wanting to play around the UK, but I felt it wasn't fair to go too far afield with our programming choices, as we have world class Scottish artists on our doorstep.”
Most of the shows will be presented in Summerhall’s Secret Courtyard, its covered, eighty-capacity, socially distanced outdoor arena, in the rear courtyard where the venue usually hosts the Roundabout tent. Sutherland picks no favourites, but he says that the first live performance of songs from Carla Easton’s album Weirdo – released at the start of lockdown, prior to Easton founding her new band Poster Paints and giving floristry a go – will be special.
“It feels so strange to have an album that’s never been performed live and is almost a year old,” says Easton. “It almost feels forgotten. I always thought Weirdo would translate well to a live experience, it's a pretty synth-heavy album, full of intricacies which weren’t designed to be performed acoustically via livestream.
“I always think of live performances as snapshots in time, where you had to be there, and which can spark conversations and friendships and build communities. You never know what's going to happen and you can only relive it through memories and conversation. That gets lost in livestream because everything is preserved and immediately available online. You lose the spontaneity. I can't wait to have sound wrapped around me.”
Also appearing is Kapil Seshasayee, who – if such a thing isn’t an oxymoron – has had a good lockdown. “It's been a productive time for me personally,” he says. “I released two singles from my upcoming concept album about Bollywood, did a bunch of livestreamed showcases such as SXSW, Canadian Music Week, ILMC and Wide Days, signed with a management team, worked on a documentary about disabled music workshops in Glasgow and finished recording my next record which lands in 2022. I also somehow managed to fit in getting married.”
His wife Diljeet Bhachu plays flute, keys and percussion in the full live band which will be appearing here, where Seshasayee will debut songs from his new LP Laal, the follow-up to his 2018 concept album about the Indian caste system, A Sacred Bore. “I'll be playing songs from both records, with some additional surprises planned that I can't reveal just yet,” he says.
Andrew Wasylyk is another musician with a new, unperformed album to bring to Edinburgh. “This is an opportunity to travel to a beautiful city, to play music with wonderful musicians, to share a communal experience with an audience,” he says. “It means a great deal to me, it's a privilege. Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolation was released last year and none of those songs have had a chance to be performed live. There will be an eight-piece group on stage, along with visual accompaniment by artist Tommy Perman, and we'll be performing material from my last three albums, as well as the forthcoming Balgay Hill: Morning in Magnolia.
“I hope there are certain consequences of the past year which will help create a fairer environment within the industry,” he continues. “One example would be the inequalities within recorded music and how digital streaming royalties are shared between streaming services, labels and artists.”
Each of those I spoke to had concerns about the future of their industry, from streaming revenues to the fallout from Covid and the eventual impact of Brexit on international touring – which makes it all the more important that fans support artists live shows now. “The music industry and its live core is a creative and resilient sector with a lot of smart people working in it,” says Sutherland, “but it does feel as if it's under constant assault at the moment.”
Summerhall’s Nothing Ever Happens Here music programme is in the venue’s Secret Courtyard bar and online from 6-29 August. www.summerhall.co.uk