Bill Wells heads up Music Language Festival

Bill Wells and the National Jazz Trio of Scotland. Picture: Contributed
Bill Wells and the National Jazz Trio of Scotland. Picture: Contributed
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THE Music Language Festival is like no other in Scotland, and that’s the whole point of its existence.

Founded three years ago (and originally named Music is the Music Language), it’s described by co-creator Fielding Hope as “basically trying to celebrate music that could be deemed experimental or esoteric in any shape or form. Anything we felt was original and exciting and different from everything else that’s being promoted, with an adventurous, open-minded spirit to it.”

Hope is well-known in such circles around Glasgow as the head of eclectic small gig bookers Cry Parrot, although this year is the first time he’ll put on Music Language without its co-founder Emily Roff, formerly of promoter Tracer Trails. “Terrifying but exciting,” is how he describes the prospect.

In fact, listening to Hope discuss his festival, “exciting” is a word he drops often. The festival, he emphasises, isn’t a weekend of wilful obscurity for its own sake or a select boys and girls club geared to champion only the work of friends and friends of friends. He talks with excitement of finding new artists who exist outwith his own field of tastes (returning Glasgow hip-hop outfit Hector Bizerk was one discovery he made last year), and with a purist’s delight about doing something “untainted by the commercial music industry” and the concerns that come with it.

“I don’t think there’s a definitive insight into non-commercial, esoteric music in Scotland,” he says. “And I can’t think of any other festival that does what we do in Scotland. There are always nights on from some amazing promoters that put on this kind of music, but there isn’t that definitive structure in place which brings it all together like this.”

From this year’s line-up, he’s most looking forward to making new discoveries of his own in long-standing Glasgow folk-pop bunch The Hector Collectors and Edinburgh’s radical electronic producer Dalhous (although Hope is one of the only people to have seen the latter’s sole Scottish live date thus far), as well as Glasgow experimentalist Andrew Paine and Bill Wells’ National Jazz Trio of Scotland. He’s more familiar with the devastating live disco-punk assault of Glasgow’s Optimo-signed Golden Teacher and the immersive art-folk of Ela Orleans.

The weekend takes place over six official venues, including art warehouses SWG3, the Glue Factory and Kinning Park Complex, with more secret spaces announced on the day.

“I think that’s challenging but also really exciting for me, finding all these venues that aren’t used so often with no venue structure whatsoever,” says Hope. “It makes it more of an adventure for people, seeing all this esoteric, adventurous, weird music in really odd spaces they’re not used to.”

• The Music Language Festival is at various venues around Glasgow from today until 8 September.