The Scotsman Sessions #61: Tenement & Temple

Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With the performing arts world shutting down for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, Monica Queen and John Smillie, aka Tenement & Temple, perform their ten-minute epic, Home

Over the past three decades, Monica Queen’s voice has rung out, intuitive and passionate, from a host of live and recorded collaborations with the likes of Snow Patrol, James Grant and The Pogues, but immortalized most effectively on the much loved Belle & Sebastian single, Lazy Line Painter Jane.

Along with her guitarist/producer partner John Smillie, she has stayed, played and made music in Glasgow since the late 80s, fronting grungey indie outfit Thrum before returning to her country roots on a couple of tremulous solo albums, Ten Sorrowful Mysteries and Return of the Sacred Heart.

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Last year, the pair re-emerged as Tenement & Temple with a ravishing self-titled debut album which played to their love of old school country romance and their talent for whipping up a quiet but intense storm.

Tenement & Temple

During lockdown, they have continued to collaborate on a number of fronts (“all early days”) as well as work on a follow-up, which will feature the ten-minute epic they have chosen for their Scotsman Session - appropriately for a band part named after their city’s historic housing stock, it’s called Home.

“It is about the importance of a good home as a basic human right,” they say. “The phrase we’ve been living for the last while is ‘Stay Home’ so there's never been a more crucial time for the world to recognise how important that basic right is - not just a roof but a pleasant, welcoming place for you and your family to enjoy, preferably with some outdoor space.”

Smillie cites Berlin’s low rent culture as a model, making it a magnet for creatives over the years. “We love to travel, and this song was written after a visit to Berlin around the time of David Bowie's death. It infused our visit and somehow became entangled with the home theme.”

Tenement & Temple is out now on Thrum Recordings, https://tenementandtemple.bandcamp.com/

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