The Scotsman Sessions #218: Angelica Mode

Welcome to the award-winning Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed 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, Brian Hughes, aka Angelica Mode, performs his song Porcelain

Dublin, Los Angeles and… Dunfermline – two cities and one town perhaps not previously connected, until through the music of Brian Hughes, aka Angelica Mode. The young Irishman – who swapped his native country for Scotland aged 17, first living in Edinburgh then Fife – only properly began writing songs under his new solo alter-ego at the start of the pandemic last year. “I didn’t want to rest on my laurels not knowing how long the lockdown would last,” he says. Hughes’ previous project, indie-rock band Screamin’ Whisper, had wound down naturally by March 2020. “Surprisingly nothing at all to do with Covid 19,” he explains, “we just did a tour and left it at that.

“I had some songs that had never fitted in with Screamin’ Whisper,” Hughes goes on, “so I directed my focus there, towards what became Angelica Mode. It has a lot more electronic elements like synthesisers than other things I’d done up until that point, but it’s gone down really well so far. I self-released a single in July 2020 called Your Love Is All the Rage, which subsequently got me signed to a label in LA”

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An EP for his new Californian label Sound X 3 is in the works for later in the year. His next single Don’t Make Me Wait comes out before that, at the end of April. It’ll cap what’s been a surprisingly very productive year in lockdown, and first 12 months for Angelica Mode, which has also seen Hughes reach the semi finals of the International Songwriting Competition and become one of 25 acts across the UK selected for a mentoring programme run by the Ivors Academy, which represents songwriters and composers as well as hosting the prestigious Ivor Novello Awards.

Angelica Mode

For his Scotsman Session, Hughes chose an older Angelica Mode song which he thinks offers the best introduction to his music. “I wrote Porcelain after a bit of a dry patch in my songwriting,” he recalls. “I can still remember the feeling of relief when I finished it. I remember having to catch the train to a show in Glasgow right after finishing writing it, and I had recorded the song onto my phone so I wouldn’t forget how it went. I was listening back to it on the walk through Glasgow and I quickly felt that the song was particularly good. I suppose the themes are of love and change, things that are always present, or universal. I think the lyrics and melody say a lot of what I want to convey in my music.”

Angelica Mode’s new single Don’t Make Me Wait is released April 30; www.smarturl.it/AMdontmake

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