The Scotsman Sessions #317: Walt Disco

Welcome to the Scotsman Sessions. With the performing arts sector still impacted by the pandemic, 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, Glasgow’s Walt Disco perform their song Weightless

Like all great pop groups, Glasgow sextet Walt Disco synthesise their cherished influences into something that’s entirely true to themselves. They’re theatrical artisans openly indebted to Bowie, The Associates, Sparks, Scott Walker, Goth, Glam and New Romanticism. That much is clear. But they’re also Walt Disco, a unique sensation.

Debut album Unlearning is structured like a stage show, complete with musical intermission. At times it sounds like an experimental electro-pop reimagining of queer culture classics such as The Rocky Horror Show. It’s playful and heartfelt all at once. Simply irresistible.

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The individual tracks can be enjoyed in isolation, but you really need to experience this introductory statement in all its giddily ambitious glory. Walt Disco are a band with a unified vision of who they want to be and what they want to say.

Walt Disco

“We're strong advocates of being comfortable with who you are,” says charismatic frontperson James Potter, “and we think everyone deserves encouragement when it comes to being themselves. We want to help people find this if we can, and also each other too!”

Since forming in 2015, Walt Disco have gradually developed their identity. “The old Walt Disco was an entirely different band,” says Potter. “With this current line-up we finally have all the parts we need for what we want to create.”

They’ve also attracted a fervent following. Walt Disco’s live shows are all-inclusive, celebratory affairs. The close relationship between the band and their devotees is rather touching.

“With our fans,” says Potter, “we see a lot of ourselves in them and I think it goes both ways too. We can all relate to each other and we want our live shows to be a sharing of strength and bravery. It's crucial for us, when we play live, to feel that there is no divide between us on stage and them in the audience. It's a mutual, shared experience that everyone plays an equal part in.”

Walt Disco are hugely positive role models for the LGBTQ+ community. Potter, who is gender nonconforming, doesn’t see their band as “leaders of any kind of movement”, but they’re understandably delighted by what’s been achieved so far.

“To be part of such a positive thing, even by setting an example, is something we're very proud of. We're really just seeking to create a safe space for people to be themselves, and by putting ourselves out there, hopefully showing other people that they can achieve the same if they want to.”

The song they’ve chosen to perform for the Scotsman Sessions is Weightless, which in its studio incarnation acts as Unlearning’s dramatic overture. Walt Disco’s music can’t be easily pigeonholed, but Weightless does represent a calling card of sorts; ghosts of art-pop’s past haunting visions of its future.

“We have a massive fascination for modern electronic pop,” says Potter, “so marrying the timelessness of our earlier influences with the forward-facing nature of our contemporary ones is really exciting to us.”

Find out more about Walt Disco at www.waltdisco.com