Sacred Paws on winning the SAY Award 2017


This report originally appeared in The Skinny

We recap last night’s Scottish Album of the Year Award festivities in Paisley

Amidst the elegant Victorian splendour of the Paisley Town Hall for the second year running (in support of the town’s City of Culture 2021 bid), the sixth Scottish Album of the Year Award ceremony opens with comperes and king and queen of Caledonian music radio, Vic Galloway and Nicola Meighan.

Last year’s SAY Award winner Anna Meredith emerges with full band; the jarring, menacing synths and furiously-pounded drums filling the cavernous room along with a wild cacophonous mix of strings, vocals, guitar, clarinet and tuba. Next up are The Spook School with their chirpy, C86-inspired indiepop, before this year’s shortlisted acts are presented with a 3D-printed souvenir of their achievement.

Roars of appreciation greet each of the ten acts as they collect their original art and heartfelt hugs from the hosts. Pictish Trail‘s disappearing act hints at his stand-up past life as he eventually appears having been waylaid in the press room, leaping from the stage to the podium and treating us to a selection of primal howls. Elephant Sessions provide some excellent toe-tapping trad whilst Be Charlotte combine beautiful, energetic pop with the incredible vocal gymnastics of Charlotte Brimner; two acts further illustrating the healthy diversity of Scotland’s musical landscape, one that so successfully saves space for each and every genre.

Then it’s on to the announcement of 2017’s winners, with the much-tipped Sacred Paws taking the £20k prize for debut record Strike A Match. They were clearly a favourite if measured by the crowd’s reaction and pre-show chatter, with music fans and fellow artists hailing this year’s winner – an album of shimmering sunshine pop riffs and rhythms. Sacred Paws, however, are shocked and a little bit speechless.

Sacred Paws on winning the SAY, and plans for the future

We catch up with the beaming Sacred Paws duo Rachel Aggs and Eilidh Rodgers, fresh from their victory. “I actually can’t believe it,” states Rodgers, with Aggs adding: “We’re still processing it.”

“I guess it means my dad is going to take it seriously now,” laughs Rodgers. “[He’s] going to stop asking me about a career. It will be fun to tell him.” She adds: “It could have gone either way. Unfortunately I had a lot of friends that kept saying [we’d win] and I think that made it worse, it made me feel more nervous!”

The duo suggests that Rock Action label bosses and fellow award nominees Mogwai will be happy with the result, despite the band’s Atomic soundtrack missing out on the top accolade. “There were a lot of incredible albums on the long- and shortlists,” says Rodgers. “A lot of people that we really love as well. Ela [Orleans, fellow shortlisted artist] played at our album launch; she’s just our favourite, she’s incredible, so I hope we’re still friends!” she laughs.

The SAY Award has changed the lives of some of its previous winners, with the money a crucial cash injection for their professional musical careers. “I hate disappointment so we won’t have any expectations,” admits Rodgers. “If our lives change that would be a good thing I’m sure,” she says, joking that she’s now quit her job at iconic Glasgow record store Monorail.

“There are a lot of awards but the SAY Award seems a bit more grassroots and a genuinely supportive thing,” says Rodgers. “They kind of started it for that reason so I think it’s in keeping with the more sort of DIY kind of culture in Glasgow. It’s cool because they always recognise the smaller acts like us.”

The band plans to play more live shows, including touring with Mogwai, with Aggs set to move up permanently to Glasgow from London. “It will be so much easier now if you live here,” Rodgers enthuses to her bandmate. “It’s going to be great, it’s going to be so much better from this point onwards.”

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Triassic Tusk: A Label of Love


This label profile originally appeared in The Skinny

We speak to Triassic Tusk label founders Ziggy Campbell and Stephen Marshall to find out how it all began and what’s next

“We’re not very good at this, we fuck up a lot of stuff, but I guess you just learn as you go,” laughs Ziggy Campbell, core member of experimental art collective FOUND, solo artist Lomond Campbell and co-chief of new DIY not-for-profit Fence Records offshoot, Triassic Tusk. “I don’t know if we’re in it for the long game, I just can’t predict how it will go. If it all goes tits up in two years at least we can say we’ve done some really cool albums.”

Campbell is labouring in the late spring sun at his home near Fort William; jubilant birdsong soundtracks the continuing toil refurbishing his Highland home. The once dilapidated, rural schoolhouse will double as a recording studio, eventually. It’s already heavily influenced the sound of his Lomond Campbell project, with the bones of the immense Black River Promise LP recorded there. It was the fledgling label’s debut album release proper, which snuck through without much fanfare at the end of last year. Buoyant with dense, spiraling string arrangements from Pete Harvey, it didn’t receive nearly as much exposure or praise as it deserved, and Campbell hints at a far more fitting re-release for the title via a “well-established label” in the coming months.

Triassic Tusk’s co-owner Stephen Marshall is in the departures lounge at Heathrow, feeling down about an impending week-long business trip to Japan. He recently reassessed his life, quitting a high-powered job in the whisky industry after realising aspects of his work were “fucking dull” to pursue things that mattered more to him – time at home, music and records. He’s got a serious collection, buying at least one piece of vinyl every day.

A chance encounter with Frànçois Marry (of Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains) where he suggested Marshall DJ with some of his impressive vinyl cache led to developing a series of club nights called Moon Hop with Campbell; they pressed a compilation of tracks from his collection (Screamers, Bangers & Cosmic Synths) to promote the event. After the initial runs sold out quickly, there were a series of represses that led to the birth of Triassic Tusk. They’re still doing Moon Hop, though toying with changing the name. Recent events have been under the banner of Wax and Wayne but Campbell says Marshall thinks that sounds “too sexual”.

The label is a labour of love. “Fucking hell, it loses me money, it costs me,” Marshall admits. “If I charged the label for the time spent on it, it would have gone under.” He’s learning as he goes. “I deliberately left the whisky industry because I didn’t want to be in an industry and I learned very quickly that I don’t want to be in the music industry,” he states. “People in the music industry are exactly the same as people in any other industry; they’re pretty much self-obsessed, money-obsessed, and that’s why I’ll not be part of a music industry, writing promotional things to send to the radio stations. [It’s about] getting nice records out and dealing with record shops.”

He continues: “I was in Monorail yesterday. I took them in the new King Creosote single, and it was an absolute pleasure talking to them. They’re all really nice folk and we talked about records, I bought some records (including the beautiful new State Broadcasters album A Different Past). It was a pleasant experience and it’s simple and there is no underhand stuff. But they’re a bit of a rarity. I’d rather just deal increasingly with specific record shops that are actually good and supportive of new music, particularly new Scottish music, and ignore the others.”

Marshall’s simply motivated to make a difference, inspired by admiration for the likes of short-lived but hugely influential labels like Postcard Records. He’s uncertain if it’s sustainable long-term. “I think I probably pay everybody too much money for gigs, so the gigs run at a massive loss,” he laughs. Fence Records has also been a huge inspiration and Triassic Tusk is essentially a direct descendant of the Fife collective.

Campbell, who was involved with Fence in its early days, says they took a lot of cues from the label. “I really liked the way they worked and I liked the kind of ‘no star’ ethos… everybody mucked in,” he recalls. “It’s a nice affiliation, to still be in bed with them so to speak. I think Fence has got a lot of legs on it yet but it does kind of make sense to fly the nest at some point and go and do something on your own.” Marshall adds: “[Fence Records is] run in a very specific way, so the way that Kenny runs it could never possibly grow.

“The influence motivates me more than money,” Marshall continues. “It’s an ego thing… I’m not ashamed to admit that I need an ego boost,” he laughs. “The motivation of putting things out there so that [people] know you did that. I specifically set out in my last whisky job to create five new brands; it was a legacy project, I wanted my gran to know that I had made these whiskies. My gran is on the cover of Jo Foster’s single for that reason. If you can do any kind of little bit of inspiring someone to do something, then that’s a really nice feeling. If us doing a small shitty label means that somebody else does another small shitty label and gets some records out then it’s a good thing.”

There’s a lot lined up for the label already, with such a strong and growing roster and an impressive list of past and forthcoming releases. The Sexual Objects are poised to put out their new album, followed by a specially remixed EP. But once Campbell’s home studio is fully wired up, it’s the forthcoming debut LP from Jo Foster that the pair are most enthused about.

“She’s got an amazing album in her, we just know she has,” Campbell asserts. “We’ve been putting her on quite a lot at our own nights and every time she plays she just seems to get more confident. She’s working with this multi-instrumentalist… and I just think she’s got a killer album sitting insider her that needs to come out. She’s never actually sat down and focused and done an album. Even the single, when I handed it to her she was almost in tears because she’d never had her music on vinyl before, so it was a really big moment for her.”

“I’ve collected all of Jo Foster’s little EPs – she’s done like 20 copies of CDRs – and there’s enough music on that to put an album out let alone the supposed 100 songs that she’s written that are meant to be amazing,” says Marshall. “I heard a couple of demos as well, we’re just really excited about it. Hopefully we’ve got a few other people lined up to record at Ziggy’s as well.”

“Eventually we’ll lose money,” confesses Campbell. “All it would take would be for us to do one record that didn’t sell a single thing. You can’t always predict it, but I think that would probably wipe us out.” But so far they seem to be getting things right. Screamers… sold 500 copies in 10 days, Withered Hand’s recent single sold out and Black River Promise did well considering the lack of push it received.

“That’s something to aim towards, to try and do cool things and really good projects that we’re excited about. It’s kind of a hobby thing isn’t it; it’s not paying the bills, it’s just fun to do and it’s always really rewarding,” says Campbell. “We still don’t have a track record, you need to build these things up. When I look at folk like Song, by Toad and Chemikal and Fence, they’ve been around for a long time… so I guess it just takes time to get in to the swing of it, I think it will get easier. I felt like I’d fallen out of the music scene a little bit so it’s quite nice to get back in there and be back on the radar a little. For now it’s just working with people that we like; it’s not worth the hassle of working with knobs.”

Triassic Tusk’s releases so far…

Screamers, Bangers & Cosmic Synths – compiled from Marshall’s vast, eclectic personal collection to promote the Moon Hop club nights, the label’s first effort sold-out and was repressed multiple times. They’re currently working on Volumes II and III and hope to have them out in the autumn.

Black River Promise by Lomond Campbell – Ziggy Campbell’s latest solo offering combines beautiful songwriting and intricate string compositions in an album that crept through largely unnoticed at the end of 2016. Expect news of a rerelease on a well-known label soon.

Tiny Vinyls – a series of 7”s with Triassic Tusk artists covering each others’ songs; series II is planned for a future release.

1) Withered Hand – Plenty Courage. Triassic Tusk’s first single. Stay Golden is a strong track from Dan Wilson, and the b-side is his 70s glam version of an unreleased Jo Foster tune.

2) Jo Foster – I’ll Be Thinking of You All the Time. A brilliant original track from the label’s next big thing, complete with a King Creosote cover on the other side.

3) King Creosote – The Lengths. KC covers LC, with a KC oldie on the flip-side.

4) Lomond Campbell covers Withered Hand.

Marshmallow by The Sexual Objects – Enigmatic album from the fourth band of ex-The Fire Engines Davy Henderson, which was originally sold in its entirety via a private auction for £4,213. Expect some exciting news soon on an upcoming remix EP.

Jo Foster – The much-tipped singer is expected to record and release her debut album before the end of the year.

Lomond Campbell plays Black River Promise in full with The Pumpkinseeds as part of Sounding, with Modern Studies, Stockbridge Church, Edinburgh, 20, 21 & 22 Aug
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Aidan Moffat on the final L. Pierre album


This interview originally featured in The Skinny

Aidan Moffat bids farewell to L. Pierre with a carefully constructed final offering that picks apart our changing consumer habits and professes the death of vinyl

We meet up with Aidan Moffat at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe just hours after Theresa May’s surprise appearance as the corpse of Thatcher dug up from Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery. He’s remarkably upbeat; she didn’t announce a world war at least. Perhaps optimism is a symptom of the setting-in of middle age that he refers to a lot lately – he’s attempting a new regime of early nights and less booze; we drink tea so he doesn’t stink of beer for the school run. Despite being a self-anointed grump, his chat is woven with hearty belly-laughs and impish chuckles. The old mischief remains and he can’t resist stirring, putting the proverbial two fingers up when he can, something he does beautifully on the fifth and final offering, 1948 –, from solo project L. Pierre.

1948  is a carefully crafted comment on the state of the music industry and the changing habits of music consumption. Sampled from the very first 33 1/3rpm 12″ LP pressed (recorded in 1948) – a Nathan Milstein version of a popular Mendelssohn violin concerto that Moffat ripped from YouTube in its entirety – it jolts and unsettles in more than just its musical delivery. It’s presented entirely sleeveless, pushes the sounds to the end of the record’s locked groove and is available in a limited run (although he admits it’s already on a second pressing). The private SoundCloud stream being used for review purposes will completely disappear upon the record’s release (28 Apr).

“I was reading about the history of vinyl and about how LPs began and it struck me that the LP is kind of in the same position now as it was in the 50s,” he begins. “In 1948 the Mendelssohn concerto was the very first thing to be released as a 12″ LP but it was always marketed at adults, it was a grown-up format. Then as rock and pop music came in, when the first 7″ happened it was two different generations listening to these formats.

“The kids were buying seven inches because they were cheaper and they had music that appealed to young people, whereas albums were pretty much classical pieces or soundtracks to shows or Frank Sinatra or jazz. The 7″ was the pop format and albums were the adult format. I think that’s where we’re at now, except instead of [the] 7” we’ve got streaming. It struck me that it’s pretty much come full circle, the LP, and I don’t think it’s got anywhere to go.”

Moffat has been openly critical of the rising popularity of streaming services and their impact on artists’ ability to make a living. “I don’t want it to sound like a tirade against streaming because the battle is lost, the war is lost,” he states. “There’s no point fighting streaming because me, and people like me, were roundly defeated. But we’ve mainly been defeated because streaming, like any big business, is a sweatshop. It’s great for consumers, it’s great for the platform, the business, but the workers are getting fucking shagged.

“It’s pretty much the age-old story with music contracts,” he continues. “There were so many pop stars who made, wrote and performed amazing records that never saw a fucking penny. It’s kind of going back to that attitude I think – even politically, everything seems to be returning back to this place where things are getting harder and harder, to be heard certainly. Voices are getting silenced and music is a part of that too.”

He doesn’t buy as many records as he once did, but still cherishes his old vinyl. Now it’s about paying for digital albums and listening to MP3s on his phone; he doesn’t really need LPs in his life and is dismissive of people that buy and never play them. “Part of the reason physical formats aren’t as popular as they used to be is because the process of listening to music for most people now is an intimate act,” he suggests. “You’re almost plugging it in to your body, literally. That need for physical contact isn’t there as much and people of my generation, us middle-aged weirdos that like to touch music, are on the way out. In 40 years we’ll all be gone so I can’t imagine vinyl’s survival beyond that.”

The survival of 1948  in its physical sense is as pivotal to its concept as the way the music on it sounds. Presented ‘naked’, without artwork and with just a copy of the letter Moffat sent to Melodic Records introducing the idea, it’s designed to scuff and scar. “As much as I love vinyl I’ve never been one of these fucking snobs. I hate that ‘warm sound’ argument, who gives a fuck! What’s important is the music in a song, the sense of a song, the words, that’s what people connect with,” he says. “I could hear it through the shittiest fucking system… like all these brilliant old blues records you hear, they still sound amazing. Terrible recording but they sound brilliant, because of the bad recording a lot of the time as well.

“It’s the same with the samples I’ve used… it has the idea that it’s survived. I really like the idea there is a mobility to that sound, something has been through a lot and managed to survive,” he explains. “It’s the same reason for doing it with no sleeve – it will survive through this process of you taking it home, it might have a few scars and scratches but it will still be there. We did talk about that too, that people who would normally buy LPs will be fucking furious! It isn’t really intended [to irritate them] but it is an amusing side effect of it certainly. I wanted it to get damaged. All the LP records started with that sort of dusty, scratched, surface noise sound and I thought ‘why don’t we make that part of the actual record itself?’

“I initially thought about doing a glass paper sleeve with the paper inside so every time you took it out it would get worse and worse. The problem with that is I’d have had to do it all by hand, it would have been an enormous job,” he says. “Secondly there was that old Durutti Column album (The Return of the Durutti Column) in the 80s that was made of a sandpaper sleeve, which was a different thing as [it] was on the outside and the idea was it destroyed everything it came in to contact with, which was brilliant and funny, but I felt [my idea] was a bit too close to that as well. Then I thought ‘fuck the sleeve, let’s just leave it to the elements, let it live and breathe in the world’.”

It feels like a neat end to the project, and Moffat likes neat endings. L. Pierre has always been his most leftfield stream of work, and his swansong is no exception. Moving, unsettling, and at times a little harrowing, 1948  might spark differing opinions, but it again marks Moffat out as utterly unique among his peers. “It’s interesting what people say. I’ve seen a couple of people say that I haven’t really done anything, that I’ve just lifted this stuff and put it on a record, which I quite like, I quite like the mystery behind it because it kind of shows that people don’t really know the original piece. Which I don’t expect them to, I didn’t know it until I heard it, but I think it’s curious that they think this [new LP] is what Mendelssohn’s concerto sounded like. It wasn’t like that at all!”

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L. Pierre – 1948–


This review originally featured in The Skinny

Aidan Moffat bows out of his L. Pierre project, but not before leaving an indelible, eerie commentary on our changing consumer patterns and how they could kill the music we claim to care for

From Arab Strap to collaborations with Bill Wells to the reimagined bothy ballads of Where You’re Meant To Be, Aidan Moffat’s lyrical genius, and indeed its delivery, have been pivotal to his persona. But over the past decade and a half, the creative outlet of L. Pierre has enabled Moffat to say so much without words, creating emotion and stories through soundscapes alone.

But it’s time to say goodbye with his fifth offering 1948–, and round off the project with a fitting end. Nathan Milstein’s version of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1948 was the first 12″ LP ever pressed. Here Moffat has lifted the recording in its entirety from YouTube, reimagining the piece through a warped manipulation of short samples to create an unsettling but bonnie beast.

The concept was pitched via post – just one rough LP with an accompanying letter to Melodic outlining what he was trying to say through the pieces and their presentation. It’s a commentary on changing consumer habits; the value of formats and the potential end of the road for vinyl, which he believes has come full circle and is teetering on the brink of extinction. The vinyl-only format is presented sleeveless, with no artwork to speak of (save for a copy of the letter), and in Moffat’s own words it’s designed to be damaged. He wants it to get scratched and battered, for each copy of the (initial) limited run to bear its own personal, unique scars.

It opens with sound akin to nuclear fallout; a scary near-silence of destruction, before a darting climb of repetitive, startled strings give the sense of panic like the scenes of shock and despair that might inhabit silent films. Things take an even more mournful turn with jarring, overlaid string sections seeking to compete, before anxious clips dance under scratched, cyclical surface noise.

What’s striking is the record’s flit from paranoia to foreboding, which lingers to the end of the vinyl’s locked groove. According to Moffat it’s a metaphor for how the lifespan of the LP is in the hands of consumers and listeners. It’s sad to see him part with Pierre, but as ever he’s pitched it right and bowed out in good time, leaving an indelible soundtrack of intelligent and bittersweet beauty.

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Andrew Wasylyk – Themes For Buildings and Spaces



This review originally featured in The Skinny

If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, then who knows what music that’s written about architecture is comparable to. Either way, this series of pieces inspired by multi-instrumentalist Andrew Wasylyk’s hometown of Dundee further augments his talents as both musician and composer.

Originally conceived as an arts festival piece, Themes For Buildings and Spaces paints an elegant but eerie aural picture of an ever-changing cityscape, and despite the absence of Wasylyk’s normally exquisite vocal, this sits well as a stand-alone soundtrack, not just for those familiar with the evolving architectural aesthetics of Scotland’s fourth largest city.

Cyclical piano lines weave through subtle, filmic strings and sorrowful brass embellishments on opener Drift, with the delicate percussive touches and playful keys of Under High Blue Skies following. Via Crucis invokes 1940s movie mysteries while Ghosts of Park Place is disconcerting with haunting synths and distant echoes of carefree children at play. Come the Autumn is a horn-driven, brooding beauty before the rhythmic riffs of Lower Dens Works echo the jute mill machinery of Dundee’s days gone by. The Howff is the formidable final scene; sinister with a lingering, sorrowful air.

This type of music-making might not be entirely unchartered water for Wasylyk, but Themes For Buildings and Spaces shows just how adept a composer he’s become.

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Babe – Kiss & Tell


This review originally featured in The Skinny

While Babe’s 2014 debut, Volery Flighty, walked a varied path – pieced together over time, saturated with instruments and influences – their sophomore effort Kiss & Tell feels more focused than anything the band has done before, signalling a fresh, more measured approach that goes far to replicate the group’s captivating live incarnation. At times they’re part Beta Band, exploring off-kilter electronica and experimental noise with the vocal gymnastics and lyrical ambiguity of the Cocteau Twins.

Recorded and self-produced in more linear blocks, Kiss & Tell finally sees Babe as a fully-formed gang, following some line-up augmentations. With members split between Glasgow, Brussels and London, and with involvement in bands such as Bossy Love, Rozi Plain and François and the Atlas Mountains, the pan-European alliance’s collective musical pedigree is undeniable.

Opener Ayo is awash with slow-building synth, laid-back R&B grooves and understated beats, while Bit Part has room to breathe with handclap samples and wonky riffs. It saunters and builds with repeated near-climaxes, Gerard Black’s immaculate falsetto weaving throughout. Similarly, on Cupola Panorama, Black’s vocals are impeccable over a chorus of gentle synths and 80s guitar licks. There’s synergy between the elements and choirboy melodies floating on a sea of sounds.

Everything drops in to place for Ecce Poque, and the tempo lifts. Cutesy chirps dance over sweet beats and swirling reverb-laden riffs before the eloquent Eurodisco of Perpetuum Mobile. Wisteria is addictive electropop with heart, buoyant and electrifying, while Scooping Pints is a steel drum flirtation of scale-fluttering trills. Closing track Primo is the album’s well-placed crescendo of infectious energy, with beautiful blips, beats and handclaps.

Kiss & Tell is an effortlessly special album from an incredible, largely unclassifiable entity, with endless elements and influences combining to create something thrillingly unique.

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Babe on new album Kiss & Tell


This interview originally featured in The Skinny

We meet up with Gerard Black at Glasgow’s Art School, to talk about the evolution of Babe and to find out more about latest LP, Kiss & Tell

On the surface Babe seem standard fare – four lads on vocals, synths, drums, guitar and bass. But the masses of collective musical experience, tastes and influence that filter through the quartet have seen the pieces fall properly into place on their forthcoming second album, with Babe having refocused and refined their sound. Kiss & Tell proves the four-piece are more united as a group than ever, with a clearer musical aesthetic.

While the unequivocally talented Gerard Black remains front and centre in both songwriting and performing terms, the original line-up has been altered and the live set-up bolstered with the addition of John Baillie Jnr, ex-Dananananaykroyd and now of Bossy Love, on drums. Completing the line-up are London-based Thomas Ogden on guitar and Frenchman Amaury Ranger of François & the Atlas Mountains on bass.

Difficult to categorise but easy to be energised by, the band’s sophomore effort is an addictive mix of electro-pop, synths, offbeat R’n’B and Eurodisco awash with the impeccable falsetto-tinged melodies of Black, a singer and songwriter with an effortless star quality that few possess. Where their 2014 debut Volery Flighty flitted between styles and genres like an overexcited puppy, Kiss & Tell retains the group’s eclecticism but in a more measured manner.

The first album was pieced together over a few years, combining countless instruments and guests, including CHVRCHES‘ Lauren Mayberry. “All the songs were different from one another, but these ones we demoed as a band in the same room with the same set-up [which] made it sound more cohesive,” Black begins. “[Kiss & Tell] was all written in the same six months and all recorded in the same three weeks, and then produced and mixed in about a month.”

Self-produced by Black and Baillie Jnr, the record goes some of the way to recreating Babe’s thrilling full-band incarnation, despite its lack of live drums. Baillie Jnr’s input is a massive part of the energy of the live performance, and his production abilities steered the sound of the new record. This and his percussive skills were largely the reasons he was invited to properly join the band.

“I had a new tune that was more R’n’B,” Black begins. “[I asked John to] do a remix and he sent it back and it was like, ‘This is how it should sound.’ [We] had a three-day session and did every single song and we were like, ‘This is amazing’. We listened back and it was a bit too hyped up, we’d lost our little soft outer edge, so we went back in and eased up the compressors and turned everything down.” Then the band’s drummer at the time couldn’t make a gig – Baillie Jnr stepped in, and stayed. “I always knew he was a good drummer. He’s a total beast!” exclaims Black.

Black had stints living in France and Belgium, moving to London at the start of 2015 and returning to Glasgow a year later. The band is now split between London, Brussels and Glasgow but despite this they feel polished and united. “Sometimes we get together and write together. We do that more than we rehearse,” says Black. “Everyone is quite on it in our band, everyone has kind of written their own parts too which I think helps so they remember it and turn up. They’re the sort of guys that can improvise too.”

Lyrics don’t seem to take centre stage for Black. “I often feel lyrics get in the way of a good melody,” he suggests. “I hate it when you hear someone whining about something or being emotional about something. Who the fuck wants to listen to me? I try to make it as weird as possible but I also try to keep it poppy as well.

“Sometimes when I do songs I do it in the [Cocteau Twins vocalist] Elizabeth Fraser style, I sort of go for it and make up words and stuff and then I’m like, ‘I really like the way those vowel sounds go with that melody’, so I try to shoehorn words into it,” Black continues. “I do spend enough time on them to be proud of them, but it never starts with the lyrics. If I really want to get an idea into a song it’s more about the music first and the feeling of the song, and the words come last in terms of the structure.”

Babe reflects Glasgow’s diversity and acceptance of space for all styles in the music community. “It’s always been the way in Glasgow,” suggests Black, positive about the collective feel of the city’s music scene. “I’ve always felt like I haven’t really been part of a scene or anything but then I feel like the scene is more about everyone chipping in and sharing resources and ideas, inviting other people onto bills and so on.”

Their DIY approach is largely out of financial necessity, and technological availability. “I would love to go and work with a big hotshot producer but who’s going to pay for that? Not me, I don’t have any money!” Black admits. “I can’t really complain because I am getting by… but I don’t know how anyone else would do it. I certainly don’t know how anyone from Shettleston or whatever would be able to start up a band and think they might be able to take it seriously.”

With album three already written, Black hints at further reinvention of Babe. It will be self-produced again and hopefully with more of a live feel including live drums rather than programmed beats. “I think if anything it’s going to get smoother, if the demos are anything to go by it’s going to sound more like Sade,” he grins. But for now they’re ready to let Kiss & Tell into the world, and it’s bound to win hearts.

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