Introducing the Most Exciting Artists in Glasgow Right Now, and the Label Bringing Them Together
Huntleys + Palmer's bring together the most exciting new artist's from the UK's most innovative city.
This post ran originally on THUMP UK.
"It's no secret that the weather here, is atrocious." Andrew Thomson is talking about the microclimate the envelopes Scotland's second city. He's run his label, Huntleys + Palmers, in and out of Glasgow since 2007 with the intention of bringing "the artists and DJ's who excited me to the city for the first time." Yet it wasn't until H+P's first release in 2011—Auntie Flo's Goan Highlife 10"—caused a stir, that things started to look up for the imprint.
Bold, statement releases from the likes of SOPHIE and Alejandro Paz followed, making it clear that H+P wasn't going to be a run of the mill-house operation. With their stature growing, Thomson was keen forge ideas of interconnectivity and inclusion within the city—something that Glasgow is already famous for. Venues like the Green Door Studios have long been creative hubs for musicians and artists to explore in a collaborative manner, and that sense of kinship strikes me as important to Thompson, H+P, and the acts that circulate around it.
"When planning our Boiler Room session, I faced a dilemma...I wanted to use it as a platform to showcase as much of Glasgow's talent as possible," Thomson told me. "So while not being able to feature everyone on the broadcast itself, I came up with the compilation idea."
The result was Clyde-Built, a 22 track overview of everything innovative and interesting made in Glasgow in early 2016. Featuring, amongst other treats, avant-YMOpop by Joe Howe, Italia90's Baikal-deep house, and some good old fashioned art school detachment courtesy of the fantastically named Modern Institute, Clyde-Built was, and is, a great overview of a city that's having something of a renaissance at the moment.
He's decided to round off the year in by releasing Clyde-Built 2.0, another fantastic—and fantastically odd—run-through the city's musical outer limits. Inside you'll find club music, disjointed house, and even some Life Without Buildings heartbreak shamble-pop by my new favourite band Still House Plants. Listening to it, you can't help but imagine that London, with its vastness, its inability to read itself as a totality, could never produce such a diverse but succinct statement of intent.
Thompson, who's spent time living in London, seems slightly damning of the place. "I was really taken aback when I moved to London—the lack of decent venues for a city of its size was quite striking," he says. "This was back in 2010 and I don't need to add any more inches to the 'woe is London nightlife' columns, but let's put it this way: eight million more people live in London, and Glasgow has the same amount of decent clubs that I would happily go to/play at on a weekend as London does. Which I think speaks to more about the vibrant scene in Glasgow than it does London..."
But you know what? Fuck London. Let's leave London out of this. To really get to grips with what's going on north of the border, we spoke to a few of the producers featured on Clyde 2.0. Now, if you need us, we'll be on a Megabus...
THUMP: How did you come to work with the Huntleys + Palmers guys?
MR TC: I met Andy at a night at the Art School when he moved back up to Glasgow. After that we ended up seeing each other around at a lot of things and I'd always go to H+P nights so we got to know each other. At some point he sent me a message about contributing a track to the first Clyde-Built comp and that was that.
Is Glasgow a city where there's a real strong sense of cohesion and collaboration amongst musicians?
I think the size of Glasgow means that it's very easy for people to know everyone that's in the scene. You get plenty of new projects starting up all the time and with things like the supergroups course at Green Door, interesting collaborations always seem to be happening.
Where do you feel you fit into the Glasgow scene?
Maybe somewhere in the crossover between electronic/club/techno/house/etc scene and the guitar/band/gig scene. I run club nights and DJ at the Art School but we'll often have punk bands playing amongst DJs and I make electronic music that's tinged with Krautrock and psychedelic guitar music. I also work a day job as a booker for a rock venue.
What's the ideal night out in the city?
Every now and then you get these incredible nights where you feel like everyone you know is there, the club will be great and there'll be a great after party that people end up talking about for ages.
Finally, what's Glasgow's best kept secret?
Green Door Studio!
THUMP: Can you tell us what brought you and H+P together?
Cucina Povera: I initially got involved with the scene through DJing at Subcity—interweaving vinyl records with spoken word and weird field recordings—and subsequently through Green Door's projects aimed at developing young people's musicianship skills. Thanks to material created within this realm, H+P got in touch to release a track I co-wrote and co-produced for Luxos, a collaborative project with Dan Magee of Lo Kindre.
Is Glasgow as collaborative as it seems?
I feel as though "the scene" can be quite insular and self-serving, so unless you already have a foot in the door it can seem insurmountably intimidating to try and put material out there, to try and play gigs. But I have been fortunate enough to have lived in the city for a while, and so I have been able to get involved with projects that have helped me grow.
Do you fit into what's going in the city? And does that matter?
I feel like a bit of an oddball chancer; I don't have fancy equipment and I cycle to gigs with my set-up in a backpack. I work with found stuff and chance encounters as the name Cucina Povera evokes. When it comes to music, I work with what I find in the cupboard, or on walks around the city—within the dual paradigm of precarity and serendipity.
What's the best way to spend a night out there?
The ideal night out is a wander through the Necropolis at pitch dark, equipped with a torch, a portable recorder, cigs and a flask of mulled Bucky.
Tell us the city's best kept secret.
Glasgow's best kept secret is the putrid spectre of the water treatment plant at Kelvin Hall, and other, vaguely less smelly, more convivial waterway spirits inhabiting the nooks and crannies of Glasgow's rivers, ponds and locks.
THUMP: What was your first run in with Andrew?
Hammer: Andrew has been a good friend for years, and that began when I started running nights in Glasgow around 2008. H+P was always an inspiration for me, from the bookings, to the artwork, to the general vibe, plus Andy always gave me lots of advice on various things that I didn't have a clue about. More recently he lived with me for a year, overhearing a lot of the music I was making from my bedroom studio, which was the catalyst to get me involved with the label. One of my tracks actually inspired the first Clyde Built comp, but never made it on!
Is there a community spirit in Glasgow?
For me this couldn't be more true, with Andy supporting me when I was starting my first parties, Optimo supporting and releasing my first ever solo EP, and also collaborating with artists such as General Ludd and Hi & Saberhagen. Everyone gets along and supports each other, which I am sure is common in a lot of vibrant cities. Glasgow is quite small and it has so many producers and musicians, so it's really easy to go round to a friends place in the evening and record some music. It's also a very social place, and from my experience a lot of people are wanting to work together. Green Door studio is another example of this, it runs funded music programmes that bring people together in an amazing way; bands like Golden Teacher were formed there and Optimo are constantly releasing music from the projects that go on there.
Do you think that what you do equates to the wider city scene?
I've never really thought about this, and I'm not sure how I feel about placing myself in a scene. What I would say is that there is a lot people who love to have fun and also really appreciate quality underground electronic music. Some of the people contribute creatively and some just enjoy it and participate. I'd like to think I do both.
What's your ideal night out in Glasgow?
Starting on Friday evening: Tabac for a few drinks, Sub Club, after party, a few more pubs (Distill, Chip or The Drake), back to Sub Club for Harri & Dom, after party. That's generally how things go.
Finally, what's Glasgow's best kept secret?
Everyone is pretty upfront so there's not too many secrets left.
Photo by Ewan McQuillan
Stereotone is a party and label on the rise, and it's run by a dude who calls himself Wheelman. Their ethos is simple—all they want is a night with good music for good people, and, frankly, who could ask for more? When he's not running those nights, or releasing tunes by the likes of Bleaker, he's making tunes like "Bus It," a Bobby Caldwell sampling woozy-banger for the pissed-up and broken-hearted.
THUMP: So, Wheelman and H+P. What's the backstory?
Wheelman: Was really straightforward, big bossman Andrew got in touch and asked if I had anything I'd want to contribute to the compilation. I'd been a fan of the label for years and the last Clyde Built was great so I was happy to be involved!
Is Glasgow a city where there's a real strong sense of cohesion and collaboration amongst musicians?
In certain circles definitely, in others not so much; just like anywhere really. I've got a handful of close friends who make music and they give me feedback on what I do and vice versa but I wouldn't say we have a cohesive style, we all do things pretty differently and I think we're better off for it.
Do you feel like you're part of any scene in particular?
It's quite hard to say really. I quickly became friends with loads of different people in Glasgow when I started going out regularly but the way licensing laws are in the city (with clubs shutting at 3AM), as well as there being so many DJs and artists, makes it hard for newcomers to get warm up slots and prove themselves to people. So after a few years I decided to just do it myself and started up a club night (and now record label) called Stereotone which is, thankfully, still going strong and coming up for it's second birthday!
What's a good way to spend a Saturday night in Glasgow?
With good friends and good music.
What's the big secret on everyone's lips at the moment?
If someone is trying to keep a secret I don't think they will have told me about it. If they did it wouldn't be kept secret for very long.
THUMP: How did you establish a working relationship with the label?
Hausfrau: I contributed a track of mine to the Clyde Built 2.0 Compilation. The first Clyde Built compilation was brilliant and showcased such a variety of underground Glasgow-produced talent, and I was really flattered to be asked to submit something.
Is Glasgow a city where there's a strong sense of cohesion and collaboration amongst musicians?
I've only ever made music in Glasgow so I don't know how it compares to other cities, but the musical community here seems pretty inclusive and supportive. There's a lot of mutual appreciation across genres, as well as opportunities for newer musicians to work alongside more established acts. Nobody is unapproachable. The programmes run by the Green Door Studio are responsible for lot of the most interesting creative collaborations in this city. There's a good deal of crossover between the fields of music, visual art and performance due to festivals like Buzzcut, Glasgow International and Glasgow Film Festival. It was the latter that prompted a collaboration between Tut Vu Vu and myself—one of the tracks on Clyde Built 2.0 ("When Lovers Finally Meet") was recorded as part of a commissioned performance at Paisley Abbey last year.
Do you feel like part of a broader scene at all?
I'm not sure if I do, but I prefer the freedom of being able to adapt and shift rather than occupying a fixed position.
How does one go about having the best night out possible?
This is a difficult question for me because I know a lot of individuals who work tirelessly to make Glasgow's nightlife worthy of its legendary status and I feel like I'm betraying them by admitting that I don't like going out very much. I feel anxious in crowded places and unnerved by high levels of background noise. That said, I'm not a complete hermit—I do enjoy the odd gig at The Old Hairdressers or the Hug and Pint, or a screening at the CCA.
Are there any big secrets you want to let us into?
There are too many choices. I've lived here for almost 10 years and I'm still encountering new people and places. I don't think it's possible to get bored here. Maybe give me another 10 years.
Photo by Joe Oremus
Night School Records is an imprint run by the prolific Michael Kaspiaris that's played host to the likes of Divorce, The Space Lady, and Helena Celle. He makes music as the Apostille, and the Apostille material is a dark and damaged exploration of the farthest reaches of gutter-dwelling minimal EBM; a clanking, crawling mess of barely-there vocals, tin-can percussion, and crumpled Casio blurt. If you're not interested in an album called Virile Strain Transmission then you're pretty much beyond hope.
THUMP: What's the backstory with you and Andy and the label?
Apostille: I'd been aware of them for ages. I think perhaps I heard of them through an artist I like called Mamacita. H+P approached me kind of out the blue and asked for a track for the compilation. The only thing I had was a demo I had for the next album which I was more than happy to let go.
Is Glasgow really that heavy on collaboration?`
Yes. It's always been like that, I think. I lived in London for 10 years before moving back home and there's definitely a different feel. I find it cheering that people are happy to work together and help each other here, often out-with a framework of capital and money. Perhaps because it's a relatively small city, but things are more cohesive here: you get the same people going to hardcore punk shows, underground raves, independent cinema festivals. I think that's healthy. People are very open and there are always new and interesting partnerships and collaborations springing up.
Where, if anywhere, do you feel you fit into the Glasgow scene?
Ha, God knows! I've always had a low-grade chip on my shoulder which I've been slowly growing out of, it's comforting to be an outsider sometimes. The reality is I've been around long enough to know quite a few people in Glasgow who make things. I think I'm probably smack bang in the middle of being naive and excited enough with the music I make not to be jaded but also I'm active enough in putting records out and putting gigs on to be, I hope, some sort of help for people traveling to the city to play and also new people trying to make music. I'm probably completely self-deluded though.
Sell us the ideal night out in the city?
For me, making no plans, or very few. Food in Mono, Paseano, Dining Inn, Yadgar, Ranjit's Kitchen (though not all of them in the same night), maybe a gig in The Old Hairdressers or Sleazy's or someone's house, a drink in the Laurieston, or Heraghty's, maybe stumble upon The Modern Institute/Golden Teacher crew and their sound system in a tunnel or dancing in someone's house. The likelihood is I'll probably be putting a gig on and stressing about turn out if I'm being honest.
Go on...what's Glasgow's best kept secret?
No matter how many times you fuck up, it always forgives you.
Clyde Built 2.0 is out now on Huntleys + Palmers