Representing Glasgow, or more specifically, the city’s vibrant subterranean scene, Golden Teacher’s No Luscious Life and the Happy Meals (now known as Free Love) album Full Ashram Devotional Ceremony (Volumes IV – VI) were nominated for 2018’s Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award. The connection goes even further though, with both ‘bands’ releasing music on JD Twitch and JG Wilkes’ Optimo Music. It’s indicative of a city with a strong DIY ethos and particularly adventurous ear.
Another pair with similar ties, Daniel Magee, AKA Lo Kindre, and 12th Isle co-founder Fergus Clark belong to a current wave of Glaswegians pursuing more experimental routes through music. Always pushing beyond established boundaries, a recent collaboration further highlights the impression of a tight-nit community as Magee’s weirdo dub abstractions slotted in seamlessly alongside similarly exploratory releases on his 12th Isle debut. Speaking to both of them, we gained some further insight into the current state of the Glasgow scene.
Electronic music in Glasgow has been in rude health for a while. Would you agree that the “anything goes” philosophy championed by Optimo has never been more apparent?
F: Maybe. I can’t underestimate their influence but a lot of people (myself included) were too young to go to their parties/weren’t so aware of what they did. This idea of anything goes is probably quite natural if you aren’t falling into any cliques or aren’t surrounded by people telling you what you can and can’t do.
LK: Optimo were definitely eye-opening for me as I got into clubs and thinking about making different music work in those spaces. I’m hardly a veteran but I’ve had many fun nights listening to them play. Keith was also nice enough to release the first Lo Kindre release so that’s pretty cool. I think there are certainly a few DJs who’ve learnt loads from enjoying Optimo, but there are also plenty who’ve found their feet themselves through different avenues.
Echoing that philosophy, how important has the Green Door Studio been in helping to cultivate an adventurous music scene?
F: Yes it’s been huge I think. Having constant free courses that invite people coming from different angles to collaborate is going to get good results. Really into their ethos.
LK: Green Door is one of the best things to ever happen to Glasgow. Without it I think a lot of stuff may not have happened.
Have either of you worked there? If so, any stories to share?
F: I spent a day there when a friend had studio time. Some music was made but nobody is gonna hear it. Dan did some of the courses I think?
LK: I did a couple of the courses and the nurturing and adventurous environment that exists there propelled me forward no end. The nicest people and nicest equipment can be found in there. I have fond memories of playing on big desks for the first time and trying out the unexpected. It’s basically a dream space for me, lots of nice equipment, a couple of space echo units and lovely reverbs. Doing courses with people from loads of different music scenes was really fun.
Why do you think the city’s musical output feels like it’s growing increasingly adventurous and experimental?
F: I feel like it’s always been exciting and though people come and go and projects form and dissolve I’ve never been bored. Also Counterflows festival has been getting better and better these last few years. I think it has an influence by often championing the experimental etc. Fielding who co-runs the festival used to do bookings at a place called Nice n Sleazys and that was a great time for adventurous and fun gigs and clubs.
LK: Everyone is doing their own thing, which is great. I’m not sure if I’m noticing it getting more experimental, but there definitely has been exciting music floating about the city the whole time I’ve been musically active here, both in the concert world and the club world.
Fergus, you’ve previously commented on how Glaswegian record stores aren’t necessarily the best curated. Is there anywhere besides Rubadub you would recommend to visitors?
F: I think what was meant by that was that you are kind of seeing similar stuff time and time again here. For example, mainland Europe is very different. As is London. There are less surprises here but amazing things do still turn up. In Glasgow the second hand spot with the largest stock is Mixed Up. Got near enough the whole Irdial back catalogue in there one time and I know people who have found crazy Italian library records. Missing smells a bit like wet dog but can occasionally be good. Edinburgh is maybe better. I’m working (in Glasgow) sometimes at a small shop called Otherside which sells antiques and books and also records, would recommend anyone to go there if they’re in the south of the city.
How much of an institution is Rubadub itself?
F: Distribution supply chain. Record and hardware shop. International P&D connection. They are the best. It’s lucky to have them in the city and 12th Isle the label probably would not exist without them.
It wasn’t well-received back in 1987 but JD Twitch resurrected his So Low party after 18 years spent dormant back in 2015. Why do you think there’s more of an appetite for wave, post-punk etc. today?
F: Everyone loves slow moody guy wave right now, right? Seems like the slow tempo, ‘80s influenced stuff is huge in Europe and I guess that feeds into people’s tastes over here too. Those So Low nights are usually pretty good. They can be a lot more anarchic than a lot of safer house/techno parties.
How did it feel upon hearing that The Art School had experienced another devastating fire last June?
F: I was there and saw it burn. We did parties there for a year or two but decided to stop them a while before the fire. The lack of good ‘proper’ venues is a problem people talk about constantly so to have one of the main ones close was pretty shit. Dan works there, he might have some more to say here.
LK: I had actually just finished playing a live show as the fire kicked off. I’ve worked there for two years and know how much emotion and hope went into looking towards the eventual reopening of the Mack. The building is really important to the school, so for it to burn again was really sad. It was quite intense being so close to it and knowing this was The Art School closing up again for a bit. It’s been a rough few years for the place.
What sort of impact do you think the proposed 4 AM licensing policy recently proposed by The Glasgow City Council Licensing Board could have on the city’s nightlife?
F: Definitely wouldn’t say no to an extra hour, but I’m not sure what impact it could have. There are countless late night after party places that really only exist because of the licensing policies and they cater for all the ravers. Not really going to them much these days but I think they are pretty vital and I respect the people that run them. Maybe if the clubs all had an extra hour it could mean extended warm up time, which would be great, but that would still require people to come early. Longer sets too. 4 hours is way too short.
Michael Kasparis once suggested that Glasgow being “geographically small and relatively underpopulated” was key to encouraging more musical experimentation. Would you agree with this perspective?
F: Maybe he means people get to know each other better and there is more of a community feeling or something? Can definitely see his point yes.
Is there a sense of community amongst people doing the music thing up there?
F: Yes. It’s not some hippy utopia but I think most people have respect for what others are doing and it’s more of a supportive environment than a competitive one. Dan?
LK: Glasgow definitely pushes me to keep exploring music and to keep making it. My favourite artists are my friends, it’s a pleasure to speak to them day to day and to enjoy what they’re doing, whether it’s labels, parties, or gigs.
Any emerging talent we should know about?
F: He’s been making music for years but 2019 is going to be a really good year for our friend Murray. There is a great long track he made coming out on 12th Isle imminently plus full albums for two labels that we have a lot of respect for. Stewart who I run 12th Isle with has a great track coming out on a compilation record that Andrew from Huntley & Palmers is doing.
LK: Murray is my favourite producer right now, his Grim Lusk stuff is amazing and so is his Dip Friso alias. I highly recommend a listen to his self-released tape from last year. Ailie Ormston is doing some really special/mad stuff and I love it as well. Got to experience her music live again in London a few weeks ago and it was brilliant.
And finally, which Glaswegian artists/labels/collectives should be on our radar? Anyone or anything really exciting you right now?
F: Really rate Ewan and Adam who do the Partial nights. They’re doing a great job of bringing exciting artists to the city at a time when a lot of other promoters have sort of retired. What La Cheetah club crew are doing with their bookings is worth mentioning too, plus they just opened a second club. Domestic Exile got some solid stuff coming out soon. It’s an Edinburgh label but 50% Pure just did a 12” with Ailie Ormston that I liked a lot.
LK: The Healthy boys always throw a good party, and I’m a big fan of Domestic Exile as well. Sofay and Ribeka are two favorites as well. The city is packed with people doing great stuff, it’s difficult to list them all. Also worth checking out the sporadic Real Landscape radio-shows and the GLARC tape label.
Lo Kindre’s Chlorophytum is out now on 12th Isle – buy the vinyl here.
Photo: Tako Reyenga at 12th Isle x GDFS 2016 (Art School). Photograph by Stephen Hughes.