Introducing… Fine Grains26th March, 2015

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Label coordinator Alex Horne (aka Uraki Riddim) and Cain talks us through the Fine Grains story so far, bagpipe championships, psychoacoustics and channelling the rural highland landscapes into club music. Catch their label showcase at The Art School in association with Red Bull Music Academy’s UK Tour tonight.

Uraki Riddim

Is there a certain rationale for working with the producers that are released on Fine Grains?
In terms of running of the label, it’s a one man – work on it when I can – venture so it’s essential to have a good relationship with each artist. Especially as I rely on them as a soundboard for ideas with the label too. Quality and the desire to make something that lasts is also important. Given the vast amounts of new music being freely put about these days, we prefer to take time developing a concept and helping the artists deliver something that is a meaningful step forward for them and the label. Probably Cain is the best example of this at the moment through the two EPs we’ve done with him. In time, we’ll be growing more of the initial group of producers introduced on the Fine Grains Vol.1 compilation, and adding some new ones along the way.

There’s a Scottish presence on the label, how did you come across CAIN and ¥oin, what is it about their work that you find interesting?
I’m originally from Aberdeen, so despite living in different countries for the past ten years or so I’ve always kept tabs on what’s happening back home. For a couple of years, I was running club nights consecutively in Norway and Scotland. Through that I met Offshore, a fellow Aberdonian who i had only previously met in passing at hip hop gigs in my youth. He was a big influence in terms of seeing someone from Aberdeen making amazing music and graphics on an international level and, most importantly, being an incredibly nice guy. Sadly, he is no longer with us but left something of a legacy and influence on Aberdeen producers like ¥oin, Lockah & T_A_M, who i had got to know more of through Ewan (Offshore).

I met Cain through Brian (Auntie Flo). He was originally a scratch DJ (DJ Krux) involved with Brian’s Pogo Vogue nights in Edinburgh. I knew most of the guys involved but, only really kept in touch with Bri. Over the years, I visited Glasgow for his Slabs of the Tabernacle night and ended up speaking with Duncan (Cain) at a few after parties. Then one year at Sonar, Duncan passed me this CD of tracks. I didn’t realise he was still actively involved with electronic music and was blown away with the material. They were completely of his own style and unlike anything i had heard at that time, best track of the lot was ‘Maasai’ which is the track that started our story. Regards ¥oin’s production, the same. They both have their own voice and i like their craftsmanship approach. Their is something earnest, narrative yet raw in their music.

Part of the label’s statement is your interest in emergent scenes around the world. What would you identify as these scenes? Is there certain work practises or a certain ethos that excites you, or is it purely based on the sound?
It’s probably more to do with people i’ve met through doing nights and living in different countries. In Spain, It was guys like Mweslee, Noaipre and My Dry Wet Mess, and then in Norway it was more the skweee producers and my mate Inko. Through the latter, i’ve got to know Cohoba who is part of the Stereoptico crew in the Dominican Republic. Of all those scenes, there seems to be an excitement and motivation to do something different, true to the origins, and not painfully following lots of trends. I think that helps with the longevity of the music and the scene. I like that honesty and rawness in sounds, when you can hear the person who made it or the mood they are communicating through the music. Sometimes that sound maybe deep and dark, the next it could be goofy and slow.

Who is that deals with all your design?
Aside from the collaboration series and music videos, i generally take care of all graphic output. I see the visual side of the label being similar to the music, growing with my own work and the people we collaborate with. So far it’s been fantastic to work with Oh Yeah Studio, Florence To, Ling Lee, Joao Doria & Halvor Bodin on one off projects. To emphasise that part of the process, we have a series called the ‘Collab releases’. OL & ¥oin’s ‘Sink EP’ was the first one, the next one is around the corner and is going to be an ice meets sun affair.

Are there any specific designers that have served as inspiration?
For each release it can vary depending on the influences of the music but, overall i guess growing up with labels like Mo Wax and seeing their work with artists like Futura and Will Bankhead was pretty inspiring. In general, Ladislav Sutnar, László Moholy-Nagy and my friends who we’ve had the pleasure of working with on the collaborative releases Oh Yeah Studio, Halvor Bodin…

What’ve been some of the standouts moments of the label so far?
Moments that i could share with the producers, from DJ Shadow telling us how much he liked ‘Blainn’ from Cain’s ‘Mora EP’, to bumping into Jamie XX at Jaguar Shoes and then getting great feedback on the Sink EP a couple of hours after sending him the tracks. LV starting their set at Worldwide in Sete with ‘Maasai’ a few years back was definitely a realisation that we’re doing something alright. We’ve been lucky to travel around for a few gigs In Europe too. To be honest though, i quite like just building slowly. Loads more nice little moments than singular big standouts to come i hope. Coming back to Scotland to play in Glasgow is going to be pretty cool:)

What’ve you got planned in the immediate future?
The next collaboration EP is coming soon! Cain’s last EP of the trilogy before his album and in-between that a debut EP for one of the artists that were featured in Vol.1. We’ve just moved to bi-monthly Fridays at The Alibi after a year of Thursdays so that’s gonna be fun to build on that and hopefully more gigs abroad.

Cain
Download an exclusive track from Cain via Soundcloud.

You’ve stated you prefer a more tactile and playful approach to making music forgoing meticulous computer based production and wanting to play instruments. What scenarios has this led to?
Recently I was asked to compose music for live instruments (cellos, fiddles, double bass, voices etc…), which was based around Piobaireachd music. Piobaireachd, or ceol mor (‘big/great music’ in Gaelic) is an ancient form of bagpipe music based around a central theme, with variations that develop on this. I used to play in professional bagpipe competitions until I stopped 3 years ago to focus on writing my own music. All my life I’ve sort of existed in two different music worlds – the modern, club music scene, and those of the bagpipe competitions. This was a chance for me to take what I’ve learnt from writing my own music and meld that with bagpipe tunes that I have loved since I was a child.

The concert was nerve-wracking but really exciting. I’d like to build more on this.

What combination of instruments have surprised you?
I love psychoacoustics. I am always trying to create melodies out of strange psychoacoustic sound sources (washing lines being scraped across bicycle wheels etc…). I’ve always been a massive fan of Amon Tobin and he is the absolute master of this. I think that Arca is another good example. I used to write music using a virtual orchestra a lot, but it’s frustrating not having real musicians playing those instruments. Instead now I try to source psychoacoustic sounds that might have the same dynamics and similar timbres to their orchestral equivalents.

Have you come any closer to your intention of including bagpipes in your music?
In terms of my own tunes, I’ve always wanted to incorporate the pipes when it felt natural – rather than just bringing them in because I’ve played this instrument all my life. I think that the CAIN sound might actually suit Egyptian pipes more easily, because lots of the kind of keys/scales that I often work with. However, now I think that I will probably first start using them by sampling the drone sounds, and then trying to create melodies out of those.

You’ve mentioned in previous interviews, the importance of location, specifically the Scottish rural landscape. What would be an ideal location to listen to your music?
As a child I was able to wander around the hills with my brother and friends, we had complete freedom. I think this really helped develop my imagination, and I always feel very connected to landscapes. I’m really passionate about the Highlands, and I love taking friends round places like Glenfinnan – particularly those who have never been to Scotland before. There’s something both ethereal and threatening about harsh, Northern landscapes that I find very beautiful.

At the same time however, when I was a boy I would always dream about visiting countries like India. When we went on holiday it was normally to another part of the Highlands – out to islands like Uist or Barra. Whenever I heard Indian, African or middle-eastern drums (which was normally in documentaries or films) I absolutely loved the rich timbres from them. I suppose that one of the main things that I try to do with CAIN music is to sort of create melodies out of drums. Often I get so obsessed with writing polyrhythms that I’ve sort of filled up all the sound space of a track with drums before I’ve even brought in a synth or instrument. It’s a bit of a problem sometimes….

I always wanted to write music that would both have enough punch and rhythm to get people dancing in a club, but had as much harmonic changes and melodies as I could get away with – so it would also be good to listen to on headphones. I try to capture the feeling of landscapes that I have in my mind when I write the tunes, and I hope that comes across somehow. My dream is to be able to put together sets of tunes that would be ideal for people to listen to travelling on their own, but that could also make a sort of cinematic club experience when put together live.

Big Screen x Glasgow Short Film Festival | The Art School & CCA23rd March, 2015

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For this year’s Glasgow Short Film Festival, Big Screen organised a non-stop barrage of student-made 1 minute short films.

Big Screen is a student led group at GSA that celebrates the value of the social experience of cinema; exploring obscure documentaries, ageing epics, cult horror and everything in between. Big Screen provides a platform for engaging in discussions surrounding the relationship between the cinematic and artist moving image and provides a valuable forum for sharing and discussing student moving image work.

Loosely based on the theme of ‘Transitions’, the evening brought together student moving image submitted through an open call. The audience then voted for their favourites – the top 3 were screened at the closing ceremony for GSFF at the CCA.

Check out the winning films!

Chiara Cabri | Fluctuation

Jessyca Hauser | Transition

Laurence Chan | Degeneration

Subcity Radio’s Jukebox: 20 Years on Air20th March, 2015

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Celebrating 20 years of broadcasting tonight at The Art School, Subcity Radio has carved it’s very own place in Glasgow as an assembly point where a diverse set of voices and tastes converge. This pliable hub represents a community of music lovers based in the city, providing them with a place and platform where they can share what they love: music. So here it, a snapshot of some personal memories and moments from past and present.

Happy birthday Subcity Radio!

Fergus Clark – 12th Isle Transmission

Although never actually played by me on any subcity show, this record will always make me smile and think of the station whenever I put it on. After doing Earthly Matters for a few years, I set up my own show 12th Isle Transmissions at the end of 2012. Marquis Cooper aka Svengalisghost was in Glasgow ahead of the L.I.E.S night Aleks & Richard (The Guild of Calamitous Intent) were organising and he came in on the show to do a special live set. The room was in total darkness, with the only lights emanating from his machines. Ten of us were present in the studio, as well as an overly friendly dog. For the best part of an hour hardly anybody spoke, all just collectively vibing to the music, which at the end of it all Subcity is all about.

Simon Bryan – Beat Beneath

I was lucky to first get involved in the station ten years ago when the huge-scale Arches parties of that generation were at their peak, but the time I really started to feel a part of things was a few years later when, alongside a spot-on radio schedule, the Research Club parties were gaining momentum and hitting capacity by about 10.30pm every month. They always hit the balance between diversity of music and straight-up party atmosphere, with the coordination of a proper club night but the vibe of a decks-in-the-livingroom house party without the worry of the polis coming knocking. So I’ve picked a track that me (and I think a couple of others too) always got a great reaction with when playing there – not the most super-obscure selection but one that’ll always remind me of lots of fun with lots of good people in a unique venue and an exciting time in the station’s history.

Vickie McDonald – Bactria

I’ve picked this track because I have fond memories of playing this out at the 15th birthday party at the Arches. First time id ever djed, and I was totally bricking it! Starting a set with a Wolf Eyes track, and ending with this (possibly to an empty room), theres not many folk that would ask a noise show to warm up a clubnight and trust your track choice. It was never about restriction at Subcity, it was about being open minded to sounds and making sure everyone had an equal platform, allowing room to join up the dots between contrasting genres and noises, and enjoying yourself sitting in the dark with the speakers blaring in the studio.

Merlin Hayward – Nova Waves

Lachlan McFeely (aka Dressin Red) – In Red

I’m on to my second show at Subcity now, but one of my favourite memories from the first show (apart from changing its awful name to the new one) was putting this on. 20 minutes with the lights off, letting Mr Budd work his magic. I can’t think of many situations where I could play this in full and get to take it all in, and I hope there were some people listening in sharing it with me. If not, I’m sure at least my mum was.

Gareth Roberts – Unearthly Matters
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Instead of one specific song I feel that it is important to choose this compilation in its entirety – as one whole composition instead of a disparate collection of individual songs. Released in 2012 by the Glasgow based d.i.y. record label, Instructional Media, and curated by its founder L.H. Cook it features a hive mind of musicians such as CLIP ART, Cru Servers, Mother Ganga, Stefan Blomeier and Magic Eye. They all frequently found their way onto my show playlists on multiple occasions. Instructional Media are all inclusive, open minded and relish exploring the many possibilities that music can achieve in elevating the human spirit, both through sensation and ideas. Transporting you to a world that is personal to you, but also encourages others to join in the experience at the same time.

Shaun Murphy – Cloudo

The absolute buzz of going live on FM, playing screamers like this and getting 30 odd phone calls in a show, only trumped by getting to play a peak time happy hardcore set to a sold out Arches at age 21 with three of my good mates. Thanks Subcity.

Sophie Reilly – Jackie Your Body

The tension in all of their records is so overwhelming but seeing them live is something else. The duo’s show with Subcity and Cry Parrot back in 2010 was just as immersive and wonderful as all of their output. Also, I think I play this track in all of my sets.

Bake – All Caps

The original distorted house Subcity anthem from way back 2010 – TIP!

Alan Miller – Music, Please!

My show Music, Please! as it is now, pretty much grew out of and eclipsed the previous radio show i ran on Subcity which was a straight sideshow for the danceflor selections i’d play out when i when i djed regularly at The Arches or The Art School. My warm-up sets were always a place to play more challenging sounds and as Bollywood – and indeed a myriad global sounds – has become such a large part of what i play now, i’m gonna choose one of the tracks that started it all off. This is pretty much the obvious go-to track for any Bollywood set now, but when i picked up a copy of this in 1998, it was something that always freaked people out when i played it. And i still love it.

Jemma Hatherill – Tigerbeat

Tigerbeat started out as a very occasional blog investigating popular music from non-English countries, stemming from the unique and particular feeling of dancing in a club to a song that you can’t understand or connect with, but somehow feels all the more powerful for this cultural dissonance.

Starting the show at Subcity in 2012 really gave me an opportunity to consider the evolution of pop music styles throughout different regions, as a sort of self-education practice, and exploration of my own personal tastes through to the musical pluralism that I tend to focus on in my mixes and live sets today.

This track from Ya Tosiba always goes down really well despite it not being hugely well known – it’s Finnish skwee by way of Berlin, featuring found lyrics from an Azeri form of improvised folk music, which in this context presents itself as ancient, historical rap, which I think sums up the Tigerbeat ethos and journey as it stands today.

DJ Keoma – On Top

New music has all been my main focus at Subcity. Whether that be during my first stint co-hosting Codeine Drums or now with On Top. With that in mind I’ve chosen this track from Air Max ’97′s latest ep, it’s been on constant rotation since it came out last month.

Andrew & Sally – Build & Destroy

Andrew: Back in 2010 and we did a Bjork special and this is one of my favourite shows we have ever done. We just selected some of our favourite Bjork songs (an artist we both really like) and we also selected songs by people that have worked with, sampled or remixed Bjork.

Sally: Craig Mack – Flava in Ya Ear, it’s a long-standing favourite of both Andy and I, it never fails to get us dancing around the studio and (badly) rapping along.

Niall Morris – FEKA

Sometimes u need to make friends before u can make radio, and during my time at Subcity being friends with someone meant sitting next to them in an office for 12 hours every day for a year, going to the shop for them, obsessing over jokes no-one would read, talking about our got-damn feelings and watching a live performance of Luther VanDross so many times that we knew every hand movement, every audience member with glitter instead of hair, every low note, every time a young Janet Jackson would appear, every time it comes around I feel nostalgic.

Sarah and Joel – No Globe

We’re still very new to Subcity, finding our radio feet (and faces), but playing this song on our first show was definitely a great and hopefully prefigurative moment. It’s a playful, lo-fi groove from one of the supremely talented women who make up Selvhenter, a Danish Jazz / Noise crew part of the Eget Værelse collective. Their name translates as A Room Of One’s Own, a homage to 1929 Virginia Woolf’s famous early feminist essay. “Everyone needs a room of one’s own, their own platform to do things,” says Jacobsen when asked about this in a recent Wire interview; a sentiment that many have found echoing through those dark little Subcity walls.

Phil Kennedy – Test Card

For a period during my time at Subcity, I listened to this track loads. It’s part of a mix that I never got round to doing – which seems as reasonable a summation of my contribution to the station as anything else. I know where I wanted it to sit and why I wanted it there, but I didn’t put it all together. I still like it, though.

Joe Crogan – Hunks Hunks Hunks

Having to work out an alternative timeline to a different dimension for a comic book at 3 in the morning, all to promote a halloween party that revolved around a 12ft high scaffolding DJ rig.

Punk Rock Icon – She Said

She Said was a celebration of all that is punk, sordid and beautiful! What better expression of these wondrous things than Nice And Sleazy by The Stranglers

Calum Macleod, Sarah Bethan Jones & Tara Masterson Hally – No Can Do19th March, 2015

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No Can Do is an exhibition exploring the experience, or lack thereof, of a motivated existence.
As three students on the cusp of graduation, our work aims to address our own situation transitioning from education to the “real world”. The pieces from the exhibition act as motivational exercises, satirising the aggression that a positive mental attitude often manifests. No Can Do is a questioning of more serious issues (personal work ethics etc.) using humour and cynicism to make light of common struggles.

BELIEVE TO ACHIEVE!

- Tara, Sarah, Calum.

AlgoRhythm_318th March, 2015

AlgoRhythm is a collaborative art and music event that brings together practitioners from a variety of creative fields who specialise in the use of technology in their practice. The events consistently reconfigure how the relationship between sonic and visual art practices can be presented; although, each event has displayed these intersections in an immersive manner, the visual artwork is specifically designed to be audio reactive to each performance, creating one-off spectacles between Glasgow based artist Marianne Wilson (who organises the event) and an expanding programme of sonic artists.

Check out Mourn‘s set from the most recent chapter that was part of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival programme.