In a chaotic affair we ending out not having any reviewers up at Belladrum this year, but we felt we’d be missing out if we called a halt on our photographers Allan Lewis and Stewart Fullerton going, so up they went and they got some great shots. Here’s some of the picks that we thought we’d share.
In this industry it can be hard for many female folk singers to really make a name for themselves without just being branded as yet another singer-songwriter.
However, every so often there are a couple of standouts who by taking risks can really cause a stir – thankfully Josephine Sillars and Jo Whitby aka Laurence Made Me Cry fall under the latter catagory.
Having both spent time making music between Glasgow and the Highlands, the pair can be easily placed under the same bracket, however each offer their own unique twist on the genre making them ideal co-headliners.
Hi Jo and… Jo, how are you looking forward to your joint headline show? Can you give us a little insight into what you have in store for us?
Whitby: I am looking forward to it so much. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s Jo and Jo! I used to get called Josephine at school so I see it as destiny that myself and Jo should be putting on a show together. We haven’t discussed it yet but I think, as well as the music and poetry, there should be some improvised comedy and juggling.
Sillars: There will absolutely definitely be improvised comedy and juggling haha. But yes, I am excited about this night. I really love Jo’s music, and it’s actually pretty ridiculous that we’ve never been on the same bill. The night we’ve got planned is an ‘evening of lyrical enchantment and acoustic-y goodness’. For any fans of music with emphasise on words and storytelling, then this is definitely the night for you! Very excited about having Finn LeMarinel and Michelle Fisher on the bill as well. They are both excellent performers.
You’re playing at a venue that since opening just over a year ago has championed a huge amount of Scottish artists. What is your opinion on the Scottish scene at the moment and who are your favourite artists?
Whitby: I think the Scottish scene is like a beautiful cacophony. There are just so many fantastic artists coming out of the country from different musical backgrounds. It’s impressive and exciting.
Sillars: The Scottish music scene is complex to say the least. It’s brilliant in many aspects; in that it’s literally overflowing with talented artists and that there are countless opportunities for musicians available (everything from access to Creative Scotland funding and festival opportunities such as XpoNorth), however it’s not perfect. It’s important to remember that the music scene is extremely competitive, and sometimes, especially for younger musicians, it can be a really tricky thing to navigate. However, I doubt there is any music scene out there that is perfect, and for a small country, the Scottish scene is pretty inspiring to be a part of. I think at the moment my favourite artists are obviously the incredible Laurence Made Me Cry and Finn LeMarinel, and also probably Declan Welsh, Chrissy Barnacle and Emma Pollock.
Whitby: As far as favourite artists go, well, it would be rude not to mention the musical goddess that is Josephine Sillars, obviously. Finn Le Marinel is a legend. Damn, I like so many folks right now. Niteworks, The Ramsico Maki Maki Rocking Horse, HQFU, Breakfast Muff, Robbie Flanagan, Granny Green, Joyce Delaney and of course Kathryn Joseph, RM Hubbert, Rachel Sermanni, Emma Pollock, Jo Mango… so many more that I’ve missed out.
Being both originally from the Highlands how do you feel living away from the main belt has affected both your music and musical career?
Whitby: Ah, I wish I was originally from the Highlands. I grew up in Bristol, England but spent a considerable amount of time living in Wales before moving to Scotland. Of all the places I’ve lived so far I think Scotland has had the biggest impact musically. At the moment I split my time between the Highlands, mainly around Inverness, and Glasgow. Glasgow has a thriving music community; it’s so welcoming and vibrant. I love it. In Inverness I’ve experienced being part of the traditional folk scene, which has definitely rubbed off on me. I’ve never been so busy since becoming an adopted Scot so career-wise it’s been brilliant.
Sillars: I’m from the Highlands! I’m hardly ever back actually, I really love living in Glasgow. I definitely think living in the central belt has affected my musical career in that, a) I met my band here, and b) population wise, there are more musicians in Glasgow than there is in Inverness. Both cities have a wealth of talent, but Glasgow’s scene is just so much bigger which means in the years I’ve been here and I’ve been forced to up my game when necessary and push myself harder. It is always nice to play home gigs though.
Question for Sillars: The last time I saw you play was at The Glad Cafe supporting Declan Welsh where you mentioned you were trying to come up with a band name, have you had any ideas?
Sillars: Yes. We do have a band name, but it’s a secret for now. I’ve got a few things in the works regarding the band actually – and one of those ideas will be premiering at The Hug and Pint. I’m doing this show as a solo show, so I’ve been keeping quiet about it, but I’ve recently been working with my friend, local filmmaker, Fraser Coull to bring a big visual element to live shows. I’ll be testing driving these cryptic ideas on the 19th!
Question for Whitby: Really cliché question but as your moniker Laurence Made Me Cry is one of my current favourites could you tell us how you came up with it?
Whitby: It’s really daft. I was reading a newspaper article years ago about the TV show ‘Changing Rooms’. Laurence Llewelyn Bowen had designed this really awful room for one of the participants of the show, so bad it made the woman cry thus the headline ‘Laurence made me cry’. I just had to use it as a band name!
Your music is both quite personal as well as lyrical focused – where do you find your inspiration?
Whitby: I tend to be inspired by what’s happening in my life, I like to observe what’s going on around me. I’m also interested in mythology, folklore. I love a good story.
Sillars: I’m kind of the same, just by whatever is happening around me. I tend to use songwriting to channel how I feel about things in my life and the lives of the people around me, so most of the time they have a strong story telling element to them too.
Is this joint headline show the beginning of something new? Can we expect a collaborate sometime in the near future?
Whitby: We’ve talked about doing a tour together and I think that’s still on the cards at some point in the future. A friend described Jo as being very sensible and focused, y’know, like when she’s got something to do she’s totally on it, so I think touring with her would be awesome. Maybe having stuff planned out is a Jo thing? I’d love to work on a musical collaboration with Jo too. That would be sweet.
Sillars: Aw that’s nice. I’m going to put ‘sensible and focused’ on my CV. But yeah, we have been chatting about doing a tour together for ages, so hopefully that will come about in the future! I am also up for a musical collaboration.
Lastly, what is your favourite animal and why?
Whitby: I’m really into herons at the moment. I get really excited when I see one. When I’m in Inverness I make sure I head out for a walk along the Ness Islands to see if my favourite heron is there. I’m not sure if it’s a he or a she but it always seems to show up when I’m feeling a bit down or in need of reassurance. Honestly, I feel like the heron is my spirit animal. In a new song I’ve written I mention one hand being on the land and one in the water – this is a reference to folklore regarding the heron, they are seen as being comfortable in places that are neither here nor there, they exist in the now. That’s, like, really profound. Hah!
Sillars: Dragons. Because they are cool.
You can catch Josephine Sillars and Laurence Made Me Cry co-headlining The Hug & Pint on 19th July.
Two young talents and prolific performers on the Glasgow scene appear on the Southside Fringe Festival bill in The Glad Cafe.
Josephine Sillars plays a set of familiar songs from the Ripped from the Wire Spine EP, but with a heavier edge that brings the music out of its shell.
Her enchanting voice and piano parts are turned up to 11 tonight, less folk-pop and more alt-rock.
At one point the band slides into a cover of ‘You’ve Got to Show Me Love’, showing off Sillars’ vocal range.
New song ‘The Sun and the Moon’ heralds a quieter moment, a heart-breaking ode to a faltering relationship told through cosmic metaphors.
Samuel Barnfather on drums and Seaton Mepham on bass have been playing with Sillars since the beginning of the year and the trio have fallen into step with each other with incredible musical synergy.
Sillars decides on stage that they need a name for this new communal carnation, asking the audience to submit their band name suggestions, so watch this space for announcements of their new moniker.
Then headliner, Declan Welsh storms on stage and straight into the poem ‘Lads’, featured on the Alright EP, a tirade against arrogant misogynist culture.
When a technical hitch occurs and stalls the beginning of the first song, Welsh segways seamlessly into two more brilliant poems: ‘Fuck Cameron and Osborne’, perhaps the least alluring poem ever written about sex with lines like, “everyone’s a communist when they truly cum”; and one about being chucked out of Bamboo, noting how he may be the only person to have ever subsequently written a poem about such an incident.
His poetic skill transfers directly into his song lyrics, which pick up on similar themes with witty and critical takes on familiar cultural tropes like bad after-parties, putting the world to rights with pals in the early hours, and platonic and romantic love.
Welsh has the voice and swagger of Alex Turner combined with a Scottish accent and good politics.
A new protest song starts off the musical section of the show, with a rowdy Spanish chorus about fascism.
The frontman’s energy matches his tight backing band of guitars and drum-kit and he bounds out into the audience to get the keen members dancing during interludes.
The recently recorded ‘Do What You Want’ is a highlight, a seductive song about sexual fluidity with slow offbeat rhythms and reverbed guitars.
The last tune ‘Just Get Along’ is a pacifist anthem to match the happy atmosphere in the room.
The audience are completely won over, singing along to the chorus of “every cunt’s a good cunt/why can’t all we just get along?”
“Did anyone used to go to Rev?” “Is Cheesy Pop still a thing?”
You can tell what bands went to Glasgow uni tonight!
Let’s be honest, it’s totally weird being back at the QMU, this was a regular daytime haunt in my early uni days and seven years on a lot has changed, but yet nothing has changed.
Coffee shops and stationary shops have swapped places and Jim’s Bar has lost its legendary booths, but the same aura of cheap food lingers, the pints are still very affordable and it still very much feels like a student union (good or bad thing you decide), whether you can still get a shot of giant Jenga I don’t know, but after it fell on my ankle and left me limping for a week I wasn’t going to try.
There is some confusion as we arrive to catch favourites Mt. Doubt, only to find an empty stage.
After some aimless wandering we bump into the remaining members of the band, who had travelled from Edinburgh for today’s performance, but had to pull out at last minute due their keyboardist suffering from unanticipated illness.
Even though no fault of their own I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that I’ll have to wait for their next Glasgow date to catch their incredible live show again.
After this confusion we able upstairs to Jim’s Bar and The Insomniac Project are just finishing their of pop tinged electronic set, which although a little rough in the vocal department has the potential to be huge.
Following this I get my first opportunity to witness LYLO in a live setting, albeit a rather questionable one; the bar isn’t the greatest space with the sound being lost in certain portions of the room and sounding pretty mucky in others, it has to be said that only a single door between two stages of live music does not do either area any favours.
Still, LYLO’s combination of reverb laden vocals, hints of saxophone and a strong rhythm section hold the performance together admirably.
There’s plenty of presence and attitude coming from their engaging frontman, who even pulls a touch of Samuel Herring-esque dad dancing at one point, as lengthy instrumental sections wash over the crowd in a settling fashion, until the band push things up a gear with a powerful dream pop tinged post punk sound; this certainly won’t be the last time I try and catch these guys.
Being a fan of Josephine Sillars I was excited to finally have the chance to see her live and she doesn’t disappoint.
Sillars is joined by her band and the three-piece treat the audience to a number of gentle pop tinged tunes, which do more than enough to cement a smile on your face, including a creative cover of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrops’.
Downstairs The Youth and Young keep me grinning from ear to ear as they showcase their brand of folk, with plenty of upbeat melodies and complimenting harmonies thrown in.
The band’s stunning dual vocals are even more impressive live than on record and their sprightly stage presence creates an extremely memorable performance.
Since the venue stopped serving food earlier on we decided to run out to grab a quick bite, making it back just in time to catch the end of the Perth’s GoodCopGreatCop energetic set.
The band’s combination of catchy riffs and upbeat melodies revitalises the crowd leaving them in high sprits before Copper Lungs take the stage.
Copper Lungs who hail from just further north than GoodCopGreatCop do there best to get sparse crowd moving, their anthemic alt-rock sound and heartfelt vocals fill up the venue and would be suited to a much bigger stage.
There is a surprisingly large amount of late arrivals to the venue who fill up main hall in time for Tijuana Bibles’ set, which is packed full of heavy guitars and pounding riffs topped off with some soaring vocals from frontman Tony Costello.
Back upstairs and there’s an air of awkwardness hovering as it seems The Rockalls have riled up a few members of staff and student volunteers alike, still they know how to perk up an audience as they seemingly shun the awkwardness and simultaneously kill it by getting the crowd on their feet and down the front.
They certainly possess a punchy live show and frontman Dominic Orr possesses more than enough attitude and presence to keep them interesting, as waves of garage rock riffs spark an energy in the room before asking the crowd onto their knees proves a step too much and their set gets cut mid song for curfew related reasons, or maybe something they did pre-set.
Before Tuff Love take to the main stage we have the small confusion of someone jumping off the balcony, collapsing to the floor and then limping away as fast as he could, but this one remains a mystery for the time being and it’s all pretty much forgotten as tonight’s headlines deliver what is by far the standout set of the day.
‘Poncho’ gives way to ‘Sweet Discontent’ and their infectious fuzzy pop sound never fails to leave a smile plastered across your face.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Tuff Love live, but their set hasn’t dipped at all in quality, in fact they have only grown in confidence and presence since they merged their three previous EPs into one album, for release earlier this year.
Tuff Love are quite rightly one of the jewels in Scotland’s crown rightly so, we’ve covered them so often in the past it’s barely worth repeating ourselves, but yeah, these guys are great and the sound in the venue is greatly improved by the band’s finishing upstairs.
The front duo’s nonchalant stage presence is an ever present, but so are the glowing harmonies and sugar coated delights that are their songs, the crowd may be slightly reduced from the Bibles set, yet it’s still a healthier crowd than the rest of the day, and those who have stayed are rewarded with a sheer feel good set full or quirky moments, like Julie cracking up to ‘Carbon’ or Suse enquiring about Cheesy Pop.
Well worth the wait, a lovely end to a long, but rewarding day.