Wednesday 25 February 2015


In July 2013 ( ) I took a look at four local bands who I'd just discovered were playing electronic music in Glasgow. This was a fairly new concept to me as, to my knowledge at the time, the Glasgow music scene didn't feature much, if any electronic music. Since I wrote that piece however, things have changed significantly, driven by a combination of the global success of Chvrches and the city's continually innovative and inspiring music scene. I felt that it was something well worth revisiting and so caught up with five bands to find out what they think of the current scene.

I spoke to a mix of bands, some established (Machines In Heaven, Atom Tree), some making their mark (Apache Darling) and some new and hotly tipped (The Insomniac Project, Happy Meals) and the general feeling was the same throughout - the electronic music scene in Glasgow is as buoyant as it ever has been, and that is an exceptionally good thing. Once you've read this piece, do check out the bands it contains, but don't stop there; seek out as many others as you can from the industrial turned sleek electro pop sounds of Analog Angel to the perfect machine pop of Twissted to the cinematic electronics of Malmo. Glasgow is currently covering all bases. Even as I wrote that sentence, the likes of Errors and Turtle sprang to mind for example. There is so much going on that it's almost impossible to fully cover and that's a rather beautiful thing. Even this week, I've profiled two new bands in Tongues and Kloe and it's only a matter of time until I find more. Anyway, enough rambling - let's chat to the bands.


Machines In Heaven
As regular readers will know, one band I have been particularly taken with is Machines In Heaven. They debut release, the superb Glasgow Jihad e.p. was followed by 2014's debut album bordersbreakdown displayed a mix of electronica that sounded like it came from a seasoned band, not a debutant. The band's Hindu Milk e.p, which like bordersbreakdown was released on Glasgow's superb Hotgem label, rounded off 2014 in superb style with the band coming moving more towards electronics in a sublime way. I asked them how things had progressed for them since Glasgow Jihad:

MiH: "A marked change is that we're playing less gigs but bigger ones, for example, The Art School Mental Health Scotland show and The Pleasance in Edinburgh. We've done sessions for Radio Scotland and pulse FM and even popped our London cherry."

APA: Do you see Hindu Milk as a progression from bordersbreakdown? 

MiH: "Very much. It's the first time the three of us have written songs together so that explains the different sound. There are three distinctive styles on there too but having said that we are maintaining the loose set of 'rules' we developed for borders - epic but melodic sound, huge outdo, a subtle blend of all our tastes. There are also more vocals and synths though we're not ditching the guitars in any way."

APA: What do you think of the current Glasgow electronic scene? Has it changed much since we last spoke?

MiH: "If anything it's got even stronger. We've been commenting recently that it's hard to find new guitar bands because everyone is doing an electro 2 or 3 piece. We don't try to sound like a particular scene though. We just do the thing we're doing, and people say we sound different so we're happy with that. Glasgow's a victim of its own success- there's so much happening every weekend it's hard to get people to come to your gigs!"

Machines In Heaven really are one to watch and 2015 is going to be a huge year for them. As well as their Glasgow gigs (next up March 13th at The Old Hairdressers) they are going to play a small English tour, will hopefully pop up at festivals on both sides of the border and will start to narrow down their 50 or so demos for their second album which will hopefully arrive towards the middle of the year. Keep an eye on the Machines.

Machines' labelmates, Atom Tree, are a band I mentioned towards the tail end of my July 2013 article. Like Machines, their profile has risen hugely since then and their Clouds e.p. at the end of 2014 was a superb release. I asked Shaun, the band's founding member how the last 18 months had gone for the band:

Atom Tree
AT: "The last 18 months have been fantastic. I finally found a singer and got play some of the best festivals in Scotland, as well as having two e.p's out. It feels liked we've played a lot of gigs in the last 18 months and I'm looking forward to writing new music"

APA: What about the current electronic scene in Glasgow? How do you see that?

AT: "From the bands we've played with, there is a lot of talent out there. Sad City is one that sticks out. I've played with him twice and his live shows are spectacular. The Simple Things festival in 2014 really highlighted the quality of Glaswegian electronic music as well as the quality of electronic music that Glasgow attracts."

APA: What are your plans for 2015?

AT: "The plan is to get an album and tour ready. The album will probably feature 8 of the best songs I've written in the last year plus any new songs that spring up during the album writing sessions. I'm still working on the balance of instrumental to vocal tracks at the moment, so it will be a challenge but I'm looking forward to it."

There's no doubt that 2015 can be a huge year for Atom Tree. Check out Hold On below to hear how good they are

One band who have really caught my attention this year are Apache Darling. The band comprise Stefanie Lawrence and Andrew Black and they play some of the most perfect synthpop you'll hear. They first came to the world's attention last year with the release of the magnificent More Than Me and quickly followed that with a residency at Glasgow's best electronic venue Broadcast. As well as all this they've managed to gather a lot of radio play from Radio 1 to 6 Music to XFM and success surely awaits them. Prior to their second release, the superb Firebird they found time to speak to me.

APA: An easy one to start - tell us about you influences.

Andrew: "I learned piano listening to the likes of Elton John and then became quite obsessed with David Bowie and Jean Michel Jarre which led me onto synthesizers. Hearing bands like OMD, ELO and Gary Numan blend electronics with classic pop set off something in my imagination"

Stefanie: "I grew up with 50's rock 'n' roll courtesy of my Dad and my singing teachers were the Beatles and Brenda Lee. My mum introduced me to the other musical decades and mu higher education came from Prince and Bowie."

APA: How do you see your music? You've used the hashtag #thenewpop on social media - what's that all about?

Stefanie: "I'm really driven by melody and hooks. #thenewpop represents the new era of the classic pop song. It's almost nostalgia - what we think a pop song should be"

Andrew: "There are two sides to it: mainstream bands will try and crowbar in synth sounds because it's popular whereas new bands can try and be too cool and dark and don't write songs you want to hear again and again. I think we have a good balance of ballsy analog synths and good catchy pop songs."

APA: What are the band's plans for 2015?

Andrew: "We've been blown away by the support we've had, particularly online. At this point we're concentrating on building our catalogue and fanbase."

Stefanie: "We've had a brilliant six months and it's only the beginning. We'll be putting our second single online soon (Firebird - released after this interview). It's so reassuring to see the support we've had considering we're unsigned and unknown."

APA: And finally, what do you think of Glasgow's electronic scene at the moment?

Andrew: "The trend right now is definitely leaning towards electronic. There's a flurry of great new bands who alcove under that umbrella and they're all doing pretty well. Where I think we stand out is that we're not afraid to call our music pop  and I think people always relate to that"

I certainly do. If Apache Darling's two releases thus far are a guide, the pop world could well have some new synthpop heroes on the way. 

Another band who have grabbed me recently are new kids on the scene The Insomniac Project. They are a 6 piece who play a lovely brand of hugely catchy electro pop. They have only released two tracks so far, Parallels and Shake Those Demon both of which bring to mind all sorts from disco to the popper end of the DFA spectrum to Hot Chip and beyond.  I had a chat to Andy from the band

APA: It's the influences question again - tell us about the band's inspirations:

TIP: "Myself and Gaz are pretty much influenced by anything DFA related from LCD to Holy Ghost! and beyond. We also take the indie side of our influences from the like of Bloc Party and mix that with the likes of The 2 Bears."

APA: And how would you describe your music? What's the #nosleepforthedreamers hashtag all about?

TIP: "We want to have a crisp, polished sound that lends it to a commercial feel, embracing our pop side. On stage though, we want it to be more dynamic. As there's six of us we're on top of each other and we feed off each other's energy. The hashtag was a tagline I first came up with when I came up with the idea for the group. It ties in with the band's name and with the idea of escapism, about using music as an escape from the mundanity of everyday life."

APA: What about Glasgow's current electronic scene - how do you see that?

TIP: "It's on the up. Obviously, Chvrches have done amazingly. Bands like Atom Tree and Apache Darling are barking up the same tree as us so hopefully we can all flourish this year."

APA; Talking of this year, what does 2015 have in store for you?

TIP: "Short term, hopefully a few more demos before our show at The Old Hairdressers on February 27th. We then plan on writing and releasing an e.p and we'd love to play shows with some more established acts.

As Andy mentioned there, the band play The Old Hairdressers in Glasgow on February 27th and it will no doubt be quite a show. 

The final band I caught up with are Happy Meals who released their debut album Apero on Glasgow's Night School Records last year. A mix of cosmic synth genius and analog disco joy, the album was one of my favourites of last year. Suzi from the band granted me an audience.

APA: Tell us about the history of Happy Meals?

HM: "Saturn's moons aligned with Neptune and the cosmic vibrations turned us to each other. We have grown up together and, in the last year, decided to start making music together. Apero is the culmination.

APA: How pleased were you with the album?

HM: "So pleased. We've made many new friends and have explored bright horizons thanks to the kindness of people who have liked the album. It's a real pleasure to know that people all around the world are listening to and enjoying our music. It's beyond our expectations."

APA: And what are your 2015 plans?

HM: "We're touring for two weeks at the start of April with our good friend Michael from Apostle. We'll also be putting our minds and hearts together for the next album starting in the summer."

At the moment, Glasgow has as vibrant an electronic scene as anywhere else I can think of. The five bands who I've interviewed all come from different ends of the electronic spectrum, but they all have in common their fantastic music. It's a real joy to have discovered these and bands and to keep discovering more every week. If you are from Glasgow, celebrate this scene and dive in. See the bands live, but their releases and be proud that the city is producing such a diverse range of outstanding music. If you'r not from here, come and see us and join in. You'll find all the electronic music you need.

Thanks very much to everyone for giving up their time to speak to me. All the links to the bands' Facebook and Twitter pages are found in the articles above

(c) Almost Predictable. Almost 2015. No part of this article is to be reproduced without the prior consent of the author.

No comments:

Post a Comment