Every year, I hand out awards to artists who have made my musical year. Whilst these awards don't carry any cash value or even physical prize, they are designed simply to say thanks to the bands and musicians that I've featured - thank you for the music as Abba might say. Anyway, instead of one big post this year, there are going to be five over the first five days of December and the first one is Best New Band.
One thing this blog tried to do this year was take a look at new bands as they popped up on the blog's radar. Scotland, and Glasgow especially, has had a remarkable year for new music and the number of acts I've come across and the sheer talent of those acts, has been quite stunning. The bands I've featured in our New Bands 2015 (or at least new to the blog) section have been:
Fiona Soe Paina http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/new-bands-2015-3-fiona-soe-paing.html
Kill The Waves http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/new-bands-2015-no-4-kill-waves.html
Miracle Strip http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/new-bands-2015-no-12-miracle-strip.html
Bunny & The Invalid Singers http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/new-bands-2015-no-14-bunny-invalid.html
Smash Williams http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/new-bands-2015-no-16-smash-williams.html
Our Future Glory http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/new-bands-2015-no-17-our-future-glory.html
Eyes Of Others http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/new-bands-2015-no-18-eyes-of-others.html
Add to that list the likes of Mt Doubt and The Deadline Shakes and you have quite a collection of acts. There can only be one winner however and we're delighted to award this year's Almost Predictable to HQFU an act that has had a ridiculously successful year. Despite only having released two, admittedly outstanding, singles (Dust & Dirt and Ca$hle$$ Lip$), HQFU has attrracted plaudit after plaudit and ultimately ended up supporting Chvrches in London in September at their album launch show. HQFU's music has been one of this year's standouts for me and a really fresh take on electronic music and so it's a pleasure to name HQFU Best New Band. Sarah Stanley a.k.a HQFU kindly took the time to answer some questions for me.
APA: Congratulations on winning the Almost Predictable for Best New Band. How's 2015 been for you?
HQFU: Thanks so much for the award and for giving a shit! I appreciate it hugely. 2015 has been a very busy year for me, especially after the release of Dust & Dirt mid-year. It gained a lot more attention than I expected and things kind of took off from there music wise and since then I've just been gigging my ass off trying to get a feel for my new live act and get some people interested in live sows I guess. I've also been on a steep learning curve with everything the "industry" has had to throw at me over the past few months. I'm just glad no-one has told me they hate me and my music is shit and my fragile ego has managed to remain intact so far.
APA: How have you found the reaction to HQFU?
HQFU: It's been very positive and I seem to have fooled many into thinking I'm 22 or something so for that I'm very lucky! I think I'm old enough and stubborn enough not to come across as a cookie cut performer. I hope, and I feel I like maybe people think it's something new, I don't know. It's very hard to perceive your own self and your own work because of the angle at which I'm making it, and the angle others are consuming it at. I'm glad, though, that there have been things said that sound like people don't see me as a run of the mill construct, as I don't think I am. I'm not just a musician and I'm also very serious about the integrity of my work, regardless of how people perceive it.
APA: Both Dust & Dirt and Ca$hle$$ Lip$ are stand out tracks for me this year. What or who are your influences when writing?
HQFU: Well they are the only tracks I was "allowed" to release right now! I'm learning to take the PR advice of more seasoned experts haha! I've no idea what influences me day to day or when writing. If I'm being honest, I both dread and pre-empt this question in every interview. I don't have time to sit and note down what influences me. When I write, I might have a different person in mind per line, or I might be imagining something from someone else's perspective, but in my words. Making inspires me more than anything. I'm a maker at heart, and so when I start making the rest comes into focus. Then you hone and edit and get rid of the redundant content. I know I'm diverting from the question here - if I gave a list of musicians or artists who I like, it would merely be to pacify this question and it wouldn't mean shit to me so I won't. Sorry for maybe seeming antagonistic! (APA - not at all!) I just don't know who has time to sit and think to remember what influences them. I think we're all just inspired by our surroundings and environment and if you have the type of mind that turns that into music or art, that's just consequential.
APA: What's been your highlight of the year?
HQFU: Maybe Sandi Thom's youtube video of her crying because Radio 2 wouldn't play her track. That was fucking hilarious
APA: What are your plans for 2016?
HQFU: Well it's shaping up to be a busy year by the looks of things. My new extended EP goes to press this month, so should be ready to pre-order bang on 2016, the I'm doing Vic Galloway's first Quay live session of 2016 on January 4th so that's nice. Then it's really gigging and punting the vinyl once it's made. There will be a few wee tours outside Glasgow, starting with my first London headline show. I think I'll be kept plenty busy - I'll also be working on the album. I'm quite a prolific writer, so there will hopefully be some studio time in there as well so there will be plenty to select from when compiling the album. Other than that, fuck knows what I'll end up getting up to.
APA: Finally, given how this blog began, there's an obligatory Depeche Mode question - what's your favourite DM track?
HQFU: Maybe, Master & Servant. I do like to play games and master and servant sounds like a lot of fun ;)
Thanks very much to Sarah for taking the time to have a chat. I'm really looking forward to the EP and album and you'll hear all about them here next year. Thanks too to all the bands listed above for the time you gave me this year. Look forward to hearing lots more from all of you very soon
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