Sunday, 29 December 2013

Blue Rose Code - Scottish Fiction Session - Videos

Ross Wilson croons with the impassioned spirit of John Martyn with his own brand of 'Caledonia Soul'.  Better known by the alias Blue Rose Code, Ross joined me in the Pulse Community Radio studio in late October of 2013 to chat about his acclaimed album 'North Ten', and the spirit of Scotland that inspired his writing.  During this session he also played three tracks live in the studio.

Below are videos for session tracks, 'From Wester Ross To Nova Scotia', 'Acquainted With The Night / Silent Drums' and 'One Day At A Time'.  Enjoy, and check out YouTube page for all session video

Friday, 27 December 2013

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 25th December 2013 - Christmas Special

Originally airing as a Christmas special on 25th December, this show is a Scottish Fiction round up of the year we have just enjoyed.  2013 has been a fantastic year for Scottish music, and we run through some of our favourite tracks and EP's, with a festive smattering of alternative classics. 

Prides - Out Of The Blue
Randolph's Leap - One More Sleep 'til Christmas
Campfires In Winter - Picture of Health
Book Group - Victory Lap
Tom Waits - Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis
Collar Up - Jam Jar Full of Wasps
Young Fathers - iHeard
Machines In Heaven - Mistletoe And Crime
There Will Be Fireworks - In Excelsis Deo
Atom Tree - Tide Of Thorns
Nevada Base - Foresight
Naked - Lie Follow Lie
Campfires In Winter - Christmas Song
Giant Fang - Aqualung
Eels - Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
Lovers Turn To Monsters - Skeletor
East Coast Defector - Xmas At Home
Fake Major - Little Researcher
Michael Cassidy - Everybody's Scared
ballboy - Merry Christmas To The Drunks, Merry Christmas To The Lovers
DEATHCATS!!! - I Wish It Was Summer
Honeyblood - Bud
Poor Things - Morgan
Pinact - Beauty Freak
Gone Wishing - Decoys
Lidh - Rockpool Hospital
Mast - Romance
Idlewild - In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Scottish Fiction - 25th December 2013 - Christmas Special by Scottish Fiction on Mixcloud

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 18th December 2013

It was the last live show on 2013, a year that has been synonymous with live music on Scottish Fiction, and what a way to end the year.  My guests for this week's show were Carla, Amanda and Debbie of sunshine pop girl band TeenCanteen.  Fresh of the back of debut single 'Honey', released via Neu Reekie earlier this year, the band chatted about influences ranging from girl bands of the '60's to certain 2000's boybands (!), and their plans for next year.  And speaking of those plans, there's a sneak peak of what may be the girls next single, as they kindly played three live songs for us in the studio.  As usual you can also expect the best new Scottish music releases, a festival Cover Lover track, and your choice of music with #tweetatrack.

Carnivores - Insecuricor

Carol - Breakdown - As chosen by TeenCanteen

TeenCanteen - How We Met (Cherry Pie) - Live in Pulse 98.4 studio

The Fuzz - Leave It All Behind Me - As chosen by TeenCanteen

TeenCanteen - Honey - Live in Pulse 98.4 studio
TeenCanteen - Friends - Live in Pulse 98.4 studio

Ruth Copeland - The Music Box - As chosen by TeenCanteen

Medals - Disguises
Model Aeroplanes - Innocent Love
French Wives - The Wagon

COVER LOVER - Mitchell Museum - Stop The Cavalry

There Will Be Fireworks - Here Is Where
Marionettes - Pumpkin
Poor Things - Morgan
The Twilight Sad - And She Would Darken The Memory
Vladimir - Come Over
Stanley Odd - Her Name Was Hip-Hop

#tweetatrack - Culann - Jerusalem - As chosen by @fruitbatwalton

We Were Hunted - Settle Down

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Scottish Fiction - 18th December 2013 by Scottish Fiction on Mixcloud

EP Review - Plum - Betsy Thunder

Plum, or Shona Maguire as she doesn’t like to be called, has been a busy bee.  During her studies at London’s Point Blank Music College, she was approached by Summer Rain Recordings.  Subsequently, two EPs were released.  Not too shabby.

She’s been on a roll ever since.  Highlights include being the only female artist ever signed to Benbucula Records and self releasing critically acclaimed The Seed last year through ‘fan-funding’.  The devil will find work for idle hands to do.

As 2013 is drawing to a close, Plum has decided to thrust another EP at us.  Betsy Thunder is a beautifully synth heavy and thorough affair.  A chilled out vibe is apparent throughout and is displayed through an ridiculous range of instruments.  Almost all of which are played by Plum herself.

Of the tracks on display here Casting Shadows is euphoric and synth heavy.  Precision is key here.  Catapult is powerful and electronically haunting, utilising a creepy glockenspiel, quite possibly played by ghosts, towards the end of the track.  Only Human has a tinge of Bjork whilst To Destroy Everything is what Grimes would sound like if she had gave the speed the miss whilst recording Visions.

Overall Betsy Thunder is a creative EP which proves quantity and quality is not a problem for Plum.  A tasty stop-gap to keep fans happy on her way to album number two.

- Holly Callender

Plum - Betsy Thunder is out now and available to download here and other online retailers.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Scottish Fiction Podcast - 11th December 2013

This podcast was recorded smack bang in the middle of Shambles Miller's epic takeover of the Scottish Fiction blog, therefore it seemed only right and fair that we allowed him to invade our podcast too.  Shambles chooses three tracks in the middle of this week's show.  There's also new music from French Wives, Over The Wall, Black Balloons and Dirty Lies.  Nestled in amongst all the music delights are our usual features 'Cover Lover', '#tweetatrack' and 'Re-Mixing It Up'.  It's all good!

Over The Wall - Cast Your Stone
TeenCanteen - Honey
The Twilight Sad & Royal Scottish National Orchestra - The Wrong Car (Live from Paisley Abbey)
Sonic Templars - Lessons In My Life

Cover Lover Track - Travis - River

Wullie Mammoth - Factory (Part 1)
French Wives - Long Drawn Goodbye
Angus Munro - The Death Of Me
Jack James - Florence

#tweetatrack - Maple Leaves - Golden Ether - As chosen by @alantheclarke

Shambles Miller - Deadpool

Randolph's Leap - Psychic - As chosen by Shambles Miller
This Silent Forest - Root To The Seed - As chosen by Shambles Miller
James Mackenzie - Boat Song - As chosen by Shambles Miller

Dirty Lies - Shallow Grave
Black Balloons - Haunted
DEATHCATS!!! - Cowabunga Surf Jam
Kobi Onyame - Glory
The Boy With The Lion Head - I'll Hide All The Things That Remind Me Of You

Re-Mixing It Up - The Girobabies - What Could Go Wrong (Sicknote Remix)

A Fight You Can't Win - Jerusalem Crickets
Blood Relatives - Fowl Mouth

Subscribe/listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Album Review - There Will Be Fireworks - The Dark, Dark Bright

It’s been a little more than four years since There Will Be Fireworks critically well received debut; four years punctuated only by the release of the Because, Because EP at the end of 2011.  Sophomore effort The Dark, Dark Bright by the Glasgow based 5-piece opens with a sonorous voice reciting lines from Two Singing Girls, a poem by Lewis born poet Iain Crichton Smith.  It’s a curiously low key but nonetheless apt opening to an album full to bursting with emotive indie rock songs and often poetic lyrics that, during my first listen, sent more than a few shivers up my spine and caused me to get quite emotional during some of the more resoundingly heartfelt moments.  Always a good sign when an album plants a lump in your throat at first blush.

Opening song And Our Hearts Did Beat is a subtle but persuasive opener.  Strummed guitars and soaring vocals courtesy of front man Nicholas McManus usher the listener into a gentle post rock outro which seamlessly flows into second track River which is where the band’s moniker starts to makes sense.  River begins subdued, building in intensity before, a little past the minute mark it bursts its banks and explodes with energy.  Sky scraping guitars and synths are underpinned by hammering drums and above the fury McManus sings like the words are being ripped raw from his throat along with pieces of his heart.  It’s quite brilliant but still not a real indication of the lofty heights the album will soar to before it’s done.

River is followed by Roots which turns the dial down some and reaches deep into the soul of the listener to plant a seed that blossoms into a fathomless melancholy as weeping strings tug gently at the heartstrings.  Youngblood is up next, opening with a folksy jangle before delivering the album’s first anthem.  It’s an upbeat gallop of a song that ignites in the home stretch to deliver an incendiary instrumental coda that arrives out of nowhere only to fall away as the album’s next song drifts in on a bed of hazy synths.  Ash Wednesday is simply gorgeous.  “Cold from December still lingers in March, all of the people that stay in these houses are falling apart,” sings McManus and the poignancy can’t fail to move even the most granite of heart.   Live, this song will have the audience sobbing into their pints.

Next up is So Stay Close; emerging from the swirling sound-scape it slowly comes awake, roused from slumber by pounding drums and before too long it transforms into an intense post rock epic only for the noise to fade away leaving just acoustic guitar, pulsing bass and Nicholas McManus’ voice.  Lay Me Down follows and is another touching, slow burn slice of mournfulness.

Track eight Here Is Where relates in stream of consciousness fashion a story full of memories and hurt and for my money it’s the beating heart of The Dark, Dark Bright.  Like most of the songs here it seems to come from a very personal place and contains some of the most affecting lyrics on an album that’s full to bursting with words that make the listener feel.  This is one of the songs I alluded to in my opening paragraph when I said this is an album that sent more than a few shivers up my spine.  With every listen Here Is Where becomes something more; something greater than it already was and it was great to begin with.

Your House Was Aglow almost matches Here Is Where in its ability to tug insistently on the heart strings with McManus adopting a higher register than elsewhere.  It’s lovely and leads perfectly into the most sonically uplifting song on the album.  South Street is the sort of song that, upon hearing the recorded version, you just know it will rip the ceiling off any venue this band plays.  It’s the sort of song that can simultaneously make you smile and bring tears to your eyes.  A joyful sadness if you will.

The album ends with the gorgeous double whammy of Elder and Oak and The Good Days; the latter full of bittersweet yearning for a yesterday that is doomed to memory.  It’s the perfect end to one of the best albums I’ve heard in 2013.  Here is a band that demands to be mentioned in the same breath as Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad.  A band who invests both their sound and lyrics with a passion that is consistent in its ability to move the listener.  The Dark, Dark Bright can stand tall next to Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters or The Midnight Organ Fight instead of existing in their shadows.  This, considering that I hold both those albums in the very greatest esteem, is the highest praise I can bestow.   I just hope we don’t have to wait another four years for album number three.

- Steve Chandler

There Will Be Fireworks - The Dark, Dark Bright is out now on Comets & Cartwheels and is available online here and in all good record shops. 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

So long and thanks for all the...words...that you read...with your eyes.

Well friends, it's day seven, meaning this is the last day of my brutally epic takeover of Scottish Fiction, and that I can use as many commas as I like, seriously, I, like, totally can. I was originally supposed to have the day off, but I thought I might finish with a look back at the week, a wee exclusive, and some stuff that I couldn't fit into other posts.

Like this. I felt it was important everyone see this.
At the beginning of the week I talked about the Proust Questionnaire from the TV show Inside the Actors Studio, and asked the ten questions of a number of Scottish musicians. But now you can take the quiz too, with this interactive Proust Questionnaire! The questions are different to the ones from the TV show, but in the same mould, and at the end you can compare your answers with those of, y'know, some famous folk. Just click here to take the quiz. Apparently my answers were very similar to the ones Johnny Cash gave. Yas.

As I mentioned in my first post of the week, I'm a big supporter of Scottish Independence. I actually played the National Collective Glasgow launch party back in October, and this week they put everyone's sets up on Soundcloud. You can listen to mine in the player below.

Another one of the performers at that gig was Eleanor Morton, one of my guests from earlier in the week, who I chatted to about music and comedy. You can hear her set here, as well as performances from Liz Lochead, Leo Condie, and more.

On Thursday I hosted a night of live music at Brechins Bar in Govan, during the after-party of a short film screening. That film is called Two More Than Most. It looks at the history of Govan and its significance to various peoples throughout the ages, as well as looking towards its future. It's a great film, and I recommend checking it out. In fact, I recommend it so much that I've embedded it below. The film features a couple of my songs (and my dad), but I'm not biased, honest.

This week I also spoke to Adam Ross from Randolph's Leap about humour and music. The band has just released a Christmas EP and although they appear to have sold out of physical copies, you can still download a digital one. Here's their rendition of One More Sleep 'til Christmas, from The Muppet Christmas Carol (which is the best version of a Christmas Carol as far as I'm concerned).

Well it's about time to wrap up, but here's a wee exclusive before I go: a music video for my single Deadpool is in the works! Here's a promo:

Well, that's about all I can cram into one post I reckon. It's been a really fun week, and I want to thank Neil for asking me to do this takeover. I'd also like to say a big thank-you to everyone who has contributed and helped me out. And last of all I'd like to thank all you guys for reading it! You're all brilliant people. I've fair enjoyed myself. I'll have some gig announcements soon, so keep an eye on my various social media hingmies for details. You want links? Oh ok then. You can find me at Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Vine, Supapass, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and at my website. Phew!

Til next time,



Saturday, 14 December 2013

Shambles Miller Presents: The Scottish Fiction Selfie Competition Winner(s) and Runners Up

Hello everyone. Shambles Miller here again. It's day six and I think you all know why I've brought you here today. My momentous takeover of Scottish Fiction is almost over, but before I burn this place to the ground and walk away from the explosion while Metallica plays in the background (that's tomorrow) we still have to crown a winner of the Scottish Fiction Selfie Competition. Of course, we can't have a winner without a judge. When I first came up with the idea of a selfie competition, I knew that there was only one man for the job. Only one man who could do it right. Only one man who could do it justice. The God of Games. The King in the North. The Sultan of Selfie. It can only be...Robert Florence.

He's here to judge a contest, and to stare into your soul.
You might know him from the hit show Burnistoun. Perhaps you know him from the time he wrestled Greg Hemphill. Some of you might even know that he invented the Public Power Selfie, and it's that pioneering work and dedication to the craft that gives him the authority to judge this competition. So without further ado, I'll let the man himself present you with his winner and runners up. Runner ups? Runners up.

The Runners Up

Aidan Moffat
In this case, V does NOT stand for victory.
This has been a very difficult decision for me. I'm known as the Master of the Modern Selfie, so I never take any of these selfie judicial roles lightly. I will begin by saying that I was impressed by Aidan Moffat's effort. A selfie is not all about the “self”. This is a common mistake made by some. To believe that the “self” is enough to capture the magic of the selfie is sheer folly. (For what indeed is the “self”? Philosophers have wrestled with this matter for centuries.) The background of the selfie is key, and Aidan Moffat (who has a poet's heart) understands this completely. We assume he is on a boat, but he could easily be hovering above a body of Scottish water, representing man's separation from nature. It is a beautiful thing. But yet, only a runner-up.

RM Hubbert

Mona Lisa wishes she was this enigmatic.
RM Hubbert's selfie is what I would call a textbook “exclusion selfie”. His eyeline is carrying below the lens, separating his self from the self of the viewer. He excludes us by doing this, keeping his mysteries to himself. But this is how an artist invites us to probe those mysteries. I imagine that this selfie will be studied for many years to come – what do the posters represent? Why that exact number of books on those shelves? This is a classic “enigmelfie” by a wonderful musician.

Julia Doogan

She played dirty, but she didn't win.
Julia Doogan, by introducing the tongue into the selfie, invites us on a sexual journey. There is also an element of topicality, as she channels Miley Cyrus with her careful angling of the tongue. Her two fingers warn us off, but also ask us to consider how we can use two fingers in the sexual act. Of course, the selfie should be a “high-art” pursuit, and Doogan dips a little towards “low-art” with the sexual content and the introduction of mirrors and doors and the debauchery they represent.

The Winner(s)!

Campfires in Winter
Professionals. These guys are the A-Team of Selfies, and they're all The Face.
The winner of this thing must be Campfires In Winter. Masters of the selfie can recreate poses at will. A great selfie is all about knowing how you can look at your best. And having seen some of the Campfires In Winter team in real life, these photos do absolutely present them at their very best. That they can recreate those poses so easily shows that they have an innate understanding of the selfie, and thus they must take away the prize. Is there a prize?

There isn't. Because what prize could be greater than having the title "winner" thrust right upon you by the Best in the Selfie Business? Money? An Xbox One? Don't be ridiculous. Maybe a Wii U. I'm sad that I couldn't enter the competition, but also relieved. To fly so close to the sun is always a dangerous thing. I just hope Campfires in Winter don't get burned. Congratulations men! You've earned this victory, and you deserve it.

Thanks to everyone who took part, and a special thank you to Robert Florence for agreeing to be the guest judge. Braw folk. Braw faces.

Until tomorrow, my friends.


Friday, 13 December 2013

Shambles Miller Presents: The Scottish Fiction Selfie Competition

Why hello! It's day five of what critics are now calling the greatest and most bold takeover of a website in recent history. I'm Shambles Miller, and today I present you with both a celebration and a competition. The year is nearly over and pundits are in agreement that 2013 has been the year of the selfie. It's become acceptable to post photos of yourself online as long as you use that ubiquitous word. 'Selfie' has entered the dictionary. Barack Obama just took one at a funeral (sort of). The future is as bright and full of wonder as it is dark and terrifying to behold.

It's also a bit debonair. Hello.

Here at Scottish Fiction, I've brought together a collection of selfies from a number of Scottish bands and artists for your visual delectation. You're quite right though, well remembered: this is also a competition. I did say that. The winner will be chosen in secret by a guest judge and revealed tomorrow. But for now, I present your competitors...

Aidan Moffat
He's on a boat motherfucker, take a look at him.

Channelling Miley Cyrus?
Niall McCamley (The Spook School)

He's a good egg, but will he crack under the pressure?
David Officer (Daemons)

David is also a photographer and claims that this is his best side.
Chris McKeown (Halo Tora)

Limmy could learn a thing or two from this man's face.
Neil Wilson (Scottish Fiction)

Neil might not be a musician, but he owns the place, so he can do what he wants amigo.
James Mackenzie (Love Civilian)

Glasses. Beard. Mad hat. High-vis jacket. A bold choice to be sure.

Wait, is this a selfie competition or a beard competition?
Louise Dodds

Opting for a classic selfie here.
Campfires in Winter

Recreating their Twitter avatar in selfie form. Inspired.
Jamie Sturt (Atlas: Empire, This Silent Forest)

Sporting a Will Selfie.

Well there you have it folks! Who are you rooting for? Which selfie is your favourite? Is this all just a pointless charade? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to come back tomorrow to find who the winner is, and to see what I have in store for the last day of my Scottish Fiction Takeover!

Til tomorrow,



Thursday, 12 December 2013

Have you heard the one about the funny musician?

Hello! It's day four of my Scottish Fiction takeover and today we have the second instalment of my two-part feature on music and comedy. I chat about humour and songwriting with Randolph's Leap frontman and songwriter Adam Ross.

I  always find it a hard question to answer, but luckily I don't have to this time, so: can you tell me a little about your songwriting process?

I don’t really have a fixed ‘process’… most songs I can’t really remember writing. Sometimes I have a melody or a few lines that I’ll spend ages moulding into a finished song but most of them come along by chance and are formed fairly quickly. I do a lot of songwriting in the shower. When I’m rich I’ll buy a waterproof guitar and have a built-in recording desk built in my bathroom.

How often do people ask you about, or comment on, the humorous content of your lyrics?

Fairly often. It’s a strangely under-tapped emotion in music. So although musicians have been utilising it for decades, it still strikes a lot of people as being a bit unusual. I’m happy being unusual – it’s descriptions like ‘quirky’ or, even worse, ‘novelty’ that I think start to undermine it a bit. I got to know Duglas T Stewart from the BMX Bandits a while ago and he was someone who reinforced the philosophy that humour is as valid in songwriting as sorrow, anger, etc. The world is full of humour so why shouldn’t that be represented in music?

Like I say though, loads of musicians do utilise humour (in far more effective ways than I ever could) but a lot of people still see it as being a bit weird. I’d go as far as to say that some people resent it, as if it means you’re not taking music seriously. I do take music seriously but I don’t take myself very seriously. We sometimes get called ‘twee’. I presume that has something to do with the playful nature of the lyrics and the lack of macho solemnity. I personally associate the word ‘twee’ with more of a straight-faced kind of saccharinity and sentimentality and I think humourous  lyrics often demonstrate a level of self-awareness which goes against all that.

It was the lyric "I went for pakora with Derek Acorah" which attracted me in particular to your most recent record before even hearing it, and the album didn't disappoint. It does start with a slightly more sombre track however. Are you conscious of not wanting to be pigeonholed as someone who writes humorous lyrics?

I think everyone ends up being pigeonholed in some way. I’d rather be pigeonholed as someone who writes good humourous songs than someone who writes bad serious songs. It’s something that works for me and I’ve seen evidence to suggest that people enjoy it. That makes me happy. The first track on that mini-album (Conversation) does indeed sound more sombre but it’s got some ‘funny’ lyrics in it too I think. Also, the Derek Acorah one (Psychic) is partly based on genuine feelings of despair I’ve felt when working in minimum wage jobs. So there is an emotional core to it. I try and do a bit of both in every song but some inevitably end up drifting towards one end of the silly/serious spectrum. It’s interesting what can be done with arrangement, performance and production to alter how people react to certain lyrics though. I’ve got a song called Weatherman which, on paper, is quite humorous but the use of minor chords give it a less than cheery atmosphere.

So, no, I don’t worry about being pigeonholed. I’m quite a silly person. I enjoy puns and bad jokes in my day-to-day life so it stands to reason that those things would inhabit the songs. Whether people like the music or not, I think I have succeeded in making the albums sound like me. I think that’s important as an “artist”. I enjoy music where you feel like you’re getting to know the person who recorded it.

In an interview you said that you realised that "you don't have to necessarily write about being in love with your best friend or being depressed", a realisation I definitely identify with. Do you think that freedom to write about whatever you feel like is an important part of your songwriting?

I’m not keen on clichés. What I wanted to say in that quote was that you don’t have to write about clichéd or over-explored themes. For some reason those examples were what popped into my head as ‘clichés’. Thing is, being in love with your best friend or being depressed are totally valid things to write about if you do it well. My point was supposed to be more about the way in which songwriters approach their themes. I enjoy hearing people write in inventive ways. However, there’s no point being weird for the sake of it. There has to be some truth in there or it’s ultimately fake. I think all of my songs are at least loosely based on something I’ve genuinely felt. It just so happens that I’ve (fortunately) had a fairly pedestrian, comfortable tragedy-free life thus far. I don’t write dark or angry songs because I’m not a particularly dark or angry person. That’s not to say I live in a bubble of whimsy – I listen to all kinds of music – but, as a songwriter, I operate the way I do because it’s what works best for me and comes naturally.

Who (or what) are your biggest songwriting influences?

Too many to list…my favourites are the people who marry melodic, beautiful, memorable tunes with original and inventive lyrics.

What is your favourite lyric? (at the moment, at least)

Here I stand disarmed in limbo
You stand with your arms akimbo
I'm lying on my bedroom floor
You smirk behind my bedroom door
Intuition told me so, intuition told me so

(Intuition Told Me (part 2) by Orange Juice)

Know any good jokes?

Q. Why did the farmer put his cows in the barn during winter?
A. ‘Cos they were friesian.

Boom Boom! Randolph's Leap have hunners of news. Catch up with it all at their website. They've also just released a Christmas EP!

As I put this feature together I was comforted to see that many of Adam and Eleanor's feelings about writing and humour mirrored my own. I particularly identified with Adam's description of the balance between silly and serious. For instance, I have a song called Deadpool which might seem like nothing more than a silly, fun song about robots and TV and pop culture, but the heart of it is about the notion of death, and how we deal with it. I was inspired to write it when a friend's mother passed away and on that day, my friend changed her display picture on Facebook to a picture of her and her mum. It made me think about the ways in which we remember people, and how our loved ones live on in our memories of them. But I'm me, so the way I expressed that was through Star Trek references and a jaunty tune. I've never told my friend that she inspired me to write this particular song, partly because I'd be afraid that she'd be offended, since on the surface it seems like such a cheery song. Maybe I will soon though.

Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow folks!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Have you heard the one about the musical comedian?

It's day three of my takeover of Scottish Fiction and I've decided to spend today and tomorrow taking a look at the line between music and comedy. I talked earlier in the week about my tendency to use humour in my lyrics and thought it would be interesting to explore that a little further, so I decided to talk to a comedian who uses music in her stand-up, and a musician who uses humour in his lyrics. Today I talk to Eleanor Morton about her approach to music in comedy.

What came first, music or comedy? (for you, not, y'know, in the world)

Comedy came first. Or at least, I wanted to be a stand-up comedian. I never intended to be a musician. By sheer coincidence I'd written a song a couple of weeks before my first gig which seemed amusing enough, so I ended up using it because it took up three minutes I'd otherwise have to write jokes in. But I've always been musical, singing, playing the piano and writing songs, so it's ended up staying in the act. Sometimes I think of getting rid of the music, but I also genuinely enjoy writing songs, so I'm keeping it for now.

When it comes to musical comedy, Tim Minchin is probably one of the most successful and well-known proponents of the genre. He has said that he's not a comedy songwriter however, rather that he just happens to write funny songs just now and those are the ones he performs live. Does this sound familiar, or is music primarily a vehicle for comedy for you?

I can relate to that - it feels more like a coincidence than an intention. The thing is, if you've got other interests, they often end up being incorporated into the act. But I'd say I was a comedian, not a musician, and a stand-up rather than a comedy song writer. Mostly because I do 'talking in between'. It's just people tend to think of you as primarily a musical comedian because your instrument is on stage with you all the time.

Can you tell me a little about your writing process?

I tend to come up with a phrase I like and maybe muck around finding a tune for it. I find it hard to sit down and write a comedy song all the way straight through - it tends to feel forced, unlike a straight song, which I usually do write in one sitting. Generally I write a page of nonsense every day and that helps get my brain in gear for any writing I'm doing.

Stand-up Stewart Lee once mocked guitar-toting comedians; have you ever felt any stigma in the world of comedy (or music) as a stand-up who uses music in your comedy?

Yes. I used to feel embarrassed and ashamed, like musical comedy is a cop out, or it's lazy. Well, it is if you're shit at it, and I hope I'm not. The reaction to musical comedy I've found is similar to the reaction to female comedy - so try and imagine the looks on people's faces when I turn up for a gig. If you're a female/musical comedian, you're unfunny until proven funny, and I've lost count of number of times I've been told 'Hey, I enjoyed that!' by someone who seems very surprised. Musical comedy is considered a 'cliche' - espcially the ukulele, which doesn't really make sense to me, as there's arguably only about four instruments you can use for a standard comedy song - piano or strings, unless you're mucking around or you have the budget. Personally I think it's a cliche to be a white hetrosexual guy talking about being a white hetrosexual guy, but hey, maybe that's just me! (Yeah, I've clearly still got issues with it)

Who (or what) are you biggest writing influences?

I don't know if you can call them influences, but some of my favourite comedians are Spike Milligan, Peter Sellars, Bill Bailey, Dylan Moran, Josie Long, Seymour Mace, Gavin Webster, Paul Sneddon, Maria Bamford, Mark Steel, Mark Thomas, Claudia O Doherty, David O Doherty, Flight of The Conchords, Liam Williams, Tony Law, Patrick Cahill, Doug Stanhope, Paul Foot, Ivor Cutler, Tom Leher and lots of other people I know personally but aren't cool enough to be  friends with. You know who you are guys! (Please let me be your friend)

What is your favourite lyric? (at the moment, at least)

Currently my favourite lyric is from Nick Helm's song 'Wings' - 'Gonna feed all the pets in the petting Zoo - fuck you motherfucker, motherfucker fuck you!'

Can you tell us a joke?

A Glaswegian goes into a bakery and says 'Excuse me, is that a macaroon, or a meringue?' The women behind the counter says 'No, you're right, it is a macaroon'.

Sub-question: Do you hate it when people ask you to tell them a joke outwith the context of a gig?

Yes, I hate that question. Not nearly as much as I hate the question 'Are you funny?', which is teeth-grindingly infuriating, but it's pretty close. If you want a comedian to look supremely unfunny, ask them to tell you a joke in a social situation.

I'm sorry that I just did it.

It's okay, I forgive you, you are self-aware.

Phew! Eleanor has a show at the Glasgow Comedy Festival in March which you can buy tickets for here.

I hope you enjoyed the first part of my feature on music and comedy! Join me tomorrow for the conclusion and an interview with Randolph's Leap frontman Adam Ross.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

"What is your favourite word...?"

Hello again, Shambles Miller here, your host for the week. Today I want to talk to you about a TV show I'm a big fan of called Inside the Actors Studio. If you've never seen it, it's a show where boot-polish haired, warmly staccato-voiced James Lipton asks successful actors a series of questions, sometimes with such a depth of knowledge that the guests are quite surprised. "How did you know I wished for a bike when I was five", or "who told you about that time I had a hamster up my bum", they'll say. Obviously I haven't done anything like that level of research for this (or anything, ever), but every episode ends with the same ten questions. It's based on the Proust Questionnaire and I decided to ask it to some musical friends. Let's get a little insight into the hearts and minds of Scotland's bands and artists.

Julia Doogan (Julia and the Doogans) 

What is your favourite word?

My favourite word is "hilarious".

What is your least favourite word?

My least favourite word is "nice". I also don't like the word pussy but that's too rude to put in isn't it?
(Nope! - SM)

What turns you on?

Disco music.

What turns you off?

Nu metal.

What sound or noise do you love?

I really love my mums laugh.

What sound or noise do you hate?

When people can whistle but it's completely out of tune. Drives me insane.

What is your favourite curse word?

Cunt. I rarely say it but find it hilarious (fave word) that people can be so offended by a word.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

An extra on Casualty.

"Yeah, I just...I just have no idea what I'm doing."

What profession would you not like to do?

An extra on Holby City.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

"You had a good run. Well done hen."

Julia and her Doogans can be found here and here.

Kyle Wood (Lovers Turn to Monsters)

What is your favourite word?

Artefact. Maybe...

What is your least favourite word?

I hate crude Scottish colloquialisms. So much I won't even say them!

What turns you on?

Female rappers.

The stuff Kyle's dreams are made of.

What turns you off?

Vanity I guess. People who worry too much about what others think.

What sound or noise do you love?

Clichéd, but can't beat rain fae yer bed.

What sound or noise do you hate?

I work in a bakery and my oven makes this horrific alarm noise when it finishes.

What is your favourite curse word?

Can't beat the F-word or a slow dragged out basturt!

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I guess I'm far from being a 'professional' musician so that'd be nice. Something art related anyway.

What profession would you not like to do?


(Kyle couldn't think of a profession he really wouldn't like to do. Which is how he got his new post as my personal butler. I make him wear a wee hat. - SM)

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

"No bad son".

Kyle has a gig this week! For more info go to his Facebook.

Squirrel (This Silent Forest)

What is your favourite word?

Ephemeral or haberdashery.

What is your least favourite word?


What turns you on?

Generally most attractive girls between the age of 18 and 30.

What turns you off?


What sound or noise do you love?

The old noise of a modem.

What sound or noise do you hate?

The iPhone standard alarm.

What is your favourite curse word?


What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I've had many but I would like to work for a think tank coming up with ideas or creating scenarios to test national security.

"Right, what if we just put all the baddies over here next
to Steve's house? Steve's a dick anyway."

What profession would you not like to do?

Telecoms project management.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?


This Silent Forest play King Tut's New Years Revolution in January. More info here!

James Mackenzie (Love Civilian)

What is your favourite word?

Plethora is my favourite word. Don't ask me why.

What is your least favourite word?

My least favourite word is when people say STATUS the American way, like lattice.

What turns you on?

Wet hair turns me on.

What turns you off?

Eggy farts and spots turn me off.

What sound or noise do you love?

I love the sound of windy nights as I lie in bed.
(Not THAT kind of wind, obviously. Parp. - SM)

What sound or noise do you hate?

I hate the sound of people blowing raspberries.

What is your favourite curse word?


What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I'd like to try out to be a footballer, or some kind of sportsman.

What profession would you not like to do?

I'd hate to be a doorman.

I don't know man, I can't think of many jobs where you
get to dress like some sort of extravagant circus pimp.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

I'd like God to say, "Whattup bro, I got your album playing in the waiting room. It's goooooooddd shiiit".

James is on that Internet, check him out!

Finn LeMarinel

What is your favorite word?


What is your least favorite word?


What turns you on?


It's not known if Finn is the author of this book.

What turns you off?

A lack of dinosaurs.

What sound or noise do you love?

A car indicator.

What sound or noise do you hate?

The iPhone alarm tone.

What is your favorite curse word?


What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?


What profession would you not like to do?

Police man.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?


A man of few words but awesome music. Check him out right here.

Wullie "Mammoth" Swales (Wullie Mammoth, Where We Lay Our Heads, Algernon Doll)

What is your favorite word? 

The first word that came to my head was pernickety.

What is your least favorite word?

 I'm not sure but I'm not a huge fan of people who misuse the words “epic” and “random”...
(I see what you did there, and I approve. - SM)

What turns you on? 

Not being afraid to be who you are. Not sure if that answer sounded a little bit too Jonas Brothers.

What turns you off? 

Ego. Fake Tan.

Sorry Donald, he's just not that into you.

What sound or noise do you love? 

I love the sound clapping hands, genuine laughter, the sound of a beer bottle being opened and that sound the microwave makes when it's reheated some delicious chilli.

What sound or noise do you hate? 

The sound of metal being scraped, like a knife off a plate, or stick drags across cymbals maks me feel physically sick.

What is your favorite curse word?

I'm a man of simple tastes, gotta go with Fuck or Fuckwit.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I've thought about this before and it's tricky but maybe something like board game designer, script writer, primary school teacher or some kind of dancer....maybe Salsa or Swing.

What profession would you not like to do?

 I once spent three days working a festival where my role was making sure people didn't piss on a wall, so not that again.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

”I can't believe you managed to save that girl and her army of puppies from those evil ninjas while the entire building was burning down, defeated the evil lord Chtulhu with nothing but a spork and stopped the zombie apocalypse yet died falling out of the shower. You'll be in need of a pint”.

Wull's up to hunners of stuff. Like this and this and this.

Boab Canavan (Campfires in Winter)

What is your favorite word? 

(Yeah, I had to look it up too, and I must say, I like it. - SM)

What is your least favorite word? 

Test. No idea why.

What turns you on? 

I wouldn't say it turns me on exactly but a heartbeat is an absolute must.

What turns you off? 

Bad teeth. Pretty standard answer that but it's true.

What about NO teeth?

What sound or noise do you love? 

Ice crackling in a drink.

What sound or noise do you hate? 

That wee squeaky noise you hear in your head when you chew on the sleeve of a woollen jumper.
(Aaaaaaggghhhhhhhhhhhhh. - SM)

What is your favorite curse word? 

Bastart. Always with a 't' at the end.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? 

Mixing engineer/producer.

What profession would you not like to do? 

Septic tank cleaner.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? 

"Sorry pal, not tonight. Away back and have another couple of years. And do it right this time."

Campfires in Winter are also playing KTNYR! Get tickets here.

So what have we learned here today? Musicians like to swear, have a good taste in interesting words, like being in their beds when there's weather outside, hate iPhone alarms, have lofty ideas about God's personal opinions, and look damn good in black and white. But what would Proust say? I don't know, probably something like "you're using my questionnaire for what?"

I'll be back with another post tomorrow. In the meantime, you can catch up with me on Twitter or Facebook. For now, I leave you with Will Ferrell's take on Inside the Actors Studio and the great James Lipton.