Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Who will win The SAY Award? - The Nominators Vote

So we've already heard from you, the Scottish Fiction readers, who you think will win The SAY Award (check that out over here if you haven't seen the results already), and now it's time to investigate further.

As you'll know the long list of twenty albums that was announced on 24th April was drawn from the nominations of 100 independent music industry figures including promoters, musicians, DJ's, bloggers, journalists, record shops and many more (you can find the full list of nominators on The SAY Award website).  As an interesting aside, because each nominator was asked to choose their favourite five albums over 120 albums produced in Scotland received at least one vote during the nomination process.

Once the long list is decided the nominators jobs are done.  The judging process is carried out by a separate group of industry experts, known ominously as the judges, who ultimately pick the winner (you can find the full list of judges on The SAY Award website).  Worth pointing out, given what's coming next, is that the judges are not involved in the nomination process, and vice-versa., and the tips and comments below from the nominators bear no influence to the final judging process whatsoever. 

This year's short list reads like a who's who of Scottish music.  Rock icons Biffy Clyro, last year's winner RM Hubbert, the intangible but hugely influential Boards of Canada, post-rock behemoths Mogwai and indie cult heroes Edwyn Collins, Steve Mason and The Pastels.  It's not all about the established acts though as Young Fathers and Hector Bizerk both have a spot in the short list - check out our interview with Louie from Hector Bizerk here - and although they are a household name in the UK, it's worth remembering the CHVRCHES have only risen to such heights within the last 18 months.

So we wondered, now that the short list has been decided, and the award ceremony is so close, who do the 100 nominators, given their different backgrounds, opinions, tastes, etc, think will win?  So we asked.  Of the 100 nominators, including yours truly, we got answers from 42, and those answers look like this:

Young Fathers, Tape Two  - 2.38%
The Pastels, Slow Summits  - 0%
Steve Mason, Monkey's Mind In The Devil's Time  - 4.76%
RM Hubbert, Breaks & Bone  - 0%
Mogwai, Les Revenants  - 16.67%
Hector Bizerk, Nobody Seen Nothing  - 4.76%
Edwyn Collins, Understated  - 9.52%
CHVRCHES, The Bones Of What You Believe  - 52.38%
Boards of Canada, Tomorrow's Harvest  - 4.76%
Biffy Clyro, Opposites  - 4.76%

Quite a resounding backing, I'm sure you'll agree, for CHVRCHES, polling over 50% of the vote, and if you adjust the number of votes to include those nominators who didn't respond, that's still nearly 25% of the vote to CHVRCHES.  Mogwai, perhaps unsurprisingly given their standing in Scottish music, are the nominators second choice, with Edywn Collins coming in third.

Another interesting aside, and you'll see this point illustrated by some of the nominators comments below, is that a lot of the nominators WANTED one album to win, but PREDICTED that another would.  Using the comments that I was given, if I adjust the votes to show who the nominators wanted to win, rather than who they think will win, CHVRCHES share of the spoils drops to a still pretty impressive 40.48%.  The albums that see an increase in the vote, when we are playing by heart over head rules, are Hector Bizerk, Young Fathers and Boards of Canada.  Take from that what you will, but the DIY ethos of Hector Bizerk, the cutting edge Zeitgeist of Young Fathers, and the sheer influence of Boards of Canada, perhaps leave some of the nominators wishing to see those artists rewarded accordingly.

Of course, as we've said through the series of articles about The SAY Awards, the final decision will fall to the eleven judges tomorrow night (Thursday 19th June), who are all as passionate about music as anyone of us, and will no doubt come to a decision based on the merits of each album and the music contained therein.  Let's wish all of the short listed albums good luck, and be sure to check them out regardless of the overall winner.

Giving some context to the above figures, here's what some of the nominators had to say:

"In the absence of There Will Be Fireworks from the long list and Frightened Rabbit from the short list my choice would be for Mogwai to win, which from a man who likes his lyrics is praise indeed." - Kevin Buckle, Avalanche Records

"I am going with CHVRCHES as my prediction.  It maybe an obvious choice but they have managed to move quite brilliantly from an underground act to one receiving global praise and success and they have possibly opened the door for more emerging synth driven acts.  They have been hailed as one of the UK's success stories of the past 12/18 months and that definitely makes them one of Scotland's" - Jamie MacDonald, Netsounds Unsigned

"I predict that CHVRCHES will win.  Having been through the mill in other bands, they have made an album of great electro tinged pop that is cool, yet sounds great on daytime radio.  Edwyn Coliins might be an outsider bet, after what he has been through to make an album." - DJ Mash, DJ/Producer/Broadcaster

"Hopefully Mogwai can win this year. Their music remains a real inspiration for the Clash team. But I fear Chvrches may pip them with their pop sheen and emergent hype. I'd equally love to see Young Fathers steal the show after they stole my heart at SXSW a couple of years ago. It's a strong final shortlist though, I'm really proud to be even consulted on such a vivid field of Scottish music." - Matt Bennett, Deputy Editor Clash Music Group

"The decision will, of course, come down to the collective make-up of the individual minds within the judging panel.  But, after back-to-back years where The SAY Award winner was introspective, bearded and male, I think there might be a bit of subconscious pressure on them to come up with a choice that stretches out into different genres.  The Bones Of What You Believe by CHVRCHES, with its Top 10 UK/Top 20 US chart placings, was very much the Scottish success story of 2013, but that might be seen as an album that has already had its commercial rewards.  In that case, I could see an on-the-night underdog victory for the likes of Young Fathers or Hector Bizerk." - Alan Morrison, Group Arts Editor, Herald and Evening Times

"Great list to choose from.  Love all of them.  Steve Mason brings back happy memories of collaborating on my album, Filmtales.  Boards of Canada are just damn amazing, but Mogwai, Les Revenants just edges it for me.  Beautiful melodies and haunting backing.  Awesome." - Paul Leonard-Morgan, Composer

"I'm going to say Young Fathers, mostly because it's the only record left in the competition from my original nominations, but also because it's far and away the most exciting record on the short-list. I should add that this is me stating who I want to win, rather than who I think will win. The answer to the latter would probably be Chvrches because I think it strikes the best balance between quality and impact. In short; anyone but Biffy please" - Tom Johnson, Gold Flake Paint

"It might seem like last year's big record but that tends to be the nature of the pop lens - a sugar high followed by a crash.  Then, years later, reappraisal is possible due to a total lack of ongoing reassessment. Like all "proper" pop artists, the speed with which CHVRCHES rose - not ignoring the significance of such a feat in an industry on its knees - rendered sustaining fierce interest impossible.  On top of that, CHVRCHES winning might help silence those voices which have accused the awards of being excessively indiecentric.  I somehow doubt the various members' past achievements in The Twilight Sad, Aereogramme etc, mean much to the many thousands of people in the UK and beyond who felt the pop mojo that lies within CHVRCHES' songs stir something in their libido.  That's what pop was, is and will always be about." - Sean Guthrie, Music Writer, Herald and Sunday Herald

"Well, from the announcement of the short list I have constantly said that  I think Hector Bizerk SHOULD win and I think CHVRCHES WILL win.  Both albums are worthy winners, each of which has pushed the boundaries of what many people understand as what independent Scottish music looks and sounds like, and I firmly believe that it is these innovative albums that The SAY Award should be recognising.  Hector Bizerk have my vote for their fantastic album which they have brought to life through their fantastic DIY shows while never losing their passion for what they do and their DIY ethic, but CHVRCHES have deservedly captured the hearts and minds of listeners and critics worldwide and the award would cap a fantastic year for them." - Lisa-Marie Ferla, Last Year's Girl

"It's a great selection to pick from - comforting in its eclectic landscape and heralds Scotland as the creative hub that we all know it to be.  It's all subjective, of course, but from my vantage point the music that stands out and demands my aural attention is Boards of Canada, Tomorrow's Harvest.  This is the result of the emotional and visual intensity that the seventeen tracks deliver.  Quite beautiful." - Iona MacDonald, Singer/Songwriter, Doghouse Roses

"My personal choice from the final ten would be CHVRCHES' sparkling LP The Bones of What You Believe.  It's rarely been off my record player at home, and Lauren Mayberry's vocals have been in my ears on bus journeys and walks to work since late last year more than anyone else, wrapping Glasgow in synths. It'll be seen as a classic of its era in time." - Paul English, Daily Record

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