Hello Angus, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I’m originally from London and I live in Edinburgh.
When did you first realise you were musical?
Probably being told off for playing the xylophone too loud and too much during a Nativity play at primary school.
You have something of a multi-faceted 4-octave vocal range that can break glass. Is this natural or has it taken some training?
A mixture of both I think. I’ve always been able to hit high notes but it’s a muscle and an instrument like any other that requires practice and proper care.
The Mumble has just got your EP, Mirror Man. Where & how was it recorded?
The band and I recorded it with Tony Doogan at Castle of Doom in Finneston, Glasgow over a couple of months.
Can you give us a brief outline as to the contents?
I wanted to write a record that explored the different ways we can deal with loss, be they productive and helpful or self-destructive.
What does Angus Munro like to do when he’s not being musical?
I’m big into fantasy books and am currently reading The Lady of The Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski. I’m also a fan of podcasts – true crime ones in particular.
What for you makes a good song?
Personally, I really go for a song that get’s to the chorus within the first 30 seconds of a track. If something is well written lyrically and melodically and you can tell that a lot of care has gone into it, that’s a winner right there.
You’re just about to play the Hug and Pint in Glasgow on Wednesday 28th June & at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh on Thursday 29th June. It it easy to transfer the studio sound into live performance?
These songs started out live months before we took them into the studio so it’s certainly easier than working the other way around.
What does the rest of 2017 hold in store Angus Munro?
I’m playing Mugstock Festival on 28th July and am planning to go back into the studio at the end of the year. Before that happens though, I’ll be gigging a lot with the band so keep an eye out for shows later in the year!
A few years ago now, about a decade, I remember seeing Riley Briggs arriving back on London Road, Edinburgh, guitar slung over his shoulders, fresh from playing South by South West festival in Austin, Texas. His band, Aberfeldy, were sugar coating country music with Celtic crystals & the final result was something both swaggeringly listenable & imminently sellable. Then the band fell by the wayside at the end of the noughties until suddenly they turned up on the bill of Haddstock 2017, a one-day music festival spread throughout ten venues in the capital market town of East Lothian, Haddington. The brainchild of Rebecca Brady, she’d leapt off the deep end into a pool of confident musical frolickry, & pulled the whole thing off with aplomb. A resident of Haddington myself, I was rather surprised to witness Haylee G’s ‘Devils in Skirts’ (read interview here) in procession through town to their gig at Jo’s Kitchen, wearing animal masks & playing the Proclaimer’s ‘500 Miles.’ The faces on the folk at the bus stop were class. A couple of hours later, while nipping out for a Chinese, I saw Aberfeldy’s Riley & his bass-player stalking through town on what was probably some very important rock n roll business, & I’m like, this is real, this is actually happening, I’d best tell the wife to get changed, we’re going out.
By evening me & the wife were ready to rave, & arriving at the Town House, the festival’s main event was well under way. It was all taking place in the Georgian assembly rooms, built for music & dancing, where in the balcony above the polished floorboards a chamber orchestra would once play. These days the band has dropped to eye-level, & the sounds are amplified through amps & speakers, & thus the high-octane energy of ‘The Banjo Lounge 4’ was ripping into our ears & tearing a drag-strip down our spines to our feet, which were moving in perfect synchronicity to the band’s ridiculously bouncy versions of songs we moderns love to love. I Feel Love, Song 2, Viva Las Vegas, I’m Sexy & I know it… you get the picture, all of which were given an interpretive banjo twang which got us all hopping about on invisible pogo-sticks.
Me & the wife then thought, we are at a festival, supposedly, so lets check it out, & took a little amble through Haddington centre to the Railway, whose upstairs function suite was playing host to a pumpin’ band, straight from the eighties halycon rock era of Heart, Stevie Nicks & Fleetwood Mac; whose two female vocalists tossed up a harmonious layer of snowy vocals onto the mountainous rock-craft of their band. Yes, we were happy we went along to see Thistle Hurt.
Returning to the Town House, Aberfeldy’s rolling-through-the-countryside-on-a-sunny-day, melodically ambient pop was lighting up the stage, with Riley being joined up front by Chris Bradley to deliver a classic stream of their hits. One-by-one we noticed that people were singing along to them with furious passion & lip-synch accuracy, & it slowly dawned on the wife that Riley was some kind of Biblical patriarch with all his tribe out to listen to him preach. His mother, brother, father, daughter, grandma & great-aunt were at least some of the family in the room, who mixed with the local contingent into a highly appreciative & – once the disco encores kicked into place – groovetastic audience.
‘The response from the acts & the public & the venues for this inaugural Haddstock has been amazing,’ said Rebecca, who knew her headliners personally & had instigated the coup to get them reformed for the night. Hopefully Aberfeldy have a taste for it again, & with a decade of life experience in the bank, maybe a few new cracking numbers waiting to be crafted into life.
Hello Rosie, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Hey Mumble! Well I was born and bred in the land of roundabouts (the beautiful Milton Keynes) in Buckinghamshire and I loved it so much there I decided to move Edinburgh, which is where I now live and call home.
When did you first realise you could sing?
I was a late bloomer. I’d say I didn’t realise I could sing until my early teens. It was my own little secret, I wouldn’t dare sing in front of people. I always wanted to perform from a young age but I actually wanted to be a dancer for a long time – which is HILARIOUS if you’ve ever seen me dance…
You have toured the UK and Europe as a vocalist and actress in musicals, plays, cabaret and concerts. Why have you suddenly decided to go solo?
Well, being your own boss and playing by your own rules is so much fun, if a bit stressful. It’s just me until I hit the stage when I’m joined by my lovely musical director, Douglas Price (who is so awesome I genuinely can’t believe my luck)! I just want to sing what I enjoy singing, say what I want to say, be playful and have fun. I just fancy doing my own thing for a little while. If you want to do what you truly enjoy, you have to start by making it happen on your own, right? At the moment my only choice is to do that solo. No one knows who I am yet and hopefully by the end of August I’ll meet some people who understand me, where I’m coming from and humour me in spite of it. I’m finding myself again but it’s a newer more interesting me and I’d like to share that with people.
This will be your debut show at the Fringe. What have you been led to expect what will happen during the month-long mash-up by other performers?
I’ve actually found people keeping their cards closer to their chests then I thought they would. So I’m currently expecting to see what the minions in my head are showing me and it’s colourful I’ll tell you that! I’ve ordered as many pairs of support pants and eyelashes my bank account will allow. I’m going to put my heart and soul into the experience and let the universe do the rest.
Can you tell us about your act?
I try to bring an element of different styles of music that I enjoy from Musical Theatre to Pop. I’m naturally a lyrical soprano who might sing eight bars of gangster rap, just because. As a person my outer layer is Disney Princess but the core of my onion is a massive chav and yes I’m singing ‘The Girl in 14G’ right now but at 5am you can see me bumping and grinding to old school garage in a warehouse that’s been turned into a nightclub for the night. Cabaret legend Jamie Anderson described my show as ‘The Voice of an Angel, Mouth of a Sailor’ at Cabaret Confidential back in February. So take from that what you will!
What does Rosie Houlton like to do when she’s not being all musical?
I love love love to eat cheese, and travel, preferably at the same time! Japan has had a big effect of my life, which you can find more about in my show. There’s still a lot more places I need to visit and I’m getting through them one pair of sequined sliders at a time. I also spend hours watching videos of fat cats, baby goats and chowchow puppies rolling around.
Storytelling at the piano is a classic art-form, who are your inspirations?
I like to story tell, next to, the piano (haha). There is usually someone talented and amazing sat at it, so I get to watch them safely from afar. You know I’m actually just starting to learn who my inspirations are because putting on my own show is very new to me. I trained in Musical Theatre so obviously I could name some awesome artists who sing and entertain like Christina Bianco, Kristin Chenoweth and Bette Midler, which is the tiniest tip of the iceberg.
I grew up travelling in the circus with Daddy Houlton (Cousin Timoni is his official clown name) and I think that’s where my roots lie in terms of how I set up my stories and I like to say the unexpected. I’m always learning, all the time and I watch a huge amount of stand up and many sitcoms. I love all sorts of humour from the likes of Kevin Hart, Larry David and Katherine Ryan. They’re all completely different but more importantly they all teach you to just be yourself and then find a structure within that which works well for you. I’m never trying to be a stand up. I’m a singer at heart but these people help me to understand comedic storytelling. I could give you a massive list of vocalists who I truly admire but we’d be here for hours.
I would be nowhere without the composers of the songs I use … NOWHERE! It blows my mind how these beautiful people just create these amazing songs. I’ve done a lot of work in helping composers develop new musical theatre so I try to bring in a song or two from writers who aren’t as well known to show off their talents.
Your subject matter, storywise, is a little risque, perhaps. Whyever did you choose this particular route & what do your parents think?
Well I found starting with ‘facts about me’ was a subject I already knew about and a great way to introduce myself to the festival for the first time. I have quite a blunt sassy humour. Although I’m just telling facts about myself because I’m very dry, honest and open, it can be taken as quite risqué which doesn’t really match my cute name and appearance and so people don’t exactly expect it from me. I’m a fan of innuendo but sometimes I don’t leave much to the imagination. I’ve always laughed through my hardships and when I’m telling stories about my personal life, I suppose it just comes out that way. My dad is a circus clown and my mum is a psychic so they’ve got some stories themselves to be fair. They are my best friends and they know me better than anyone else. There’s nothing I could bring up that they don’t already know…
What will Rosie Houlton be doing for the rest of 2017?
I will be doing more ‘Rosie Sings’ Cabaret shows at the Dirty Martini in the Le Monde Hotel here in Edinburgh. I’m also planning on taking my show to Milton Keynes where it all began. You can always see me bobbing about singing at various cabarets at The Ghillie Dhu in Edinburgh and the Corinthian Club in Glasgow. I’ll then be running off to Panto Land to play Princess Jill in Jack and The Beanstalk at Rotherham Civic Theatre this Christmas and New Year (the sailor mouth will be truly locked away for that I promise)! And of course eating cheese whilst travelling.
Hello Pete, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Hello! I grew up in a village called Kemnay, which is near Aberdeen. Though, having lived in Glasgow now for 15 years, I probably feel more Glaswegian than Aberdonian.
When did you first realise you were musical?
I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember. Most of my earliest memories are based around music. Christy Moore was a particular favourite when I was very small. Apparently I used to sing my own incidental music when I was playing with toys. To be honest though, I think most people are naturally musical. It often comes down to liking it and being around it when you’re young, then it being part of your life as you get older.
Who were your earliest influences?
I think a huge influence on me personally were The Bhundu Boys. My dad used to play them a lot when I was young, and I’ve been a fan ever since. The exuberant, jangly pop they played has had quite a profound effect on my tastes – I can’t resist a Major key! I can probably trace my love of The Smiths, The Beatles and many others back to Bhundu Boys tapes when I was wee. When Graeme Black and I started the State Broadcasters, our biggest influences were probably Eels, Lambchop, Clem Snide and Sparklehorse
How did forming the State Broadcasters come about?
When I was at University, I had a part time job in the library at the campus. Graeme worked there too, and we used to chat about music sometimes. We kept bumping into each other at gigs, and after a while he said he had some songs he was looking to collaborate on. He played them for me, and I tried adding a few bits and pieces to them, and it all went from there. That was in 2004!
The Mumble has just got your new album, & its good, some great tracks. Where was it recorded?
Glad you like it! Thank you. We recorded it at my old flat in Glasgow. I was lucky enough to have a bedroom that was large enough to record everything we needed there. All 3 State Broadcasters albums were recorded there. It was mixed in a different, smaller bedroom after I moved house.
Each song on the album has a certain lyrical magnitude. Who is the songwriter for the group?
The songwriting is often a bit of a collaboration, but most of the lyrics are by Graeme, with the exception of ‘Braced Against The Cold’, which I wrote. Graeme left the band during the recording process, sadly. He’s a great songwriter – we’ll miss him.
It it easy to transfer the studio sound into live performance?
Because we largely use acoustic instruments, it’s not too bad. I love overdubs when recording though, so the sound is never quite as detailed as it is on the records. We’d need many more members to recreate it perfectly. Hopefully the live shows offer something a bit different though, and we spend a lot of time on arrangements. I think we get the balance about right most of the time.
You are also noted for your composition in film scores, etc. can you elaborate?
Writing for films is something I’ve wanted to do since I was quite young. In recent years I’ve been lucky enough to get to know some talented film makers. I did my first score for the animated short ‘Fixing Luka’, which was made by my friend Jessica Ashman. It won a couple of BAFTAs, including a New Talent award for the score, and that has lead to a few other things. I just completed a short score for a Western set in a Scottish high school about the lack of free sanitary products for young women. That was a lot of fun and involved listening to a lot of Ennio Morricone, which is always a good time.
What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Pete Macdonald & the State Broadcasters?
We’re playing some shows in the South of England between the 9th and 11th of June, and we’re supporting Pictish Trail on the 2nd of July in Glasgow. I think there’ll probably be some more tour shows later in the year too. Hopefully some in the North of England, and the Highlands and Islands. We’re hoping to start working on some new songs over the summer too. We’re going to try to narrow the gap a bit between album releases – 4 and a half years is a bit long!
Hello Alaine, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking
Hiya! I’m originally from Renfrew and moved to Glasgow as a young adult. Now I live in Paisley with my husband Chris, son Jamie and two cats called Chooky and Furry.
So when did you first feel yourself getting into music
I remember being really young, about 3 or 4 years old, and getting one of those tiny Casio keyboards as a birthday or christmas present. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to play the demo’s that were pre-programmed into it. Once I’d done that, I moved on to trying to play the music from certain TV adverts that got stuck in my head. I started keyboard lessons at 8, taught myself guitar from about 9, took up clarinet at 12, bass guitar in my teens and 20’s and ukulele about 4 years ago. I’m also a rather mean kazoo player and I mess about with piano now and then. As far as vocals go, I always loved singing but only started really working on the strength of my vocals about a decade or so ago.
Who were your inspirations then & are they still relevant to your music today.
Musically speaking, I’m all over the shop; When I was really young I was brought up on a whole host of different bands, ranging from Fleetwood Mac to the Beatles to Abba. As a teenager I got to vent my frustrations with life through a love of heavy metal, but at the same time still had a soft spot for musicals! Today, I love everything from beats to rocknroll. I guess I’m a sucker for a melody which shows in the music I write. As far as wondering if my inspirations are still relevant; The mind is a cool thing, it keeps hooks and riffs from songs that have inspired you throughout your life and stores them deep in the back of your brain. Sometimes the part of a song that brought you particular joy, or created a particular type of emotions all those years ago, crops up in a tune without you realising. All of a sudden, there is is, and you’ve never noticed it before and you had no idea that you wrote it at the time. I think you try to emulate those who have inspired you, either consciously or unconsciously, so I guess what I’m saying is I think my inspirations are relevant no matter when in my life they came along.
What do you like to do when you’re not making kick-ass music?
I run a business called Well Happy with my business partner and bandmate, Janine. We provide health and wellbeing sessions to Businesses, Local Authorities, Schools and community groups, teaching stress reduction techniques, mind body science and awareness while increasing communication and the overall health and wellbeing of staff. Both Janine and I studied the sciences at University so we look at issues surrounding staff recruitment and retention and help to mange them using techniques that are scientifically shown to reduce staff turnover rates, decrease sickness rates and increase productivity and sales. I’m also a Reiki practitioner, teach ukulele lessons, and last but not least, I’m a mum. I don’t have enough hours in the day.
So you’re one of the coolest species of musician there is – the singing female bass-player: why this role?
It was a role that I kinda fell into. I was in a band years ago that was doing the usual rounds on the Glasgow scene. Unfortunately 6 weeks before a gig our bass player left and instead of trying to undertake the mammoth task of finding a decent bass player to learn all our songs in such a short time frame, I decided I’d give it a go myself. I’d messed about with bass for a short while in my teens and figured it wouldn’t take that much effort to change from just singing on a stage to playing an instrument and singing. I was wrong! But I continued with it anyway as I didn’t really have a choice! The rest as they say is history.
From the punkiness of Pablo Eskimo a couple of years ago you got involved in the rather different ‘The Well Happy band’ : why the transition?
It has always been a dream of mine to have a big band. I love the rawness of a three piece, but you can do so much more musically when there are more people involved. Another main reason was that I chilled out a lot after becoming a mum. I still love funk, punk, rocknroll, and I allow that to still be a part of my music making today, only now it has a happier twist. I also discovered Reiki a few years ago which opened up a whole new way of living for me. Pablo was all about the venting of angst and frustration. I found a new way to deal with that so the songs I wrote naturally became happier, though rocknroll, beats, punk and funk still all play their part in the Well Happy Band.
You have just finished an album, can you tell us about it?
Yes! The Little Album of Happiness was launched online on 20th April. It’s a 6 track album with tunes that will make you smile. I try not to keep to any one genre, so if you’re into genre hopping happy tunes that range from summer loveliness to down right rocknroll then I’m sure you’ll like this album. It originally started off a a 4 track demo, but on the day of recording we managed to get 6 songs recorded. And thanks to Tommy Duffin at 16 ohm studios the tunes sounded too good for it to be labelled as a demo, so it became a full blown album.
What was the recording process like with such a wide array of performers
It was lots of fun! And believe it or not, virtually stress free. As long as everyone has a clear understanding of what is to be achieved, and you possess the tools to be able to contribute to an environment that is calm, collected, focussed and happy (not many people find recording to be this way!) you can work with any amount of performers and get the very best out of them.
The real key to making the recording a success was found in the months preceding the recording though. People always respond well when they feel part of the vision and the best way to achieve that is to communicate that vision as clearly as possible. Once an understanding is reached and everyone gets on the same page, it allows each person to bring their own personality and charisma to that vision. What goes on inside your head can sometimes come out in the studio as a perfect copy, other times it’s completely new and brilliant! Keeping focussed yet open minded means you can get to your goal while letting other fantastically creative people help you along the way. The same goes for recording as rehearsing. Essentially, if you believe in yourself and the others around you, that’s when the magic happens.
For a band that’s only a year old, we’re already really busy! We’ve been booked for lots of festivals this year, some of which are Solfest, Argyll Gathering and Mugstock. We’ll be making an appearance or two at Eden this year as well. Well Happy will be hosting workshops throughout the festival and we always have an acoustic gig for the band outside our tent at certain times throughout the weekend. Our lovely pals at the Melodrome will be giving us some stage time too. Janine and I will be playing our first ever gig in Amsterdam in June too! We’re also grateful to be welcomed into the Yellow Movement so we have a few gigs booked throughout the summer with them as well. The Well Happy Band also feature in the Yellow Movement Documentary by Chris McG which will be released over the summer too. Essentially, I think I’ll be living out of my motorhome until September!