Media Monday #5 – Ally McCrae

February 14, 2011

ALLY MCCRAE/BBC Introducing… In Scotland, Detour

You’re co-creator of Detour, one of Scottish music’s most exiting projects. How did it all start – over a hazy pint?

Exactly! Haha. No, Weaver and I met at uni in Stirling, through a philosophy class no less, then, more importantly through Air3, the student radio station there which we both ran. This lead onto us somehow graduating and thinking…’What next?’ Ideas came up – we did them regardless of sense or expense – then amazing people got involved and made Detour what it is.

One of the most memorable parts of Detour are the band kidnaps, which you film and document online. Have there been any times when these have been touch and go as to whether they would happen? Angry locals, authorities etc?

Surprisingly not! The police have suspiciously driven by two of our events, never bothered us though. Public… Lots of people look confused sometimes, maybe bewildered is a better term, like the one down at the banks of the River Forth with other people in the snowy shadow of the rail bridge – the delicate folks of Queensferry were more inquisitive as to what was loudly interrupting their Sunday afternoon strolls. I think a lot of it is about perception really – it looks like such a big operation that folks must think ‘Nahhh, they’ll have permission for that’.

Are you and partner in crime well known with the police?

We’ve had our moments separately. I once got mistaken for a burglar and bundled in a police van. I was innocent!

If you could choose one band in the world, kidnap and take them to any one location in the world to play a gig at, who and where would it be?

Jay-Z in the Ritz Cafe, Millport, Isle of Cumbre, Scotland.

You’ve landed a place at the BBC, replacing Vic Galloway on his Radio 1 Introducing show. Did you ever think something like this would happen so soon?

No chance. I listened to Vic’s show as a wee lad growing up! Then at uni, with our student station, he was a purrrrrre inspiration. Still can’t really comprehend it, but I’m honoured and proud to be offered it and I’m now starting the real mission of doing that justice, and making good all the support and help I’ve had.

Are you going to mix it up a bit and do it your own way or will you try and emulate Mr. Galloway?

I don’t want to be no imitator, although there is a vast amount to learn from Vic, and his energy and effortless patter is something I can only strive to emulate. I think the whole vibe of the show will be different; I hope for lots of interaction and getting the show right out there – make it essential listening every single show, by drawing people in, therefore giving the bands even more exposure and love. A show to do Scotland proud.

We spoke to producer Muslim Alim a few months back and he said having you in as a stand-in for a couple of shows last year wasn’t a risk at all. How much were you wetting yourself when you went live for the very first time on Radio 1?

All pumped up to go, all fired up, jumping up and down on the spot, headphones on, ten minutes to air – Nick Grimshaw said my name and I thought ‘Oh oh this is actually happening’ (or words to that effect…) The reaction was great, although my voice was DEFINITELY shaking in the first link! Whitey! Working with Muslim is unreal – the knowledge, attitude and wit of that man is astounding and inspiring.

What Scottish bands at the moment are impressing you?

Young Fathers, otherpeople, Loki, Three Blind Wolves, United Fruit, Debbie Kate…So, so many. I’m right excited to be able to actually spend a lot more time listening to new stuff – Detour plus a full time job plus various other adventures didn’t allow much free time in the past.

And finally, you’re well known for getting topless. Will the BBC studio become a haven of nipples and chest hair?

I can’t even grow any!

Ally’s BBC Introducing…In Scotland show goes out live on Radio 1 in Scotland between midnight and 2am on Monday mornings. Listen again to the show at its website.

 

You're co-creator of Detour, one of Scottish music's most exiting bodies. How did it all start - over a hazy pint?
 
Exactly! Haha. No, Weaver and I met at uni in Stirling, through a philosophy class no less, then, more importantly through Air3, the student radio station there which we both ran. This lead onto us somehow graduating and thinking... What next? Ideas came up, we did them regardless of sense or expense, amazing people got involved and made Detour what it is.

One of the most memorable parts of Detour are the band kidnaps, which you film and document online. Have there been any times when these have been touch and go whether they would happen? Angry locals, authorities etc?

Surprisingly not! The police have suspiciously driven by two of our events, never bothered us though. Public... Lots of people look confused sometimes, maybe bewildered is a better term, like the one down at the banks of the River Forth with other people in the snowy shadow of the rail bridge - the delicate folks of Queensferry were more inquisitive as to what was loudly interrupting their Sunday afternoon strolls. Really though, I think a lot of it is about perception - it looks like such a big operation that folks must think 'Nahhh they'll have permission for that'.
 
If you could choose one band in the world, kidnap and take them to any one location in the world to play a gig at, who and where would it be?

Jay-Z in the Ritz Cafe, Millport, Isle of Cumbre, Scotland.
 
Are you and partner in crime well known with the police then?
 
We’ve had our moments separately. I once got mistaken for a burglar and bundled in a police van! I was innocent! 

You've also landed a place at the BBC, replacing Vic Galloway on his Introducing show. Did you ever think something like this would happen so soon?

No chance. I listened to Vic's show as a wee lad growing up! Then at uni, with our student station, he was a purrrrrre inspiration. Still can't really comprehend it sir, but I'm honoured and proud to be offered it and am now starting the real mission of doing that justice, and making good all the support and help I've had.
 
Are you going to mix it up a bit and do it your own way or try and emulate Mr. Galloway?

I don't want to be no imitator, although there is a vast amount to learn from Vic, and his energy and effortless patter is something I can only strive to emulate. I think the whole vibe of the show will be different; I hope for lots of interaction and getting the show right out there - make it essential listening every single show, by drawing people in, therefore giving the bands even more exposure and love. A show to do Scotland proud.
 
We spoke to producer Muslim Alim a few weeks back and he said having you in as a stand-in for a couple of shows wasn't a risk at all. How much were you wetting yourself when you first went live on Radio 1?

All pumped up to go, all fired up, jumping up and down on the spot, headphones on, ten minutes to air - Nick Grimshaw said my name and I thought 'Oh oh this is actually happening' (or words to that effect…) The reaction was great though, although my voice was DEFINITELY shaking in the first link! Whitey! Working with Muslim is unreal - the knowledge, attitude and wit of that man is astounding and inspiring. 

What Scottish bands at the moment are impressing you?

Young Fathers, otherpeople, Loki, Three Blind Wolves, United Fruit, Debbie Kate…So so many. I'm right excited to be able to actually spend a lot more time listening to new stuff - Detour plus a full time job plus various other adventures didn't allow much free time in the past.

And finally, you're well known for getting topless. Will the BBC studio become a haven of nipples and chest hair?

I can't even grow any!

 

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Media Monday #4 – Camilla Pia

October 4, 2010

CAMILLA PIA/Assistant Producer at Radio 1, Live Reviews Editor of the The Fly and freelance music writer

Your full-time job is Assistant Producer at Radio 1. What does that all entail?

Well the role is split up into a few different parts really. I am in charge of archiving all the live music recorded by Radio 1 and Radio 1Xtra, I deliver live sessions from past and present to the shows to get the music out on air and if any audio is requested by record labels I source it, package it up and pop it over to them.

Is Radio 1 the promised land?

Haha! I do love it here and it’s always been a dream of mine to work at the station. I think Radio 1 a brilliant place to work because there are loads of opportunities to get involved with whatever is going on and people are always happy to hear your ideas. For example in addition to my daily role I recently covered a shift on the Huw Stephens show, have had a documentary commissioned and in a few weeks I’m going to work on a live Mumford & Sons broadcast. It’s never dull, or quiet, round here!

You’re also the Live Reviews Editor of The Fly. Is being in an editorial role where you have control over others something you revel in?

Hmm, I wouldn’t say it’s about controlling others particularly! But being given the opportunity to have a say over what goes where in a national music magazine and website and decide on who gets covered is amazing. It gives me the chance to showcase new acts which is something I’m extremely passionate about and I also really enjoy the nerdy stuff like editing reviews and seeing how writers develop their individual styles. The Fly is also a great magazine to work for because there’s no attitude or pretensions in the team and everyone is really down to earth and genuinely obsessed with music which is actually really inspiring. Being an editor has definitely changed the way I work in terms of pitching and has also made me think about how I write too – it has made me much more careful and always at the forefront of my mind now is reading from someone else’s perspective, does this actually make sense? That’s something you can easily forget about when you’re frenziedly getting your thoughts down.

Writing freelance for NME, The List and bbc.co.uk/music is also something else that you do. What are the best tips for someone looking to do freelance journalism?

Well I used to freelance full time which was quite scary at times but it’s also a really exciting way to live. You never know what the day will chuck at you and you can pick and choose what you want to do. So one week I’d be writing about a kids’ comedy production and interviewing Karen O and the next I’d be reviewing Aled Jones and then Mortiis the following night. In terms of tips, I would say work experience and interning for a while is essential. I met loads of people that way and if you do a good job they remember you which can lead to opportunities. Also don’t be afraid to persevere if you don’t hear back from an editor at first. As long as it doesn’t turn into a harassment case keep pitching ideas until you get in there. And finally it seems obvious but be polite and get things done on time and to your agreed deadline – people don’t have time to deal with journalist strops or sloppy copy.

How much time do each of these three strands of work take up?

My whole life really. I tend to have one day off a week and work evenings as well as my day job at Radio 1. Madness I know but it’s all about music which as you can probably tell by now I am obsessed with!

What’s been your education/career path to get where you are today?

Well I studied French at uni which has nothing to do with what I do now. Oops. Having said that I was at Glasgow Uni which was great for media opportunities and I soon got involved in the student magazine, newspaper and radio. In my second year I was music editor of the paper and had my own two hour new music show which thankfully no one has copies of now! While I was at uni and following a summer of magazine internships in London I started freelancing for various magazines and newspapers, so when I left I got a part time job at Fopp and the freelancing on the side snowballed from there until I could do it full-time. I then decided I wanted to work in London so applied for a job at the BBC, in Children’s television, and got it. Since then I have done various things at the BBC (act booker for Blue Peter, researcher for Top of the Pops Saturday, licensing music to record labels and chooser of soundbeds) and carried on the freelancing and finally got the job at Radio 1 in March. Phew.

You’re originally from Scotland, but live in London. Have you lost touch with the Scottish music scene or does your line of work always keep you up to date?

I have a huge fondness and a real place in my heart for the Scottish music scene and all the diversity of sounds and downright amazing talent it offers up to the world. I used to live in Glasgow and literally there was no better city for gigs, amazing record shops and proper passion for music. I am lucky because I still have loads of friends up there who keep me posted on what’s happening musically and working for the music press and reading and working for The List magazine in particular and various music blogs also keeps me up to date. I am sad that I don’t get to go up there as much as I’d like really and once I’ve had my way with London I may well return.

What Scottish bands have been impressing you in recent months?

I am obsessed with Errors, their record Come Down With Me is one of my favourites of the year. Also loving Remember Remember, Inspector Tapehead, Swimmer One and Meursault at the moment, Biffy and Frightened Rabbit have obviously done amazing things this year, and I desperately want to hear new stuff from Butcher Boy soon. Oh and talking of Scottish stuff I’ve been having a bit of a trip down memory lane with The Delgados and Yummy Fur recently too who I think are two of my favourite ever bands.

Being a Scot in the big city – are you ever worried you’ll give bias towards Scottish music?

No, but I think it is really important to give space and opportunities to bands from all over the UK and being Scottish and from the very un-rock ‘n’ roll city of Edinburgh has definitely attributed to that. The media’s bias towards London acts always annoyed me when I lived in Scotland and it’s still annoying now even though I live here and love this city.

And finally, are you happy doing what you do?

I am the type of person who constantly questions what they do and whether they should be doing it, so the fact that I’m still doing this says that I am I guess. Tired and probably overworked, but loving it all the same.


Media Monday #3 – Muslim Alim

September 27, 2010

Muslim and Vic monkeying around

MUSLIM ALIM/Producer for Vic Galloway’s BBC…Introducing Radio 1 show

You’re a producer at BBC Radio Scotland and for Vic Galloway’s BBC…Introducing show. Care to explain your job and what it all entails?

Producers have to fulfill the remit of the show they’re producing with the main regard being target audience – eg Vic’s BBC Radio 1 show has a much younger audience in comparison to his BBC Radio Scotland show so the music content reflects this.

Weekly I’m responsible for sourcing/programming music for the BBC Introducing show in Scotland (in consultation with Vic). We receive tons of demos/new releases physically, as MP3s/downloads and also via the BBC Introducing Uploader that need to be listened to. I’m also scouring MySpace/Soundcloud/Bandcamp/blogs etc for new Scottish music.

Getting a balance of genres on the show is the biggest challenge as traditionally, indie/rock bands are quite adept at sending you their latest recordings whereas electronic artists need a lot more encouragement. This could be a historical legacy of new music shows on radio tending to be guitar heavy.

I choose the bands for live sessions and I’m also responsible for what is transmitted (published) when we’re on air (speech and music). Any guests who Vic speaks to on air have to be debriefed in what the BBC classifies as “offensive” by me and all music has to be checked by me to be suitable for broadcast.I also decide which features to furnish the show with and when/how to do specials eg festival coverage.

Outside the weekly tasks we’re encouraged to come up with programme ideas for other strands – I’ve made a documentary for BBC Radio 1Xtra, done features on SXSW for BBC Radio 1 and lead the No Music Day event for BBC Radio Scotland.

Do you feel a bit jealous that Vic gets all the glory?

Ha ha! Not at all, that would be like the manager of a football team being jealous of his lead striker. We both have our own role and a shared goal.

Is there a filter on submissions for the BBC…Introducing show or is it anything goes really?

With the volume of new music sent to us, we have a pretty remarkable overview of contemporary music being made in Scotland from the isles to the Highlands to the central belt to the borders. Quality varies from being very poor to exceptionally high. The poor stuff most definitely doesn’t make it but sometimes we won’t play tracks which although high in quality don’t suit the remit of our show. And quality doesn’t always refer to the technical recording, a band who look/sound like a carbon copy of their favourite band with cliché-ridden lyrics would also get tarred with the ‘poor’ brush.

What’s been your career path – how did you get to where you are just now?

It goes a lil’ something like this: Studied Media Production & Analysis at college > Voluntary Traineeship at BBC (2002) > Runner for BBC4 (2002) > Researcher for BBC Radio Scotland (Speech Programmes) (2003) > Broadcast Assistant for BBC Radio Scotland (Music) (2004) > Producer for Celtic Connections (BBC Radio Scotland’s world music show) (2004) > Producer for Jazz House (BBC Radio Scotland’s jazz show) (2006) > producer for Vic Galloway on BBC Radio 1 (2006 til present……dream job!!!)

What Scottish bands have particularly impressed you in recent months?

I could give you a list as long as the Clyde but here’s a snapshot of 20:

Simon Doherty myspace.com/simondohertymusic

Kobi Onyame kobionyame.bandcamp.com

Haight Ashbury myspace.com/haightashburyuk

TeKlo soundcloud.com/abaga-records

French Wives myspace.com/thefrenchwives

Madhat musiccomesfirstrecords.com

Citizens myspace.com/thecitizensuk

The Seventeenth Century myspace.com/theseventeenthcentury

Scatabrainz scatabrainz.bandcamp.com

Clouds myspace.com/thisisclouds

Mopp moppmopp.com

Shutter myspace.com/shutterscotland

G31 soundcloud.com/G31

Tango In The Attic myspace.com/tangointheattic

Profisee myspace.com/profisee

Meursault myspace.com/meursaulta701

Hostage soundcloud.com/alanparley

Crayons myspace.com/crayyyons

Fiction Faction myspace.com/fiction-faction

Loki soundcloud.com/volitionglasgow

Have their been many bands trying to get on Vic’s show whose conduct has been less than pleasant and have been banned from appearing on it – or is every one nice-nice?

No-one’s been banned so far, the vast majority of bands/artists are lovely people……but there was……na, only joking!

Vic was away for a couple of weeks recently and you had Detour’s Ally McCrae at the helm, speaking to the nation. Was that a bit of a gamble?

Not at all. We regularly try different people as stand-ins whilst Vic’s off in the spirit of BBC Introducing… – bringing new voices to air as well as music. I’ve known Ally for a few years now and met him when I started the ‘Student Radio Takeover’ feature on the show. He’d already presented on Air3 (Stirling Uni student radio), has a huge passion for new Scottish music and has further developed as a host with his Detour project.

And finally, people can have a face for the radio – but do you have a face for being behind the scenes of the radio?

Apparently I have a face only a mother could love = perfect for radio production!

You can listen to BBC Introducing In Scotland With Vic Galloway on BBC Radio 1 every Wednesday midnight on 97.7 – 99.7FM or listen again: bbc.co.uk/radio1/vicgalloway



Media Monday #2 – Jim Gellatly

September 20, 2010

Jim Gellatly/Radio DJ and new music enthusiast

You’re well experienced in radio – can you describe your role and duties as one of Scotland’s top radio men?

The actual traditional radio side of things is probably less for me at the moment, though I’m doing some stand-in shifts at Radio Clyde (Clyde 1). That’s the only time I’m near a conventional radio studio really, as I do the Amazing Radio show from home, along with other bits that I do for other stations like Original 106 in Aberdeen. I’d like to think that my experience grounds me well for a tastemaker role, and that a well placed Tweet or Facebook post these days may have as much impact as me actually playing something on the radio.

What was your first big break on the radio?

Around 1986/87, I wrote to every radio station in the land looking for work experience, and ended up at MFR in Inverness where two weeks became three years. It was a great place to learn about the nuts and bolts of radio, and a lot of people who were at the station when I was there have gone on to carve out impressive careers. I think around five or six of them are now at BBC Radio Scotland…including Jeff Zycinski, who’s the boss there.

What’s the most important thing for radio? Voice, manner, charisma?

Voice is sort of important, but not the most important thing. The ability to communicate is probably more important, but then the voice can help.

You’re well known as the man who first played Biffy Clyro on the radio. Do you look upon their massive success like a proud father?

Certainly, even if Simon did tell the NME that he thought I’d retired from broadcasting. An easy mistake to make perhaps as they recorded a tribute video for me when I won the John Peel Award for contribution to Music Radio in 2008…maybe he thought it was my retirement video?

You’re called the ‘Voice of new music in Scotland’. How strong is new music in the country at the moment?

Just to clear that ‘Voice of new music in Scotland’ thing up first…it’s a tag I had on all my production (jingles etc) at Xfm Scotland. I started using it again more pro-actively when the line started to appear under Vic’s picture in his weekly News Of The World column. I had it first, so just reclaiming it. Maybe I should sue? (joke!). I think there is some amazing new music coming out of Scotland at the moment, and it’s just a shame that mainstream radio isn’t embracing it.

What bands in particular are impressing you?

Mopp, French Wives, Rachel Sermanni, Miaoux Miaoux, Two Zebras, Stars and Sons…I could go on all night.

Vic Galloway, as you mentioned, is another man involved with new music in Scotland and the radio. Is there any rivalry between you guys?

I first met Vic before he was broadcasting actually, when I had his band Miraclehead (which also featured James Yorkston) in for a session. He’s certainly one of the good guys, and we keep meaning to get very drunk together sometime. No rivalry really…fact is he has a bigger platform than me at the moment. It was nice to be at BBC Radio Scotland with him, but little point in the two of us being at the same radio station really, as realistically a station like BBC Radio Scotland can only have one new music guy. I’m hoping that sooner rather than later I’ll be doing some sort of New Music thing on commercial radio, not to compete with Vic, but to raise the profile of the whole scene.

One look at your Facebook page and it seems like you’re constantly barraged with up and coming bands trying to grab your attention. What are the three bands should a band cite in order to pass the Gellatly test?

If you say your influences are Stereophonics, Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene I’m guessing you haven’t put much effort into moulding your sound. Nothing against these bands, but I’m not expecting to hear something challenging. Otherwise I wouldn’t say there are three bands… but if there were, they might be Anti Nowhere League, Wedding Present and Billy Bragg…I’m pretty sure I don’t want to hear a mash-up of these acts though!

And finally, you’re available to host events and gigs. What’s an event that you just couldn’t say yes to hosting?

If I really hated a band I might struggle…but I do get asked to do a lot of battle of the bands. I have done some purely for the money, and it’s not a good feeling. Some are better than others, but generally I want to know exactly what’s involved and a guarantee that there is no audience or online vote…which is a recipe for disaster.

www.jimgellatly.com


Media Monday – Stacey Walton

September 13, 2010

They say variety is the spice of life, so here at The Daily Dose we thought we would run a mini-series of Q&As on Mondays dedicated to Scottish people involved in the music media.

First up is Stacey Walton, who is involved with PR – and management – with The Art Of…, coordinating press for the likes of Los Campesinos!, Rolo Tomassi and Errors.

Could you explain your role as a PR person?

I work alongside artists/management/labels to coordinate and execute press campaigns in the run up to a release, covering a whole variety of avenues – reviews, features, blogs – and aiming to make these as creative and tailored to each release. Depending on who I am working with I can cover print as well as online press, but my main focus is for the online side of things.

What’s been your proudest PR achievement so far?

Being able to do this on my own terms and set up on my own has been pretty amazing – I didn’t think I would be my own boss, ever! I couldn’t single one campaign out as an achievement though.

Are there any bands you’d particularly like to do PR for somewhere down the line in your career?

I am very happy with my lot and I have a thing about meeting my heroes – I tend to either babble non-stop through nerves or be rendered mute so working with somebody that I hold in such high esteem would be hilarious. Knowing me, the pressure that I would put on myself would take away some of the enjoyment. I just want to continue working with amazing artists who are decent people and deserved of any successes that come their way.

You also do management too. What’s your favourite out of the two?

I can’t really choose a favourite. Both are completely different but press is what is currently taking up the majority of my time (I am sure that will change very soon though).

Do you do it for the love of music or is just a job?

You need to be into ‘the music’ before you embark on a job like this. It can be very time consuming (working during the day, shows at nights, sometimes called upon at weekends to deal with something) and is not as glamorous as people would like to think. It’s a lot of hard graft so you really need to be a fan of who you are working with. People can tell a mile off if you aren’t enjoying something and when you are communicating with people for hours on end every day, you need to be genuinely enthusiastic and interested.

I presume it’s all come off your own entrepreneurial back. How hard was it to get The Art Of… running at the start?

It was already established by Jason Edwards who was looking for an extra set of hands with the management side of things. I moved back to Scotland after three years in London. We had known each other already and worked together so he asked me to come on board. It has been a very natural progression. The initial intention was for me to only be involved in the management side of things but as word got out that I was still involved, the press work just started coming in. I was very lucky that I had three years of living in London and working in the industry before the move so had the experience and contacts. I don’t think it would have been easy without those three years behind me.

You’re originally from Aberdeen and now live in Glasgow. How closely do you watch the local Scottish music scene?

I must admit I am still a bit out of touch with the scene at the moment. Having just moved to Glasgow a month ago I am very much looking forward to getting out there, so if you have any recommendations, pass them on!

And if so…who’s been impressing you?

Copy Haho (and no bias there, they are one of the best new Scottish bands around at the moment). Moon Unit were great supporting Mogwai last week. I’ve been hearing very good things about Milk, Bwani Junction and Midnight Lion. I’m seeing Fox Gut Daata next weekend at the Dam Mantle EP launch – what I have heard so far is really exciting.

And finally, are bands really that hard and unpredictable to work with or are they actually just tea-sipping ladies and/or gentlemen?

Thankfully, I haven’t encountered a nightmare artist/band…yet (touch wood). When you’re working with an act, they appreciate what you do so causing a fuss or being hard to work with is just poor form. I am sure some of my fellow publicists will have horror stories, but luckily, I don’t.

www.theartofagency.co.uk