Qmunicate’s Jack Smith met with the worthy Stanley Odd, who are set to become the biggest name in Scottish hip-hop. Expect talks of the ‘Yes’ vote, London Grime and Russell Brand being a fanny.
Q – A Thing Brand New is a fantastic album and it’s been very well received. You must be happy with the way that’s gone?
David ‘Solareye’ Hook – Yeah we’re very pleased with it. It’s kinda what we wanted to do. It felt like in the past what we’ve written has been a bit like words on top of music rather than fitting together, so we felt this gelled and worked. We felt more like we’d written songs with this one. It’s like what we tried with the first album but we didn’t feel we’d achieved that, and the one the second album we tried to make lots of cool sounds and stuff so this time we wanted to make it come together a bit more.
Is there a song in particular that stands out for you guys?
DH – ‘Monsoon Season’s’ a nice one, we’re pretty proud of that. ‘Put Your Roots Down’ came out nicely. ‘Draw Yer Own Conclusions’ is good with the sort of duet we have going on.
That’s something that stands out in your music, the two vocal styles work really well together.
DH – Aye, what Veronika does cannot be overestimated. It’s the kinda ‘antidote’ to what I’m (David ‘Solareye’ Hook) doing. She manages to capture in less words what the whole point is.
This is the last night of your tour isn’t it? How has that been?
DH – Yeah it is, last gig of the year. It’s been great. It’s quite funny because first of all you’re waiting to let people hear the record once it’s been finished and to see what people make of it, and then you’re waiting to get out and play it and see how they react. Up and down the country people seem to be getting into it which is great. Usually at a live show we played the more jumpy tunes but this time our show’s more sort of moving on a journey through the record so the first time we played it live we had to get used to that, and I think the crowd did too. I think we’ve done that now and it feels like a bit of a step up in terms of a live show. It gives it a bit of dynamic; mixes things up a bit.
How did you playing the SNP Conference come about? Was that the weirdest phone call you’ve ever had?
DH – It was Ross (Colquhoun) from National Collective who got in touch and asked if we wanted to play it. We were playing in Edinburgh the night before which usually would have been a very messy affair for us but instead we had to get up at the crack of dawn to come here to play the Hydro! It was amazing. We got a great response. It was absolutely lovely to do, and we got a cuddle off the First Minister which was very nice.
It must be quite a good feeling to be able to count Nicola Sturgeon as one of your fans.
DH – Yeah it is. I think the most exciting thing for me and her becoming First Minister is that the focal point of what she’s concerned with is social justice, and to have the leader of the country say that and then to get the opportunity to play in front of her was great. She came up to us as well. We kinda thought she wouldn’t know who we are you know? We were just standing backstage and she came up and was all ‘I love you guys!’ so that was great.
The Scottish hip-hop has grown a lot in popularity. How far do you see it going? Could it be sort of like the emergence of grime in London?
DH – It’s interesting because 20 years ago people in London were making really good hip-hop but it was very much an underground scene. It took up until about ten years ago for it to get recognised in its own right. As an art form, hip-hop is as viable as any other type of music so yeah you’d hope that it will get recognised in the same sort of way. It’s nice to see the quality and diversity of music being made in Scotland and the people being influenced by hip-hop, and it’s great to see so many folk doing well at the moment. One of the things we’ve been trying to do on this tour is have an established act and an emerging act on the bill as well, like we’ve done tonight with Loki and Ciaran Mac.
With the Yes movement, National Collective and everything in the build up to the independence referendum, there was a lot of great artistic stuff going on in Scotland. It sort of came to a head with the gig in Edinburgh with you guys, Frightened Rabbit, Franz Ferdinand and Mogwai. How was that?
DH – It was brilliant, it was a crowd of 3000 people and we were in amongst the big boys really. We’d never played somewhere like the Usher Hall before. We’d played to crowds that size but only really at festivals, so it was pretty exciting to do. It felt a bit like you couldn’t really do anything wrong as well unless you came out and said ‘Ach, I’ve changed my mind, I’m not sure about this guys.’ We were on to a winner there really. It was such an amazing and positive year as well that it was great to be involved.
Do you prefer big gigs like that and the SNP Conference and things or smaller ones like this that are a bit more intimate?
DH – There’s something nice about this tour we’re doing just now. It’s been exciting to see people come out that know the songs and care about the record. There’s more musical satisfaction in that kind of thing. The Conference was just weird because the house lights were on so you could see everyone in a packed out Hydro. I think we probably prefer this sort of thing.
And to round off – Russell Brand, fanny or visionary?
DH – I think one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard was when he said don’t vote, but I feel like to a certain degree that that was almost words being put into his mouth. He said that he hadn’t voted and then had to sort of explain why. Anybody in a position that he’s in where he has the attention of a lot of people is to be applauded when he’s talking about the facts and trying get people’s attention and to highlight issues of social justice. This whole ‘you’re rich, therefore you shouldn’t be allowed to talk about poverty’ thing is just stupid. It’s like saying you can’t question capitalism and also pay for your meals or own a phone and complain about the conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s daft. I think it’s great that he’s making the effort but he’s said some daft things so I suppose I can see both sides of that.
Stanley Odd’s freshest album A Thing Brand New gained a metaphorical-medal for qmunicate’s Album of the Month in our latest print issue. Check out Jack’s album review here, and his opinion of their hottest gig of the year here.
[Jack Smith – @smack_jith]