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10FROM10 | Scottish Artists (Part 3)

Updated: Aug 20

On this blog post, both Tina and I have asked 10 Scottish Artists 10 questions each relating to their music and about their 2021 plans. With the 10FROM10 blog series continuing to be a really interesting insight into the musicians who we feature, this new post with Scottish Artists will continue on with the blog series, as we had always planned to expand beyond Twitch. Links to each of the featured Artists' social media and music websites are included below.


Distant Images are Jilly and Macca, an atmospheric, dreamy, electro indie duo from Glasgow, Scotland. Macca is lead guitarist, keyboards and backing vocals and Jilly is lead vocalist and additional keyboards.

They wrote and recorded the EP, A Vision of Us, during the current Covid pandemic with the majority of songs written during lockdown. Music influences include Pink Floyd, Blood Red Shoes, Talos and Biffy Clyro. Macca is more influenced by Rock and Indie with Jilly's main influences as Shoegazer and Dreamy Pop.

Their EP, A Vision of Us, is available on all platforms now.


1. What was it that got you into or inspired you to become full-time musicians?

We have both always had a passion for music. For Macca it was an interest from a young age, learning guitar at 16. For Jilly it was being influenced by loving music and seeing other live bands and over time developing confidence with singing.


2. With the events of this year being very different now, what motivates you currently?

It was during lockdown that we were inspired to write and record our debut EP 'A Vision of Us'.


3. What impact has the current situation with Covid-19 had on your music / life balance?

Although we have been unable to perform live we have been able to write and record at home. We feel that the lockdown gave us the time to work on our music.


4. What has been your most challenging experience, music or in general, to date?

I think a challenge we face is dedicating time to finish projects. Sometimes we can find ourselves with many unfinished projects. It can be challenging to commit to one particular project.


5. Have you found or had much support and encouragement from other musicians?

We have been overwhelmed by the support from other musicians both through Instagram and Twitter. We have connected with so many talented artists.


6. Which method of distributing music have you found to be the most effective?

We use Amuse and upload to all streaming platforms.


7. What challenges have you faced as an independent musician?

Finding the best way to share our music and connect with people. We have found Instagram to be very good for sharing music.


8. With live gigs being impacted this year, have you used social media for live performances?

We haven't done any live performances. At the moment we have just shared our debut EP.


9. Is there any advice that you would give to other musicians during these uncertain times?

Build up your fan base on social media and connect with other artists. We have found this to be the best way to share your music.


10. Looking ahead, what are your future plans going into the New Year and beyond?

We look forward to performing live and writing and recording in the studio.


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Emma Miller is an independent indie-folk artist from the north east of Scotland. She has been releasing independently since 2017 and most recently she released her folk-tinged debut EP, Set Me Down, in November 2020 to much critical acclaim and support from BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Introducing. Like many artists and songwriters who’ve found themselves jaded by the music industry, it wasn’t until Emma let go of the idea that music had to pay the bills that she fell head over heels back in love with it. Today, amongst other things - such as roaming the Scottish hillsides and looking after her dog, Gracie - Emma is pursuing a career in Counselling Psychology, supporting people in the quest to navigate their mental health.


1. What was it that got you into or inspired you to become a full-time musician?

My time studying a degree in Songwriting, in London, gave me the drive to start releasing my own music. I’d always written and performed, but I was clueless as to how to go about releasing my own music as an independent artist. 3 years later and I’m something of an expert! One of my favourite things to do is help other artists understand the release process and give them the tools to successfully launch their own projects.


2. With the events of this year being very different now, what motivates you currently?

The fact that people seem to be listening. I really don’t feel much about stats and figures as it feels quite benign and meaningless, but having a real person take the time to message you or reach out to say they were listening or enjoyed my music does mean a lot to me. No one wants to release something into the abyss and get nothing back, so it’s the feedback and reaction to my music that motivates me to continue releasing.


3. What impact has the current situation with Covid-19 had on your music / life balance?

Honestly, for me it has let me create. I’ve had the gift of time to finish projects and think about how I want to release my music. I used lockdown to make the most of my music and I also realised that I needed to be doing more than music to stay level and feel fulfilled. It doesn’t pay the bills so getting the time to focus on it was a luxury.


4. What has been your most challenging experience, music or in general, to date?

Spending 5 years in London was an incredible time in my life, but it had many challenges. The main challenge was staying mentally resilient to the huge amount of work and little pay off that comes with managing your own project (along with a part time job). Being an independent artist is a full time job, and as most will tell you, the creative part can often be the smallest part of what you do after you’ve spent hours emailing and designing your campaign and building your release. Mix that with London rent and another job and it can be hard going.


5. Have you found or had much support and encouragement from other musicians?

Yes. One of the things I cherish most is the wonderful music community I’ve found myself in. Despite now living in Scotland, some of my closest friends and collaborators are all people I met on the music scene in London. The group I’m in is full of musicians and thankfully we are all each other’s biggest fans and champions. I think it’s really important to find people within the industry you can talk to as it’s such a peculiar and particular existence in music and you can’t always explain the pitfalls and challenges to people outside of that space. I have to say that I’ve had an equally warm reception from the people I’ve met making music in Scotland. Indie artists seem to be a pretty supportive bunch of people.


6. Which method of distributing music have you found to be the most effective?

I use Emubands which are a Scottish distribution company who put my music everywhere. I have a love-hate relationship with Spotify - I love using it as a streaming platform, but hate how their current payment system disfavours independent music. I feel one of the most effective ways of distributing your music and building relationships with your fans is on a ‘direct 2 fan’ basis. I’m turning more and more to platforms like Bandcamp, who actively support indie artists and create more of a community space for listeners and music makers to connect.


7. What challenges have you faced as an independent musician?

As an independent musician, you’re effectively taking on the jobs of an entire label team, manager, booking agent and PR company but as one person… Having so many different roles feels very empowering, especially as you get more experience and learn how to develop different skill sets for each role. However, it is very demanding, you’re pulled in a lot of different directions and you spend a lot of time doing things that have nothing to do with actually making music.


8. With live gigs being impacted this year, have you used social media for live performances?

I have hosted a few live streams over lockdown and performed on music blog pages, but not as much as I would have liked and in all honestly it doesn’t beat real, live performance where you can see the crowd and experience the atmosphere in the room.


9. Is there any advice that you would give to other musicians during these uncertain times?

We’re all in the same boat, so maybe take some comfort from that. Try not to get distracted by how other people are doing, go at your own pace and appreciate the small steps and achievements you’re making because there is room enough for everyone, including you. I think it’s very easy to get caught up in ‘vanity metrics’ such as how many Spotify streams you have or how many followers on social media, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect how things are going in the real world. Making music you’re proud of and connecting with fans in the real world is more valuable and important than an anonymous stream count full of passive listeners in my opinion.


10. Looking ahead, what are your future plans going into the New Year and beyond?

I plan on taking my time and releasing more new music in 2021. I’ve learned a lot this year and I want to focus on cultivating a fan base outside of streaming services as well as being thoughtful with how I release my music. To be completely transparent, I get almost no financial return from my music and I decided last year that I would stop aiming for that. So, looking ahead involves a full time job and finishing a course in Counselling Skills as that’s something I’d like to pursue as a career in the future.


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Katie Mackie is a pop artist hailing from the North East of Scotland. After bursting onto the scene in 2018 as a solo artist, Katie has established herself as a solo performer, playing shows across the country supporting the likes of Lewis Capaldi, Heather Small of M people and Mo Kenney to name a few. Having spent the last few years performing solo as well as with Glasgow based band 'American Clay', Katie has spent her time refining her songwriting and is shown at best with her newest single, Glow, a fragile yet ultamately uplifting track weaving classic songwriting with contemporary production - the first of many new tracks to come.


1. What was it that got you into or inspired you to become a full-time musician?

I knew I wanted to pursue music full time when I began meeting more and more people who were already managing! I realised there were so many ways to work in music full time that didn't necessarily mean playing a gig every night. So now I'm writing music, performing and teaching music - with the odd waitressing shift on those quieter weeks - to get by and it feels really good.


2. With the events of this year being very different now, what motivates you currently?

Since I can't perform, I've had a lot more motivation to sit down and finish songs I've started and never bothered to finish. It's a habit of mine. It's actually a really nice experience to listen to songs I started before Covid and finishing them now, I guess it feels like a link to a Covid-free world.


3. What impact has the current situation with Covid-19 had on your music / life balance?

I'd say during lockdown last year, I was too scared to release music because I didn't think people would be keen to hear it, but towards the end I just realised I should do it and stop worrying about how it would be recieved in that way. As a songwriter I've had quite a positive experience as I've noticed I'm writing in ways I haven't written before and about topics I haven't written about before. It's difficult to harness creativity right now so I think I've been putting myself out of my comfort zone a bit more so that I can think of things to write about.


4. What has been your most challenging experience, music or in general, to date?

Like most musicians at my stage, just dealing with having little to no time or energy and finding myself getting burned out. Before Covid I would try to fill my week up completely so I'd constantly be doing something productive in Aberdeen or Edinburgh or Glasgow - every week - and I just realised I wasn't giving myself any time or energy to do the thing that actually matterered the most, making my own music. I was spending all my money on trains and feeding myself too - oops. Covid restricting me from doing this actually gave me a moment to breathe and realise I should slow down a wee bit and focus on the things I care about most.


5. Have you found or had much support and encouragement from other musicians?

Definitely. I think we've all tried to be there for each other as much as we can. I think the Scottish scene is quite tight-knit and most folk are supportive of eachother. I've especially found a huge amount of support in a group called 'Popgirlz Scotland' which is basically a platform for female musicians in Scotland to chat to each other, support eachother, ask and offer advice and also a place to promote work you're doing. I've received some valuable advice through the amazing women in this group.


6. Which method of distributing music have you found to be the most effective?

To be honest I'm still trying to figure this out. Just now I'm releasing singles and working towards an EP. I feel like releasing my last single was a positive eperience as it meant I could give that one song a lot of love and make it my focus. I'm just learning as I go!


7. What challenges have you faced as an independent musician?

Pre-Covid, I'd say finding gigs in other cities was a challenge of mine. I'm currently living in Aberdeen and I feel like we're quite separated up here from everything that's going on in the Scottish music scene, so I've found it quite challenging to get my foot in the door in other parts of the industry with my solo stuff. I play in a band based in Glasgow called American Clay which has helped me get to know more folk down that end, but it can still be hard bringing my own music to the table and trying to get folk interested. I think all musicians definitely face that challenge at some point.


8. With live gigs being impacted this year, have you used social media for live performances?

I did at the start of lockdown but not so much now apart from the odd private one on Zoom where I can see the audience. My nerves get quite bad when I can't see the audience or have a chat with them like normal - it's a really strange experience.


9. Is there any advice that you would give to other musicians during these uncertain times?

I guess just keep networking and making pals in the industry using the platforms we have. It helps so much just chatting to other musicians who are in the same boat, sharing ideas, suporting eachother's work, even collaborating together. Makes such a difference to not be alone just now and having folk to send ideas too.


10. Looking ahead, what are your future plans going into the New Year and beyond?

My plans in 2021 are to keep releasing music and to explore more ways to engage with listeners without just forcing myself to post shite on social media all the time, haha. I just want to keep working away at my new songs and finish up as many ideas as I can so I have a strong set of songs to release. I've also been doing a few collaborations lately and this works so well, so I'd like to do more of those too!


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Kirsteen Harvey is a 21 year old Glasgow based singer-songwriter currently working hard on releasing new material in 2021. Kirsteen grew up listening to a variety of musicians and genres that have played an influential role in shaping her signature sound. Now, as a young Scottish musician, she aims to offer something different and unique to her listeners by creating and sharing original music. Kirsteen has spent the last couple of years working with different genres of music, experimenting with sounds, and gigging around Glasgow. It wasn't until 2020, when we finally got to hear the jazzy/country vibes incorporated in her latest releases.


1. What was it that got you into or inspired you to become a full-time musician?

I have always been pretty musical growing up, I started off in the performing arts from a very young age, and being surrounded by musicians really inspired me, I didn’t actually get into songwriting and performing until around the age of 17, and now at 21 and a full-time uni student, I absolutely love making/sharing music, I find the whole process really fun and exciting, and I have met some amazing people while doing it, it's what I want to do.


2. With the events of this year being very different now, what motivates you currently?

I think at the moment, taking the time to write new songs, record, and release music has been a huge part of the past year, because live gigs aren’t happening, there is so much more time to work on the creative side of promoting your own recorded music, making homemade videos, and all the wee things you might not have as much time for usually. I've spent lots of time doing my own cover art for songs, making promo clips for releases, and I've found that a really fun and motivational process. (Also looking forward to the future as well).


3. What impact has the current situation with Covid-19 had on your music / life balance?

Well currently I am still a student in my final year, so I have been balancing music with online uni work as well, which has been a wee bit challenging, but I’ve still managed!


4. What has been your most challenging experience, music or in general, to date?

This is a hard one, I think the most challenging experience was just getting the final push and confidence to release my debut single back in March 2020. I was definitely a bit nervous to put this first track out, and not knowing how people would react was definitely something I thought about a lot, but I am so glad I just did it.


5. Have you found or had much support and encouragement from other musicians?

I am friends with a lot of fellow musicians, and everyone has been so supportive. We all share and make sure to comment on each others work, buy their EP, stream their songs, it is a really supportive environment. If I am ever confused or unsure of something I know that I can always ask someone for advice on what they did or what worked best for them.


6. Which method of distributing music have you found to be the most effective?

For my releases, I have always used EmuBands. I find the process really easy and the help is great. I always make sure to really push the new release on social media with lots of posts and artwork too.


7. What challenges have you faced as an independent musician?

Sometimes I find myself thinking, ‘is this the best way to go about this?’, when it comes to promoting a new song, choosing the artwork, or releasing track a certain date. I think as an independent musician you do often question yourself, because you want the best for your releases and self image, so finding the confidence to just go for it can often be a challenge.


8. With live gigs being impacted this year, have you used social media for live performances?

Yes! I have streamed live quite a few times on Facebook, as well as uploading pre-recorded videos and covers.


9. Is there any advice that you would give to other musicians during these uncertain times?

Just keep going and do what makes you happy, everything is going to be fine, and keep making music! :)


10. Looking ahead, what are your future plans going into the New Year and beyond?

I want to get my foot further in the door of Glasgow's live music scene when things are starting up again, and I definitely will be releasing new music very soon, hopefully with more music videos alongside it.


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Bristol hyper-pop artist Mouse is ready to take her place on the celestial pantheon of pop with new EP, Angels Never Die, a stunning project that takes the DIY spirit of the city she calls home and twists it into her own, brilliantly excessive image.


Taking her name from her introverted nature and stature she was once ashamed of, Mouse came into being after she took her singing teacher’s advice (Dan Tompkins of progressive metal band TesseracT) and began posting cover videos online.


What came out of a year of hunkering down, tweaking and perfecting is Angels Never Die, an astonishingly ambitious blend of hyper-pop, glitch, club and a sprinkling of emo for good measure. It also has seen Mouse fully grabbing the reins for herself, producing every track, creating its visual identity and masterminding its ambitious scale. The tracklist is bookended by an overture and a finale both composed by Mouse, the first time she has released any of her orchestral compositions. Their grand nature set the tone for Angels Never Die; extravagant and boundary-pushing yet full of heart and emotional punch.


Angels Never Die is out via Leisure Records on the 26th February 2021.


1. What was it that got you into or inspired you to become a full-time musician?

Making music feels like home to me. It is where I feel most aligned with myself and at my most authentic. I want to do something with my life that creates community too and allows people to bond over shared experiences and music is the skill I have which offers that. Those are the reasons I continue to create and what I remind myself of when the going gets tough. As for what originally inspired me, I instinctively wrote my first song when I was eight years old. It just felt completely natural to me and I have been doing it regularly ever since! I believe doing something like that so instinctively is such a clear sign that you are supposed to be doing something.


2. With the events of this year being very different now, what motivates you currently?

When everything else has been taken away for the last ten months, music has been what’s left. For example, writing music has been what’s comforted me when restrictions were put in place or the news became heavy on a daily basis. Escaping into the world I created my EP around has been a beautiful place for the last ten months and I feel I have a duty to prioritise something which has always been there for me during difficult times.


3. What impact has the current situation with Covid-19 had on your music / life balance?

Well, I was made redundant in March last year and so I have had so much more time to float amongst my ideas and try new things creatively. Ironically, I wanted my EP to come out in the first lockdown to offer listeners escapism but it’s looking like that might still happen if lockdown three continues… I have missed out on the shows and festivals I had booked for summer 2020. Not only did I miss the financial income but I also missed the opportunity to try new material. Because of this, a lot of my EP is music that people have never heard before which is nerve-wracking. There’s only one song on there which has been in my setlist for years and fans will ask me for it so I’m excited for that to finally be released. How much I miss performing didn’t really hit me until only around a month ago or so and now that we’re in 2021, I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I last played live. I miss it so much which has allowed me to understand how important it actually ever was to me. Before, I thought I could be an artist who plays very occasionally… I certainly don’t think that’s the case anymore.


4. What has been your most challenging experience, music or in general, to date?

Musically, navigating who I am as an artist has been difficult. Pop music doesn’t seem to exist on the outside unless you’re a hugely famous A-lister, which obviously, I’m not. It’s been really tempting for me to try and copy other people’s singing styles and production because that’s what is “successful”, but I eventually realised that I was doing myself a massive disservice. Speaking of live shows, playing my first one as Mouse was a challenge. I almost had my first panic attack after years of not having them because of it! I felt very conscious of myself when waiting for my intro track to finish playing so I could walk on stage, alone. I had my friend DJing for me which helped massively but the lead up to that show was hard for me. I honestly couldn’t even say the world ‘setlist’ to myself without my hands going clammy. I’d performed loads before in other bands and trios so the experience wasn’t new, but doing it alone was.


5. Have you found or had much support and encouragement from other musicians?

Yes, I have. There are lots of pockets of scenes here and there’s one which caters for left-field pop. I feel I half-fit in there but even that’s enough for me to have a bit of a community of other artists and producers to collaborate with. My only collaborators in the making of my EP have come from connections I’ve made from that collective. It can be difficult to feel fully supported by other female artists because the industry isn’t built to show that there is room for us all. However, I feel we’re beginning to move past this and I have great friends who make a wide variety of genres.


6. Which method of distributing music have you found to be the most effective?

It’s difficult to say because I haven’t experienced releasing music with a larger team behind me. That’s what I hope to experience within the next few years… so ask me again later and I’ll have a fully formed answer for you!


7. What challenges have you faced as an independent musician?

Remembering you can only do so much with your budget and your emotional capacity. You have to be extremely resilient to repeatedly open yourself to criticism, particularly from people who don’t understand or appreciate the skill and time it takes to make music. Do I believe my music is as good as what’s in the charts and what’s trending on TikTok etc.? Of course, I do, but is it really comparable business-wise? No, because I don’t have the same budgets to work with as major label artists. However, I do own all the rights to everything I do so should something kick-off or suddenly resonate with people, I have complete control of what happens to it. I find that exciting.


8. With live gigs being impacted this year, have you used social media for live performances?

Most of the shows I was asked to do in 2020 have continued virtually. This meant turning different areas of my apartment into a performance space… I put up backgrounds in my living room the first time, draped bedsheets and used tower fans to create a more 00s space the next time, and I’ve recently turned my mattress horizontal and put my duvet on the ground as an almost cloud-like space. I’ve actually really enjoyed having to look at what I’ve got and question how I can turn everyday objects into performance props. I’ve also had footage from my backing dancers of them doing the routines and incorporated those into my video so it looks like we’re dancing together. My video editing skills have vastly improved over the last year. I also bought a green screen which I’ve used loads!


9. Is there any advice that you would give to other musicians during these uncertain times?

Remember to connect with your intuition. It will always tell you what you’re supposed to do and there are always steps you can take towards the life you want to have. Spend time getting to know who you really are as an artist and what helps you feel resilient because whenever things pick up or look a little like how things did before, that information about yourself will offer you a firm foundation. Also, if you don’t have knowledge of the business of music, get to know. Now is a great time to learn about all the “boring” bits.


10. Looking ahead, what are your future plans going into the New Year and beyond?

I released Love Me Like You’re Gonna Lose Me on 15th January which is probably the most special song to me on my EP. The Angels Never Die EP comes out on 26th February and my new single Skin is out now. I’m so proud of this EP and feel it offers people who like pop something a bit different. I’m going to spend some time reflecting on the journey of creating this EP after its out and then I’ll probably put out some more music. I wrote a Christmas EP (which I love) not long ago so maybe this Christmas is the right time for it… I’m preparing not to play any shows this year, although there might be something coming to help celebrate my EP. Lots of secrets!


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PINLIGHT is the alias of hearing-impaired songwriter Jenny Laahs, an independent multi-instrumentalist based in Edinburgh, making electro alt-pop with themes of self-affirmation, love and relationships, tied together into retro-tinged soundscapes. All of PINLIGHT's music is produced in mono to reflect the artist's hearing loss. The debut album, Grow Slow, was released in December 2019, and was named Indie Gem 2019 by Doing Life Records and described as “perfect for the alternative pop fan” by Advosound. PINLIGHT's music is available on all of the usual streaming and download platforms.


1. What was it that got you into or inspired you to become a full-time musician?

Music has been a constant in my life since a young age - I can't imagine doing anything else now. I originally studied Biochemistry at university, planning to be a research scientist, but realised after working in a lab for a year that I wouldn't be happy with music just being a hobby.


2. With the events of this year being very different now, what motivates you currently?

I'm taking some time in January to do a couple of songwriting courses and level up my production skills. I'm feeling more motivated than ever to write, and I'm looking forward to releasing the new songs I'm working on later this year.


3. What impact has the current situation with Covid-19 had on your music / life balance?

PINLIGHT has always been a solo studio project so lockdown has actually been quite good in the respect of giving me more time at home to work on it! I usually travel a lot so it's been nice to have the opportunity to focus on it without having to snatch pockets of time on the train or in the back of the car on the motorway as has often been the case!


4. What has been your most challenging experience, music or in general, to date?

Making my debut album independently with very little experience in recording music prior was pretty challenging! It was self-inflicted; my 30th birthday was coming up and it was a bucket list item for my 20s to release an album, so I decided just to go for it. My friends on the music scene were amazing in helping me out, especially Calum Cummins from Yoko Pwno who was an absolute superstar. I'd do some things differently now I'm a bit more experienced, but I'm still really proud of what was achieved.


5. Have you found or had much support and encouragement from other musicians?

Absolutely - I think especially on the indie scene in Scotland there's been a sense of everyone looking out for each other and cross promotion. I've been featured on a couple of podcasts from other local musicians over the last few months - Line Check with Jack and Fi and the Yoko Pwno Podcast, both of which are great shows! I also did an Instagram takeover on the Edinburgh Music Lovers page, which was great fun, and I loved seeing all the other takeovers in the series as well.


6. Which method of distributing music have you found to be the most effective?

Spotify definitely isn't the most lucrative but it does provide great opportunities for getting your music out there. I get more hits on Spotify than any of the other streaming services, which makes sense to me as it's the main avenue by which I find new music myself. I do have physical CDs of my album as well - more than I'd like of them sitting around as they got made a couple of months before the pandemic hit so I didn't have much chance to have them available at gigs! Bandcamp Fridays have been great for promoting physical merch, which is a huge means of support for independent musicians in the age of streaming.


7. What challenges have you faced as an independent musician?

The biggest thing is the organisation and mental energy required for everything around the actual music-making. Running a good PR campaign takes a lot of time before and after any release, and is really crucial if you want anyone to hear your music. I've got a huge spreadsheet of bloggers and playlisters which just keeps getting longer each time I do it. Another challenge is finding the balance between how much money to invest in gear/promotion/production while keeping it a sustainable project. I try to be as DIY as possible - which I really enjoy, although there are elements of my music-making that I'll always have to outsource. That's not necessarily a bad thing though, as there's so much great potential in collaboration.


8. With live gigs being impacted this year, have you used social media for live performances?

A little bit, but I've preferred to keep focus on writing and production so far. I think this year I'll do some more livestreams though. I'll definitely need to warm myself up before getting on an actual stage again!


9. Is there any advice that you would give to other musicians during these uncertain times?

Some advice I was given recently was to remember that good things happen slowly. No success is ever truly overnight, there's always skill-building and experience beforehand. I like that, particularly in encouraging us to remember that lockdown isn't wasted time in terms of growing as a musician even if the same opportunities aren't there, and also as encouragement to keep plugging away even if you don't immediately go viral!


10. Looking ahead, what are your future plans going into the New Year and beyond?

I'm going to keep writing and recording, and will hopefully have my next single lined up in the next couple of months. Later in 2021 I'll put together an EP or maybe a second album depending on how many tracks I get that I'm happy with! So watch this space for that.


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Pretty Preachers Club are Glasgow indie-pop duo Martha McKay (vocals, guitar and violin) and Hannah Berry (vocals, guitar and piano). The band were formed during lockdown this year and their debut EP 'Going Nowhere Fast', featuring 3 original songs, was released on November 27th.


1. What was it that got you into or inspired you to become full-time musicians?

We have both loved performing ever since we were young, and have being playing instuments and writing songs forever. Lockdown was our final push to just go and make it happen, and we haven’t looked back since.


2. With the events of this year being very different now, what motivates you currently?

Martha: I am very inspired by other musicians such as my friends in Sports Team, Matty Healy of The 1975 and the girls in Xylaroo.


Hannah: The fact that we find it so fun and enjoyable, I feel that is our motivation to do it, cause we love it!!! The amount of free time we have been given this year has been a blessing in disguise!!


3. What impact has the current situation with Covid-19 had on your music / life balance?

Martha: Surprisingly, lockdown is the main reason Pretty Preachers Club exists. Hannah and I spoke for years about starting a band but it all kicked off one day during lockdown while we were bored and sending one another demos of songs we had written.


Hannah: It’s really given us time to think about what matters and what we actually want to do in our lives. Musically it’s let us be very experimental and have loads of fun!


4. What has been your most challenging experience, music or in general, to date?

Martha: I think releasing Hey Boy for people to hear. Its very personal, a song about male suicide, inspired by a letter I wrote to my brother when I was in my early teens but never gave to him.

Hannah: Within music it would probably be producing the EP!! Both of us have really basic equipment and have never been trained in anyway to record and provide so it’s definitely been a challenge but I love it!! It’s allowed us to do exactly what we want.


5. Have you found or had much support and encouragement from other musicians?

Martha: Yes! So much! Shereen Cutty and Nadine from BBC Introducing have been so encouraging and supportive. We have also met some incredible artists and friends along the way - Kitti and Rachel Jack.


6. Which method of distributing music have you found to be the most effective?

We have used a couple online distributors that have proven to be quite cheap which is great, but our next step is to hopefully release music through a label.


7. What challenges have you faced as an independent musician?

Probably producing all of our own music. It’s amazing we can do so much on basic equipment but we want to branch out and try lots of new experimental ideas which is really difficult to do on basic equipment.


8. With live gigs being impacted this year, have you used social media for live performances?

Yes! We have a livestream with groupie magazine on 1st December and a few real life gigs lined up for 2021...


9. Is there any advice that you would give to other musicians during these uncertain times?

Martha: Stick at it. Don’t listen to the Tory government telling you you’re better off in cyber. Write music that you enjoy - not music you think people will like. We are still working on the latter.


Hannah: Keep thinking positive!! There’s a light at the end of the tunnel!! Live gigs will happen again and they will be even better than ever when they do.


10. Looking ahead, what are your future plans going into the New Year and beyond?

Martha: As I mentioned before we have a few gigs lined up for after the New Year. Really exciting ones that will be officially announced soon!


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RAAB is an artist on the Edinburgh and Fife music scene and is always eager to showcase her up-lifting songs. Originally from Dunfermline, she has been singing from a young age, performing and gigging throughout her teens, writing songs, and doing session work. In recent years, she has been focusing on her solo career, known by her artist name, ‘RAAB’.


She captivates her listeners with her alluring, decorative, yet strong vocals, combining her love of rock, blues, folk, and country music. The excellent band backing RAAB enhance the songs through 4-part harmonies and provide a fuller sound for the catchy original songs.


RAAB began gigging in April 2019, debuting her single, Our Flight, with a launch gig at The Caves, in Edinburgh. She received an overwhelmingly positive response and, since the release, has delivered thrilling live performances and released her second single, Bluebird, in May 2020. She will release her debut EP this year, delivering an intricate, acoustic performance that highlights her folk and country influences.


1. What was it that got you into or inspired you to become a full-time musician?

I grew up around music and was always encouraged to perform whether it be singing, dance, or playing guitar or piano. My grandad was and my auntie is a full time musician and seeing her perform and make a living through music was very inspirational. I’ve been very lucky to have grown up surrounded by varied music and live performances and to have been encouraged from such a young age to do what I love.


2. With the events of this year being very different now, what motivates you currently?

Songwriting and making new music while there’s so much time to focus on it. It’s like a blessing in disguise. The excitement of creating something new is a big motivator and the drive to record it and get it out into the world is an even bigger one. Most of all, it’s the opportunity to interact with new people online through my music in the hope that they’ve taken something good from the songs.


3. What impact has the current situation with Covid-19 had on your music / life balance?

Everything is online. Promotion and recording hasn’t affected me so much as there are ways around it just now, but live performances have taken a big hit. The social aspect of going to a gig, speaking to an audience, feeling that adrenaline; it’s all stopped at the moment! I think I can speak for every musician by saying we miss it. I am so glad to be able to do online videos and I’ve learned a lot more about social media this year which I think will definitely help me with future releases!


4. What has been your most challenging experience, music or in general, to date?

My most challenging music experience so far was December 2019 when I just about lost my voice. There were a few gigs lined up and a radio interview that I absolutely didn’t want to miss. It was the first time I had felt so ill with performances lined up. I spent ages changing the key to my songs and swapping difficult songs to something a little easier. I didn’t want to let anybody down so I pulled through. It was a stressful time haha!


5. Have you found or had much support and encouragement from other musicians?

Absolutely - we are all in this together! Some musicians are very encouraging and we all learn from each other. It’s a shame it’s so competitive and I can tell when someone isn’t keen to be as friendly. There is room for everyone in this industry and it’s so important to network and keep in touch with people (especially during this pandemic). I think the support has gotten stronger this year and I’m really grateful for all the musician friends.


6. Which method of distributing music have you found to be the most effective?

Digital distribution is easiest and the most cost effective for sure. I love that it’s accessible anywhere and everywhere! I am very keen to try physical distribution as my music mostly attracts a mature audience. It would also be great to have physical copies of my own songs. Definitely something I am going to look into!


7. What challenges have you faced as an independent musician?

Mostly financially. I didn’t even realise how much money was put into say one release until I was doing it and thinking 'wow this is a lot'. You’re paying for the recording, mixing, mastering, promotion, other musicians on the track, photographs, cover art work, distribution... I’m sure I’ve probably missed some out. The funny part about it is it’s the easiest money I’ve ever spent! You put everything into being able to afford all of this because you want it and enjoy it so much. It is definitely a big challenge, especially when the chances of you making it all back from that one song is slim.


8. With live gigs being impacted this year, have you used social media for live performances?

I’ve done a couple of recorded videos and live streams this year which have been really fun! It’s the closest thing to a gig right now and it’s such an amazing feeling to perform and speak to people virtually. The first live stream was back in March and was the very night lockdown in the UK was announced. My brother and my boyfriend were accompanying me in the live stream and we had all missed the official announcement! When we finished, it was just so surprising and kind of scary to hear what was happening. I don’t think I would’ve tried a live stream if it wasn’t for the pandemic so this is something I’d love to keep up!


9. Is there any advice that you would give to other musicians during these uncertain times?

Keep in touch with one another! We are all in the same boat and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice - I think we could all do that a bit more. Keep writing, keep finding ways to be creative and feed your musicality, and keep visualising those live gigs with excitement. We have more time to plan for releases, recordings, gigs, and tours than we ever did before, it doesn't matter that we can't put a date on it yet. This is our time to be prepared and excited for what’s to come. Don’t lose sight of that!


10. Looking ahead, what are your future plans going into the New Year and beyond?

I’m hoping to release my debut EP at the start of this year which I can’t wait to share with you all! It features new songs I wrote in lockdown and I have an excellent team behind it who have made the EP come to life. It’s been so much fun! I’d like to release some more singles and keep up the cover videos. I love making them and I have Finlay Johnston who helps with filming, recording, mixing, and sometimes accompaniment and is such a support for my music. I’m excited for the new year!


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Self-taught musician, SHIKA always knew she wanted to have a career in the arts. She has been writing music her whole life and after trading chemistry class for music in high school, and teaching herself how to play guitar and keyboard, it all became a little clearer for her. She went on to study Fine Art in London but brought her loop pedal and ‘borrowed’ her dads electric guitar. This move allowed her to find her own sound and made her decide that this would be something she would one day share with the world, rather than the confinements of her bedroom.


Her interest in fine art and exploring the world’s artistic culture has urged her incline to travel. Having a vast cultural background was the reason she felt the need to explore the world as much as she could. Being mixed race has given her an insight to the wonderful cultures that can be found around the globe. Her music is a true flavour of her, which is why it made sense for her to release music independently and edit her videos herself. She makes music with a flavour of inspiration from wherever she resides at the time London, Tokyo, Dubai and Australia, just to name a few. She is currently living in London.


1. What was it that got you into or inspired you to become a full-time musician?

I have always loved making music and I come from a very musical family. It just felt like the right timing.


2. With the events of this year being very different now, what motivates you currently?

I was motivated by having so much more time on my hands. As crazy as it's been, it's been a blessing in disguise for me. This past year I have had more time to put my all into what I love.


3. What impact has the current situation with Covid-19 had on your music / life balance?

I have been able to fully focus on music and that's what I had wanted for a long time so I was pretty happy with that.


4. What has been your most challenging experience, music or in general, to date?

Oh I have had quite a few the past few years, not wanting to elaborate but it definitely motivated me to make the most out of my life from then on.


5. Have you found or had much support and encouragement from other musicians?

Yes, I have had so much support from those around me and Instagram has been amazing for connecting with other musicians.


6. Which method of distributing music have you found to be the most effective?

I upload my music through DITTO and send out a press release which has worked well so far in bringing in an audience.


7. What challenges have you faced as an independent musician?

It's always a bit of a struggle finding the means to record as I said I am usually on the move. I had been living in Australia and was in Japan when the lockdown started so had to fly back to my parents for a bit. Not always having a solid base or equipment has been challenging.


8. With live gigs being impacted this year, have you used social media for live performances?

I haven't yet but I'm planning to.


9. Is there any advice that you would give to other musicians during these uncertain times?

Keep making music because it will be appreciated.


10. Looking ahead, what are your future plans going into the New Year and beyond?

I have a few more singles lined up and am working on an EP, which will hopefully be ready by Summer.


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SMUT. is an alternative R&B and hip hop artist from Shetland, currently residing in Edinburgh. While past influences consisted of Nirvana, KoRn and PJ Harvey, she now seeks inspiration from artists such as Tinashe, Kehlani, Ariana Grande and Bones. She is a singer, writer, musician and producer exploring themes such as mental health, relationships, psychology and sexuality. Whilst varied in her musical inspirations, a vulnerable approach to artistic expression defines much of SMUT.'s work.


1. What was it that got you into or inspired you to become a full-time musician?

I fell in love with music from a young age - I remember 'pop star' being the first thing I wanted to be when I grew up. There's a quote that says, the world needs more people who have come alive. Music is the thing that makes me feel the most alive and happy, so it's why I want to do it full time.


2. With the events of this year being very different now, what motivates you currently?

Honestly, my motivations with regards to music haven't changed much. In a sense, I'm kind of lucky that I haven't got to a place of doing it full time yet because it's meant my life hasn't changed all that dramatically lately. What motivates me to make music is my passion for it and my end goal of doing it for a living. If I can't gig, I'll just make music instead.


3. What impact has the current situation with Covid-19 had on your music / life balance?

In 2019, I started gigging again for the first time in years. Covid has sadly put a halt to that. Something which has arguably impacted me more is that I have been unable to play open mics. The open mic at Henry's Cellar Bar in Edinburgh is my absolute favourite and I've been unable to connect with my friends there in the way I normally would. The open mic provides a genuine sense of community and a shared passion for music and it's this that I'm missing the most.


4. What has been your most challenging experience, music or in general, to date?

I would say my most challenging experience to date has been emotional abuse. This was just another thing on my plate last year which made 2020 possibly the most difficult year of my life. Adding mental illness and an inability to access therapy into the mix, it made it an almost impossible year to get through. But I did it.


5. Have you found or had much support and encouragement from other musicians?

I would say I have had a big source of encouragement and support, in the form of the Popgirlz Scotland group which Rachel (otherwise known as Kohla) kindly added me into. I have been keeping to myself quite a lot over the past year so whilst I haven't necessarily sought out music-related support, I've known it's there whenever I need it - which is the most important thing.


6. Which method of distributing music have you found to be the most effective?

I'm very new to distributing music. Prior to 2020, I wasn't even on Spotify. My platform of choice has always been Soundcloud. I met lots of my online music friends through Soundcloud and was introduced to tonnes of brilliant underground music this way. I feel like being on Soundcloud has been a vital part of my musical journey and I'm so grateful for all the people I've met.


7. What challenges have you faced as an independent musician?

Trying to get gigs without having a manager, overpromising and underdelivering in collaborations (ie. biting off more than I can chew), feeling like I'm starting from scratch, teaching myself to produce, trying to carve space in the local music scene not already taken by countless indie bands, receiving unsolicited advice from arrogant men, being underestimated by men.


8. With live gigs being impacted this year, have you used social media for live performances?

I haven't done any online gigs - if I'm completely honest with you, I just couldn't be bothered. Working in healthcare, my life felt really hectic last year regardless of all the social restrictions. A lot of the time I felt like I was just surviving, so I didn't have the energy to put into online performances - I was quite happy to have the extra time to myself.


9. Is there any advice that you would give to other musicians during these uncertain times?

Focus on what you CAN do rather than what you can't. Remember there are still countless ways of connecting to your fans and your peers, even if it means using your imagination. Don't let this sometimes austere government deter you from making art - art IS essential. Without it, life would be virtually unliveable. You make the world a better place.


10. Looking ahead, what are your future plans going into the New Year and beyond?

Despite some of the heavy subject matter, I feel hopeful about this year. I'm looking forward to focusing on myself and my music. I'm planning to put out my first EP this year which will showcase more of my vocal ability and R&B influences, I want to develop my image as an artist and embrace new ways of expressing myself; and last but not least, I'm prioritising my spiritual practice and self care.


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Tina and I would both like to say a huge thank you to each of the 10 Scottish Artists... Jilly & Macca, Emma, Katie, Kirsteen, Mouse, Jenny, Martha & Hannah, RAAB, SHIKA and SMUT., for being a part of this blog post and for taking the time to answer our questions and allowing us to share their replies. We hope to continue this blog series even more over the coming months so please do keep checking back for our updates in the near future on.

Please click on the image below to check out all the other posts in this amazing blog series...


#10FROM10 #ScottishArtists #SingerSongwriters #IndependentArtists