Temp Check: The Little Kicks' Steven Milne

The Little Kicks released their highly anticipated fifth album 'People Need Love' this week. Their first since 2017's successful 'Shake off Your Troubles.' The release sees the lead singer and songwriter Steven Milne explore the darker side of life while maintaining their infectious guitar-led vocal pop positivity.

Listen to the album on your favourite streaming service now.

https://open.spotify.com/album/2XHcvEyKLRRywCbxs94xOj?si=vhUYr9RqSdikt9UL1EmPsQ

The band recorded most of the album in 2019 and completed it in 2020, but the pandemic pushed the release until now. With so much love and effort put into the recording, they wanted to give it the very best chance to shine.

It's a very busy few days in Steven's life. We caught up with him ahead of the release of the album and fresh off a successful True North festival (Steven is an artist booker for Aberdeen Performing Arts). The Little Kicks also have live dates on the schedule across the country, so we are delighted that he took some time out to answer our questions.

The Little Kicks


Let's go back to the start. The Little Kicks have been releasing albums for 13 years now. How did you meet up?

Our first LP came out in 2009 but I don’t think we really found our feet until after we released our second LP (in 2011). That album’s material was so well received (particularly when playing at festival sets) and as a result, I think we felt a lot more confident to continue.

When we then tried to vary our sound on 'Put Your Love In Front Of Me' (2013) by incorporating a bit more of a concept to the record, using more strings and synths etc it became our most popular release. So we have been quite lucky that we aren’t bound by one sound and can sort of change as our influences and tastes change.

We all met through playing in various other bands or sharing stages so being in this band as a unit now feels like a natural fit. I think it has helped that we all have varying music tastes and we have had a couple of line-up changes along the way which has kept things fresh - we jokingly compare ourselves to the Sugababes and that at one point I will ultimately be next to be replaced.

Did you have big ambitions for The Little Kicks at the time or was it a case of having a bit of fun, letting off steam and seeing where it takes you?

I think probably when we started yeah. Speaking personally as a kid in your room you want to be as big as you can get and we perhaps had bigger ambitions previously but the music is the most important thing to me now.

I like the idea of a body of work that has a natural flow and I hope that each time we follow up the previous LP with a new release that it’s a development in some way and that we are not sounding the same. Perhaps the music may have similarities in sound (my voice/ our writing and playing style) but it has to change somehow to keep both us and the listener interested.

We probably had our biggest following locally when we came out sounding like The Strokes and Interpol waaayy back but it would be dull to still be like that now – for both the audience and us. In saying that, if the opportunity came along to get out there full-time we would take it with both hands, we want our music to be heard as far and wide as possible.

The Little Kicks singer and songwriter, Steven Milne

You, yourself have had your challenges coming through covid, becoming a dad for the first time, then losing your own dad. How do you think has that impacted this new album?

Our last LP came out in March 2017 but it had been finished for a wee while so I had started sketching for what became to be this record. My eldest was born in August and my Dad died very suddenly that November and we were very close. We were meant to go to Canada the week after he died, we obviously didn’t go, and I took some time off. Obviously, that was a strange mix of emotions (having become a father and losing mine) and it did knock me off compass for some time.

The year ahead (2018) had been planned as a writing year (other than two big shows at Belladrum & King Tuts) so come Spring 2018 I would try and pick up with the ideas I had begun the year before but the songs were becoming very sad (which I couldn’t help) and not really the direction I wanted to go.

The 2017 record 'Shake Off Your Troubles' best-received feature was its positivity so I didn’t want to make a downer but I needed to get how I felt out of my system as that’s how I usually deal with things. Slowly I managed to tip the balance in the right direction and I started bringing ideas into the room and sending demo ideas around.

The lads were great about it and incredibly encouraging which made me feel better about sending such personal lyrics out – although I admit now on the almost eve of the LP coming out it is strange to think other people will hear them.

The album (I think) is, on the whole, a very positive record but my hope would be that if someone is going through similar emotions to what I experienced I hope they can hear something in the words that chime with them and that maybe it can give them some comfort.

The band originally planned to release the album last year. It must feel like this one is kind of in the rearview for you? Are you already working on the next album?

Not at all actually, it has been a pretty constant process somehow since it was finished/ mastered in Autumn 2020. During the first wave of Covid, we were literally one session from finishing the record so we had to sit at a standstill of course but in 2021 we began planning ahead.

We commissioned the artist for the artwork paintings and whittled down which to use, our drummer Scott took on a new band space for us to use and kitted it out as a studio, we had to get the vinyl designed and ordered and we began rehearsing.

I have some sketches on my phone but there hasn’t been a huge desire to work on any further new material (or much time/ things to write about!) but once this album comes out I am sure I will get some brain space to get going again. To be honest, I am really so proud of these 10 songs which are sitting ready to go and all I have thought about for some time is how much I can’t wait to get out and play them live and let people hear them.

The Little Kicks from the Ruminations Video

The Bon Accord Baths pool was a great backdrop for the Ruminations video. It really reflected the song's lyrics. What was it like filming there?

An immense honour to be honest. We cannot thank the BAB team enough for facilitating our access to the space and helping us make it work. Snap who made the video also did a fantastic job. To make that shoot happen took so much work from all sides and I am still a little in disbelief that we got in there.

Obviously being from Aberdeen and having grown up swimming there it was cool to be back in the space. Every room could be a film set it has so much character and the natural light in the pool area is amazing. It wasn’t without its challenges (illness cancelled the first shoot at a day’s notice, the venue has no power etc.) but we are overjoyed with the final result.

What do you love most, touring or recording? The three singles released from People Need Love have a nice distinctive crisp sound. How deeply do you get involved in the production of the Little Kicks music?

If I had to choose I would have to say I love being in the studio. It’s such a great way to spend time, being creative and trying things to make the songs happen together – this was especially true for this record.

We recorded in Chem19 in Hamilton with Paul Savage (his production credits are endless and too long to list) and he really elevated the songs to a different level. He knew how to push us in the right direction in terms of our performance and what the song needed (without being pushy about it) and he stopped us fussing over tiny details or ironing out creases within the mixing of the songs (which is a previous bad habit of ours). I think this is why the album has the energy it has.

Steven Milne at the piano

Paul was keen for us to attend the mixing sessions wherever possible so I was fortunate to sit in and watch him work which was really cool. As he is fortunate to have accumulated lots of outboard equipment he doesn’t believe in using lots of digital or computer effects and prefers to make sure he gets what’s going in sounding good to cut the editing or mixing work down later. So there was a lot of emphasis on getting a strong performance down.

Also, some of his techniques with microphones for the drums or how he treated guitars & vocals, blended the synths in the mix were fascinating to watch and I truly hope we get to do another LP with him, so everyone reading do please buy this one.

On some of your upcoming live shows, you're playing with the Cairn String Quartet. You've worked with before…including on the new album. What do they bring to The Little Kicks' live experience?

I love the sound of strings in music and I think hearing them live is going to be very emotive and be the cherry on the cake for the live shows we have with them. When they did their parts in the studio we were blown away by what they added to the sound and considering their current engagement is to be on tour with Biffy Clyro I am staggered they have agreed to come and play with us.

As they are session musicians in high demand it’s doubtful (unfortunately) to be something we will repeat in a live capacity after these shows so do come and see us this Autumn.

The Little Kicks - People Need Love - Artwork

Album artwork is clearly important to you. Tell us about the artwork for this new release.

We all collect vinyl and enjoy that listening experience. Our last two LPs have almost sold out of their vinyl editions so it was a no-brainer to get this one made on vinyl which allows the option to think more creatively with the artwork.

We felt like the title was a cool statement and Adam liked the artist Georgie Bell (the painter of the artwork on the sleeve) – we all agreed that having the title over one of her artworks would be a cool cover. Our friend Michael Chang helped us achieve this by spending a lot of time on the cover design (style, layout, fonts and direction) and as a result, we went to town on the vinyl edition. It has a die-cut sleeve with three different paintings from Georgie Bell that can be used as cover options and the vinyl is clear/ opaque.

The insert also has all the lyrics within as well as a dedication to my Dad. As a package, it is a truly beautiful thing.

What excites you about music? Who are you listening to right now?

I love checking out the new LP releases every Friday and I always like hearing new things. The latest things I have been enjoying at home are the new album by James Righton (formerly of the Klaxons now produced by Soulwax), Andrew Wasylyk’s back catalogue (instrumental composer from Dundee who is also in Idlewild), Nina Simone (specifically a live album I picked up) and I’ve been on a solo McCartney tip of late.

In a live capacity, I have really enjoyed Zoe Graham's 'Medicine Cabinet & Rival Saints' in the last few weeks, and in terms of upcoming records, I am looking forward to the new Arctic Monkeys LP based on the single and their last LP, which I loved.

This year the most listened to LP in our house is probably Harry Styles' last LP 'Harry's House'. It's an absolute banger.

https://youtu.be/srdo8W2AIF8

We'd like to thank Steven again for taking the time to answer our questions in such a thoughtful and candid manner. This has been one of our favourite Temp Check interviews.

You can buy 'People Need Love' on vinyl from The Little Kicks' website, where you can also get tickets to their upcoming tour. You find the album on your favourite streaming service. Finally, please make sure to support and follow The Little Kicks on Twitter or Instagram.


True North to soundtrack the city

The True North music festival returns to Aberdeen this weekend from Thursday 22 to Sunday 25 September. Django Django, Scottish alt-rockers Travis, soul superstar Mica Paris, and world music legend Nitin Sawhney are among the acts playing.

With this year's festival celebrating its eighth anniversary, city venues will include the Music Hall and Lemon Tree. True North will also take over the spectacular pop-up venue Wonder Hoose. Furthermore, there's a Fringe program with free festival performances at SiberiaWaterstones, and the Music Hall's Coda Café.



Throughout September, Wonder Hoose has been running in the stunning surroundings of Marischal College's Quadrangle. The venue will host the opening act of this year's True North festival, local up-and-comer AiiTee, along with Emma PollockStina Marie Claire, and Michael Timmons.

Travis will play the Music Hall on Saturday, 24 September performing classic album The Invisible Band in full. They'll also play their other greatest hits. Upon its release in 2001, The Invisible Band spent four weeks at number one in the UK album charts. It is certified four-times Platinum. The album was produced by Nigel Godrich He is also known for his work with Radiohead as well as producing Travis’ nine-time Platinum album The Man Who.

Los Bitchos | True North
Los Bitchos | True North

A True North tribute to Aretha Franklyn

Mica Paris will be joined by Aberdeen’s own international singing sensation Emeli Sande, celebrated jazz singer Georgia Cecile and other special guests at the Music Hall on Sunday, 25 September for a stunning celebration of the music of the legendary Aretha Franklin.

Internationally renowned composer Nitin Sawhney takes to the Music Hall stage on Friday, 23 September. Described as one the most distinctive and versatile musical voices around today, Sawhney has become a modern-day ‘Renaissance man’ in the worlds of music, film, videogames, dance and theatre. He has over 20 studio albums to his name. These include solo albums, film soundtracks and compilations. Sawhney also has over 50 film scores! He has received a substantial wealth of major national and international awards for his work.

Nitin Sawhney | True North
Nitin Sawhney | True North

A diverse exciting line-up

Aberdeen Performing Arts' Ben Torrie said that True North has always been a fantastic opportunity to celebrate great music. "This year is no exception with world renowned artists like Nitin Sawhney, Travis, Mica Paris and Emeli Sande sharing the bill with some of Scotland's brightest new talent.

“It’s a really diverse, exciting line up, and our beautiful pop-up venue Wonder Hoose, which has been open throughout September, has warmed us up nicely for the festival this weekend. “It’s a chance to have a great night out, enjoy your favourite music, discover amazing new artists and let us entertain you this weekend.”

The line-up also includes alt-rock favourites Django Django, latino outfit Los Bitchos and the exuberant African Groove Machine at the Lemon Tree, and joining AiiTee on the Wonder Hoose line up over the weekend will be Emma Pollock, Honeyblood’s Stina Marie Claire and Michael Timmons as well as interactive family shows from CBeebie’s favourite YolanDa’s Band Jam and Sprog Rock.

Travis | The Invisible Band in Concert

True North's free fringe programme

The Fringe programme, taking place across venues including the Music Hall’s Coda Café, Waterstones and Siberia, features a line up of some of Scotland’s brightest talents. This includes Callum Gibson, Nani, Nikhita, Adam Thom and Michael Timmons.

Full details for True North Festival are available at www.truenorthfestival.co.uk. Tickets are on sale now. They are available from www.aberdeenperformingarts.com.

True North 2022 Line Up

Emeli Sandé to join Mica Paris for True North

Emeli Sandé is set join soul superstar Mica Paris at the True North Festival at Aberdeen Music Hall on Sunday, September 25, to celebrate the legendary Aretha Franklin's musical legacy.

It is going to be an unforgettable evening, with Mica and Emeli leading the way through the iconic singer's classic repertoire, accompanied by other special guests.



Emeli Sandé said: "I am so excited to be joining the incredible Mica Paris at the True North Music Festival in my home town to celebrate the music of the legendary Aretha Franklin! It's going to be a powerful evening of Soul!”

Aberdeen Performing Arts' new Chief Executive, Andy Eagle said: “Emeli Sandé is no stranger to the Music Hall, having grown up in Aberdeenshire as well as being an ambassador for the venue during its renovation in recent years.

“Along with Mica, they are two of the strongest female voices on the British music scene, and to have them come together to celebrate the music of the sublime Aretha Franklin is really something special.

True North's eighth year is one of its biggest

As part of its eighth year, True North will feature performances by Gentle Sinners featuring Aidan Moffat and James Graham, latino outfit Los Bitchos and the exuberant African Groove Machine. The Wonder Hoose will host a series of early evening gigs. There will be performances by AiiTEE, Emma Pollock, Honeyblood's Stina Marie Claire, and Michael Timmons. CBeebies favourite YolanDa's Band Jam and Sprog Rock will also perform interactive family shows.

True North Festival will take place in venues across Aberdeen from September 22-25. Previously announced acts including Scottish alt-rockers Travis and internationally renowned composer Nitin Sawhney.

The Fringe line up, takes place across venues including the Music Hall’s Coda Café, Waterstones and Siberia. It features a line up of some of Scotland’s brightest talents, including Callum Gibson, Nani, Nikhita, and Michael Timmons.


The Gig: The Little Kicks

The Little Kicks were back on stage in Aberdeen this weekend after a long pandemic-enforced break. The band were on a high with a new single release, with more new music on the way. Their first release since 2017, it's a track we can't get enough of right now. Vansleep and Dee supported the headliners along with a late-night DJ set.

We sent our friend Kimbo along to The Tunnels on Carnegie's Brae to cover the event and report back.



I have never been one to turn down an opportunity to be exposed to new music. So this Saturday I headed out with my gig buddy Cathers to see what was going off at The Tunnels.

Three local acts were on the card on a night which ended a week of gigging fun for me. They brought some unique sounds and fun and funky beats to a beautiful night. By the end of the sets, eager fans had packed out The Tunnels and a brilliant night had by all.

Dee

Dee

Kicking off the night was Scott Dee, better known as just Dee. He bounced up onto that stage sporting the best of his tracksuit tops and drinking from a full carton of fresh orange on the stage. When I saw him munching on sweeties and throwing Freddos to the crowd, I knew I was going to like him. He brought the fun with him and had us all disco dancing before we knew where we were. 

He boogied, kick dropped and bounced his way on and off that stage, treating us to songs of romance and breakups. One of those tracks, Amanda, had every member of the crowd singing along. I could barely concentrate on his sound for smiling. I was transfixed by his superior dance moves. Dee oozed stage presence and confidence and by the time he got to his track Restless Knights, we were all fully involved and wondering what he was going to do next. He spread positivity, was full of energy, and it was a joy to watch. It was also nice to see how thankful he was to the lads at The Little Kicks for giving him the opportunity to support.

Vansleep

Vansleep

Vansleep took to the stage and this quartet know how to make an entrance. From the first note, I just knew this would be a spectacular set from the Aberdeen indie/ alternative rock band. 

Their lead singer Kyle was suited and booted and ready to rock with a powerful deep vocal that went beautifully with driving guitar melodies. There was a clear connection between them from the off, with some incredible jamming going on everywhere you looked on stage.

Over the pandemic, I came across a band called Hardwicke Circus. I found myself thinking there were similarities to Kyle when hearing more of their tracks. I particularly enjoyed Stargazer. Cathers and I were both completely lost in the music as the band built up their tunes. Vansleep performed some seriously heavy guitar riffs, and we were both very impressed. I would definitely want to see these guys again. 

The Little Kicks

The Little Kicks

The Little Kicks were the headline. I'm ashamed to say despite being an Aberdeen band, this was my first time to see them. It definitely won't be the last.

I had listened to a few tracks, but seeing them live Ic could feel the energy, experience and how tight they were as a band.

Soaring vocals from Steven and some of the most beautiful harmonies I've heard in a while and I gig a lot! The Little Kicks delivered their track, Goodbye Enemies, unbelievably powerfully and I have to say their drummer is an exceptional talent. 

The whole set all felt funky and full of good vibes. They packed in a fantastic set with one track stripped back so we could hear even more of the beauty of Steven on his own with the guitar. A beautiful moment before they ended the night with The Tunnels in a total bounce.

The most recent track Ruminations went down a storm. They filmed the accompanying video at the Bon Accord Baths. It's available now. Check it out and look out for new material from them in October 2022. I'm looking forward to it already.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=775DCeNH1Uk

The Little Kicks back with Ruminations

The Little Kicks are back with a great new single, Ruminations. This is the first piece of music the band has released since 2017. Written during the pandemic, it was a response to the worrying times we lived through.

Ruminations is an excellent track…one of my favourite from the band. It’s bass heavy, harmonious and has a powerful, urgent beat that always feels like it’s trying to push past it’s slumberous pace. I’ve had it on heavy rotation since we got a sneak preview earlier in the week.


https://youtu.be/775DCeNH1Uk

Lead singer Steven Milne told us, “Despite its laid-back nature and stately pace, I wrote this song in the middle of a frantic period of life where things felt a little crazy. While excitedly preparing for the arrival of our son I decided to also lock myself away to get as much writing done in the months before his impending arrival.”

Many Aberdeen folk will be particularly captivated by the accompanying video. With footage shot at the city's Bon Accord Baths, the video shows the ‘Uptown Baths' current grungy state, along with glimpses of its impressive Art Deco past.

Opened in 1940 and closed back in 2008, the Bon Accord Baths has a special place in the heart of Aberdeen. It’s currently managed by Bon Accord Heritage who are working to open them up again as a community owned project. This is the latest in a series of projects making use of the magnificent space.

Aberdeen based company Snap were behind the production of the Ruminations video. The director was James Galbraith, with stunning photography by Will Farquhar.

The Little Kicks will soon be playing live in Aberdeen again. A much anticipated gig at The Tunnels on 25 June will re-introduce the four piece to their home crowd.

Their regular tour schedule has brought them a great deal of success throughout the UK and Europe. They were also shortlisted in the Best Musical Group category of the Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards in 2017.

Aberdeen Events

Check out The Little Kicks Live on Aberdeen Events

Find more events and activities in the Aberdeen Events Calendar



Back to Light the Blue

Light the Blue youth festival will return to the city this June to celebrate the best and brightest local young talent. Venues will host a dynamic and energetic programme of dance, music, film, and spoken word performances. These will take place from Thursday 16 - Saturday 18 June.

Young people across the region and beyond will have the opportunity to get involved, spark conversation, collaborate and celebrate their talent while experiencing an inspirational event program. Light The Blue is a bold and exciting addition to the North-East’s cultural programme. This is an event created by and for young people.



Susan Whyte of Aberdeen Performing Arts, Susan Whyte, said: “Light the Blue is a snapshot of young talent across Aberdeen and beyond, right now.

“The aim of the festival is to spark imaginations and start conversations. To bring young creative minds together and create unforgettable experiences. So we’re really excited and proud to be showcasing these talented, creative artists and performers.

Light the Blue | Thursday

Music Hall’s Big Sky Studio will be the venue for the opening performance of the Light Blue Festival on Thursday, 16 June. In honour of the city and its achievements, Aberdeen Performing Arts' Young Company and Grampian Hospitals Art Trust will perform 'All About People'. The Foresterhill campus community is the focus of this short film with a mixture of sound, imagery, and live performances from the Young Company. Also, A live beatbox set by Jason Singh will set the tone for the festival weekend.

Light the Blue Festival 2022 | Jason Singh

After that, the first event of the Fuse multi-bill series will be held at the Lemon Tree. The program for the show will include performances from the Aberdeen Performing Arts Senior and Intermediate Youth Theatres, City Moves and Ten Feet Tall Theatre Company. Their performances will showcase the talents of young people through theatre, dance, and film.

Finally the day will close with a DJ set by Jason Singh featuring soul, funk, spiritual house, reggae, bhangra, drum and bass, disco, garage, Afrobeat, and more.

Light the Blue | Friday

The Friday, 17 June event schedule will include free workshops on Hip Hop and a scratch night for emerging artists.

Featuring works in progress by young creatives, this exhibition has been curated by young people from open call submissions and mentored by professional artists. Furthermore this is an opportunity for emerging creatives to test out new material in front of a supportive audience.

Light the Blue Festival 2022 | Zoe Graham

Continuing the Light The Blue festivities, the SC&T Youth Concert is taking place at the Lemon Tree on Friday night. Young folk musicians from around North East Scotland will perform together with some of the country's best musicians to showcase group and solo performances.

Light the Blue | Saturday

An array of free workshops will be offered on Saturday, including workshops on making audio performances and devising performance materials. In addition, Ten Feet Tall Theatre and Aberdeen Jazz Festival will provide insights behind the scenes. While Belmont Filmhouse will host a film screening.

On Saturday, the city's latest up-and-coming musicians will perform at the Bon Accord Roof Garden for a free concert. Learn how to collect and share happiness with The Happiness Collectors, an interactive journey of silliness and sound. Fuse events continue at the Lemon Tree with performances from Aberdeen Performing Arts Junior and Intermediate Youth Theatre, City Moves Dance, Castlegate Youth Theatre, and Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre.

Light the Blue Festival 2022 | Evan Duthie

Light the Blue will present a show with a theme of 'Light the Way'. It will include outdoor pop-ups and cabaret performances hosted by drag star Jordy Delight. Performers will include spoken word, drag, theatre, and music artists. Amongst them will be activist/performance artists Ink Asher Hemp & Mal Fraser, and local singer-songwriter AiiTee. Light the Blue 2022 will conclude with DJ Evan Duthie's under 18s Club Night at the Lemon Tree.

Most events across the programme are completely free, with donation options for selected events. Light The Blue Festival Producer Jordan Blackwood said: “Whether you are taking part in Light the Blue or coming along as a member of the audience, it is a fantastic way to support youth arts in the region. The festival has a fresh and exciting feel, developing new talent in a professional way while allowing young people that hint of rebellion that they deserve.

Events Calendar

Check out Light the Blue Festival on Aberdeen Events

Find more events and activities in the Aberdeen Events Calendar


The Gig: Connor Clark and the Matador Kings

Connor Clark and the Matador Kings headline a fantastic night of Aberdeen talent at Drummonds. Kimbo was there.

Drummonds 20th May 2022 

I had first heard Connor Clark and the Matador Kings when they supported The Rahs in October 2021. I could tell then that this was a band that was right up my street. So knowing they had a headline of their own back at Drummonds, I was quick to purchase a ticket 🎟 

To kick the evening off, they had support in the form of one half of Aberdeen band She's Taken. Sadly they were a few members short due to illness. But stepping up for the band James Emslie and James Croft took to the stage. What they lacked in band members, they made up for in humour,  joking we could call them "He's Available" then confessing that one of them with guitar in hand was actually the drummer!



She's Taken

They still pulled off a set smiling at one another the whole way through it and finding their groove as they went. James Emslie struck me as having a powerful vocal and they harmonised well while sipping their Red Stripe but giving me a blues rocky vibe . The tracks they played were an eclectic mix. I would be interested to hear them as a full band. Even with two of them on the stage there was some serious jamming going on. They seemed to enjoy their time on stage with lots of laughs and banter with us all. They definitely deserve more listeners on their Spotify and I would look out for them again.

Marc Culley

Next up was another local North East lad Marc Culley. I've listened to Marc over the years but hadn't heard him live in a while. I'm so used to hearing his tracks blaring through the speakers at Pittodrie so it was a treat to hear this set as so stripped back. Just him, his guitar and his ability to sing so well through the pain that he mentioned to me his wisdom teeth were causing him!

Marc Culley

Hearing his own track Outta My Mind straight away draws you into Marc's smooth vocals and immediately you hear the Gallagher/Ashcroft influences. He was confident on stage and did a blinding version of Bittersweet Symphony after having also thrown in Stereophonics' Maybe Tomorrow which showed off a rasp to his voice that you need to pull that tune off. I particularly enjoyed how he worked James' Tomorrow into the end of another of his own tracks See Feel Love. This is another act I would love to hear with a full band behind him. 

Connor Clark and the Matador Kings

Then the volume went up to 100 when Connor Clark and the Matador Kings took to the stage encouraging us to "Come on down that's mare like it" and created a wave of fans ready for a bounce down the front of Drummonds and opened up with their powerful 2021 hit Can you Feel it… yes yes we can. 

It didn't take long to realise this set was going to be all levels of rock n roll and all the lads were buzzing to be on stage. I didn't realise until Connor said later that Fergus Clifton, Lead Guitarist was having his first gig experience on stage with them, you wouldn't have known, they were blasting through the tracks accompanied by Craig on bass smashing it while Euan, drummer threw out some phenomenal beats from the back of the stage.

Connor Clark and the Matador Kings

Highlights for me from the Aberdeen rockers included, Once a Pretty Liar, no idea how Connor can play the guitar so well and concentrate on that while all those lyrics flowed out of him so quickly through that track but he did it with ease and had the whole crowd involved.

Their indie inspired catchy tunes and the beat to the intro of Echoes and Patience sounded absolute fire and after a belting cover of I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, their most recent single Bitterness is Empty which I've had on repeat for weeks was another level live, they had it down to a fine art and they do it all again at Broadcast Glasgow on the 27th May, if you want a large slice of rock n roll to add to your weekend, go see them! 

Kimbo 💜🎧


Rise Up! celebrates black and POC creatives 

Rise Up! is a brand new event coming to Aberdeen this month. The weekend will highlight and amplify the voices of black and POC creatives from Aberdeen and throughout Scotland.

We Are Here Scotland has partnered with Aberdeen Performing Arts to curate the event. Performances, talks, workshops, and community spaces are all part of the festival, which runs from 13-14 May.

Here are some of the many exciting acts set to perform over the weekend's packed line-up.



Ica Headlam

We Are Here Scotland Director Ica Headlam told us: “We are pleased to be working in partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts on Rise Up! We feel that it is a very important and unique opportunity to spotlight a variety of Black and PoC artists and performers from the North East of Scotland and further afield. With a variety of performances, free panels, and workshops, we hope these events bring new and diverse engagement for Aberdeen’s creative community.”

Friday 13

In Our Own Words is an evening of performance by artists of colour, exploring and celebrating themes of identity, culture and a sense of place in Scotland.

Poetry at Noon is a spoken word artist and poet who believes that art is an extremely powerful tool for personal and social transformation. In her performance poetry, she analyzes and discusses experiences of trauma, political upheaval, migration, and motherhood that she experienced while growing up in Sudan.

Aiysha is a singer-songwriter from Aberdeen. Many will remember her powerful performance at the Black Lives Matter Aberdeen protest in 2020. She also featured in a BBC documentary highlighting Aberdeen's RnB and Hip Hop scene. Aiysha is set to release her debut release as an artist later this year.

DIJA

Saturday 14

Known as a songwriter and sound smith, Kapil Seshasayee is both a polymath and a true original. Combining the influences of Scott Walker, Blood Orange, Arca, and Richard Dawson into a singular sound.

Rapper Chef has made waves not only because of his music career but also due to his contribution to the community. An ingrained part of his character is his desire to amplify the voices of those around him. He joins Danny Cliff on a lineup which also includes Glasgow based rapper Clarissa Woods and DJ and visual artist DIJA.

One Mississippi takes place at the Lemon Tree at 7 pm. Described as a hard-hitting play that explores how the impact of childhood experiences shapes men’s adult lives, One Mississippi blends humour and storytelling with powerful elements of physical theatre to create an uncompromising insight into what takes us to breaking point.

Danielle Jam

Focusing on Black and POC voices

The weekend will also feature a number of discussions focusing on the issue that black and POC creatives face in our white-dominated creative industries. A series of free talks and workshops taking place at the Music Hall Big Sky Studio on Saturday 14 May cover topics including representation within Scottish creative industries, climate narratives, knowing your worth, and culture and identity as an artistic influence among others.

Ica Headlam and Briana Pegado from We Are Here Scotland will host a talk about how Black and POC need to take the initiative to support their communities by building support structures and community organisations. While Tomiwa Folorunso will host a talk about how there needs to be a change in a predominantly white-dominated industry.

Rachel Thibbotumunuwe, learning manager at Aberdeen Archives, Art Gallery and Museums will discuss how North East Scotland can support Black and POC creatives and artists. There will also be a panel exploring the importance of representation in the industry, hosted by podcast producer Halina Rifai

And much more besides

This is just a small taste of what is on offer at Rise Up! See the Aberdeen Performing Art website for details on all the speakers and performers. Tickets are also available from APA.

Events Calendar

Check out RISE UP on Aberdeen Events

Find more events and activities in the Aberdeen Events Calendar

Aberdeen Performing Arts head Ben Torrie said: “Providing a stage for emerging talent and creating space for all voices to be heard is so important for a thriving artistic environment. Rise Up! is a hugely significant addition to Aberdeen’s cultural calendar this year. The sheer breadth of talent from the artists taking part is incredible. This festival is a fantastic opportunity to discover more about the diverse range of creatives here in the North East and beyond.

https://twitter.com/weareherescot/status/1513477179820105736?s=20&t=ifmUlcMVHx72D_jzr-Y8Zw

Aberdeen musicians represent at SAMA

Organisers of the the 12th annual Scottish Alternative Music Awards (SAMA) have announced that four Aberdeen and NE musicians are on the shortlist for victory. Winners will be decided by a public vote which ends on 10 November. Following that, on 27 November, nominees will find out if they have won an award at a ceremony in Glasgow. The SAMAs celebrate the rich creativity and innovation of musicians across Scotland.

Aberdeen has a strong and varied representation at this year's awards. We think this points to a thriving music scene in the city. This is especially important because of the months of pandemic lockdowns.



SAMA - Best Electronic - Kavari

Best Electronic - Kavari

Kavari is a musician from the left field. Her work takes the listener on a journey from abrasive electronica to etherial soundscapes. As an artist keen to experiment with new sounds and to tell new stories, Kavari is escapism encapsulated. She's a new find to us here at POST, thanks to her SAMA nomination. We should have been looking harder to find this super talented artist right here on our doorstep.

The nomination means a lot to Kavari. When we reached out she told us this was "Mainly due to me being an independent female artist." While she's not signed, or under obligation to anyone, she paid tribute to her friend. "Eve assists me with emails and legal matters but it's very informal so everything you see of mine; my music, visual art, merchandise, creative direction. It's all me. I've grown up being told that my work was always 'too extreme' or that it 'doesn't have a place', so it's very validating having years of hard work being seen and acknowledged, especially on this scale."

Show your support for Kavari

SAMA - Best Newcomer - Chef

Best Newcomer - Chef

Rapper Chef has been making waves beyond Aberdeen over the past couple of years. His smooth flow and tight bars gaining him fans throughout Scotland and further afield. This year he has already been the subject of BBC Scotland's TUNE along with go-to producer Louis Seivwright.

He's enjoying the recocognition, telling us, "It’s great to be recognised and get the chance to win such a great award." But in terms of the future, Chef said that he's "Just looking to stay focused and keep working hard to get more and more opportunities and hopefully bring more light to what we do."

Give Chef your SAMA vote

SAMA - Best Newcomer - Aiitee

Best Newcomer - Aiitee

Aiitee takes her influences from soul and R&B, and filters them through afrobeat to create a fantastically listenable sound. She has sung since she was a child in church, but only started releasing music in 2020, making an immediate impact on the Scottish music scene.

The Scots Nigerian received recognition earlier in the year, earning a Scottish Album of the Year nomination for her 2020 album, Love Don't Fall. She regularly works with fellow Best Newcomer nominee, Chef.

Help Aiitee win Best Newcomer

SAMA - Best Metal - Hellripper

Best Metal - Hellripper

Hellripper is a speed metal outfit who have earned a growing following in the underground metal scene over recent years. After signing with the legendary 'Peaceville Records' for the release of their second album 'The Affair of the Poisons', the one-man band achieved their first appearance on the US Billboard Charts.

Speaking about the nomination, James McBain, the man behind Hellripper, told us, "It’s great to be nominated for an award at the SAMAs, and it’s always nice for your work to be recognised, especially alongside a selection of amazing artists! I really appreciate everyone’s support over the past year and the SAMAs for doing their bit in showcasing Scotland’s music scene over the past decade or so. It goes to show you that there’s a lot of cool stuff coming out of Scotland right now!"

Vote for Hellripper to win

Nominations in full

Best Acoustic 
Christy
Constant Follower
Lizabett Russo
Lizzie Reid

Best Electronic
AISHA
Barry Can’t Swim
KAVARI
Macka

Best Hip Hop
Bemz
Chef
Clarissa Woods
K4cie

Best Live Act
Andrew Wasylyk
Bemz
Rachel Aggs
Tom Spirals

Best Metal 
Dvne
Frontierer
Godeater
Hellripper

Best Newcomer
AiiTee
Bee Asha
Chef
Danny Cliff

Best Rock/Alternative 
Dictator
MEMES
Spyres
Swim School


About POST

Kevin Mitchell and Chris Sansbury founded POST from a desire to cut through the noise to share the great things that happen in Aberdeen. They therefore focus on community, culture and the interesting people of the city. The local artists, businesses and charities; photographers, musicians and entertainers; the people at a local level that make a positive impact on our city each and every day. So they use video, audio, writing and social media to amplify the voices in our community, and to ultimately give a platform to Aberdeen folk to engage and tell their own stories.

Recent work includes interviews with We Are Here Scotland founder Ica Headlam; Paralympic gold medalist, Neil FachieChef, an Aberdeen rapper who is pushing for success; an article by film director Mark Stirton about the state of high-rise buildings in the city; coverage of Nuart Aberdeen and TEDx Aberdeen, as well as coverage of British Art Show 9.

So visit postabdn.com now to read a great selection of interviews and articles.


An athletic Ayanna Witter-Johnson on her knees like she was at the start of a race. She has her cello strapped to her back.

True North rises up

True North returns to the Granite City this weekend. The festival, presented by Aberdeen Performing Arts, promises a mix of fantastic live music and acoustic performances. As well as their headline shows, you can expect vibrant fringe events across the city. This year, True North is celebrating freedom of expression, diversity and community with their theme - Rise Up. This is especially poignant at a time when city venues are only just beginning to open up to audiences for the first time since the Covid19 emergency began.

Stick around because we're going to take a closer look at the headline events, as well as some of the exciting free fringe shows. We're sure you'll find something that makes you want to get out there and experience True North for yourself.



Peaness | Lemon Tree | Thursday

Playing on Thursday 23 September and kicking off True North 2021 will be Peaness, who will be bringing their catchy, fuzzy, harmony-driven indie-pop songs about love, friendship, frustrations, Brexit and food waste to the Lemon Tree. Formed in 2014 in Chester university digs, the trio have secured nationwide and international shows with bands such as The Beths, Kero Kero Bonito, The Cribs, We Are Scientists, The Big Moon and Dream Wife. They will be joined at the Lemon Tree by Swim School and Lavender Lane.

Ayanna Witter-Johnson | Lemon Tree | Friday

Headlining on Friday night at the Lemon Tree with a Night of New Voices is the soulful, eclectic Ayanna Witter-Johnson.  A singer, songwriter, cellist, composer, producer and arranger with phenomenal musical prowess, mesmerising vocals, uncompromising lyrics and mastery of the cello. Ayanna unapologetically imprints her unique musical signature into her music. Heir of the Cursed, Katie Mackie and DJ Rebecca Vasmant complete the line-up.

John Grant | Music Hall | Saturday

Former Czars frontman John Grant is the headline act on Saturday evening. Described as ‘the misfit’s misfit’, this singer-songwriter is too weird to be mainstream, too mainstream to be weird; too sad to be happy, too sharp not to crack a mordant joke about it. Grant's superpower is to compare his impressionistic childhood experiences against their amplified adult consequences. SUpport act for the night is acclaimed Scottish folk singer, Rachel Sermanni.

Ransom FA | Lemon Tree | Saturday

Aberdonian grime rapper Ransom FA will head up late night at the Lemon Tree on Saturday. The fast-rising artist, was a contestant on the UK TV show, The Rap Game, where he battled other budding rappers for a record deal. As well as sharing the stage with some of the words best grime artists he has also turned his hand to presenting documentary series for BBC3. He'll be joined by Sean Focus and DJ HomeAlone.

Corrine Bailey Ray | Music Hall | Sunday

Closing out True North 2021 is Sunday's headline act, Corrine Bailey Ray. She is performing a specially curated concert called "A Celebration of Stevie Wonder". The evening will see the Grammy and MOBO award winning singer joined by special guests to perform many hits from the back catalogue of the legend that is Stevie Wonder. It promises to be an extraordinary evening of music. Previous True North curated concerts have celebrated the likes of Neil Young, David Bowie and Kate Bush amongst others. They are a firm favourite with Aberdeen audiences.

Jo Gilbert | Lemon Tree | Sunday

A spoken word event specially commissioned by Aberdeen Performing Arts and headed up by award winning poet and three-time slam champion Jo Gilbert will explore the festival’s theme of Rise Up. Four local spoken word artists will produce new work based around this theme and showcase their work at the Lemon Tree on Sunday. The event promises to challenge and inspire in equal measure.

Fringe events

True North are holding a number of free acoustic events across the Granite City. We picked out some young Aberdeen acts you should definitely be keeping an eye out for over the weekend. Get yourself into the city centre and find your new favourite Aberdeen singer.

Rachel Jack | Spin | Friday

This Aberdeen based singer-songwriter has been turning heads in the Scottish music scene for the past 18 months. Her debut 2020 EP, The Calgary Tapes was followed up in March this year with Magazine Girls. You can check out our Temp Check interview with Rachel Jack here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhIclAdoiI4

Aiysha Russell | Spin | Saturday

This young Aberdeen singer first hit the limelight at The Voice Kids in 2019, proving to be a big hit with judges. Following that, she last year performed Sam Cooke's classic It's Been a Long Time Coming live at an Aberdeen Black Lives Matter march which was a real moment for those in attendance.

Calum Bowie | Waterstones | Saturday

With a background in busking, Aberdeenshire singer Calum Bowie has become something of a TikTok sensation, growing a fan base that's pushing him on to success. He's capitalised on that hard work with a string of single releases and surely an album on the way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Da3zu_gqGVw

Olivia Thom | Union Café | Sunday

Glasgow based Aberdeen quine Olivia Thom's 2020 debut EP is lead off by her truly magnificent song Fine Wine. Her alt-folk sound mirrors her musical heroes Stevie Nicks and Joni Mitchell. We’re very much looking forward to future releases.

Razz Mattreezy | Siberia | Sunday

Born and raised in Aberdeen Matt Reid, AKA Razz Mattreezy, spent lockdown writing and recording. His debut single only came out in March 2021, but he's already building a follow along the way. His smooth soulful vocals over smooth keyboards make for a cool chilled sound.

What the organisers say

Ben Torrie is Director of Programming and Creative Projects for Aberdeen Performing Arts. He told us, “We are thrilled to announce the lineup for True North 2021, which feels like a huge step in the return of live performance at our venues. It feels really good to be able to bring the festival to a live audience once again. It means a lot to us to be able to put this on for people in Aberdeen, and to shine a spotlight on so many talented performers and musicians is a privilege that has never been so important.

“The theme of this year’s festival is Rise Up. It’s a positive message about rising up to bring people together, marking the re-opening of our venues, and celebrating the power of music to help us stand up for the things we believe in. We could not be prouder of this festival at this time.”

What you need to know

Where: Music Hall, Lemon Tree and venues across Aberdeen
When: 23-26 September 2021
Cost: Various prices including free
More Info and tickets: Event Website
Social media: Twitter | Facebook

True North is back and rising up to mark the return of live music and standing up for what you believe in. They'll celebrate freedom of expression, diversity, community and equality with an inspirational and vibrant line up of musicians over one unforgettable weekend.


About POST

Kevin Mitchell and Chris Sansbury founded POST from a desire to cut through the noise to share the great things that happen in Aberdeen. They focus on community, culture and the interesting people of the city. The local artists, businesses and charities; photographers, musicians and entertainers; the people at a local level that make a positive impact on our city each and every day.

The goal is to use video, audio, writing and social media to amplify the voices in our community, and to ultimately give a platform to Aberdeen folk to engage and tell their own stories.

Recent work includes interviews with Paralympic gold medalist, Neil FachieChef, an Aberdeen rapper who is pushing for success; an article by film director Mark Stirton abut the state of high-rise buildings in the city; coverage of WayWORD, Nuart Aberdeen and TEDx Aberdeen, as well as British Art Show 9. Visit postabdn.com to read a great selection of interviews and articles.