Records stacked in crates

Aberdeen prepares for Record Store Day

Sales of records have gone through the roof in recent years as music fans appreciate the analogue sound and the tactile feel of vinyl. It's no secret that vinyl is much more collectible, and the covers just look so much better at full size. Record Store Day is a twice annual event to celebrate the culture of the independently owned record stores. The day brings together stores from around the world with fans and artists.

Many artists release records specifically for Record Store Day. These are only distributed to shops participating in the event. Three Aberdeen shops are taking place in the event on Saturday 12th June. Chameleon Records, Red Robin Records and Maidinvinyl.

Chameleon Records in Aberdeen
Photo by Chris Sansbury

Chameleon Records

We spoke to Terry Charleton who’ll be helping owner Michael Moloney at Chameleon Records at it's new home. He told us, “Chameleon will be hosting its 7th RSD and this year they have relocated to inside Holburn HiFi. It’s the ideal partnership for music lovers. Previous RSD has seen fans queuing from the wee small hours but with Covid restrictions this is replaced by a virtual queue where people book a time slot to visit the shop via the website."

“One of the appeals of the day is chatting to al the customer about their purchases as they always super knowledgeable and even what you think is the most obscure release will have someone keen to grab it.”

“There will be some fantastic releases this year. Elton John's is putting out his never previously released Regimental Sgt.Zippo. There's two live albums from The Police and brilliant 12” picture discs from U2 and The Cure and a live album from Fontaines DC. In addition a more mainstream artist release sees Ariana Grande releasing a live album on vinyl for the first time. This is very limited and will be in high demand.”

Red Robin Records in Aberdeen
Photo by Chris Sansbury

Red Robin Records

Red Robin Records on Correction Wynd is also taking part in Record Store Day on Saturday. They’ll be open from 8am and will be on a first come first served basis with only one person allowed in the store at a time.

Owner Nick Duthie told us, “We are excited firstly that RSD is able to run this year. Vinyl lovers will continue to have the opportunity to buy some fantastic new records as well as supporting all the small businesses in Aberdeen partaking in RSD.”

“In regard to albums there are so many great ones on the list. However, there are a few I'm especially excited for. Prince’s The Truth has its first release on vinyl. Also Belle and Sebastian’s The Boy with the Arab Strap on coloured vinyl for the first time. Lounge at the Edge of Town have a self-titled release. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds are releasing a greatest hits on coloured vinyl called Back The Way We Came: Vol 1 (2011-2021). There is a coloured three disc version of The Matrix Soundtrack. Finally, Primal Scream have a 15 year anniversary extended version of their classic, Riot City Blues.”

Aberdeen's Record Stores

Aberdeen has number of fantastic independent record stores that stock great vinyl all year round. Therefor you have a load of choice depending on your particular taste. These include:

Aberdeen Vinyl Records 101 Union St, Aberdeen AB11 6BD
Maidinvinyl Records 7 Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen AB25 1NE
Spin Records 10 Littlejohn St, Aberdeen AB10 1FG
Forecast Records 13A Belmont St, Aberdeen AB10 1JR
Chameleon Records 441 Holburn St, Aberdeen AB10 7GU
Red Robin Records Vinyl Cafe 13 Correction Wynd, Aberdeen AB10 1HP

Finally, thanks so much to the teams at Red Robin Records and Chameleon. They've given us a real taste of Record Store Day. It's sure to be a huge day for all the record stores in Aberdeen. If you're taking part this Saturday, make sure to plan ahead and remember to wear a mask.

POST have set up a playlist to support Aberdeen musicians. A place where you can find new music by Aberdeen and NE Scotland’s very talented singers, songwriters, bands and producers. Read the story about why we made it happen.


Lauren Mitchell in her Northsound Radio studio

Temp Check - Lauren Mitchell from Northsound Radio

Lauren Mitchell's breakfast radio show with co-presenter Jeff Diack is a huge success. The presenters' positive disposition has has solidified their position as North East Scotland's most listened to breakfast show. In more normal times, you could also see them supporting community events in Aberdeen like Celebrate Aberdeen and Grampian Pride.

We thought it was time to catch up with Lauren to see how she's doing as Aberdeen on from lockdown to recovery.

https://youtu.be/UseLRzl8wGY

Hey Lauren. Our first question in Temp Check interviews is always the same. It’s a simple question, but the answer is often not so simple…how are you doing right now?

Hiya Chris! Certainly a BIG question… however, the first answer that comes to mind is absolutely fantastic thank you! The sun is shining in Aberdeen today and I bought myself a houseplant this week, saw my family, some friends and had a BBQ! What more can I need in my life?!

Can you tell us a little about your background, how old you were when you started in radio, and how you became a presenter at Northsound?

I grew up all over the place, as my parents were in the Royal Air Force, which meant I had to become used to talking to many different people from a young age. This is where I developed my passion for “communication” and talking to people. When I was younger, I used to listen to the radio and repeat the adverts (usually that’s everyone’s least favourite part…I just loved it!)

We do tend to stay positive in the morning because nobody wants to listen to a negative Nigel do they? I believe it is so important to put your issues aside, unless of course you're sharing part of your life that may help somebody else.
Lauren Mitchell

I knew I wanted to go into Media/Journalism, so I joined college and completed a HND in Radio. From there, I completed my undergraduate degree in Media at Robert Gordon University. I graduated in 2015, moved back to St Andrews and I sent a video of myself doing the travel for a competition Northsound were running called "The Chosen One." About 3 weeks later, I got a call from Northsound telling me I was the CHOSEN ONE! I don't think I've ever been more excited in my whole life. That was 6 years ago which would have made me…. 21! I then moved everything back to Aberdeen and started on the Homerun show as a Travel Reporter.

You and your co-presenter Jeff Diack have a reputation for being hugely positive. How did you manage to maintain that at the start of lockdown when the rest of the world felt very scary?

Hahaha!! I love this question. We do tend to stay positive in the morning because nobody wants to listen to a negative Nigel do they? Being a presenter, I believe, a huge part of it (if not all of it) is being there for your listener and making them smile and laugh in the morning. I believe it is so important to put your issues aside, unless of course you're sharing part of your life that may help somebody else. 99% of the time though, when I walk into the studio, I would leave my personal problems at the door.

Lauren Mitchell surrounded by daffodils, taking a photo of St Machar Cathedral in Aberdeen
Photo supplied by Lauren Mitchell

Has your outlook to the world changed over the past 12 months?

Absolutely! I’ve become someone who spends less money on clothes and I’m now investing in nice pillows and homely plants for my house… (Have I officially promoted myself to a sensible adult? Oh no!!!) In all seriousness though, I’ve always believed you should say YES to everything and worry about it later, do things that scare you, try new things, explore and make yourself as happy as you possibly can with whatever works for you… but now more than ever, I appreciate my family, my friends and the people around me. I am so grateful for the little things, just like everyone is I suppose. I feel like you will be nodding along there thinking, we definitely did take things for granted a bit, didn’t we?

It’s obvious to everyone that listens that you love your job. What is it about radio presenting that gets you up in the morning?

I really do feel lucky everyday to talk and play songs on the radio, it has its own little challenges like any job but I have to say, for me, it's the first laugh we have in the morning, the conversations we have with our listener, the funny things we talk about. Radio is very much a friend to most and it’s also a friend to me too… It is as much a comfort to me as it is to those who do turn to us in the morning.

Aside from your immediate colleagues, who inspires you professionally?

So many different people inspire me in different ways. My colleagues are great and I'm so thankful for them. My family of course are always driving themselves forward professionally which has always been an inspiration to me. Two people in particular though - 1. Kirstin Gove, who we all know is just an incredible person all round and 2. Pete McIntosh… the person who is always so positive, creative and pushing for his next challenge.

What is your favourite part of your working day?

I love the Win it Minute quiz that we do every morning. It's a really positive fun little way of interacting with every listener, no matter what age. I also reckon I’d be quite good at quizzes now after learning the most random facts from the Win it Minute over the last 5 years!

https://youtu.be/zHfwRZGL76Y

One aspect of your role at Northsound is to be part of the community they serve. How would you say Aberdeen has changed in the past 5 years?

I think Aberdeen has changed massively and I do believe we’ve become much more of a tight community, it feels like we are one city and we look after each other. When I think of Aberdeen, I think 'creative and innovative'. We have so many fantastic talented people in this city, I'm so proud to live here. Walking around the streets and seeing NUART, the SPECTRA festival, The beautiful Art Gallery and all the pop-up events with local producers and creatives - it is just a great place to be.

I’m determined to get a nugget of negativity from you today…so what pisses you off?

Bad drivers, I’d be a liar if I said I never get a little bit of inner road rage. Too scared to beep my horn though!

You seem to be a very determined and laser focused woman. What advice would you give to young girls who would like to follow in your footsteps.

I have three tips.

1.   Find your confidence and own it! You are beautifully unique and you should champion yourself.
2.   Don’t give up, get up and try again… If you fail, it is only a bigger lesson and better adventure.
3.   Work hard (get experience) but also treat yourself, enjoy the crazy ride that life brings us!

And before we go…my youngest would like to know what your favourite tune is right now?

OH!!! Good question….I know in years to come, I’ll see this and I’ll think “DID I REALLY LIKE THAT SONG?!” but right now, it HAS to be Ella Henderson & Tom Grennan – Let's go Home together!

Ha, she'll love that! She's also a big fan of that song. Your early morning influence is strong! ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ


Thanks very much to Lauren for her brilliant answers to our questions. We're positive that we'll have her back at some time in the future. You can hear her every weekday on Jeff and Lauren in the Morning. The show also has a positive presence on Twitter, and Facebook.

Our conversation with Gary Kemp, founder of Doric Skateboards is a great, follow-up read. The challenges he has faced in building a business from scratch are worth your time.


New Look Again project to light up Aberdeen

Aberdeen's Look Again project will host a gallery of animations bringing light and colour to the city this week. The Robert Gordon Uni backed event has launched a new exhibition in its St.Andrew Street Project Space.

‘Roy Gets Sad’, features the work of Indie McCue. The Gray’s School of Art graduate has created a set of vibrant animations that explore social inclusion and acceptance. The Look Again Seed fund supports the event. In addition, they support emerging creative talent in the North East.

Robert Gordon University invited artist Indie McCue to explore their Art & Heritage Collection. His research included art pieces created by artists from Gray’s School of Art, stretching back to the 1960s. Furthermore, McCue focuses on social inclusion and the search for acceptance in society.

Artist Indie McCue says; “My  personal  experience of social inclusion and exclusion has been exaggerated by the Covid 19 pandemic, much like the general population. The pandemic has provided a new digital space for social inclusion. However, we need to work hard to be accepted face to face. Gray’s School of Art’s Look Again project has offered me support as an emerging artist. Now I would encourage everyone to come along to see the exhibition for themselves.”

“Within my work, I explore a character called Roy who embodies difference and searches for belonging and purpose only to be devastated at each step by those who judge the alternative. Roy strives to find a place of solace, fun and friendship through this series of animations that I hope people will connect with and enjoy.”

Indie McCue

The Look Again Project

You can view The Look Again gallery through the window on St.Andrew Street and it is free for everyone to enjoy. In addition, the gallery will offer the chance download QR codes and to interact with a series of computer games.

We spoke to Hilary Nicoll, Co-Lead for the Look Again Project. She said, “Robert Gordon University is committed to supporting the creative sector in the North East. In fact, this Look Again project is one way of animating vacant space in the city centre with art, design and creative projects.

Covid-19 has brought its challenges for those working in the creative industry, like others. As a result, our Look Again projects continues to support grass roots artist and our window gallery, has demonstrated that it is possible to showcase new talent in the north east.
Hilary Nicoll


Find out more

Look Again is a creative unit based at Gray’s School of Art, RGU in Aberdeen. The group hosts a range of events and exhibitions throughout the year. Furthermore, the team designed the events to connect, highlight and strengthen the creative sector in Aberdeen and North East Scotland. The group receives support from Creative Scotland and Aberdeen City Council.

To find out more about the project visit their website. In addition, check our post about the long anticipated return of Nuart Aberdeen for 2021.


The Fittie, Aberdeen

Using art and culture to improve life in Aberdeen

Lesley Anne Rose is the co-founder of Open Road, a creative operation based in Aberdeen. They use art and culture to improve health and wellbeing and the local environment. Her work at the Fittie Community Development Trust recently caught our attention. We asked her about Open Road's background, her hopes for the development and how we can build a better future for communities.


At Open Road we believe that culture and creativity inspired by people and place transforms lives. 

The Covid-19 pandemic, movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, as well as the local and global impacts of climate change have sparked turmoil, disruption, re-evaluation and, at times, chaos. The stories we tell about ourselves about the world have been tested and re-written. Long-silent voices are being heard. The push to make the world, and all of our lives, more equitable and sustainable grows ever stronger.

The impacts of these times on the cultural sector have been seismic as social distancing prevents us coming together
Lesley Anne Rose

The motivation, means and momentum for innovation and unstoppable change are all in place. The impact of these times on the cultural sector have been seismic as social distancing prevents us coming together. New ways to distribute and show work open up and deep inequalities within organisational structures and privilege come under scrutiny. Within the drive for change the power of storytelling, the need for creativity and the role of culture in holding space to heal the past, connect in the present and vision for the future has been keenly felt. 

Owning our identity and history

We know that whoever owns our stories, news, art, and culture, also owns our identities and history. Our aspiration is to empower and enable individuals, communities, cities and countries to own their stories, give voice to their visions and take steps towards healthier and more sustainable futures for themselves and each other. 

Our place and believe that the North is a place of ‘other’ where we do things differently to the South. Extremes of light and dark, global oil and the closeness of Scandinavia influence us creatively, socially and economically. All of these factors, along with the need for compassion, have underpinned a new business plan we have spent the last six months creating. This plan is underpinned by our new mission to be a creative, entrepreneurial organisation rooted in North East Scotland (‘the North’), but with a global vision. We use arts, culture, heritage and the natural landscape which contributes towards health and wellbeing, tourism and environmental sustainability. 

When we saw the launch of Creative Scotland’s Culture Collective, we knew that we could use it to make a positive difference to Aberdeen. 

About Culture Collective

Culture Collective is a pilot programme from Creative Scotland. It aims to build a network of creative practitioners, organisations and communities. They'll work together to create a positive difference locally and nationally in response to COVID-19. The programme focuses on community engaged creative activity, supporting projects where creative practitioners and communities work collaboratively. Importantly they are responding to the impact of COVID-19, providing employment opportunities for creatives. They'll actively engage people in shaping the future cultural life of their community.

Photo by Glen Rankin

Open Road is working with the Fittie Community Development Trust (FCDT) a charity established to support the harbour-side community in Aberdeen. The people of Fittie set up the FCDT to buy an old Gospel Hall and develop it as a venue for the wellbeing of residents and benefit of visitors. Wider Trust aims include community development and partnership working. 

Fittie residents are both long-term and recent. In summer Fittie can receive up to 1,000 visitors a week which creates a complex relationships between locals and visitors. Fittie sits at the mouth of a global oil port. Complexity also exists between the heritage of the past. The current reality of a city pivoting away from an economy dependant on oil and gas. And, as a coastal community, the impacts of climate change on the future of the village.

Bringing on creatives to the project

With the aim of addressing the impacts of COVID-19 and wider social, economic and environmental influences on community and city, our project will contract three creative practitioners to each work in residence for up to a year. One will create a programme of creative initiatives and participatory events to bring the Hall and community connections back to life. Another will further a project focusing on stories of migration in Aberdeen, linking with visitors, other communities and Aberdeen harbour. The third will focus on the impacts of climate change for coastal communities and the transition to net-zero carbon emissions. 

Community cohesion, the movement of people and climate change are all inter-linked. Through collectively developed briefs the artists will reach across the generations of residents. Linking these aspects of community heritage with the impacts of the current pandemic and environmental issues with a vision for a new future. The project's focus will be The Hall.

Creatives are being encouraged to work across, but be respectful to the physical footprint of the community and consider practices such as community mapping. Planning will be responsive to on-going COVID-19 guidelines with digital spaces all part of the plan. We're also bringing on an early career creative producer on board to help us deliver the project. 

Telling the Story of Change

One of our aims is to help people, communities and organisations tell their stories and the story of change. Story telling helps us answer questions so we can tackle problems with courage, risk-taking and creativity. Stories connect people to their passions, to shared identify and hope. They bring re-conciliation and an understanding that we are not the same as before, as well as help re-build for a better future. This is needed on individual, collective, organisational and sector levels.

Through our Culture Collective project we aim to tell the story of change within our community and set this against a local, national and global narrative. This will include live events, podcasts, filmed content, story sharing and other creative outputs. We will link our activity with the wider Culture Collective network, Climate Reality Leadership, the road to COP26 and beyond. 

Granite Fittie Community Hall basking in the sunshine, with a blue bicycle in front of it. Markings on front show it was built in 1951.
Photo by Chris Sansbury

In doing so we aim to raise the profile of the cultural sector in Aberdeen and its potential to work with and make a difference to communities. We'll also provide much needed paid opportunities for freelancers within the sector. 

With recruitment in progress, we are right at the start of this journey. We're excited to see how it develops and are looking forward to sharing progress as we go. 


Find out more

Huge thanks to Lesley Ann for taking the time to share her thoughts. You can find out more about Open Road on their website, Twitter and Facebook. Art and culture in Aberdeen is one of the main focuses of POST and we'll check in on this project in the future.

Also, check out our conversation with Ica Headlam. He is an Aberdeen creative who shines a spotlight on the work of many others. His focus on Aberdeen’s artists, musicians and creative businesses put him at the centre of a renaissance of the city's creative scene.


Belmont Cinema prepares to welcome back film fans

Aberdeen's independent cinema is ready to open it's doors after weeks of closure due to Covid restrictions

Cinemas across Scotland reopened on May 17, but the Belmont Filmhouse Cinema in Aberdeen took a little more time to prepare for the their moment to welcome back film fans. Monday 31 May is their big day with moviegoers excited to experience the best in independent cinema. We asked manager Colin Farquhar what to expect.


We’re really excited to come visit again so we thought it was time to check in. If people haven’t visited you since the pandemic started, what should folk expect as they walk in the building with regards to buying tickets, grabbing a coffee and sitting down in their seat?

So essentially it's the same as September for now. Plenty hand sanitiser and queuing systems. People should book in advance if at all possible and pay with card. And in screens they're being kept apart in our pod system, which separates folk into households. Mask wearing in cinemas and foyers is still mandatory unless you're munching on popcorn. We greet everyone at the door and go through the rules with them.

How have your team responded to their return and to what I imagine is a whole host of new training?

Luckily it's much and such the same training as before - just refreshers. We had anticipated some changes to guidance but none really materialized. Everyone has been great and enthusiastic to get back to work, but some anxieties exist of course, which is totally understandable given the circumstance. Although we're nearly there now some of team still aren't vaccinated - we'll be asking customer to bear that in mind as they return.

Is the Belmont opening fully, or are there bits that will stay closed for a little while longer?

We're going to keep the bar closed for now - there's confusing and slightly contradictory guidance around how bars work in cinemas, different rules with spacing, Test and Protect etc. There's the obvious difference that bars are 1m but the cinemas are 2m spacing, but there's also differences around how you serve someone a drink when they're going to the film vs how they are served if they sit in the bar. So we'll feel our way into that. We're also quite skinny on staff at the moment and rules around furlough combined with ongoing tier 3 closure worries bring challenges around recruitment - so we'll keep the bar closed till later in summer when we've assessed how we can meet all those challenges.

What movies are you excited to share with the public over the next few weeks?

FIRST COW. I love Kelly Reichardt. I think I watched Meek's Cutoff twice through lockdown. Masterpiece. So I can't wait to see that and I'd encourage people to do the same. Nomadland is the one selling most tickets at the moment and Chloe Zhao is brilliant. The lineup is great - films have materialized for reopening this time more handily than last year. A lot of these films have been waiting in wings for freedom and screens for nearly 18 months now, so it's great then are finally out there. I think Sound Of Metal for example was finished in 2019.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRUWVT87mt8

Apart from buying tickets, what are some ways that folk can support The Belmont just now?
Just spread the word that we're back! Folk can still buy memberships and we'll be doing a free Student and Young Persons membership when we reopen. This will give students and 16-25 year olds access to £5 films all the time. They can also help by chatting with us - give us feedback; tell us what you want and what you want to see and we'll see what we can do.

The Belmont turned 20 at the tail end of last year, do you have plans to celebrate that milestone at some point in the months ahead?

Oh. I had quite forgotten amidst the pandemic that that particular anniversary had passed. And we've all had so much cake anyway over the past 15 months...we'll see!


And on that cliffhanger, we'd like to thank Colin very much for his time. Don't forget, you can buy tickets for the best in independent cinema from belmontfilmhouse.com, and follow their latest news on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also read our fantastic Temp Check interview with Colin about how he coped with the first part of the Covid-19 lockdown.


Temp Check - Louise Grant from Aberdeen’s Fierce Beer

We chat with Louise Grant about building a brewery, running a business through the covid emergency and bouncing back with the help of community.

Louise Grant has been the friendly face of Fierce since it's inception...the welcoming smile. In our latest Temp Check Interview, we caught up with her to talk about her part in building the brewery, running a business through the covid emergency, and bouncing back with the help of the community. We also touch on her personal challenges and the amazing support from her husband Dave.


Hi Louise. I know life is very busy for you right now as Fierce has begun to welcome consumers face to face so thank you very much for taking the time to answer a few questions. We’ll stick with tradition by opening with “how are you doing right now?”

I am tip top and you?

I’m really good! I’ve been dying to talk to you for ages about your story, so tell us a little about your background and the part you played in starting Fierce family.

I left school (hated it) and had no desire for college or university (probably because I didn’t know what I wanted to do) and landed my first job in an oil service company just before I turned 18. From then I was always in oil, Drilling and Completions, for a couple of operators, but I always had a great job and loved what I did. My husband Dave and I moved to Cape Town in South Africa for a few years with oil, then returned in 2012. I got my job back at Chevron, still at the same desk and all the contents of shit I had left in the drawer!! It felt like I had never been away, ha ha!

When we came back, BrewDog’s Flagship bar was open, and Dave and I spent most of our weekends in there making friends with the regulars. When we first tasted Punk IPA we were like “what is this witchcraft?” Having spent years drinking Castle and Windhoek which tasted of nothing, it was a real eye opener for us.

Our house was like Breaking Bad, loads of stuff sitting bubbling away.

Dave used to cycle a lot over there so when he came back, he was always looking for a hobby. A couple of the regulars used to homebrew, so Dave got chatting to them (Rick the Dentist deserves a shout out), and they inspired Dave to take it up. Our house was like Breaking Bad, loads of stuff sitting bubbling away. I was ‘Assistant to the Brewer’ which technically was a cleaner, but cleaning is one of the most important parts in beer making so I’m OK with that!

Louise Grant at Fierce Bar in Aberdeen
Louise at Aberdeen's Fierce Bar - Photo supplied by Louise Grant

How did things develop from a hobby to a business?

Dave enrolled in a weeklong Brewlab brewing course in Sunderland and that’s where he met Dave McHardy who was also from Aberdeen and called Dave…the weirdest thing was my Dave also worked with Dave M’s wife Sheena. So random and yet clearly meant to be. Dave M was working at the time as a brewer (also an avid homebrewer) for Wooha Brewing.

The never-ending turbulence of the oil industry, layoffs, cost cutting etc really got Dave down and he was so fed up. I asked him what he wanted to do, he said make beer. Me being me, said “fuck it, let’s do it!” So we did. It was very scary, exciting and a bit crazy. We then registered Fierce as a brewery from the house with HMRC…that was 23 March 2015.

We used to take samples to the Flagship for people to taste. Dave was so good at it. For having not done it before, the recipes he came up with were brilliant! Cranachan Killer (Kenny Burns needs a shout out for this. His suggestion then Dave developed it), Café Racer and Heffen Heff to name a few were home brew recipes that we still make now.

So we are beginning to see what we now recognise as Fierce Beer today. How did you grow from there?

We built up a great relationship with BrewDog who were super supportive when we started and are still now. James [Watt] said we could do a tap take over at the Flagship. I think we are still the only brewery that has ever had a TTO with homebrew in a Brewdog venue…and it sold out fast. The buzz and the feeling of people enjoying what you have created was so thrilling and so satisfying.

After that it was clear that we could not continue doing this from home, especially full time, so we got our first premises in Dyce. A very surreal day getting the keys on 1st April 2016. We ordered all the kit and by May we had our first commercial beers out on the street.

And you were an integral part of this growing business?

I was still working in oil, at that time we thought I should keep working to keep money coming in. We both had high paying jobs so to go from that to nothing seemed ridiculous. By day three Dave and Dave said they needed me to quit my job, so I joined on May 1st 2016. We went with ridiculous!!

It’s not always been easy though…cashflow, working 18-hour days, not really knowing what we were doing. We ate and breathed nothing but Fierce and it was gruelling.

I would take care of all the admin side, sales, accounts etc (not that I really knew what I was doing) but we managed and now having just celebrated our official 5th birthday, it’s insane and overwhelming to see how far we have come in such a short time.

It’s not always been easy though…cashflow, working 18-hour days, not really knowing what we were doing. We ate and breathed nothing but Fierce and it was gruelling. But when you are so passionate about something, you just do it. 😊 Absolutely no regrets.

I work for a small business and know that job titles often don’t really explain what your job actually entails; so what does a working day look like for you?

My job is a bit of everything to be honest, accounts, payroll, HR (one of our employees said that I was the reason Fierce needs an HR department lol), sales, exports, supermarkets, supporting the bars and customer service which is No. 1 in my opinion. 

This might be a difficult question, but I’m really keen to know what your initial feelings were as we all went into lockdown, and how that changed through the following few weeks.

It was the weirdest thing ever. I didn’t really understand it and thought it would blow over in a few weeks (like most people I assume) but yet here we are over a years later! It has been so tough, keeping up with what we can and cannot do under restrictions. Having bars in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester rules were different. It was so hard to get your head around and keep up. Every week it was changing. We had to adapt our business model, going from kegs and cans to all small pack as we had nowhere to sell kegs. It was really challenging. Luckily, we have a very smart, dynamic team and we rolled with the punches!

What was the biggest challenge for you personally through the pandemic.

I have MS so I have been working from home since March 2020. It’s tough not being with your team physically, but I am lucky I can do my job remotely, though you do miss the buzz of being in the brewery. I have had both jabs now so I will be able to work back there too. However, since I’ve been away my desk has been stolen!! Rude!

The stress of worrying if we would come out the other side was hard to swallow. When you have put everything you have into a business, the thought of losing it is the hardest and scariest thing to come to terms with.

We launched a ‘paying it forward’ crowdfund April 2020. People would invest and get 1½ times back in beer, discounts at our bars and online for life, and rewards for different amounts invested. If we did not have the support of those investors we would not have survived, and for that I am forever grateful. Typing this I have a lump in my throat 😔

Have challenges faced by your industry pulled independent breweries together in any way? Equally…have they driven some apart?

We are very lucky to have great relationships with other breweries. We used to do beer swaps so we would stock their beers in our bottle shops and vice versa. That really worked well. I don’t know of anything that has driven some apart but there have been many breweries that have had to close their doors, which is heart breaking. If you don’t have an outlet like we do to sell beer you have literally nothing coming in. Having an online web shop and bars to open as bottle shops helped us enormously.

Having the furlough scheme available was amazing. We managed to keep all our team employed which was ace!

What lessons do you think you will you take forward to the future as we cautiously move to the end of the pandemic emergency?

The world will never be the same again and this pandemic has taught us to never take anything for granted. We will always be cautious of how we operate now, ensuring we make the best quality products we can. Beer is a luxury item; many people have lost their jobs so making sure we have top end ingredients and beer for people that is affordable. Customer loyalty is important to keep Fierce alive. Looking after the team has been top priority for us. We are so lucky to have a dedicated long serving team, which is unique in this industry.

Louise Grant jokingly drinking two glasses of red wine.
Sometimes the pressure begins to tell - Photo supplied by Louise Grant

Fierce have been on the go for over five years now. What are your hopes for the evolution of the company through the rest of this year and beyond?

This year, plans are in motion to double capacity. We have ordered more tanks and a new canning line which we will have over the next few months. We have also employed new people to help grow the business (people who know what they are doing, ha ha.) A financial controller, Anel, who is doing a brilliant job keeping us right, and a General Manager who starts next month. She will be able to take work off myself and the Daves and have proper focus.

Dave and Dave still currently do packaging and brewing. They need to take a step back from that and do their jobs.

How do you see those roles?

Dave G doing what he does best. New strategies to grow the sales side and developing new recipes. We have two excellent brewers in Neil and James who have really helped improve our beers. They are tasting the best they ever have.

Dave M concentrating on the operations side and making sure the equipment is top and working more efficiently.

I will be focused on sales and customer service and that is what I do best, if I have all the other tasks, I mentioned before away from me I will be able to get stuck in.

Surviving! Things change all the time, but I think if we continue to do what we are doing we should be ok.

Community obviously means a great deal to Fierce Beer. What’s your secret for keeping your people engaged?

Community is EVERYTHING to Fierce. I think making interesting good beer to keep people engaged is the most important, and listening to your customers feedback to improve. Showing respect, being normal, approachable and treating people the way you want to be treated goes a long way. Be kind and honest. We are super transparent as a company, maybe too much. We are all human we make mistakes but when that happens just say “yes, we mucked up,” then learn from it and move on.

I love people. I’m a people person 😊

Who inspires you, and why?

Don’t get the sick bucket out, but my husband. Dave is the most hard-working person I know, takes everything in his stride and adapts when necessary. He is my hero, I am very proud of him. When I was diagnosed with MS not long ago, I think he was a bit traumatised. He worries about me a lot.

How have you coped yourself with the diagnosis?

I am honestly good, keeping well and working hard. We are the best team and lucky to have survived running a business together and being married. We live another day!

I’m going to pull out a classic job interview question…Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

I’ll put it back to your readers. Is there anything you would like to tell us? Anything we can improve on or do better. Any feedback positive or negative is always appreciated.


Thank you so much to Louise for her time. You can find Fierce Beer on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Go follow, say hi, and let them know your thoughts on their amazing beers. They really are a friendly bunch.


Nuart Aberdeen - Herakut's Mural at Aberdeen Market

Nuart Aberdeen makes a long awaited return for 2021

Nuart Aberdeen will return to the city for a Covid-safe series of outdoor events starting in June, and continuing over the summer of 2021. As a result, we can look forward to a full summer of new street art murals around Aberdeen city centre.

Organisers cancelled the 2020 event due to the global pandemic. Also, many had assumed the same would happen this year. However, producers of the event have announced that a return of the city’s flagship street art festival is imminent, albeit in a slightly different guise. In a change from previous years organisers have set a theme for artists to explore; Memory and the City.

Photo by Chris Sansbury

In previous years all the artworks we revealed by organisers over one weekend at the end of April. However, this year, starting in June, one artist will come to the city at a time, supported by Nuart’s local production team. Organisers are hoping that the extended festival will attract visitors to the city in a covid-safe way. This will be the fourth year that the Nuart festival has come to Aberdeen, and hopes are that this could be the best yet.

Nuart haven’t wasted any time by announcing the first artist in their 2021 line-up. Renowned painter Helen Bur is making her way back to the city. The Aberdeen public loved her twin works the now demolished Greyfriars House at the Gallowgate. She’ll be exploring the Memory and the City theme.

We are very exited for Nuart Aberdeen's return to the city. Last year’s cancellation was necessary but a real blow. Also, we’re pleased organisers have re-worked the event in order to avoid massive crowds…maybe we can all get back together next year!


Read More

Check out our previous story about Nuart Aberdeen walking tours. These were a brilliant way to explore the murals, and find out the stories behind them.


Temp Check: Creative and podcaster Ica Headlam

2020 has been harder for Ica Headlam than most…but has also seen him make the push from podcaster to campaigner. Originally from London, but settled in the the city for more than 15 years, his show Creative Me Podcast has shone a spotlight on the work of many of Aberdeen’s artists, musicians and creative businesses, putting him at the centre of a renaissance of our creative scene. This year he launched We Are Here Scotland. This is a platform to help lift up the voices of artistic people of colour throughout Scotland.

With so much going on in his life, we thought it was time to catch up with him and find out how he’s doing.


Hey Ica. Thanks for taking some time out to be probed by our questions. Traditionally we start with a question that’s easy to ask, but not always easy to answer honestly…how are you doing right now?

I’m doing good thanks. 2020 has been one of those years where we all just can’t wait to get to the finish line. We all hope better things in the new year.

2020 has been a rough year for many people, but you more than most. Tell us a little about what has been going on in your bubble.

Well as you know I caught Corona Virus in late April this year. This resulted in treatment at ARI for five days. It’s been a long road to recovery in terms of living with Long Covid health issues and Chest X-Rays as I developed pneumonia scarring on my lungs. But in comparison to my health earlier this year I am doing much better. I returned back to work in mid-October.

Being a huge fan and supporter of podcasts for a long time I just really wanted to document in my own way what was happening in the place I call home.

Creative Me Podcast has been on the go for 3 years now. What made you decide to start podcasting?

Being a huge fan and supporter of podcasts for a long time I wanted to document in my own way. What was happening in the place I call home. My particular interest is very much rooted in art, creativity, and community engagement. It’s crazy to think how quickly three years has gone by. However it’s something that I’m very passionate about. Having conversations with people in North East of Scotland who love what they do

I’m maybe opening myself up for a hiding here, but what do you think makes a great interview?

In my experience, a great interview happens when you put the guest at ease. When you make them comfortable with opening up about who they are and why they do what they do. I take a very simple approach with my conversations. I treat it like I’m just catching up with someone over a cuppa. Having a respectful conversation that hopefully doesn’t come across as one sided.

[pours cuppa]

So tell us what have been your biggest frustrations in recent times?

There have been stages when I would question as to whether the podcast was resonating with the target audiences. That is to say artists and creatives in the North East of Scotland and beyond. However, time has shown that when you keep being consistent with what you’re doing, good things will come back to you. People will recognise your hard work in one way or another.

How important is community to you?

It’s very important to me. Communities DO THINGS. They put on events, showcases and exhibitions. Community is something that I have seen a lot of. Especially this year during the pandemic. Small local businesses across various industries amplifying each other’s voices.

You’ve recently started a campaign to support and amplify the voices of people of colour in Scotland. How do you hope to help shine a beacon on these voices?

I hope We Are Here Scotland can exist beyond an online platform for championing people of colours within Scotland’s creative industries. This is why I have registered the platform as a Community Interest Company. I also set up the We Are Here Scotland Creators Fund. It's is a GoFundMe campaign which I established to provide practical support for creatives. Those that may require financial assistance for new equipment, exhibitions, residencies, or collaborate projects.

I get inspired by people who step out of their comfort zones and follow through with ideas that they are passionate about.

You (like me) seem to collect side projects. What do you think that says about you?

I think it tells me that I like to keep myself busy. My brain is always ticking over with ideas or thinking about what’s next. I think I’ve always had an inquisitive mind set too. I want to find out ways of doing things. The way things work. This is especially when it’s something I have an interested in.

Who inspires you?

This is a hard question as I can’t say just once person. However, for me people who step out of their comfort zones inspire me. Those follow through with ideas that they are passionate about. It takes a lot of courage and nerve to put yourself out there and remain consistent with it. There are so many people I know who have done this. That inspires me to keep doing what I do.

Has 2020 changed you in any way?

Oh for sure man not just physically since having Covid but also within my mindset. Like I love everything that I do. However, I also very much value the time I have with my wife Beth and our daughter Izzy. This is why podcasting or meetings for We Are Here doesn’t take place on weekends or when I’m on holiday. When I was unwell in hospital I honestly thought I wasn’t going recover. That very much changes your outlook on life in terms of health. Who you are as a person and how you want to live your life moving forward.


Thanks again to Ica to take some time out of his busy schedule to have a chat. I you’d like to know a little bit more, you can go read about (and donate to) the We Are Here Scotland Creators Fund. The Creative Me Podcast has recently done a series of episodes with North Lands Creatives interviewing artisans about their relationship with glass.

Read more about the experience of running a creative business. Check out our conversation with Gary Kemp, founder of Doric Skateboards.


Gary Kemp holding up a skateboard

Temp Check: Gary Kemp of Doric Skateboards

Doric Skateboards was launched in 2017. Gary Kemp wanted to create a brand that the skating community in the city could be proud of…and at the same time bringing in new skaters to the scene, along with those that had drifted away over time. He’s worked with artists to create unique boards that have become huge talking points as they are released.


Thanks for taking the time to chat to us Gary. We wanted to know how your 2020 has panned out, but we’ll start with the simple question…how are you feeling right now?

A mixture between complete apathy and nervous energy! That anxiety that tells you should be doing something “productive,” but then apathy says “nah, don’t worry just watch Netflix.” But overall I am ok…I think!

What inspired you to launch your own skateboard company?

It may sound trite but it was a genuine desire to do something creative, start my own thing, and to be in control. It was during the last oil price crash and redundancy threatened. My coping mechanism was to start this up. I’d got back on my skateboards a few years previously and was enjoying the nostalgia and the occasional role.

It was during the last oil price crash and redundancy threatened. My coping mechanism was to start this up.

One-person companies are rarely that in reality. Who in your community helped Doric Skateboards along the way?

Absolutely. And I like to think I give props to those who deserve it — in fact my website has a page doing exactly that!

My family are obviously front line — Nicola and my Mum have to listen to me. It must be painful. My brother Mark helped get me going with logo, strategy for launching etc. but others in the city are hugely supportive in many ways. Peacocks Visual ArtsCreative LearningRGU/Grays School of Art/Look AgainTransition ExtremeGrey Area InkThe Sticker Job, and Creative-me-podcast have all have been very welcoming and supportive whether I’ve reached out or they have…and without them all this would all be very different.

Doric Skateboards sticker in Aberdeen city centre.

Photo by Chris Sansbury
Photo by Chris Sansbury

Aberdeen features strongly in Doric Skateboards branding and designs. What was the thinking behind this decision?

I’ve always defended Aberdeen. I find the old stereotypes so tedious. Even if there is truth to some, I think we should talk ourselves up more. We’ve got a beautiful city and surrounding area. It’s totally not without its problems…but where hasn’t? So I feel responsible for talking up our culture, our history, our people. Before doing this I had little appreciation for what had happened and is happening in the city culture wise. Now I do I’ll always try to champion that too.

2020 has been an extremely tough year for many, while some have been lucky enough to be able to use it as an opportunity. How would you say you have coped through this wildly crazy year?

I’m not sure I have coped to be honest. I think most of us are trying our best to function without focusing on that existential dread that is around the corner and all around us. I’m getting up, working from home and functioning and I think for now that’s ok!

Running Doric Skateboards has its positives and negatives when it comes to this year. Part of me felt that what I do is so trivial that I was a bit embarrassed to talk about it.

Running Doric Skateboards has its positives and negatives when it comes to this year. Part of me felt that what I do is so trivial that I was a bit embarrassed to talk about it. But we all need something in life to help us through — just the act of creating new stuff was enough for me. I managed to kick off some collaborations, and a wee design competition really helped to give me something to focus on.

What motivates you?

Ha! That assumes I am motivated. I honestly don’t see myself as a motivated person. I tackle what’s in front of me and keep everything else in the periphery as much as I can, then turn to that when I have to/want to. But actual motivation? I get excited to see something come together — a new design, a new collaboration — what ever it is. It’s gratifying to see that become a physical thing.

And the opposite…what demotivates you?

Feeling self-conscious. I’ve had that my whole life and its stopped me doing so much. Being so self-conscious essentially leads to complete lack of confidence. It’s a bizarre thing to feel at 44. But there it is! I think it wouldn’t matter how good I was at something I would always have that feeling of not belonging. Who knows? Maybe its because I listened to too much of The Smiths at school. 😉

Doric Skateboards on the screen printing rack.

Photo by Chris Sansbury
Photo by Chris Sansbury

You very proudly screen print some of your own boards. Why bother doing this in such a time intensive way?

Well I think its part of the DIY culture within skateboarding. All the old school brands didn’t just appear as factory ready; they started in garages and spare rooms. I also think its important to put your hands on the things you sell. This year I’ve tried to learn how to screen print Doric Skateboard branded clothing myself. This has been a real challenge! But I’m just as happy now to get some of the designs printed for me. It all depends on how suitable they are to my skills! But I do think that you should get your hands dirty from time to time!

You are known for your collaborations with local artists as well as those from further afield. Why is that?

I must admit that I didn’t really think about collaborations when I started. Outside of Vanilla Ice the word “collaborate” wasn’t in my vocabulary! So they have happened quite organically — it was never a part of a master plan. I didn’t have one then and still don’t! 😄

Has the pandemic changed you as a person or as a small business owner?

Well I think we’ll need to wait and see but I suspect we have all changed to some degree. I think that the increase we’ve seen in small businesses setting up, a big uptake in new hobbies/sports etc is very reminiscent of where I was 5 or so years ago when I set up Doric. People crave something to control in a world where you perhaps have none — or not as much as you had. Starting something new, learning something, taking part in something — that helps fill that gap for me and reduces the time I spend sitting catastrophising things!


We'd like to thank Gary for taking the time for a chat. It's inspiring to read about a business growing from a small idea and a lot of love. You can follow Doric Skateboards on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Read more of our temp check interviews. This one with Ica Headlam talks about We Are Here Scotland, his campaign to elevate creatives of colour throughout Scotland.


Temp Check: We a chat with Aberdeen singer-songwriter Rachel Jack

Live music performances have taken a massive hit because of the need to keep people safe from Covid. During this time, many musicians have concentrated on releasing new music to give fans a diversion from lockdown life.

We spoke to Rachel Jack, an Aberdeen based singer-songwriter making waves in the Scottish music scene this year. Having released her brilliant debut EP, The Calgary Tapes in the summer of 2020, we wanted to catch up with her to see how life is treating her right now.


Hey Rachel. Thanks very much for taking time to chat. As always, we start with the easy question that doesn’t always have an easy answer…how are you feeling right now?

I’m feeling tired to be honest. I’ve been super busy and I’m really looking forward to taking a break over Christmas.

What make you take the leap to chasing a career in music?

I had a period of illness and it put everything into perspective for me. I did that thing of looking over my life to-date and felt a bit disappointed that I hadn’t done anything with my voice.

The part I’ll continue to be most proud of is divorcing myself from a career I spent over a decade building. I’d thought about it for ages and it was a really difficult decision to make.

Live performance is pretty much out the question right now, how have you replaced that?

I’ve been focused on releasing music and have released 7 singles since we first went into lockdown.

Your debut EP, The Calgary Tapes, was released earlier this year. How did that come about?

I wrote those songs while completing a songwriting scholarship from Paolo Nutini at UWS. They are called the Calgary Tapes because I recorded those songs while living in a place called Calgary on the Isle of Mull.

What are you most proud of so far in your musical career?

The part I’ll continue to be most proud of is divorcing myself from a career I spent over a decade building. I’d thought about it for ages and it was a really difficult decision to make because your job seems to become a massive part of your identity, and for a while I struggled with knowing who I was without a job title, if that makes sense. That process as been the most rewarding.

Photo Credit: AG Whylie

Is there anyone in your community that has inspired you? Tell us about them.

I’m inspired mostly by normal every day people and their stories. Most of my songs are conversations I’ve had with people. In terms of the musical direction, there’s nothing intentional about it at all. When I meet people I like, we make music together and their style inspires mine. It’s all a very experimental go-with-the-flow kinda thing for me.

What pisses you off?

When people aren’t open to changing their minds. I’ve got a lot of respect for people who can hold their hands up and admit when they are wrong. We all have a right to change our minds when we learn new information but when people dig in their heels and refuse to have conversations about important matters, that really drains me.

The pandemic has been tough on most people, but it has given many the opportunity to evaluate their lives. Have you been changed by the pandemic?

Having evaluated my life a few years ago and then gone on to make some big changes, I feel as though I was mentally prepared for this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not been easy by any means but it’s also not the worst thing I’ve been through, personally.

What motivates you?

Knowing that this is it…right here, right now. Life is short and I want to enjoy it as much as possible.

What does the future hold for Rachel Jack? What are your ambitions?

I feel as though I’ve arrived at where I want to be in that I’ve got a job I like and I’m doing music at the same time. I’d love to write for other artists, that’s the dream really. But I’m only a couple of years into music and I’m enjoying writing for myself so I’m not in any rush. In terms of what I’ve got planned for 2021 — I’ll be releasing my second EP Magazine Girls and hoping to perform live as much as possible.


Thanks very much to Rachel for her time and candour. You can show your support by following her on TwitterFacebookInstagram and on Spotify, and also check out her latest single, For You, below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H95YudQRQfw