Thursday, 19 June 2014

SAY Award winner 2014 - Young Fathers

I'm just in from the SAY Awards 2014.

The winners were Young Fathers (congratulations) for their Tape 2 album. An album that many, at a mere 23 minutes long, would describe as an EP.

Was it a worthy winner?

Well I own the album/EP and I do enjoy a lot of it and appreciate its quality.

However,  I certainly wouldn't have chosen it over the majority of artists on the shortlist. Chvrches, Boards of Canada, The Pastels or Mogwai were who I thought would win, with Edwyn Collins joining The Pastels as my preferred winner.

Steve Mason is another artist I have followed for a while and although I imagine he will firmly support the choice; Mason delivered a 20-song album and Biffy delivered a 22 song album.

It's all about quality, not quantity, however I hope you get my point; Young Fathers showed their undoubted talent and promise, but not in an extensive manner.

The SAY Awards was an interesting affair. There were some incredible positives; the bringing together of Scotland's melting pot of musical talent, the recognition and reward.

There are others I spoke to tonight who question the sizeable funds thrown at the awards ceremony and although I enjoyed the free whiskey cocktails; I have to admit to thinking that my enjoyment was stopping a young band/artist from creating an EP/album/recording. The free bar is something that the vast majority of awards ceremonies have, not many of them can be funded by a creative arts body - although I should highlight that Dewars are a sponsor.

That said, the SAY Award does an incredible amount of good for Scottish music. It highlights the quality and the diversity. Mogwai seemed to be a popular choice from the people I spoke to at the ceremony, as did Hector Bizerk. Chvrches were rightly recognised as worthy winners.

I have to say I thought Chvrches would be a great choice. Not only did they make a great album, but given the two previous very left field winners, they would also have justified the fact that Scottish artists can create popular music that travels worldwide and increased awareness about the award - not that that is a reason for winning - it has to be about the art.

One thing that could dramatically improve the SAY Awards would be the quality of music performed on the night - or in tonights case - the lack of quality!

The live acts consisted of; a drumming group (OK but did they really have to go on so long? 5 or 10 minutes would have been more than sufficient), an artist called Law who didn't have any backing other than an MP3 player and who was clearly miming the majority of her set - allegedly the next big thing but given the 'polite' applause that greeted her set she has no chance, and Alarm Bells - a noise band who are probably friends with someone organising the ceremony and bored the vast majority of the crowd.

Why were no acts out of the shortlist or long list performing? Could some of the prize money or free booze money (as much as I enjoyed it) be diverted into getting artists actually associated with the event to perform? This would greatly enhance the award and ceremony. I'm sure I am not the only person thinking this.

Young Fathers kept the left field theme of the SAY Awards winners to date, as in - no big hitters won. They are undoubtedly talented but is Tape 2 really the best Scottish Album of the Year, or does it tick a lot of boxes in terms of left of centre and diversity?

It's all a matter of taste and debate. I applaud Young Fathers who have worked exceptionally hard, show a great deal of promise and have delivered a brilliant piece of art.

I also question if they are deserved of the title of Scottish Album of the Year.

Yet that is what is all about, taste, opinions and debate. In that sense; the Scottish music scene and the SAY Award are winners.


Soul Punk said...

thanks for the congrats - I manage both Young Fathers & LAW.

The first song LAW performed with just autoharp and voice - perhaps you weren't in the room, but she obviously wasn't miming. The others, apart from a bit of guitar, were performed using laptop and voice. Many bands mime, probably including some of your faves. LAW doesn't need to.

Anonymous said...

"...or does it tick a lot of boxes in terms of left of centre and diversity?"

Hope that was the whisky talking! Because I don't think that could be more wrong if you tried. (To be fair, your other comments would suggest it was indeed the whisky.)

Stewart Henderson made the point that there are no agendas when selecting the winner because the SAY Award is determined by a small number of people picking what they think is the best record from a small number of records (selected by a larger number of different people). That sounds reasonable to me and the Mercury regularly attracts the same sort of criticism.

I think your case for CHVRCHES as winners actually makes an argument for 'Bones' winning a Scottish BRITS type award not for winning SAY.

Fair point about the length of Tape Two though - is is it an album? But how would you define what an album is? Tape Two has as many tracks as Strange Friend (which is definitely an album) so is it about length? If so how long does a record have to be classed as an album? 30 mins? 25 mins?

In terms of the award's profile, it could do with a big hitter winning it otherwise it will continue to be that award which is always won by no-one the general public has heard of. (Although Young Fathes may not stay in obscurity for long).

But any big hitter will need to make the best Scottish album of the year (as judged by the judges at least)to do so in future!