15 June 2010

goNorth - Networking and the Death of My Liver

Some of you might have noticed last week that I somewhat disappeared of the radar. Well in case you were wondering where I was, or perhaps not, but I am going to tell you anyway. The lovely blokes who run Born To Be Wide (hopefully we'll have more on them at a later date), asked myself and a few respected* bloggers, Ian from Have Fun At Dinner and Alan from Rokbun to come up and report back from goNorth. I know I can be a bit presumptuous at times, so for those of you that don't already know, goNorth is a music industry event that has been held in Inverness for a few years now, which helps to bring some major players up to the city to take part in seminars and attend showcase gigs of up and coming artists. As to how I got myself invited I'm not quite sure, but I'm glad that I did.
For the past few days I have been trying to work out how to approach my opinions of what I experienced, so I will try to be as honest as I can, but hopefully not stepping on anyone's toes.
Having arrived up late on the Wednesday afternoon, as I had managed to blag a lift up with my folks who were already heading north, I found that I had actually missed out on all the seminars in the afternoon. Bad planning on my part I'm afraid, although from all reports from the folk I talked to they seemed to be pretty interesting and useful.
So for me the event really kicked off with the goNorth Fringe, a showcase event for local bands. Most of the evening was spent to talking to interesting new folk and seeing a couple of great local bands. The first of which I have no idea who they were as they disappeared off very quickly, the second was a young guy who went by the name of Iglue. Having impressed us blogger types with his Bright Eyes with the warbly voice of that singer from Bombay Bicycle Club, he was quickly accosted at the end of his set to discover a bit more. Turned out he was from Lewis, but now resided in Glasgow, I'm certainly going to keep an eye out for him in future.


The rest of the night turned into a bit of a blur/drunken mess after this, which ended up with a whole host of us going back to a hotel to play pool, drink more and talk shit. My memories from this point onwards get very hazy, I remember being shouted at/rapped at by an angry Irish rapper and Ian falling over every time he played a shot at pool. Worse was to come when we got back to our hostel when 'someone' decided it would be a good idea to re-inact a certain scene from Silence of the Lambs. Thankfully for your sakes, the video of said event has been removed by Youtube, some of us will never be able to get the images out of our heads.

Come Thursday morning I awoke to find myself feeling as if someone had "sh*t in my mouth", something which became a bit of a theme for the rest of the time I was there. We did manage to haul our backsides out of bed in time to head down to the first of the seminars being put on by the Born To Be Wide folk. The first one was all about 'DIY', looking at artists who go out do everything for themselves, such as booking tours, promoting themselves, etc. For me personally this one of the most interesting seminars that I attended over the course of the event. It was pretty fascinating to listen to someone like John Robb and how passionate he still was about music. I guess the only problem was that it was all over too quickly, but then again I think I found that was true of all of the talks. I think the best thing about it was that it gave folk he opportunity to identify who certain people were and then give them the opportunity to go up and speak to them individually.
Following that I was at a seminar being put on by the Scottish Arts Council all about showcasing at SXSW. Having attended a very similar event like this in Glasgow only a few months prior, I must admit that I did start to think that I was about to sit through the same thing all over again. This time though the event was a lot more intimate, and even more thankfully we had Vic Galloway on the panel who brought a degree of realism to it all. Every time the panelists started to start talking about things that just didn't matter, he managed to bring it back round. So in the unlikely event that there are Scottish Arts Council out there reading this, make sure you get him or someone like him on board for any future events, as it really helped to have that balance.
Following that, it was back to another Born To Be Wide event, this time it was all about Management. Much of which was pretty interesting, but also quite daunting as after every seminar it became clearer and clearer just as to how massive the industry actually is. All the in's and out's of it all made me feel somewhat dwarfed by it all. Again it was great to have so many interesting folk in the room at one time, we had the managers of bands like Primal Scream and Stevie Wonder to name just a few, although I must admit that I did get a bit sick of all of the name dropping by the end it. Then again, that seemed to be all that they did in the last seminar all about the future of the industry, entitled 'Flash Forward'. That seminar had been put on by Go Events, and to be honest it was one of the pointless hours I have ever had the displeasure to experience. Thankfully though, we did manage to sneak away a bit early as the amazing Detour Scotland kids were in town and they were all set to take us on one of their adventures.
Having told to folk to gather outside a bar in the city centre we were duly led in a Pied Piper type style to an island to find Bronto Skylift set up in what looked like an old amphitheatre circle.
This was my first experience of the Bronto, having bought their first EP and not really got what this fuss was all about, I hadn't expected much. Boy was I wrong, oh so fucking wrong.
Literally a head fuck and a half, I still can't get over how noisy these two guys could be. I'll save my pant creaming till later (they played again on the Friday), but needless to say I was impressed. That and I still am massively in awe of the Ally and Weaver from Detour, and the amazing events that they continue to come up with.

Bronto Skylift

After strolling back along the River Ness and grabbing a bit to eat, it was time for the first of the showcases proper. Being the fanboys that we are, myself and Ian headed along to catch the Seventeenth Century at a wee venue called Hush, which looked like a wee cheesy disco-pub.
Now this was the first time that I had seen these boys live, yes I know that a lot of my fellow bloggers/podcasters have been creaming themselves about them for a while now, my bad. To say they impressed would somewhat of an insult to them, they completely blew me away. I love a band that puts a smile on my face, they did this in their sound check. If there's any justice in the world they are destined for big things, once again we another amazing Scottish band on our doorstep, we just need someone to start listening.

The Seventeenth Century

Next up was the lovely Fiona Soe Paing, who was playing in the foyer of a hotel. Not the greatest selection for a venue I might add. We arrived just after the start of her set, to find that the number of folk watching wasn't that great, which is no slight on her part as she sounded amazing. Ian reckoned she sounded like Lamb, I nodded profusely in agreement, whilst thinking to myself "I have no idea what Lamb sound like". In a live setting her voice is quite stunning, combine this with some trip-hop beats and some wonderful animation and you have a very powerful live performance. If you missed her doing some Fresh Meat a few months back I'd urge you to check her out, she wouldn't normally be my cup of tea but there's some just something quite enchanting about her.

Fiona Soe Paing

Following 'Fi' in the same venue was Rachel Sermanni, someone who I had never heard of until he Monday prior when she was in doing a session for Mr Galloway. Bearing in mind that I had never heard of her till then, I presumed that nobody else would have either. Boy was I wrong, to all extensive purposes it seemed as if the 'industry' had been talking a lot about this lassie. As we went from reasonable busy, to damn right rammed within the space of a few minutes. So did she live up the hype? I guess she kind of did, she's folky-twee, very pretty and very fucking marketable. If you were an A&R man and you missed out on her, I could well see you getting a bollocking from you boss for it. Did she do much for me, not really I'm afraid. It was poppy and endearing, but not for me. Give it a year or so and I'm sure she'll be all over Radio Two, and if I had to choose between her or Florence and her f'ing Machine, I know who I'd prefer to make it.

Rachel Sermanni

After watching Ian (HF@D) drool over wee Rachel, I think the boy was in love with her by the end of her set. It was time for some Woodenbox With A Fistful of Fivers (no pic for this one, sorry). Having seen these guys live quite a few times recently, I knew what to expect, but as they also impress me I made sure I was 'down the front' for this one. As most of my musical listening these days seems to revolve around acts who sing with a distinct Scottish accent, I must admit that I really like hearing their folk twinned American sound. By this stage in the evening I was getting, let's say 'merry' and found myself rambling shite to a lovely fellow by the name of Tam Coyle. Who turned out not to be so lovely when he wouldn't share one of the ten copies of the FOUND album that he had with him. Damn you Tam! I wanna hear the FOUND album!
As Woodenbox clashed with fifteen minutes of Meursault, I made sure that I got out of there sharpish to catch the Edinburgh outfit. I made just in time for "thanks everyone, good night..."
Perfect Peenko timing! The rest of the night ended up in a drunken blur, as everyone descended upon the Ironworks for more drinking and some very dubious dancing. Imagine old folk trying to be cool on the dance floor at a wedding, and me showing off my 'interesting' moves. The less said about it all the better. Although, I would like to point out that if you ever meet Vic Galloway in person, get him to do his John Peel impression, it's fucking priceless.

So on to Friday, this was always going to be a much quieter day for everyone. A lot of folk seemed to have relocated themselves over to Dores for Rockness. Bleary eyed, we awoke to find that we had managed to 'scare' half of the folk in our hostel dorm off. I think any normal person would have been quite ashamed of this, perhaps we were still drunk, but we found this hilarious.
I think I have just answered my own question there.
We had originally planned to go the SMIA (Scottish Music Industry Association) Panel, but as it started at half eleven and we stumbled in at half five, there was little chance of that happening. This is my poor attempt at an apology for my non-attendance, almost as good as a scrawled note that's been chewed by the dog. We did make sure that we for the Born To Be Wide 'Syc Panel', all about getting your songs featured in films, tv shows and computer games. It was really interesting, but quite daunting at the same time. I guess the general theme of my experiences of goNorth was that the music industry is so vast and pretty god damn scary. In many cases it feels like networking is the key, just putting your name out there and getting to know folk is half the battle. Something I guess I have been pretty guilty of, stepping out from behind the anonymity of my PC and actually having the balls to speak to folk takes me out of my comfort zone, but at the same time I got to meet some amazing people.
I also learned that it is important to have a 'card', I didn't have a card. Not even some Peenko badges, they all went at AvsP at the 'Rest. If you are a band then make sure that you have some CD's with you, so if you are talking to someone, you have something to give them. I came away with a massive pile of demos, singles and albums, which I promise I will work my way through this week. Overall, I would say that if you are looking to further a career within the industry, then something like this is vital, I took a lot from the workshops, but more importantly it gives you access to talk to people that you wouldn't have access to normally.

Right on with the fun parts, or I also managed to somehow end up on a Song By Toad podcast, alongside Ian from Have Fun At Dinner. The tunes were great (I chose most of them), however, I am pretty sure that I came across as clueless twat. Damn you Matthew and your tricky questions, like "Do they have an album? What's it called?" To which the answer was more often than not "errrrr, dunno". Still it's worth for a listen to for some top tunes from Woodenbox With a Fistful of Fivers, Fiona Soe Paing, The Seventeenth Century, Kid Canaveral, Miaoux Miaoux, Admiral Fallow, Mitchell Museum and Randolph’s Leap.

Later that evening, after enduring the most boring two hours of football I ever had the misfortune to witness, that would be France v Uruguay, it was gig time once again. Today was a wee bit different, in that there were only two venues, Hootananny and Mad Hatters, which are pretty much the same venue, except one is upstairs. The first band of the evening for me, where Glasgow/Nairn outfit, Randolph's Leap. Having first heard them on a few weeks ago, I had made a concerted effort to make sure I caught them. If you haven't already checked them out, head over to their Bandcamp page for a shed load of twee loveliness. There was something very enchanting about them live, they had the tunes, put they also played with massive grins on their face, I do enjoy seeing bands who are clearly enjoying themselves. That and the banter was good too, for me personally they are defo a band to keep your eye out for in the future.

Randolph's Leap

Being the lazy old buggers that we are, we remained in the same bar. The next band up was a Canadian band called Woodenhands. They were alright, quite fun, I guess with a hipster websites approval and they'll be massive for a week or two.
I on the other hand was sticking about for Bronto Skylift, as I said before, I always though that that they wouldn't be for me. I was so fucking wrong, and it annoys me how wrong I was. They were possibly the best live band I have seen all year, in fact fuck it, they are the best live band I have seen all year. They don't seem like the kind of band that do things conventionally, they had their drumkit set up in the middle of the dancefloor. They make a fucking racket, their drummer has moves that make me think that he could be in a jazz band, it's just an amazing site to behold. I walked away from it with the biggest cheesiest grin on my face. Epic.

Bronto Skylift

The rest of the evening was spent in the comfort of a hotel bar, discussing the in's and out's of the music industry. Which mainly seemed to involve me voicing my opinions very loudly, damn you Kronenborg! It was with a heavy heart/stinking hangover, that I made my way back to Glasgow the following morning. Had I learned anything, hell yes! What had I learned? God knows.
I met a lot of amazing people up there, here's hoping that I'll get invited back some day, although with our antics I very much doubt it.......

*I'm not quite sure who respects them, but I am sure someone must.
Perhaps their folks do, although in Ian's case I very much doubt it.


  1. My Mum respects me! (I think)

    Nice piece though, mine is done. Got a few interviews to post too :)

  2. Anonymous15/6/10

    that video will never go away. I have found a more appropriate host and they seem happy to play it to the world. more on twitter soon.

  3. "some very dubious dancing"... hehe, can i just say that our dancing was impeccable! although it has to be said your friend ian was a bit of a live wire ;P

  4. A live wire? Why, I am shy and retiring! Did I do anything to you I shouldn't have?!

    Also, Big Gay Dave. If that video surfaces again I'm going to break your big gay face, then hack into your blog and delete the entire site. You have been warned. I have mad Hakan Yakin skillz.

  5. apart from asking if i was someones girl and licking your finger to touch my face no, you were absolutely fine x

  6. Sylvia16/6/10

    Bad news for 'mangina' - it has gone viral. I've seen it in Canada... oh dear. But don't worry, I won't say anything.

  7. Oh well. Least doing it at corporate events will fuel my Panini Sticker Album addiction!

    I also would not like my finger and do that. I would just use my strong arm.

  8. Lick*

    Oh dear. This whole experience is an utter right off. I am a nice guy, honest :(

    I hate the internet and drink.

  9. *WRITE

    for goodness sake.

  10. Yvonee - I'm sure your dancing was "impeccable", that comment was directd at a certain lead singer with a floppy fringe from a completely different century ;)
    Ian - FFS, you're getting worse than me with your typing. Just be thankful that the licking finger incident is all she witnessed.
    Sylvia - I am sorry you had to see that, I got the full effect (it was beautiful/the funniest thing I've ever seen).

  11. I do not remember talking to Yvonee. I am sure you are lovely :)

    Aye, it was funny. But then people need to get a life instead of making up fake twitters and youtube accounts.

    Same again next year?...

    Mine is up the morn, with an interview in the coming week.


  12. Ah Ian don't take it all so bad mate, I thought it was funny, although I didn't witness much of your antics in person, every time I met you, you were brilliant.
    I'm sure we all had a few drunken moments (I definitely did). It always happens at music events.

  13. Maybe at the Edinburgh one you will witness the chaos first hand.

    Hopefully not..

  14. Epic Peenko post! That took me well over five minutes to read, I felt I was there by the end of it, nice one :o)

  15. cheers kidda, I've been wearing my 'Save the Pop Cop' t-shirt all week. I feel hipster as fuck!

  16. Spam!