10 September 2010

Community Service #14 - Music Like A Vitamin (Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival)

How time flies, it really doesn't feel as if it was three years ago since the first Music Like A Vitamin, and my how it's grown. The festival brings together a programme of events to highlight the often taboo subject of mental health issues in Scotland, and continues to tackle the subject head on . Bringing together what could be described as a who's who of Scottish indie music, the event initially kicked off with two gigs at the ABC in Glasgow in 2008. Since then, they have put on a series of gigs in both Glasgow and Edinburgh with great success. Now they have upped the game even more with the launch of the Fruit Tree Foundation, a new project led by musicians Rod Jones from Idlewild and Emma Pollock. The duo have roped in some of the most talented and exciting musicians in Scotland's indie and folk scene to write, record and produce a new album in collaboration with the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. I managed to grab a few words from Emma Pollock about all the exciting things that they have planned with the record and for this years festival.

Would you care to introduce yourself?

Hello. I'm Emma Pollock.

How did you first get involved in Music Like A Vitamin/The Mental Health Foundation/Fruit Tree Foundation?

I was invited to help curate a show at the ABC a couple of years ago as part of the festival by Sushil Dade who was involved at the time. I suggested a few bands and it kind of went from there. I quite enjoyed it as I'd never done anything like it before.

Favourite Son

What kind of a role do you feel that music can play in helping to dissipate the stigma attached to depression?

Music, as well as every art form, is really about recognising what is unique about our individual characters, preferences and tastes. It reminds us of who we are as people and highlights that side of our lives that is less about functionality and more about self expression and how we relate to each other. This knowledge, however subtly acquired, is I think really crucial in finding a successful balance between all the different pressures we deal with in everyday life. It also allows us to experience other attitudes, to educate us in different ways of life and vastly different experiences to our own which is always a good thing as it gives our own lives some context.

Why did you choose to release an album of original material, rather than taking the easier path of cover versions?

It wouldn't have been quite as personal a contribution for all of the songwriters to cover other writers' songs I don't think. It's also always exciting to write new material, especially with people you've never written with before and even more so when those individuals come from different musical backgrounds and experiences. There was a certain charged atmosphere in the house when we were writing as everyone tried to make sure they produced something they were proud of.

What artists have you roped in to take part in the project?

A fantastic and fairly eclectic group of writers: Karine Polwart James Yorkston James Graham (Twilight Sad) Scott Hutchison (Frightened Rabbit) Jenny Reeve (Strike The Colours) Jill O'Sullivan (Sparrow & The Workshop) Alasdair Roberts

I Forgot The Fall

How did decide which artists to approach? Were they all quite receptive?

Yes they were all pretty receptive. I'm not sure any of us really knew quite what to expect but I think we all suspected it would be great fun and most importantly really worthwhile for the festival and raising further awareness of the Mental Health Foundation with the release of the album and the gigs.

The festival runs from the 1st to the 24th of October, are you able to share any further details of what gigs you have in store? Who you have lined up for the Picturehouse (1st) and ABC (2nd) gigs?

The final line up isn't completely confirmed yet but we will have pretty much everyone from the record playing each night. We also hope to be able to announce additional guests for both nights but as of yet these remain unconfirmed... We'll be playing most of the record for sure, and most importantly the record itself, entitled 'The Fruit Tree Foundation - First Edition' will be exclusively available at both shows.

Year on year, the Music Like a Vitamin project has continued to expand, do you feel that recording a record was quite a natural progression? Can we expect to see this kind of collaborative release becoming an annual thing?

At the moment we're so busy concentrating on this year's event that I can hardly see any further than the 2nd Oct! I do however hope that the Foundation itself and its general aims, of creating new music in support of the Mental Health Foundation, will be carried on in some shape or form during the festival for years to come.

Two of the songs from the Fruit Tree Foundation album are free to download now (they're the two songs streaming above), the download also includes an introductory piece by acclaimed author Rodge Glass. The album will be officially be released on the 1st of October, there will be two special celebratory gigs in Glasgow and Edinburgh to celebrate it's release. Artists who take part in the album will perform live over 2 nights (1st & 2nd October) at the Picture House in Edinburgh and the ABC in Glasgow.

Tickets for the Music Like A Vitamin gigs are on sale now
Fri 1st Oct, HMV Picture House Edinburgh
Sat 2nd Oct, O2 ABC Glasgow
Tickets are available at www.ticketweb.co.uk and www.ticket-scotland.com
The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival runs from the 1st to the 24th of October.

Fruit Tree Foundation
The Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival

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