Interview: Lisa Thomson.

Last week at The Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh I managed to catch up with Stanley Odd and it went something like this…

Stanley Odd 2
Stanley Odd @ The Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh. 21st November 2014.

Son I Voted Yes’ can now be classed as one of my favourite songs. I made sure everyone was listening to it. 

Solareye – “Wow, that’s what we need that’s kind of the only way it could work.”

Did you expect such a good result from it?

Solareye – “Well no, we didn’t really expect the sort of response we got. It was never really meant to come out as a single or even at all really except on the album now. We literally got the master back 2 weeks before the referendum and we were like “do you know what!? This is relevant just now” and we did a quick video for it and put it out.”

It fucking blew up.

Solareye – “Aye it really did aye.”

TLO – “The cool thing was that it was just put out without any comment, we will just put it out and see what happens none of the “Listen to this guys!”

Solareye – “No explanation!”

The video alone was incredible

Solareye- “It worked aye, it worked. The simplicity of it.”

Veronika Electronika – “Less is more.”

Solareye – “It wasn’t like that was the plan but it did work well.”

Referendum night, how did you spend it?

Solareye – “I spent it with my family, watching the results come in.”

Did you stay up all night?

Solareye – “Yeah I stayed up and watched it. It wasn’t the most exhilarating of evenings.”

Veronika – “I went to bed and woke up about 5am.”

T LO – “Some of us went to dynamic earth, me, scruff lee and our manager.”

Veronika- “I was up randomly with Sam, my baby. Went to bed and whenever he randomly got up I got up and turned it on quickly and off again so at some points of the night I was like “Oh this is good!” and then other times I was like “dammit!”

Solareye – “It couldn’t have been such a grey wet day the next day as well. Summed up the mood.”

So your lyrics alone are very opinionated and often swerve towards political or moral topics, Have you ever received a bad backlash from any of them? Bad reviews?

Scruff Lee – “Middlesbrough!”

Solareye – “Yeah well we have played all over the UK and further afield and we have only been told to fuck off back to Scotland once.”

Scruff Lee – “There was the word c-bomb at the end of it.”

Solareye – “But that wasn’t typical.”

Veronika – “Did we not get a complaint letter?”

Solareye – “Oh yeah Inverness! Ironworks got a complaint letter after we played saying that hip-hop wasn’t what they expected to come and see and they weren’t happy about it.”

Veronika – “I loved it though secretly because they wanted more of me and less of him!”

Solareye – “Yeah he said that Veronika should take the lead and we don’t really need the rap thanks.”

How rude! And to go to that extreme of sending an actual letter!

Solareye – “Yeah I mean the lyrics, I’m sure some people have been wound up or its put some people off but we talk about things that are going on. I don’t think we could do that and avoid sensitive topics as well.”

The new album, it’s incredible. There are some really strong messages as there is in most of your songs, what’s your creative process? How do you go about writing? Has everyone got an input?

Solareye- “We felt before in previous records that the music and the words sometimes, it felt like the words were put over the music rather than them fitting together and I think with this album one of the key things that we wanted to do was to write words and music together that felt like they complimented each other. So in terms of writing the words, for me I write every day. Actually this technology here, phones have kind of revolutionised it for me cause I work 45 minutes in the morning with my headphones in and I write ideas down and I do the same in the evening and like its one of those things that if you’re doing it all the time then it’s easier to keep doing it and then in terms of the music everybody creates, if you look at the credits on the album you will see everybody’s name appears on different songs because everybody comes up with wee musical ideas and develops them and we see what ones fit with the stories.”

Where did the inspiration come from in “Draw yir own conclusions” its one of the darker songs on the album, quite a story.

Solareye – “Yeah I wondered how to answer that, You’re actually the first person to ask us about that one. Well I would say everybody has experiences where kind of negative aspects influence the way people end up, hows that for swerving the question?! I think it’s a really common theme especially in Scottish culture where the impact of your domestic situation has such a big impact on how your life pans out and who you are. You know so your domestic, your upbringing has such an impact on who you become and stuff like that so we kind of used that to tell a story.”

Stanley Odd @ The Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh. 21st November 2014.
Stanley Odd @ The Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh. 21st November 2014.

A thing brand new, it’s the 3rd album to be released. How do you think your sounds progressed from ‘Oddio’?

Veronika – “Massively.”

Solareye- “Yeah it’s really interesting because this is a much more bandy album actually.”

Scruff Lee – “Yeah I was just about to say that.”

T LO – “It is like this is how our first record was meant to sound like.”

Solareye – “Yeah cause I think the first record none of us were very happy with it. It sounds like a live band before we really figured out how we want to make that sound unique and interesting.”

Veronika- “It had a purpose but certainly when you listen to us now the distance we have travelled is massive. It’s not our identity as we know it now, looking back.”

T LO- “The second album was more trying new ideas, what to do in the studio and I think we sometimes went over the top a bit we were just layering stuff from ideas and so this was almost like our way back to how the first album was meant to be like, really like kind of a band record without too much “tsk tsk tsk”.”

Scottish music has recently had very positive movements with Young Fathers winning the Mercury prize, who’s your favourite Scottish band at the moment?

Solareye – “Well you know I think you will get a different answer off everybody n the room, one thing that we have been doing with this tour which we are dead excited about is the dates where we have got to pick tour support and we have picked one that we would consider an established act in the hip hop world in Scotland and one emerging act so it means that tonight we’ve got Tickle and Asthmatic Astronaught from Black Lantern who we are pals with, who we think are great and then we’ve got Teknique and Onetzu from Erratic Sleeping Patterns who are totally killing it, coming up in if you’d like the next generation of Scottish hip hop artists. We’ve done the same thing n Glasgow, we’ve got Loki who yet again is a friend who is an amazing artist and then we’ve got Keiran Mac who’s a younger guy who’s really just lyrically bananas so like, again I’ve not really answered your question properly but those guys are the folks that we are really loving just now. I’m looking forward to seeing Spring Break in Inverness as well because Butterscotch the rapper from Spring Break is just super cool!”

Stanley Odd @ The Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh. 21st November 2014.
Stanley Odd @ The Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh. 21st November 2014.

How strong do you think Scottish hip-hop is and for young people trying to get into this specific genre, do you have any words of advice?

Solareye – “Hip Hop in Scotland is probably at, for me, the most exciting diverse and rich it’s ever been. You’ve got people all over the country that I see making really high-quality music but everyone is doing it in their own way like you’ve got Bang Dirty doing it here, MOG and Adam Holmes who is a folk singer and an amazing rapper, you’ve got Loki doing what he does uniquely and amazingly in Glasgow. Like I said Butterscotch up in Inverness. There’s a lot of artists who are just making really exciting music at the moment so I think it’s a really good time for folks to get into hip hop in Scotland cause the community and the culture seems to be just reaching a tipping point.”

What’s the biggest lesson you have learnt as a group so far?

Scruff Lee – “Don’t share a room with T LO, Dave or Samson.”

Solareye – “We always get split into the same rooms.”

Veronika – “I always share with Scruff Lee in fact originally the reason I used to always share a room with you (Scruff Lee) is because you are the girliest, he had dry shampoo and hair dryers and you had like products.”

Scruff Lee – “The boy’s room where they all fart and stay up late whereas me and Veronika would camp out and have sweeties, makeovers. I give a pretty good makeover.”

Veronika – “Talk about feelings.”

T LO – “I think that the basically you just need to do what you do and not be afraid of it, even like I said “Son I Voted Yes” before we brought it out it was like “Oh this might piss off half the country!” at the end of the day you just need to do what you do.”

Veronika – “Have no fear!”

T LO – “You can’t please everyone. Just be yourself because the music world is so unconventional anyway. There are lots of people telling you what to do to be successful but it’s easy to lose your way, just do what you do and hope for the best.”

Veronika – “And be nice to people! I’m sick of seeing bands that have this persona and rep that you know because they think they’re “a band” they cant be polite. Don’t forget your manners.”

And the biggest highlight?

Solareye- “We have had some great shows this year. Being in Malawi this year was good! We were in Malawi in September and hat stage was pretty exciting.”

Veronika and Scruff Lee – “New York!”

Veronika – “New York was amazing.”

Solareye – “Some of the festivals this year have been bananas like Electric Fields and BrewDog.”

T LO – “I guess A Night For Scotland was probably quite good, We had never played the song together before because our guitarist was away in Norway so we actually hadn’t properly played the song but we had to play it for the event obviously.”

Scruff Lee – “I had to fly back that morning from Norway.”

T LO – “We just went on stage and played it and people went nuts for it. They all started singing along to it.”

Scruff Lee – “They knew the words better than we did.”

Now for tonight, nervous?

Solareye – “I always get nervous.”

Scruff Lee – “Yeah Dave always disappears for about 10 – 15 minutes before a show. You never see him other than just pacing about.”

Veronika – “Him (Scruff Lee) and Dave (Solareye) are like the opposite extremes, you’re (SL) are so laid back and he’s wired to the roof.”

Solareye – “It never goes away. As soon as I get on stage it feels like good energy sort of thing.”

Veronika – “I think people must think he’s slightly mad though when you’re pacing the corridors. I swear down, where were we when I seen you walking across the field rapping to yourself and I was like “people are going to think he’s mental!!” Was it not in Malawi?”

Solareye – “Yeah probably.”

Veronika – “I saw you just wandering about by yourself.”

Solareye – “Yeah no one comes near!”

Veronika – “I don’t think you even realise you do it though.”

Scruff Lee – “That was after the gig as well!”

Well, thank you so much and good luck with the gig!

Stanley Odd & Through The Wire @ The Liquid Rooms.
Stanley Odd & Through The Wire @ The Liquid Rooms.

After catching up with who I can now say is one of the friendliest bands I have ever come across, it was stage time! Teknique and Onetzu started off the night, warming up the crowd followed by the very funny rap duo Tickle and Asthmatic Astronaught. By the time they were done the crowd was at its fullest, most energetic and the anticipation was oozing out of them. Lights down, strobes on and it begins with Solareye (possibly just having finished pacing the courtyard rapping to himself) taking to the stage with their first song “Get Back In The Basement”.With Veronika’s strong vocals, Solareye’s phenomenal and occasionally improvised rapping skills, T LO’s keyboard genius, Scruff Lee’s guitar, Samson’s drums and AdMac’s bass this group never fails to deliver a memorable and mesmerising evening! Playing their new material alongside some old they had the crowd on a definite high. As the night inevitably and unfortunately drew to a close and the band left the stage without playing “Son I Voted Yes” the crowd’s roar was worthy of that heard in Wembley! Proclaiming that “It’s all just a big pantomime” the band reappeared to play one of their greatest songs written so far, “Son I Voted Yes”. Just like when they played it at A Night For Scotland, the crowd went, to steal Solareye’s phrase, “Banana’s!”

Stream ‘A Thing Brand New’ below.

‘A Thing Brand New’ Album review.