IT is 16 years since The Pastels' last full-length album, and Slow Summits feels all the more precious for it. "It took us an awful long time to make the record, so it's really gratifying that people like it, and we feel honoured to be on the SAY Award longlist," says Stephen Pastel, who also co-runs Glasgow record shop Monorail Music.
The Pastels are one of Scotland's best-loved, and most enduring indie-bands, and their DIY aesthetic has been hugely influential on local and far-flung counter-culture for three decades - but you do wonder if some people know their name, but not their music. Might the SAY Award encourage people to listen? "Yeah, I hope so, and maybe some people would be surprised by the music that we make - we've travelled quite far from the rudimentary pop we made when we when we started, so it's really nice to have this kind of exposure," he says. "I think the SAY Award's been a really great thing for [former winners] Hubby and Aidan and Bill, who are quite left-field, and even to get on the list is a very good thing: it set out to be very inclusive and anti-elitist, and I think it is."
BACH specialist John Butt directed baroque ensemble the Dunedin Consort's Six Brandenburg Concertos. "It was a surprise, very much so," he says of the album's SAY Award longlist inclusion. "To have our work recognised in the overall Scottish context is something that we've been working on for years, and this is a way of helping to consolidate that."
Butt hopes that the SAY Award might introduce the album, and classical music in general, to new ears and audiences. "The music that we do, which is a quite specialised area of classical music, has quite a big world audience, but it would be good to have much more of an identity within Scotland," he offers. "We do have that, but this is a way of making it stronger, and maybe [encouraging] people within Scotland to recognise something they already have, but might not have noticed."
He is pleased that the Brandenburg album in particular has been so well-received. "That piece of music has been recorded hundreds of times, and the competition across the world is astounding - throughout the whole history of recording, really - so the fact that it is such well-known music and that it has still done so well is particularly encouraging for us."
HECTOR Bizerk rapper Louie Deadlife says the Glasgow hip-hop duo are "beyond ecstatic" that their self-released second album, Nobody Seen Nothing, is longlisted for the SAY Award. "For us to be selected among the top 20 albums in the country is something special," he offers. "It's an incredible feat for us."
Deadlife commends the SAY Award's democratic selection process, "It's refreshing to know that the SAY Award takes music on its own merits," he says. "We invested everything we had into this album. I don't [just] mean financially - we invested all of our time and effort into making a record we are proud of. Word of mouth, hard work and sheer belief are the only tools we have at our disposal. This nomination is a testament to that ethos.
"This album represents our progress as a song writing unit," he continues. "We wanted to write an album which had a balance of socially poignant poetry and festival anthems. We wanted it to capture a listener's attention in their headphones but also to have the capability to grab an unsuspecting audience and make them move - and I think we've achieved that. We didn't compromise a single chord or subject matter. I'm immensely proud of that."
The Bones of What You Believe
Chrvches' debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, has been a hit around the world, but the band's Lauren Mayberry says it is particularly gratifying for the LP to be celebrated on home turf. "The Scottish music scene is incredibly strong and varied, and we would not be the band we are today without having grown up in that environment, so being given any kind of recognition by people back home really does mean the world to us," she says of their SAY Award nomination. "We can only hope to give back, in some small way, to the community that made us if we are afforded the opportunity."
It bears noting that Mayberry, who co-runs feminista-pop collective TYCI, is a rare female voice on the SAY Award longlist. As with previous years (and all similar awards), and despite its democratic selection process, it is still notably male-dominated. "It is incredibly depressing, and I think it reflects the imbalance in the music industry and awards ceremonies in general," Mayberry offers. "Women are in the minority pretty much everywhere in the industry - awards longlists, festival lineups - and it is not for a lack of talented females, both working as musicians and behind the scenes."