By Jennifer Lynn
Back in November we told you about the Big Apple Award: the ultimate battle of the Scottish bands, which would see its lucky winners jetting off to New York City to support The View at Bowery Ballroom. Those lucky winners were Edinburgh hip hop act, Stanley Odd.
Comprised of six members, MC Solareye (aka Dave Hook), vocalist Veronika Electronika, drummer Samson the Snake and bassist AdMac, with Scruff Lee on guitars and T Lo on the keys, Stanley Odd was formed in 2009 and has been generating a huge buzz ever since. We sat down with Solareye to chat about the band’s first bite out of that infamous Apple…
Congratulations on winning the Big Apple Award! How did that feel?
“Amazing. It wasn’t something we were expecting, but it was a good end to a very busy year, and a pleasant surprise at the end of the day.”
How did you find the process for entering the awards and being shortlisted?
“We put an entry in for the award, but we did it without really pinning any hopes on it, so we had forgotten about it to an extent. Getting to the final was something we weren’t expecting, so we were pretty excited about it.
“On the night of the final all of the bands were fantastic and any one of them could have won. Again, we weren’t expecting anything from it; it just felt really nice to be involved, and then even better to win and get to go to New York.”
When are you off to the Big Apple?
“The gig at Bowery Ballroom is on April 7th, but we’re just waiting to find out when we’re heading over, because we want to make the most of it our time there.”
Is it somewhere you would consider moving to in order to further your career if the opportunity presented itself?
“If the opportunity presented itself then absolutely, but I wouldn’t expect it to present itself. I think to relocate six of us, plus crew, and all the rest of it… it’s enough of a logistical nightmare trying to get a UK tour sorted! Hopefully this will lead to more gigs in the States though, and obviously it’s going to be such a great experience. The gig takes place during Tartan Week, so we’re representing Scotland too, which is pretty cool.”
Will you be whipping a kilt on for the occasion?
“I don’t know if I’ll go that far, but I think it’s really interesting and exciting for us, from a hip hop perspective, to be going back to where it all started. New York, and the States in general, was obviously the centre of it all. For the city to have influenced our music, and then for us to be able to go over and showcase what hip hop’s been hybridised into over here, is amazing.”
As a hip hop act in Scotland, do you feel like quite a rare breed?
“I think the Scottish hip hop scene is in pretty good health at the moment; it feels like there are a lot of people across the country making really good music, of a really high standard.
“Across the board, from Hector Bizerk and The Being in Glasgow, to Perfect Practice and Silvertongue over in Edinburgh, I think hip hop in Scotland is quite buoyant at the moment. There’s a lot of good stuff happening.”
Before you head off to New York you’re playing in Glasgow as part of Celtic Connections…
“Yes, we were lucky enough to play at Celtic Connections last year, and to get to come back is just amazing. It’s such a diverse festival; it’s much more than a folk festival. To play at it again, and to be doing it with a 12-piece string orchestra, is pretty insane.”
Yourself and Veronika both sing in your natural Scottish accents, but has there ever been temptation to take on an American twang?
“Not for a long time, but when I was in my teens and I first started rapping I hadn’t heard any other Scottish rap, and I guess you mimic what you know. However, you soon realise that if you want to tell an honest story, then you have to do it in your own voice.”
Some of your lyrics are quite political, particularly on your track Antiheroics. Could we be seeing Solareye in the Scottish Government in the future?
“That’s a really good question! I wouldn’t bet money on it, no, but I do like to comment from the sidelines. I think there’s a real place for social commentary in music, there always has been. Political, or I guess protest song, is not as prevalent as it used to be. Rap music really lends itself to it, as does folk music; anything where storytelling is quite a big part of the music.”
What should we expect from Stanley Odd later in 2013?
“After Celtic Connections we’ve got a few wee gigs across the country before we go off to New York in April. We’re also putting a limited edition release out in May and then we’ll be doing another really busy summer of festivals.
“In the background of all that, the main thing for us is writing for our new album, which you’ll be hearing in 2014. It feels like over the last year or two things have really been picking up pace and it’s just about keeping that momentum going.”
And with that we leave Solareye to prep for another busy week in the life of Stanley Odd. Oh, and about that Big Apple trip Dave; room for a little one?
Stanley Odd’s new single Carry Me Home is released on Monday and they play Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket as part of Celtic Connections on Wednesday 23rd January. For tickets click here and for more information about the band visit Stanleyodd.com.