Elaine O’Connor from the Scotsman Radar

Several years ago I constructed a myspace page (see the link) to keep track of ‘my’ bands. A large portion of the newer Scottish acts all came from the Scotsman Radar. In particular, Elaine’s name became indelibly linked with most of the bands I liked. If she mentioned them, I’d check them out. I thought it would be a nice change of pace to speak to her directly for a blog post.

Having read your October 31 post, I see that we just missed you in San Francisco. Did you catch any shows?

“My friends got us tickets to see Boris at the Regency Ballroom for our wedding, which was pretty great; but we didn’t manage to catch any local groups. We did spend quite a bit of time in Amoeba though, which was so good I could have cried. I know you’ll probably tell me there are a million more wee music stores which are better or something but hey, I’m a tourist.”

I see that you referred to Craig B’s tweet about the nature of the next Unwinding Hours record. I humbly refer you to our October 26 blog post for the ‘actual scoop’ on that story. Kidding aside, back in the myspace days, I was able to construct a mighty ‘friends’ list of bands. The secret was pretty simple. I essentially went through every band on the Radar’s artist list and ended up following around 2/3 of them. It almost seemed like cheating. Having had the time to explore Scottish music a little more deeply, it is pretty obvious that not just anyone makes that list. What are the criteria? Who decides?

“I really enjoyed your post with Craig B! At Radar, I can only speak for myself, but I tend to think submissions work best if it’s a band you just can’t help talking about. A lot of Radar’s profiles come from this – suggestions from contributors themselves about someone they’ve just heard or seen and liked. I like that because we listen to lots of different things and I love discovering new stuff from the other writers.

At the other side, editor Nick Mitchell sends us all a list of possible bands for profile. In terms of criteria, usually it’ll be that they’ve done something interesting, sent us something good, or just are coming up a lot in conversation. For me the key is, if it’s not someone who you geniunely think is a decent band, it’s not worth doing.”

Do you get out to a lot of the shows yourself? Can you tell us about the last really memorable one? What are your favourite three bands of the moment?

“I’m afraid this year certainly not as much as I would like as, having been saving for a wedding, I’ve not had a spare penny. It’s a shame because I always feel that you can’t really get a full sense of a band until you see them play; so it’s something I’ve really been missing. Although I do get review passes and so on, unless I’m covering something I don’t like asking bands for guestlist places. They deserve either the money or some coverage.

Anyway, now that all the kerfuffle is over with, I’m getting used to the fact I have some disposable income again and am getting back in the swing of things with quite a few to look forward to this month.

Favourite bands at the moment – my favourite thing I’ve written about this year was This Silent Forest’s ’30 Songs in 30 Days’ challenge and I’m really enjoying them right now. I’m also listening to lots of Otherpeople and Happy Particles.”

I once attended a Glasvegas show here in San Francisco (at the Regency as well). A victim of wishful thinking, I fooled myself into hoping that a live setting would bring out the ‘better’ in them. I ended up leaving after the third song. Is the reason they are not in your current ‘G’ section because they are ‘too big’ ?

“On a purely personal level, they aren’t a band I particularly enjoy, and I haven’t got into it when I’ve seen them live. I also hate the term “Glasvegas”. I’m sure they’re absolutely gutted by this news. They probably are “too big” for Radar; but – while I don’t want to speak for everyone else – I don’t think there’s a lot of passion for the band either.”

Clearly, we will need to eventually make pilgrimages over there. If you only had a two week window in which to come to Scotland with the principal aim of seeing as many good shows as possible, when would you suggest? Please keep in the mind that the agony of knowing what shows we just missed and the chagrin of knowing who we almost could have seen would need to be kept in check.

“This is a bit of a difficult quesiton… In years past, I would have said to avoid summer because usually shows died a death in the festival season. This year, however, that was totally different and there seemed to be a lot going on, certainly in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Right now, there’s tons of stuff going on and I think this time of year is often really good for gigs. Or you could come for Christmas to watch Mogwai and Errors at the Barras – guaranteed amazing.”

I’ve had this question turned around on me and been tasked to find out when, and if, the next musical outing by Lord Cut Glass might see the light of day. Have you heard anything?

“I’m afraid not but I’ll keep my ears peeled and you’ll be first to know if I do.”

I’m working on an idea of a monthly ‘music chat’ between ourselves and Elaine. She has graciously agreed. With a bit of luck, we’ll hear from Elaine again in a month.

T&P

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