Scottish hip hop? Yes, trust us, we laughed too.
Hip hop has always been – to us at least – the domain of jewellery-clad, money-obsessed fuckwits from across the pond, soiling the legacy of pioneers such as Public Enemy, Run DMC and De La Soul with misogyny and homophobia. Aye, we have a copy of It Takes a Nation of Millions, but generally speaking, it’s a genre we prefer to avoid.
And skinny white lads and lasses from Scotland – like us in other words – ought to be making music for guitar-centric slackers – like us.
Not for the first time, the Tidal Indifference feels like thumping its head repeatedly off the table in penance for our own stupidity. If nothing else, shelving our prejudices would have meant we’d have heard Stanley Odd BEFORE their second album.
Said album is Reject, out last month, and it’s nothing short of a triumph.
Stuffed with big beats and clever rhymes courtesy of the heavily-accented Solareye, after the first few listens, the uninitiated will be hooked by the, well, hooks and the socially aware will enjoy the subject choices, not least the outstanding Marriage Counselling where rowing couple Caledonia and Britannia bicker over who gets to keep the family silver. These guys clearly aren’t a bunch of tracksuit-sporting gadgies who fancied being Eminem, there’s a wit and intelligence across the piece to interest even the most indie die hard.
Talented musicians too – a full six piece band, this isn’t just someone rapping over a tape loop.
If you’re familiar with Stanley Odd, none of this will be news to you, so we apologise, we just need to gush about our latest discovery* and in the usual fashion, we caught a word with Solareye from the band.
So who the hell are you?
A live hip-hop group, based in Edinburgh.
Describe your sound in ten words or less!
Someone once described it as ‘cerebral geek-rap’. I like that.
How did you guys start making music together?
It started with Veronika Electronika (vocals) and myself, we were meant to do an DJ/emcee-type set and the DJ couldn’t make it so we got a couple of friends to play live drums and guitar. The band grew from there.
What are your biggest influences?
The beauty of the band is that everyone is into such a variety of music. For me it’s lyricists and wordsmiths like Nas, Chester P, Loki, Bob Dylan, Aidan Moffat and so on; Admack (bass) might choose Errors; Veronika might say Alt J; Samson (beats) makes bass music. It’s a total mash-up of influences.
And what inspires your lyrics?
I’m really impressed with storytellers, whether that’s in the folk tradition of passing on tales or chronicling a time or a place, that’s what I really aspire to. I think it’s most important to try and be honest and to tell stories that capture people’s attention.
We’re only just starting to get our heads round Scottish hiphop being anything other than a novelty – is this something you still get thrown back at you?
I think that Scottish hip-hop is in pretty good health at present. There is a real variety of styles and approaches around the country. It’s exciting to be around, when the quality of song writing and production seems to be continually improving.
The chatter around Reject makes it feel like a bit of a benchmark – fair comment?
It is a benchmark for us. We feel like we’re continually looking for ‘our sound’, trying out new production ideas and developing as songwriters. Reject is the closest we’ve come yet to making something we’re happy with.
Dare we ask if ‘Stanley Odd’ means anything??
Stanley Odd was originally an alter ego that I had created for myself and Veronika suggested it as a band name. I like that idea of Stanley Odd being an awkward type of character who, no matter how hard he tries to smarten himself up, always looks a bit scruffy and never quite feels comfortable in social situations. There’s a wee bit of the Stanley Odd about all of us.
Have you any more shows on the horizon?
We’ve just finished the album tour and now we’re making a start on writing some new material. We’ve got a couple of wee shows to end 2012 and we’ll be playing again around the country in 2013, then a summer of festivals and another tour!
*Discovery = something that everyone else has been into for months that we’ve only just cottoned on to.
Pic used courtesy of Al Donnelly (houdidontblog.wordpress.com).