Wide Days 2018: Scottish musicians play the long game
- Arusa Qureshi
- 5 April 2018
Graham Costello / credit: Jannica Honey
Scotland's annual music convention Wide Days returns with another impressive lineup of showcase acts. Arusa Qureshi hears from previous participant Charlotte Brimner and talks to those hoping to make a mark this year
Since launching in 2010, Wide Days has played a significant role in nurturing the Scottish music scene. As well as providing artists, music professionals and industry figures the chance to share and obtain knowledge through workshops, seminars and panel events, the convention plays host to a series of showcases which place a spotlight on seriously exciting new talent. This year, that much-celebrated list includes CRYSTAL, Edwin Organ, Graham Costello's STRATA, LUCIA, Rascalton, Wuh Oh and Zoe Graham, all of which were chosen from over 200 applications in consultation with a network of A&R scouts, broadcasters, promoters, journalists and festival organisers.
'Showcases are a huge part of getting your name to the right people,' says singer-songwriter Charlotte Brimner aka Be Charlotte, who was at Wide Days in 2016. 'It gives you an opportunity to play to a specific audience of industry professionals, maybe before you have built a fanbase yet.' Since being involved in the convention and performing there, Charlotte has taken her career to new heights, playing the main stage at Dundee's inaugural Carnival Fifty Six and representing Scotland at the official handover ceremony at the Solheim Cup golf tournament last August. And recently, she signed a major record deal with Columbia / Sony Music, joining a roster that features Adele and Beyoncé.
But despite all her hard work and various successes, Charlotte still has a great amount of respect and appreciation for the role that Wide Days has played in her development as an artist. 'Wide Days is a really important showcase to play because it celebrates new artists in Scotland and allows you to perform a short set in front of some people of influence. I think if you are at the right stage in your development and are ready to showcase it can have a really positive impact.'
The showcases may be a fantastic opportunity for acts to impress the industry, but they're also invaluable in giving public audiences their first glimpse of particular artists. Last year, over 1000 registrations for free tickets came from members of the public, drawing attention to a healthy appetite for new music.
Glaswegian grunge-punk quartet CRYSTAL are eager to play on the Wide Days stage. 'We are so excited to be part of it and we can't wait to share the stage with some of Scotland's hottest bands,' vocalist Anna Shields says. 'The calibre of bands this year is so high, and we feel privileged to be part of the lineup.'
'Wide Days is going to be an awesome opportunity for me to meet new people, showcase my music and watch my crazy talented pals play too,' adds singer-songwriter Zoe Graham. 'It's scary, but very exciting!'
Comprising some of Scotland's finest young jazz musicians, STRATA are looking forward to injecting Wide Days with a healthy dose of jazz. 'With STRATA's monthly residency at Bloc+ in Glasgow helping to spread our music already, being invited to play at Wide Days is a brilliant step forward for us to further bring our form of jazz and improvised music to new audiences,' explains founder Graham Costello. 'We're all about the convergence of scenes and styles, so for a jazz act to play this event is fantastic.'
There's plenty for this year's budding acts to be encouraged by given that previous performers have been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize (C Duncan), won the Scottish Album of the Year Award (Kathryn Joseph) and been signed up by a major label (Charlotte Brimner). As one of many Wide Days success stories, what advice would Brimner give to current and future showcase acts? 'Make sure you do your research and understand which delegates are going to be there and arrange to meet them. Reach out to them in the weeks and months leading up to the festival and familiarise them with your material, your achievements and your ambition.'
Wide Days showcases are at Teviot Row House Debating Hall, La Belle Angele and The Mash House, Edinburgh, Fri 20 & Sat 21 Apr.
Born to be Wide present two days of music seminars. Speakers for 2018 include Aarti Joshi of DF Concerts, PPL's Adam Smith and Leo O'Brien, Danny Roberts (Decca Records) and Julie Weir (Sony).