What does it mean to win the Scottish Album of the Year Award
- David Pollock
- 29 August 2018
Sacred Paws winning the 2017 SAY Award
Four SAY Award winners, including RM Hubbert and Young Father Ally Massaquoi, tell us in their own words what it meant to them
With the Scottish Album of the Year shortlist just announced, David Pollock has rounded up previous SAY winners to tell us in their own words what the award meant to them. They discuss how the award benefited their careers, what they gained from it and why the SAY awards are so valuable.
'It was a big deal for me – it was a lot of money, for a start, enough that even after I shared it with my collaborators I knew I'd be financially solvent for a while. I realised pretty quickly that it would open doors; I did 90 minutes of interviews right after, mostly with publications and radio stations that had never written or spoken about the album previously. The best thing the SAY Award does is give direct exposure to albums and artists that aren't part of any particular scene, it's a level playing field that's nothing to do with sales, genre or popularity. It had a very positive effect for me, there was a good bump in sales for Thirteen Lost & Found, and my next album got reviewed and promoted more widely. It was a lot easier to book tours as well.'
Thirteen Lost and Found by RM Hubbert won in 2013.
'It was definitely a surprise on the night, as I don't think we fit into any categories, so it was validation that our music could resonate on some level. The fact we didn't have to play guitars for our music to be deemed credible is a positive thing, plus we're a multi-racial group and our presence helped open up the competition and make it more inclusive. It's an important and useful award; important because there's all types of music being made, and it's always more interesting when a competition chooses to reflect that; useful because it shines a light on a particular artist, and could be the catalyst in helping them establish themselves.'
Tape Two by Young Fathers won in 2014.
'Before it, hardly anyone knew who I was – it still makes me feel very proud, especially of Claire Mackay of Hits the Fan Records, because she did all of the promotion and distribution herself. Also, I could suddenly do music as a job and pay my rent. The money side of things is tricky and sometimes non-existent, and it's hard to make things and still feel like being creative in any way matters, it's a very strange circle that relies on people being addicted to doing it, even though we can't really afford to live our lives. Winning gave me so much, things I've got to be part of and people that I've got to work with, and I feel very grateful for that. We're lucky to have it, and I feel proud that it's not like the Mercury, that no one has to pay to be entered. Although Young Fathers should have been nominated for that again this year.'
Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I've Spilled by Kathryn Joseph won in 2015.
'We never imagined we'd win an award for anything! It felt like we were being taken a lot more seriously than we'd ever imagined, we're both good at worrying we aren't good enough, so it was great for our confidence. Financially it was pretty life-changing for Eilidh and myself, and It's definitely affected our touring, we've had a lot more show offers and festival opportunities since winning. Culturally, I think it says a lot about the Scottish music scene that there's this platform for musicians that feels accessible and not bogged down in music industry popularity, coolness or bravado. It genuinely seems to be about rewarding musicians who are working hard at making exciting music.'
Strike a Match by Sacred Paws won in 2017.
SAY Awards, Paisley Town Hall, Thu 6 Sep.
Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award
The winner of the coveted Scottish Album Year (SAY) Award and accompanying £20,000 prize will be crowned in a virtual ceremony filmed at Edinburgh’s Summerhall. Broadcast on YouTube, the event will feature performances by Happy Spendy, Kapil Seshasayee, Vlure and Zoe Graham.