Julie Lin MacLeod, Kapil Seshasayee and S-Type are among our favourite cultural contributors this year
It's safe to say that 2019 has been a mammoth year for creativity and innovation in Scotland. From award-winning albums to groundbreaking theatrical works, we cover it all in our annual countdown of the figures who we feel have made the greatest impact on arts and culture in the country throughout the year. But The List's Hot 100 has a twist this time: we've got a Top 19 for 2019, though beyond that we're celebrating everyone equally because as we head towards 2020 and reflect back on the past decade, we feel that the Scottish cultural landscape is as healthy, bold and exciting as it's ever been. Read on to find out who we've named in the Top 19, as well as those we consider to be worthy of that much-coveted top spot …
19. We Should Hang Out More
Shortly after the release of their thrilling 'Tradeston Knights' EP, Sub Club and Berkeley Suite residents John Markey and Oliver Melling became the unfortunate fall guys for Glasgow's illicit 'afters' scene. Necessary conversations about the city's over-cautious licensing hours have so far failed to materialise, but fortunately nor has any damage to the potential of two of Glasgow's finest young DJs. (DP)
18. Julie Lin MacLeod
The chef behind Glasgow's Malaysian eatery Julie's Kopitiam became a finalist for the Scottish Women's Awards Food Entrepreneur of the Year accolade and rightly so. A second Kopitiam venue opened at SWG3's vibrant acid bar in August and its parent venue, a Southside favourite, features in the 2019 Michelin Guide. (BC)
17. Sarra Wild
An outspoken figure in the white male-dominated club scene, Sarra Wild fights the good fight for LGBTQI+ and POC communities. She's also a brilliant DJ and party organiser, curating the OH141 stage at Jupiter Rising, and rocking crowds from Dundee's V&A to the Atlas Festival in Marrakech. (SS)
16. Ashley Jensen
This Emmy-nominated actress and narrator refuses to rest. Besides doing voiceovers for Hollywood animations (How to Train Your Dragon 3 and Lady and the Tramp), she appeared in several TV productions including Ricky Gervais' After Life and the second season of BBC medical thriller Trust Me. (JK)
15. Kapil Seshasayee
Kapil Seshasayee released his debut A Sacred Bore in late 2018. A spiky yet anthemic art-rock album exploring the issue of caste oppression, it won plaudits from Pitchfork and BBC Asian Network, and took him to Latitude. He also runs the excellent DesiFuturism website, celebrating forward-looking South Asian culture. (SS)
14. Lucy Ellmann
Edinburgh-based author Lucy Ellmann made waves on the international literary scene with the publication of her 1000-page novel Ducks, Newburyport, which delves into the consciousness of an Ohio housewife as she bakes pies in her kitchen. Comparisons to Ulysses and Virginia Woolf immediately followed, as did nominations for the Booker and Goldsmiths prizes. (DC)
'I wanted to make a record that showcased the sound I've been developing over the years: cinematic, bold, colourful music that can be enjoyed at home, on the move or in the club,' says Bobby Perman, the Glasgow-based producer who goes by the name S-Type. His new EP 'Beat' is out on LuckyMe, his first recording since 'SV8' in 2015. 'In between, I'd been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work, mixing records for artists,' Perman says, recalling that he mixed Lunice's debut album, CCCLX, in Montreal, and flew out to LA for writing sessions with Baauer. 'I was also musical director for fashion designer Astrid Andersen for three years and wrote original music for a series of short films for Cadillac directed by Sam de Jong. Last year I scored my first feature-length movie, Boyz in the Wood: I've always wanted to write music for film, so that was a big deal for me.'
Of Beat, Perman says 'it's serious music that's not to be taken too seriously. I'm working out dates for a tour just now, but what I'm most excited about is my album. It's been a long time coming but I'm glad I've waited to put it out. I'm in the best place now, creatively and mentally.' (DP)
12. Nadine Aisha Jassat
During a phenomenal year for Nadine Aisha Jassat, she released her debut poetry collection Let Me Tell You This and was named one of the UK's top ten BAME authors by Jackie Kay. Deft yet unflinching, Jassat's writing is a tour-de-force confrontation of intersectional prejudice and a vital voice in the Scottish poetry landscape. (AB)
Empowering and energised, the work of V/DA (Various Dance Artists) fuses bold choreographic, theatrical, musical and design choices. One of the few UK dance companies giving voice to black stories, pieces such as VOID, Sonic Séance and Grin by dancer/choreographers Mele Broomes and Claricia Parinussa and costume designer Sabrina Henry should be seen far and wide. (KA)
10. Fern Brady
She once joked on stage about being placed behind a park in our Hot 100, but finally the Bathgate stand-up is gracing its upper echelons. After another blazing month at the Fringe, this time at Monkey Barrel with Power and Chaos, Fern Brady ended the year touring Europe and having a run at London's prestigious Soho Theatre. (BD)
9. Charlotte Prodger
SaFO5 was the name of Charlotte Prodger's deeply personal film that represented Scotland at this year's Venice Biennale. After winning the 2018 Turner Prize with Bridgit, and the Margaret Tait Award before that for Stoneymollan Trail, this film commissioned by Cove Park completed the trilogy with a visual poem that revealed Prodger as an inventive explorer of inner and outer landscapes. (NC)
8. Free Love
Although their recent extended EP Luxury Hits missed out on the Scottish Album of the Year Award, Suzi Rodden and Lewis Cook consolidated their position as one of Scotland's most eclectic and distinctive electronic groups with the Extreme Dance Anthems album on Optimo, a collision of contemporary techno and folk-horror ambience. (DP)
7. Auntie Flo
Brian d'Souza has been a mainstay of electronic music in Glasgow for a decade, so it's quite an irony that a move to London has coincided with his greatest success yet back home. His Radio Highlife album on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood label very deservedly took home this year's Scottish Album of the Year Award. (DP)
6. Kieran Hurley
The Glasgow playwright had another landmark year with Mouthpiece, which was staged to much acclaim at the Traverse and Soho Theatre, as well as with the film adaptation of Beats. The future likewise looks bright with the launch of new production company Disaster Plan with long-time collaborator Julia Taudevin, and their upcoming show Move~Gluasad. (DC)
5. Lewis Capaldi
The self-deprecating and charming 'Scottish Beyoncé' became a sensation even before the release of his debut album, thanks to his delightfully funny Instagram stories and interviews, and of course his number one heartbreak hit, 'Someone You Loved'. The media darling also famously 'feuded' with Noel Gallagher and became the face of everything from Oreo to Deliveroo and Tinder. (MF)
4. Richard Gadd
Three years after winning the Edinburgh Comedy Award, Fife-born Gadd moved to the theatre section for Baby Reindeer, a solo show that examined his own experience of being stalked. Throughout his career, Gadd has always balanced between the comic and the disturbing – aside from his increasingly familiar appearances on television – and Baby Reindeer was praised for its emotional honesty and distressing lack of resolution. His approach (autobiographical but resisting the temptation to justify his behaviour) has been consistent throughout his comedy monologues, but the shift to a theatrical format demonstrated both his imaginative command of dramaturgy and a willingness to challenge his artist potential. (GKV)
3. Ali Smith
Sparking with wit, compellingly experimental and always packed with heart, Ali Smith's writing is a joy and the release of Spring this year has served as a reminder that she's a writer at the peak of her power. Her back catalogue is a feast of short story collections and novels, including the stunning How to Be Both, which won the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel of the Year award, the lauded Hotel World and many more.
Like many of our best writers, Smith refuses to be categorised. She dips in and out of styles and word experiments, leading the reader into alternate worlds where time and the stories that describe it don't have to be linear. Our understanding is paramount but the telling can afford to be playful.
Currently, Smith is three quarters of the way through a stunning Seasonal Quartet of novels dealing with very contemporary times. The first, Autumn, was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Winter came next and this year, we were treated to Spring. The exceptional series will conclude in 2020 with Summer.
Initially, Smith intended the quartet to follow a pastoral vein but as she began writing in 2015, the inescapable concept of 'Brexit' was coalesced and exerted its influence on her work. Yet for all of its modern references and relevance, the series could be a retelling of a classic myth. As Smith points out, what is happening to us now has all happened before.
It is the power of stories, the retelling, rescoping and reshaping our understanding of what has once been that offers us something to hold on to in uncertain times. With Spring's blossoming in 2019, Smith shows us that fiction is in good hands – and that we've got even more to look forward to in the year ahead. (LM)