Exposure: Stanley Odd
Stanley Odd - Electric Sleep
Still an odd paradox for some, Scottish hip-hop is only getting stronger. Acts like Young Fathers and Northern Xposure are bringing the spirit of South Central to the Central Belt, offering an alternative to the bountiful angular indie that's heard spilling out from most cheap venues on a Saturday night. Add to that list Stanley Odd, who, after only a year in existence, are quickly emerging as one of the most thoughtful and entertaining acts of the Scottish hip hop scene. We spoke to main vocalist Solareye about making it with the new Scottish sound.
How did Stanley Odd come into existence?
I was meant to be playing a hip hop gig in August 2008 with a DJ and Veronika Electronika on vocals. The night before the gig the DJ pulled out and we were left with no music. I called B Dot (drummer) and Haftor Medbøe (guitar) who were somewhat inebriated at the Spiegeltent (formerly a Fringe venue in George Square Gardens) at the time and they offered to play the gig the next day with no rehearsal. That was the start of it. Since then we’ve added T Lo on keys, Ad Mac on bass and Rune took over on guitar. Each new musician meant less programming until it became a fully organic group of analogue and digital heads.
What's the motivation behind your work? Where does this desire to make music come from?
Em…wanting to make people nod their heads, stamp their feet and jump around like loons whilst also making you think a bit. Having something to say without taking yourself too seriously. Banging beats, social comment and a sprinkling of humour. That’s the plan anyway.
What influence did hip hop have on you growing up in Scotland? Were you able to see the right acts and meet like minded souls?
I grew up in Airdrie. It certainly wasn't the Mecca of all things hip hop, but if you’re with your mates hanging about in a park of an evening you can still practice your freestyle or beatbox or whatever over a cheap alcoholic beverage or two. The rest of the band are all from different places: Norway, Germany, even as far flung as Musselburgh, so everyone’s experiences will differ. There are some great Norwegian hip-hop acts that Rune has introduced us to.
How is the hip hop scene in the country now? Are acts like Young Fathers and yourselves paving the way for more, or does indie still reign supreme?
I reckon hip-hop right now is quite healthy in Scotland, if still decidedly underground. Glasgow’s got the Being Crew – an amazing group of rappers, all with solo projects and offshoots from that. Profisee is still killing it over in Edinburgh plus Mad Hat and all the Music Comes First nights. This is just to name but a few, there’s plenty hip hop bubbling away in Scotland. Now where do we fit in there? Well what we’re doing is definitely hip hop but it has each band member’s own tastes in there too, elements of funk and soul, rock, even a classical piano solo in there. I guess that and the fact that it’s a live band means we get to play band venues and nightclubs so we do get a chance to reach other audiences that aren’t necessarily hip-hop heads.
Rap began with ideas of being that conscience and commentary of urban life. What influences your own lyrics?
Lyrically, I’m trying to tell stories. Not trying to say ‘look how hard life is’ or ‘I’m so mental’ or any of that nonsense just trying to tell stories over music, point out stuff I think is worth pointing out, reference life how it is now: laugh at it when its ridiculous, marvel at it when its beautiful.
How would you like people to interpret your work?
‘Ooooh. They nice.’
What's the nicest thing anyone's said about your work?
‘No commercial potential’ - various sources
Why should people listen to Stanley Odd?
Because if they don’t we’ll keep doing it anyway.
Stanley Odd play The Hive, Edinburgh on Sep 22; Capitol, Glasgow on Oct 9; HMV Picture House, Edinburgh on Oct 31.
The launch of debut single 'The Numbness' is at The GRV, Edinburgh on Oct 2.