Book Week Scotland presents For the Record
James Yorkston, Vic Galloway and Richard King talk Scotland’s musical heritage
Book Week Scotland and Faber Social have teamed up to present an evening of storytelling and performance, plus musician James Yorkston, journalist and DJ Vic Galloway and writer Richard King spill the beans on the Scottish music scene, in particular the history of Fence Records. We spoke to Richard King to find out more.
Can you tell us more about the For the Record event?
It’s a high-end mixture of badinage, musical performance, Djing and soul-searching featuring James Yorkston, Vic Galloway and myself.
The Fence Records story is an interesting one – how would you sum it up for those who aren’t aware of Fence Records?
Most independent record companies, however big or small, are based in cities, I think Fence is unusual in having been able to run its affairs from Fife and still have an influence and reach. The Fence artists were a Collective which gives you an idea about how the label operated – in a sense it was a very successful example of UK outsider art.
How important is the relationship between different independent record labels in Scotland?
My understanding is that irrespective of genre, Scottish labels are generally very supportive of one another and their music industry, I am also always struck by the support there is for labels from government and public sector organisations – these seem to be run by people who have a good sense about what works for Scottish labels and Scottish music, also the appetite for music in Scotland and the depth of the audience’s relationship to music and their musical knowledge is a huge and unique resource.
Your book Original Rockers is a love letter to the record shop Revolver. How do you feel about the recent, ever-growing interest in vinyl again? Do you think it will last?
I have mixed feelings, I love vinyl but as a commodity think it should have the value it once did when people bought seven inch chart singles – these days vinyl is a luxury item. Until recently I said I’ll believe there’s a vinyl comeback when a new pressing plant opens – and one just has, so I think there is a genuine upturn and I know some shady hi-fi dealers who can’t sell ropey turntables quick enough, so something is going on but whether it will last will ultimately depend on Universal Music shareholders and people like that.
How Soon is Now?, your book about record labels, finishes in 2005. Ten years on, what more has changed? How do you feel about record labels and the ways in which people promote and put out music these days?
I think most record labels would probably – perhaps in their darker moments – admit that they are now digital companies that specialise in music. I know folks at record companies who would say they are rockers for life and that’s that and I salute them, but really everyone now, for better or for worse is in the digital game.
What’s the one thing (that may not be obvious) that music consumers can do to support independent record labels?
Buy their records! But I think also a good way of supporting labels is to engage with them at all levels; social media, concerts, however you can – small organisations are always run on enthusiasm and if they feel their enthusiasm reciprocated and reflected back to them it’s a real energy boost.
For the Record takes place on Fri 27 Nov at Summerhall.