T Breakers: What to do when the weekend is over
Hector Bizerk and Tuff Love talk about how their T Break experience boosted their careers
It’s hard to argue that this year’s T in the Park isn’t dominated by the Stone Roses. With their first single in 21 years just released, and a new album rumoured to be dropping this summer, their live dalliances (as well as T, they’re playing Manchester, New York and Dublin) are all about the old sound being brought into the 21st century.
What to do, though, if you want T to bring you something a little fresher? The answer, since 1996 at least, has been to head straight for the T Break stage. Its line-up of unsigned acts provides a buffet of the best of Scotland’s up-and-comers eager to follow in their predecessors’ successful footsteps. For how to make the most of the T Break experience, we spoke to Hector Bizerk and Tuff Love.
‘We were fortunate to land a very good slot, which I think is crucial,’ says Louie, of MC / drum duo Hector Bizerk, who played the T Break stage in 2013. ‘The buzz in the lead-up to the festival and the media coverage around it is priceless. When you’re starting out and don’t have management or an agent, getting to play T in the Park is the ultimate accolade.’
While timing may be important, fate could mean you’re up against some pretty big names. This was the case for Tuff Love on their 2014 T Break experience. ‘We were on at the same time as the Pixies,’ they jointly state via email. ‘We know where we’d rather be.’ Tough break. Still, you gotta take the rough with the smooth. ‘Those that were there were really nice about it. We drank beer and got to watch some great bands: Wolf Alice were playing the same stage a few hours earlier and their set was awesome.’
But what do you do once the halcyon weekend comes to an end (usually sometime early on Monday morning)? Making moves post-T Break is crucial. Louie’s tactic was having pre-emptive plans in place to keep the momentum flowing. ‘We launched our album in the weeks after and it was the first time we had ever sold out gigs in Glasgow and Edinburgh. We didn't have any PR or marketing budget so used T Break as a springboard to launch the album. It gave us a reputation as a band who could bring hip hop into the festival circuit in a way it hadn't existed in Scotland before.’
Tuff Love’s T Break turn gave them the motivation needed to start churning out belter after belter, including their LP Resort, an amalgamation of their three shoegazey EPs ‘Junk’, ‘Dross’ and ‘Dregs’. ‘Some people took us more seriously after it. We've toured loads, got to play lots of festivals, including Glastonbury, and now we're working on new material, which is super exciting!’
Similarly, Hector Bizerk have hardly stopped since their time at T Break. They’ve been up to ‘hunnnnerz of stuff,’ according to Louie. ‘It's been a slow burner because we never tried to write radio-friendly music to fit into any sort of pigeonhole.’ As well as their two LPs, four EPs and film with BAFTA New Talent winner Iain Henderson, Louie has also released three books of poetry and scored music for a theatre production. And there’s the small issue of that SAY Award nomination.
‘We're the only self-released album in the longlist which I think is a measure of the authenticity of the SAY Award in itself. Out nomination goes to show that it doesn't matter where your record has come from, only what it sounds like.’
T in the Park, Strathallan Castle, Fri 8–Sun 10 Jul.