Emma Pollock – 'I think Paisley is one of the most active music cities in Scotland'

Emma Pollock – 'I think Paisley is one of the most active music cities in Scotland'

credit: Jannica Honey

We catch up with Pollock ahead of her Spree festival appearance alongside RM Hubbert

This year has been a particularly special year for Paisley. The Renfrewshire town has been hard at work in its bid to become UK City of Culture 2021, aiming to firmly cement its status as a key location on Scotland's wide and varied events map. Renowned for its weaving and textiles past, Paisley has a rich cultural heritage which today has translated into a thriving arts scene with excellent spaces and venues. Among the many events that have taken place to showcase this, the upcoming Spree festival will undoubtedly be a highlight, with international and local acts taking to the stage just mere months before the final decision is made regarding the City of Culture bid.

The sixth edition of the annual festival includes a sold-out homecoming show from Paolo Nutini, a special one-off concert with Frightened Rabbit and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and a collaboration between Emma Pollock and RM Hubbert.

'I think Paisley is one of the most active music cities in Scotland,' says Pollock, when asked about her connection to Paisley. 'I've played so many shows in Paisley over the past five or six years and I've also been able to play alongside and meet a lot of my heroes including Justin Currie, Barbara Dickson and Rab Noakes. I think it's playing a really important role in Scotland's musical landscape and it's very important that as a city, it's almost geographically touching Glasgow. It's hard to compete with a city the size of Glasgow but I actually think it's carving out its own cultural identity which is wonderful.'

In January, it'll be two years since the release of Pollock's beautifully somber and sonically rich third record In Search of Harperfield, and though this past year has been a quieter one, it's well-earned after the hectic year that was 2016.

'It was a great year to be able to focus on my music and to spend the summer driving up and down the M6 getting to different festivals, which I really enjoyed. The Edinburgh Festival was a bit of a highlight and also just getting back out there and seeing that it is still possible to keep playing if you're prepared to get stuck in. On top of playing, I was tour managing, driving, and there were some crazy crazy gigs where we would drive six hours down south to do a festival and then get back in the car and come back up the same day.'

Despite the full-on schedule, the many gigs and festivals that came up following the album's release provided Pollock with the opportunity to meet the countless fans and audience members that had leant so much of their support over the years. This is one of the many reasons that Pollock has been looking forward to the upcoming Spree festival gig for some time.

'Having RM Hubbert there really helps with creating a good dynamic,' she says of her partnership with the former SAY Award winner.' Hubby and I go back a long way and we reconnected on Thirteen Lost & Found because I sang with him on and wrote one of the songs, 'Half Light'. And since then we've written a song which appeared on my last record called 'Monster in the Pack' and so it's lovely to play with him. It's the only time I can play those songs because I need him on the guitar!'

Though she intends to be back in the studio before the end of the year to finish off some works in progress for a future project, her sights are firmly set on Paisley where she'll be playing the Arts Centre on Sun 15 Oct.

'I've played at the Arts Centre quite a bit and I've taken part in different things at the Arts Centre so I know it well. It's always lovely to go back so I'm looking forward to being able to play this particular set with the band and with RM Hubbert at this special time for the city.'

Emma Pollock and RM Hubbert, Paisley Arts Centre, Sun 15 Oct, 7.30pm, £14 (£12).

The Spree

The Spree is Paisley’s music and arts festival, featuring international and Scottish artists alongside homegrown talent and a vibrant kids programme