Tag Archives: interview

Link – IdeasTap

In another piece for the ‘Confessions of a penniless creative’ series I’ve been doing for IdeasTap, I spoke to professional dancer Fenella Kennedy about how difficult it is to get into the industry, and how dance shows on TV inadvertently support arts cuts.  Read it here.

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Links – Kid Canaveral and The Bridge Theatre Company

A couple of articles I have written lately:

Kid Canaveral interview for Guardian Edinburgh

Young theatre group from Croydon win £10,000 to help them bring their play to this year’s Fringe Festival on The Edinburgh Reporter

Meanwhile for anyone who is interested in more of my musical meanderings, on my personal blog I have embarked on the 30 Day Song Challenge.

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I did an interview with the manager of Lung Ha’s Theatre Company, an Edinburgh-based group who work to provide opportunities for people with learning disabilities to become actively involved in the performing arts.  Please have a look, it’s quite interesting.

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Victorian Reading Challenge

I interviewed local writer and blogger Bethany Anderson for the Edinburgh Reporter.  Originally published here.

The time for New Year’s resolutions is almost upon us, so what are you going to do? Edinburgh-based writer and blogger Bethany Anderson (23), has set up a Victorian Reading Challenge to keep her busy.

“I had a lovely gift set of abridged classics as a child, and progressed onto the full novels in my teens,” Bethany explains.

“Victorian writers examined all aspects of humanity; the highs and lows of society, the roles of gender, the place of religion and/or lack of in the world. There’s so much going on, and it’s all perceived so beautifully!”

There are four levels to the challenge. ‘Sense and Sensibility’ means reading 1-4 books, ‘Great Expectations’ is 5-9, ‘Hard Times’ is 10-14, and ‘Desperate Remedies’ involves reading 15 or more classics from the period.

Bethany, of course, is reading fifteen books, almost all by English writers.

“That was absolutely deliberate,” she says. “Although it’s fascinating to see how other culture and countries coped with the 19th century, the Victorian experience is something that was only really felt by writers living in the UK.”

It’s not hard to guess who Bethany’s favourite Victorian author might be. Her list includes four books by Thomas Hardy. But why?

“He’s been my favourite author since I read Tess of the d’Urbervilles when I was 14. Most of my academic career was focused on Hardy’s works – from standard grade essays to my MA dissertation.

Still, the more I read and learn, the more I love his work. Hardy’s characters are real, the difficulties they face are real, and yet his novels have a beautiful tragic quality.”

His characters have almost a soap-like quality, we suggest, which means they can still be compelling to an audience in 2011.

“Absolutely! When I was reading Jude the Obscure in my final year at high school, I always updated my friends about what was happening next. My gossiping was met with, ‘Oh my God! Arabella did that?’ etc etc. Hardy deals with very human concepts of pain, loss and love. All that stuff is timeless.”

So far, over forty people have signed up.

“Lots of the people who have joined in are encouraging themselves to read classics that they’ve wanted to pick up for years. Others, like myself, are already huge fans of Victorian literature and are using it as a way to get into it further. It’s interesting to see how different the American readers’ lists are compared with that of British readers – ‘Victorian literature’ seems to conjure up different authors for each.”

You can follow the challenge or sign up to take part through Bethany’s blog, here.  Good luck!

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Bands Battle For Street Party Slot

First published on The Edinburgh Reporter November 15 2010

Hogmanay is one of the biggest events in Edinburgh’s calendar – after all, where better to celebrate the most popular Scottish holiday than the country’s capital?  But whilst event headliners Biffy Clyro and special guests The Charlatans were announced some time ago, local music fans are still in the dark as to who will have the task of supporting them.

This year Leith Records held an open competition called Hog The Stage, where any band in the country could upload a song to the internet to be in with the chance of gaining the elusive support slot that launched the careers of Franz Ferdinand and KT Tunstall.  Hundreds of entries had to be whittled down to just five bands who will compete in a live show at the HMV Picture House on November 21st.

We chatted to the five bands who made it through to the finale – Kitty The Lion, Come On Gang!, The Stagger Rats, Jakil and Pooch.

Here’s what they had to say.

Kitty The Lion

What would winning this competition mean to you?

“It would mean that Simon Neil [lead singer of headliners Biffy Clyro] might finally realise I am the love of his life,” laughs Anna of Kitty The Lion, adding “I think my patriotic heart would burst at being part of the best New Year party in the world.”

“If you look at the number of bands that applied and the number of people that attend the street party every year you can see how important this is to everyone in Edinburgh,” say The Stagger Rats. “To win the competition would be unreal, and to be honest it still seems like there must be a catch!  Local unsigned bands just don’t usually get this kind of exposure.”

“It would be a phenomenal privilege to open Edinburgh’s Hogmanay,” Pooch agree, “and a fantastic opportunity to stand out from the hordes of great Scottish unsigned bands out there.”

“I’ve seen some of my favourite Scottish bands play the Hogmanay party,” says Mikey of Come On Gang! “It would be an honour to follow in their footsteps and get people dancing into 2011.”

Jakil, who have recently relocated to London, said, “it would be incredible to be part of the soundtrack to the best street party in the world. And it’s at home in Edinburgh, in our old back garden. Nothing could really top that.”

Do you think the online format of this competition is a good one?


“It’s definitely a more open way of running a competition,” think Kitty The Lion.  “Rather than competitors blindly submitting entries and waiting for a result, you get to snoop at everyone else’s entries and size them up!”

“It’s a really simple but effective way of giving everyone the vital information about the participants,” The Stagger Rats concur. “You can see the band’s live performance through their uploaded video, hear their studio sound through their uploaded song and find out about them via their biography – everyone who’s interested in the competition gets to see all the bands involved and every aspect of their work.”

Pooch added, “the site was a great tool to display bands in a visually pleasing manner. And the fact anyone could browse entrants made things a bit more interesting than with other contests, where only winners are revealed and the pool of entrants go unnoticed by the general public.”

“The web is a great way to find new music, so it seems like a good fit to me,” says Rob of Come On Gang!  Band mates Sarah and Mikey agree, not least because, “it’s instant and means that bands can easily get their fan bases involved from the very start.”

Meanwhile Jakil reemphasise that the site provided a platform for over a hundred Scottish bands to showcase their work, which is a great way to promote local music.  “There are hundreds of fantastic bands in Scotland today,” they point out, “and a lot of people don’t know about the great gigs and concerts going on right now just on their doorstep, which is a shame.”

Do you find the Battle of the Bands nature of the final stage at all off-putting?

The Stagger Rats

“It’s pretty intimidating,” says Anna of Kitty the Lion, who has never done a competitive gig.

Pooch have no such qualms.  “Surely there’s no better way to decide which band will give the best live performance on a big stage than a live show in a similar setting? We’re looking forward to a high-pressure showdown!”

The Stagger Rats are phlegmatic on the subject. “We’re ‘Battle of the Bands’ veterans, having played several in our time together,” they say.  “We won The Evening News Battle of The Bands a while back and that competition also had a massive influx of applications, so we have experience in this area.”

“If anything, it will make all the performance that little bit better since there is such a huge prize at stake,” suggest Jakil.  “You’re playing to prove your worth, every fan of every other band doesn’t want to like you. We find that motivating, a challenge, not off-putting.”

“We actually really enjoy playing competitions,” says Sarah of Come On Gang!  “Apart from anything else, we like the energy of them, as all the bands are playing their hardest. And it’s a good test to see how well you perform under pressure. Bring it on!”

Come On Gang!

If you don’t win, will you say horrible things about the other bands in the press? What will you say?!

“Of course,” jokes Anna of Kitty The Lion, “Isn’t that mandatory?  I’ll say that the winners stole the bottled talent from our dressing room before we went on and drank it themselves.”

Nobody else is this forthcoming, though.

“As much fun as it would be to bitch about the other bands if we don’t win, I think they’re all great bands – it just depends what type of sound the judges are after,” says Rob of Come On Gang!  “We’re not the bitchy types,” adds band mate Sarah. “We’re all in it together, really. Bitchiness is just for the uninformed!”  Mikey concludes that if they don’t win, “I’ll get a drink in with my mates who’ll be there to cheer us on… then I’ll try and sweet talk some free tickets from the winners!”

If they are unsuccessful, The Stagger Rats plan to be “the most gracious and gentlemanly of losers in the press and in person.  An unattended pint might get spat in, but that’s the absolute worst the situation would come to.  All the other bands are talented, they wouldn’t be in the final five if they weren’t, so we would have no harsh words for any of them.  If we didn’t win, we’d obviously be upset, but if it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be.”

Pooch said, “at the end of the day music is subjective, each of the other bands deserve the place as much as ourselves,” and that the band who wins will get a “massive congratulations” from them.

And Jakil agree that “at the end of the day, we will all be trying our very best but whoever I’m sure whoever wins will deserve it.”


It seems that we’re not going to have any turf wars on the Edinburgh music scene over this one…

Tickets for the live showdown on November 21st are available here or from Ripping Records for £5 each.



You can also read our interview with Jim Wolff of Leith Records on how the judges did their best to make this the fairest competition possible here.

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