Spotlight on… Numbers x Youth Music
Towards the end of 2021, influential Glasgow electronic label Numbers announced that they would be launching a work-study scheme in the New Year in conjunction with UK charity Youth Music. As the six-month program draws to a close, we sit down with two of its participants, Rowan Crerar and Fleur Mackay, to shine the spotlight on Numbers x Youth Music; we learn more about the program, what’s next for the pair, and discuss the compilation, which you can preview in the Soundcloud integration further down the page (click here if it doesn’t display correctly).
The Skinny: You’ve been interning with iconic Glasgow label Numbers since January, through a program supported by Youth Music – how was the experience for you two?
Rowan Crerar: It was quite an incredible experience! I didn’t study music or the music business, so it was a very valuable chance to learn more about how labels work in practice, as well as having an incredible chance to learn from specialist experts. . Youth Music does very important work, and the fact that this course was part work, part study made the way we learned and developed new skills really deep and well defined.
Fleur Mackay: Participating in the Numbers x Youth Music program has been really exciting! We learned so much about the different skills involved in running a label and Numbers took so much care to ensure that we were able to learn about topics that we all individually care about. The support of those involved has been invaluable to me and we have had access to many amazing resources, knowledge and people. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of a label like Numbers and to have met the other three participants in the program.
One of the projects you’ve been working on is this compilation of tapes PINS: A Glasgow Electronic Music Compilation, to be released June 24. Can you tell us about the idea behind the compilation?
FM: Rowan and I had expressed our interest in various homemade musical creations in and around Glasgow, so it made sense for us to root our project there. Rowan wanted to do a project that could drop a pin on the current music coming out of post-lockdown Glasgow. Releasing a cassette seemed like an effective way to do this and to create a tangible and accessible medium through which people could interact with exciting DIY electronic music from Glasgow.
RC: The original idea came from a desire to create a sort of time capsule of where Glasgow electronic music currently is. Glasgow was the most locked down city in the UK which obviously meant there was an incredibly long period where venues, artists and performers were left behind and with nowhere to be truly creative, to connect and be experimental. Also, big changes like the closing of venues and the opening of radio stations may have moved Glasgow’s dance music sounds into quite different territory than it was around five years ago. . We wanted to drop a pin on the present, while giving a platform to new artists, or artists doing really amazing work, and I guess in some way create a physical object that we could be proud of, and people who make music or art in glasgow could be proud too.
Image: Self-portrait, by KAVARI
Musically, what can people expect from the compilation, which artists are involved and how did you curate it?
RC: Electronic music is huge, and the amount of music being produced in Glasgow seems to be getting bigger every day. So trying to wrap that up in a six-track compilation was quite a challenge! We tried to balance DIY, experimental and textural sounds with quite clubby and faster compositions. There are also many crossovers between these two distinctions. For example, KAVARI makes these amazing, intense, dark tunes that fit perfectly into club sets – but she also makes beautiful, ethereal ambient music. Kamus and PinballSpider similarly deliver a strong, drum-focused club sound, but manage to incorporate delicate elements of percussion and texture from their everyday surroundings.
We had a list of artists we wanted to work with, it was maybe 12 or 15 people, and from there we tried to narrow it down to a final six that we felt each represented a different tone at the within Glasgow’s electronic music scene – we were very lucky that everyone we asked wanted to participate and ended up with tracks from Kamus & PinballSpider, Pigeon Steve, Helena Celle, WomenSaid, KAVARI and EVANTHÉA.
FM: You can expect variety on the tape! It’s really exciting to have all these artists operating in Glasgow but making such different styles of music! Some are moody and textural and others are more club-ready; with the band, you can indulge in the style that suits your mood.
On the same day as the compilation release, you celebrate with an event at Glasgow’s Audio. Can you tell us more about the event?
RC: By making a band, you are creating something physical. So we wanted to do something that continues on that physical experience, and also continues to tie the launch to the here and now. We record the sets at night and offer the option to buy a ticket and a tape, a deal that basically attempts to commemorate the process of making the tape, and the here and now. I think it’s important to do things or events where people can be with each other as much as possible.
FM: The launch party is this Friday (June 24) at Audio from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tickets are available on RA and you can grab the tape and ticket combo from our Bandcamp, where you get a ticket to the party with your band pre-order plus a limited-edition alternate poster and access to recordings of DJ sets from the night. The evening begins with an ambient set from Lizzie Urquhart, followed by an improvised live set from the incredible Womensaid. After that we have more exciting performances from Kamus & PinballSpider, HEATNAVI (aka EVANTHÉA) and finally a climactic closing set from Drumheller.
Finally, what’s next for you two? Do you have other projects in the works with Numbers or are you moving on to your own projects?
RC: I hope to release more tapes! One thing we were able to learn more about during this internship is funding and transparency about where the money comes from that funds creative projects. So hopefully I can get more funding and release more tapes from Scottish artists – there’s a lot of people making great electronic music here and I’d like to use some of the skills I’ve learned on this internship to try and create a platform where people can express themselves. Apart from that, I will continue to animate my club evenings (Club Sylkie) and to do my radio projects [at EH-FM]I think.
FM: The program at Numbers ends at the end of June, so I will continue to work on my own projects but armed with much more experience and knowledge about working in the music industry than before. I hope to organize more events and participate in more collaborative projects by working with Rowan on PINS… was really a pleasure.