Staff and Tutors 2019

A NOTE FROM FINDLAY NAPIER

 

Hello there,

Before you scroll down and read about this years team there are a couple of things I'd like you to know about Glasgow Songwriting Festival and how I choose your tutors.

I started the festival in 2016 inspired by a series of songwriting retreats I'd run with Karine Polwart at Scotland's Creative Writing Centre Moniack Mhor, my experiences as a participant at Arvon's Totleigh Barton retreat and the UK Songwriting Festival.

 

I was lucky enough to receive funding to attend my week long songwriting retreats. That's a luxury I don't take for granted so top of my agenda is always your value for money. I need you to leave the festival inspired, invigorated and ready to sign up for next year. With that in mind you should understand that I don't pick tutors simply because they're famous songwriters. I pick them because they are excellent communicators. I pick them because they have proven time and time again that they are willing to share their skills with others. I pick them because they can adapt their inspirational workshops to include any participant... in short they are excellent educators and you're going to learn loads.

The second thing I noticed as a participant was that the men outnumbered the women three to one. In fact there were no female tutors at UKSWF the year I attended. The last two years I have made gender balance a priority as I think that if we are to address the enormous gender imbalance in the music industry we need to start here at a grass roots level.

Please scroll below and read what your tutors have been up to. I think you'll be surprised at the scope of their achievements.

Findlay Napier

Festival Director

Findlay Napier

Festival Director

Findlay Napier is a singer songwriter based in Glasgow. In 2016 he ran the inaugural Glasgow Songwriting Festival. To keep with the spirit of changing tutors each year Findlay will not be teaching in 2018 however he will be making tea and coffee and making sure everyone gets to classes on time.

As defined in the title of his remarkable 2015 solo debut VIP: Very Interesting Persons (No.2 in the Daily Telegraph’s top dozen folk albums that year), Scottish singer-songwriter Findlay Napier categorically commands musical VIP status.

He now turns those same supreme songwriting and storytelling gifts, allied with magpie-minded imagination and truly magnificent vocals, to his adoptive home town, on VIP’s hotly anticipated follow-up, Glasgow.

 

Continuing his collaboration with Boo Hewerdine, the new album combines freshly-penned originals with classics and rarities from Glasgow’s vast and colourful ballad canon, by authors as diverse as Hamish Imlach and The Blue Nile. Together, they form an extended musical love-letter to Scotland’s metropolis, celebrating 20 years since Napier first arrived as a student, swapping his idyllic Highland childhood home for the 14th floor of the city’s notorious (and since demolished) Red Road flats.

Napier’s own songcraft today vibrantly reflects this increasingly rich stylistic melting-pot – a mix he’s played no small part in creating, especially the cross-fertilisation between Glasgow’s folk and indie communities, as both co-host of a long-running open-mic night, and promoter of the decade-old Hazy Recollections concert series. In 2016, too, Napier launched the Glasgow Songwriting Festival, a weekend of workshops and performances which completely sold out its inaugural outing, and returns in 2017. In between putting the finishing touches to Glasgow, Napier also toured in spring 2017/18 with acclaimed contemporary protest-song showcase Shake the Chains.

Carol Laula

Tutor- Legendary Glasgow Songwriter

Scotland is famed the world over for its exports and one of its finest has to be singer-songwriter, Carol Laula. With a style which bobs around somewhere between the smooth, clear delicacy of Karen Carpenter and the tougher edges of Joan Armatrading, it's hardly surprising that she's risen from a young unknown to become a household name. She first captivated the media and her audience in 1990, when her independent single, 'Standing Proud', was chosen to represent Glasgow in its year of culture.

 

The same decade saw Carol team up with Stuart Adamson to produce a series of songs that will no doubt be seen as a legacy to the talent of the late Big Country singer / songwriter. Carol has also collaborated with Jane Weidlin of the Go-Gos, Ryan Hedgecock of Lone Justice and Australia's Cheryl Beattie.

 

In 1997, Carol took a study break - supposedly - but in between achieving her MA Honours Degree in Politics & English Literature at the University of Glasgow, she couldn't resist branching out into other aspects of the media and made her debut presenting shows for both BBC Radio and Scottish Television.

 

The noughties shaped up to be another busy decade her. As well as touring new areas such as Iceland, she has performed across the UK and Ireland with Eliza Gilkyson and appeared at Glastonbury - something of a highlight, when she not only shared the bill with Billy Bragg, but met her hero, Tony Benn.

 

With eight albums under her belt, the most recent The Bones of It (Vertical Records) released in February 2016, she still stirs critics to describe her as "One of Scotland's leading singer-songwriters" and "an undeniably passionate and whole-hearted singer"

Boo Hewerdine

Tutor- Ivor Novello Award Nominee, Gunslinger for Eddi Reader and Chris (Squeeze) Difford

 Boo Hewerdine is one of the greatest songwriter performers in the business and a unique talent.

The acclaimed Ivor Novello Award nominated English singer-songwriter's new album “Swimming in Mercury” (Reveal Records April 28th 2017) gives us a personal insight as he takes us on that journey back in time. It’s a trip furnished with a glisten and a glint in his eye as he applies style and shapes to his autobiographical memories. Hewerdine revisits and recreates music in a manner that, put simply, a band starting out just couldn’t afford.  In his own words “The new album was recorded in the spirit of the first four track recording I ever did… but instead of a chunky cassette deck we were able to use Chris Pepper’s Cambridge studio. It was an incredibly enjoyable and creative way to work. Often I would write a song in the morning and by the end of the day we would have another track done”.

 

There’s a compelling sense of adventure in tracks such as “My First Band”, “Satellite Town” and “A Letter to My Younger Self”. As a recording artist, Boo’s first tentative steps came with the band, The Great Divide before the formation of his much-loved eighties group “The Bible” and a career that subsequently bloomed such that he is now in constant demand as a musician, songwriter, producer, teacherand live concert performer.

Wearing his producers hat, Boo is renowned for his ideas and innovation, for new ways of recording and bringing projects to completion. To be successful, to add value, you need to stand out as a minimum but really there is a need to lead, “to be ahead of the pack”. Certainly his 2016 production project “Mobile”, for Devon based artist Peter James Millson, does just that, a complete album recorded directly to a Windows phone then professionally mastered. The result stands out as a modern-day field recording and is to be released on Hewerdine’s own Haven Label in 2017.

Brit Award winning, former Fairground Attraction singer (and Scottish national treasure) Eddi Reader(MBE) is the perhaps the artist Boo Hewerdine is most regularly associated with, as a songwriter, musician and producer. Together they enjoyed international success with the (Hewerdine written) hit single “Patience of Angels” in 1995 and Boo also produced Reader’s “Sings the Songs of Robert Burns” in 2003, an album now viewed as a folk classic.

In 2017 Hewerdine continues to enjoy playing live and writing new material with Reader and will tour Australia and the UK with her this Spring. Songwriter Findlay Napier employed Boo Hewerdine to work on his 2017 recording based on life stories of real Glasgow people and recorded completely live. Boo having collaborated with Findlay on his previous album VIP (Very Interesting Persons) which received rave reviews, including a shortlist for Best Album of the Year in The Telegraph) and the two songwriters also tour together regularly.

Another great songwriter to call upon Boo Hewerdine is Chris Difford ofSqueeze. Difford and Hewerdine’s latest project, 2016’s “Fancy Pants” involved co-writing and producing more than thirty songs, initially for a theatre show and accompanying soundtrack. Soundtracks have been a feature of Boo’s songwriting and production canon, since his 1997 work for the films 24 7 and Fever Pitch.

It is expected some of the Fancy Pants songs will find their way onto a new Chris Difford studio album in the future, several of their demos surfaced early in 2017 on the Edel Records released, Chris Difford 5-disc box set “Chris To the Mill”.

 

Listening to Boo talk, it’s clear he’s also incredibly passionate about his Song Writing Workshops, about empowering others to achieve. One of Boo’s most pleasing moments happened when Tanya Brittain, a singer who had never managed to finish a complete song before signing up, became confident and comfortable of her own abilities. Within two years she had formed a successful band “The Changing Room” with Sam Kelly.  Tanya won the FATEA website’s Single of The Year Award in 2016 for her song “Names on The Wall” narrowly beating Hewerdine’s own “Born”, the forerunner to the concept of 2017 album “Swimming in Mercury”.

 

All through Boo’s career of performing, of writing material for major artists such as Sia, K.D Lang, Kris Drever (Lau), Duke Special, David McAlmont, and Eddi Reader,being produced by Steve Earleor touring with Richard Thompsonto name but a few, it is perhaps going right back to his childhood that gives us the best clues as to his motivation.

 

Speaking in 2014 around the release of his Best Of collection, “My Name in The Brackets” Boo explained “I had a Dansette and a handful of 45s. What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For? I Remember You, Seven Little Girls. Records from that strange era between Rock & Roll and The Beatles. I would study the labels. The title, the singer, the numbers, Columbia, HMV, the stuff about rights written around the edge and most intriguing – the names in the brackets. It turned out that these people had “written” these songs. Songs could be made up. Conjured out of thin air. I decided then, at the age of seven, that’s what I would do. I couldn’t sing or play an instrument but I had an internal jukebox going on the whole time... All I ever wanted was my name in the brackets. And it gave me this life”.

Emma Pollock

Tutor, Founding Member of The Delgados and Chemikal Underground Records

A founding member of critically acclaimed Scottish band The Delgados, Emma Pollock co-wrote and shared lead vocal duties on the 5 studio albums the band released between 1995 and 2005. 2000’s album ‘The Great Eastern’ was awarded a Mercury nomination.

 

In 1995 Emma co-founded influential Glasgow record label Chemikal Underground and in 1997 co-founded recording studio Chem19 with the band, both of which continue to run today.

 

Following The Delgados’ split in 2005, Emma became a solo artist and has since released 3 solo albums; ‘Watch The Firewoks’ (4AD) in 2007, ‘The Law Of Large Numbers’ (Chemikal Underground) in 2010 and ‘In Search of Harperfield’ (Chemikal Underground) in 2016. 

 

In addition to these records released, she has also taken part in many collaborative projects; most notably The Burns Unit featuring amongst others King Creosote & Karine Polwart, which resulted in 2010’s debut album for the band ‘Sideshow’ and a ‘Later With Jools Holland’ appearance. 

 

2010 also saw the formation of The Fruit Tree Foundation with Rod Jones (Idlewild), a project commissioned by the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival to promote awareness of mental health issues within the music industry by producing an album of new material written by 8 Scottish songwriters. 

 

Emma also regularly works with Glasgow organisation Vox Liminis, which arranges songwriting workshops in Scottish prisons and is due to release its debut album of original material in May 2018.

 

Emma continues to write in preparation of recording  a new album in 2019.

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