FLINT & PITCH PRODUCTIONS


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An Interview With Sophia Walker!

Sophia Walker is a touring spoken word poet and educator who will be headlining The Flint & Pitch Revue on Friday 24th March, with an extract from her new show In Fidelity. (Tickets here)

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Sophia has toured globally with her passionate, political verse and her shows ‘Can’t Care, Won’t Care,’ ‘Around The World in Eight Mistakes’ and ‘Cult Friction’ have gained her much acclaim and many awards at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. She was recently announced as one of the UK writers who will be part of the International Literature Showcase 2017. Her debut collection Opposite The Tourbus is published by Burning Eye Books.

Below, she talks to Freddie Alexander about her work, her views on spoken word, and what on earth this thing called ‘a scene’ is! 

FA: You will be performing an extract of ‘In Fidelity’ at the upcoming Flint and Pitch Revue. What parts of the show will we not get to see?

SW: The bits I’ll write after I realise what’s missing? Hehe.

 The audience at Flint & Pitch will be the first people to see ‘In Fidelity’, so how they react will completely reshape the show. Honestly, I set out to write a funny show about marriage and relationships, and my own terrible history as an awful 20-something having far too much fun.

I’m mostly political in my work and I just can’t handle that right now. I’m not sure audiences want to either. We all need a break. But it turns out this isn’t a funny subject to me. There are funny sections but… I’ve never seen a marriage work, so I don’t know how to achieve that. I just know I can’t fail.

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FA: You once wrote ‘we don’t just need writers, we are in desperate need of builders: people who want to shape, to strengthen, to grow and to expand this scene for all of us.’ There is a temptation, especially among younger artists, to see success in the arts as a zero-sum game. How do you wrestle with the desire to be a writer and a builder?

SW: Once you’ve been in spoken word for about five years, you look around and most of the people you came up with have quit. Five years after that you’re an elder for no other reason than you’re one of the few folk still kicking about. There’s no money in this. 

At a certain point you realise that becoming a scene builder is the only option. We do this partly to diversify income streams, but mostly because without scene builders we would all have to quit. It’s not just about running a night, though that’s lovely and there’s space for that. Being a scene builder is about creating actual opportunity.

Many people run nights for reasons of self-promotion. That’s fine, absolutely. But what we need are the folk who come along and go “hrm…that hop between being a five minute open mic’er and a twenty minute feature poet, there’s no midway point to learn how do that. Let me make it.” That’s a scene builder.

They are the person who notices that, actually, there are loads of nights doing the exact same thing, but not a single one that would allow performers to move up a level. Or none that would provide a proper paycheck. Or none that could book people big enough that the local acts get to see where the bar really is.

I guess it’s not about wrestling with the divide between writing and building. It’s about staying in the game long enough to realise that unless you yourself become builder, there will be no scene to progress through.

 

FA: Is there a ‘spoken word scene’? If so, what is it like? If not, why do everyone and their Nan keep talking about it?

 SW: Depends who you ask and what mood they’re in. It’s complicated.

Some people are performance poets. That seemed to be a particularly British thing, and is what the scene was about ten years ago. This involved a broad age range.

Some people are slammers, and that typically refers to a very specific style of poem. It doesn’t just refer to people who compete anymore, it’s a specific way of sounding.

Some people call themselves spoken word artists. They tend to be under-25, and are very YouTube oriented. Things like ‘number of views’ get bandied about a lot. The fascinating after-effect of that is the change it’s had in promoters. There’s a massive difference between your ability to say one 3 minute poem well to camera, and your ability to actually hold a room.

Promoters are increasingly requesting poets send them footage of gigs. They need to see that performers can actually hold a room, have the skills to do all this live. I’m fascinated that what was a live art-form has, in some corners, become so internet focused that the live performance skills are being lost.

So I guess there are multiple scenes.

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FA: What about the ‘UK spoken word scene?’

SW: I think saying “UK” gets a bit problematic, because there are such geographical divides. There’s the ‘London is the centre of the world’ perspective, and there’s the fact that all the truly interesting stuff is happening regionally. There’s the fact that the Scottish, Irish and Northern Irish scenes are so disconnected from the English scene, in a way the Welsh scene isn’t.

Honestly, the coolest scene right now is Manchester, and that’s mostly because it’s the scene with the least ego in it. If you see a poetry night that seems to have a diverse age range among attendees and performers, go there. That’s the good stuff.

 

FA: What would you tell the young performance poet who is, as you described, ‘working [her] butt off to sleep on the ground for nearly a week, paying 20 bucks a pop for shite food, and inevitably leaving [a] gig over a hundred dollars poorer than you came in’? What would you tell the promoter that has put her in this position?  

SW: I’d say that this is your passion and this is what you need to do to make it work. Tour on your own dime while you have other full time jobs.  It sucks, but that’s what this takes.

To the promoter I ask, are you funded? ”How much did you make off the night?” Promoters, at least the good ones, too often are out of pocket themselves to pay acts. I don’t know many good promoters who get paid for all the work they do.

The system is the problem. We don’t value art enough, the money isn’t there. And where it is there, it often goes to the more business minded people and less to the community minded people.

Promoters often aren’t the enemy. But they should know that every poet they book to headline is doing a headcount, knows the door fee and has done the maths on the back of an envelope. We know when we’re being cheated and we remember.

 

FA: What will you be doing five minutes before your performance?

SW: Watching the audience. Trying to get a gauge on the vibe of the room, what they’re responding to, what they aren’t.

It’s interesting, if you asked me what the most important skill set for a performing poet to have – it’s not writing ability, it’s emotional intelligence. The performer who is best at reading the room is the performer you walk away remembering.

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To see Sophia Walker’s In Fidelity (excerpt) alongside words from Ellen Renton and Ryan Van Winkle,PLUS tunes from Djana Gabrielle and Urban Farm Hand, buy yer ticket now! http://bit.ly/2lGYxxY


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Announcing: Fat Kid Running by Katherine McMahon! 12.5.17

FLINT & PITCH PRESENTS…

 

Fat Kid Running

The debut show from  Katherine McMahon

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Fri 12th May, 7:30pm, The Scottish Storytelling Centre

Tickets £10 – here: http://bit.ly/2mCQSnm

(Plus support from Calum Rodger’s Rock, Star, North

And

Belle Jones, Audrey Tait & Lauren Gilmour’s ‘Closed Doors.’

 

About the show:

What does it take to be at home in a body? How do you have fun moving in a world of body shaming and fat burning? Join Katherine McMahon as she takes you cross country on her journey from the fat kid skiving PE lessons, to a fat, fierce, feminist runner. This is not an inspiring before-and-after picture. It won’t make you thinner, or faster. It is a sometimes moving, sometimes funny, always honest exploration of the complicated business of being in a body.

About Katherine McMahon

Katherine McMahon is a regular performer on the Edinburgh spoken word scene, and has been rapidly gaining notice over the last few years for her moving, humorous, yet always radical verse. Her debut collection,Treasure In The History of Things, was published by Stewed Rhubarb Press in 2012, and she has been a feature performer at many spoken word events in Scotland, including Rally & Broad at most recently at StAnza Poetry Festival, 2017. Fat Kid Running is her debut spoken word show.

 

With support from:

“Closed Doors” by Belle Jones, Audrey Tait & Lauren Gilmour

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(Excerpt: 20 mins)

Closed Doors is a piece of theatrical storytelling combining spoken word with music. An exploration of how disparate communities can and do live literally on top of one another in multicultural Scotland, it examines how someone can feel like a stranger in the society they were born into and how one can find a home in a country far from the land where they grew up.

Opening with an unknown police incident preventing residents getting in or out of their flat, the story follows two middle-aged women, from different backgrounds, forced together to take shelter from the cold.

About the writers/ performers:

As the drummer/producer of pioneering Scottish hip-hop outfit Hector Bizerk, Audrey Tait’s critically-acclaimed production saw her as the only female producer shortlisted for the Scottish Album of the Year award. Songwriter/spoken word artist Lauren Gilmour received awards from Calmac Culture, The Scottish Alternative Music Awards and Celtic Connections as one half of Bella and the Bear. She and Audrey will be working with Birds of Paradise Theatre Company later in 2017. Belle Jones trained at the RSAMD where she won the Percival Steeds Prize for Spoken Word and the Norah Cooper Mulligan Award for verse Speaking.

 

And

“Rock, Star, North” by Calum Rodger

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(Running time: 20 mins)

About Rock, Star, North.

‘Come forth into the light of things / Let nature be your teacher.’ So said William Wordsworth in 1798. Calum Rodger wants ‘the light of things’, but he doesn’t need nature. He’s got Grand Theft Auto V. In a high-concept parody of the poetic travelogue, Rodger takes us on a journey through the game-world as he pursues ‘the virtual sublime’. With control pad in hand and tongue firmly in cheek, Rock, Star, North. is a bombastic meditation on reality and fantasy, tradition and technology, video games, poetry, the world, and our place within it.

About the writer/ performer

Calum Rodger is a poet and researcher based in Glasgow, working in performance, print, film and digital media. His work explores Scottish culture and literary traditions with a healthy dose of humour and irreverence. He performs widely throughout Scotland including shows at the National Museum of Scotland, BBC@Potterrow and TEDxGlasgow, runs occasional live poetry night The Verse Hearse, teaches at the University of Glasgow and is poetry reviews editor at Gutter magazine. His chapbooks Know Yr Stuff: Poems on Hedonism and Glasgow Flourishes are published by Tapsalteerie. You can find more of his work at www.calumrodger.co.uk.

 


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Announcing: The Flint & Pitch Revue #4! (24.3.17)

The Flint & Pitch Revue #4!

Fri 24 March, The Bongo Club, Edinburgh. 7pm doors.

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With UrbanFarmHand, Ryan Van Winkle, Sophia Walker, Ellen Renton and introducing Djana Gabrielle. Hosted by Jenny Lindsay and Cameron Foster. £6. Tickets here: http://bit.ly/2lGYxxY

We’re back with another top-notch Revue showcase of new music, new voices and headline talent! Read on for more on the acts!

URBANFARMHAND

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Flint & Pitch are delighted to present the debut album from UrbanFarmHard, ‘Tell Me The Place’. At times complex and obscure and at others simple and clear, ‘Tell Me The Place’ has delicious layers of vocals coupled with sublimely produced horns, synths, guitars, drums, samples and well, everything. Born from the crucible of the cut throat world of advertising music, UrbanFarmHand (aka Ben Seal, producer, composer, film-maker) has not come out unscathed; but nevertheless, UFH is dripping with love, and despair, and wonder. As if the record itself isn’t enough to boast about, the band’s line-up is a sight to behold – featuring Inge Thomson on everything (Accordion, Sampler, Percussion, Vocals), Siobhan Wilson (Reveal Records) on guitar and Prophet 12, and Calum McIntyre on drums. Line-up!

 

RYAN VAN WINKLE

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Ryan Van Winkle is a poet, live artist, podcaster and critic living in Edinburgh. His second collection, The Good Dark, won the Saltire Society’s 2015 Poetry Book of the Year award.

His poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, The Prairie Schooner and The American Poetry Review.

As a member of Highlight Arts he has organized festivals and translation workshops in Syria, Pakistan and Iraq. He was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson fellowship in 2012 and a residency at The Studios of Key West in 2016.

 

SOPHIA WALKER

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Sophia Walker has performed everywhere from the United Nations to a Boston divebar. Her three spoken word shows have garnered four awards thus far, including Best UK Spoken Word Show, and have all toured through theatres across the UK and US. Her poems have aired on BBC iplayer, BBC Arts, Radio 4, Franceinter and stations across the US, India, Singapore, Vietnam, Italy and Ireland. Her debut poetry collection Opposite the Tourbus was shortlisted for the Reader’s Choice section of The Guardian’s First Book Award.  She is the host and organiser of the annual BBC Slam Championships.

 

ELLEN RENTON

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(Photo credit: Perry Johnsson)

Ellen Renton is a poet originally from Edinburgh, now based in Glasgow. She has performed at various nights including Rally and Broad, Loud Poets, Sonnet Youth and Inky Fingers, and took part in the spoken word project Words First run by BBC1Xtra and the Roundhouse. She is the winner of The Time Is Now Prize 2015 and the Blind Poetics Slam 2016. With support from The Nurturing Talent Fund, in September 2016 she released ‘Beginnings’; a CD collection combining poetry and music. Her work has been featured by BBC Radio Scotland and Young Scot.

 

And Introducing

DJANA GABRIELLE

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Djana Gabrielle is a French-Cameroonian singer songwriter, now residing in Glasgow. Djana spent 2016 touring her debut EP around Europe, and is now rapidly gaining notice in the vibrant music scenes in Glasgow and Edinburgh. We’re delighted to have her in the Flint & Pitch New Voice slot!

With resident hosts Jenny Lindsay & Cameron Foster! Come join us for another splendid Revue! xxx


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An Interview With Paula Varjack!

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On Friday 10th March we are delighted to present ‘Show Me The Money’ by Paula Varjack at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, with support from Martin O’Connor and Skye Loneragan. Here, Freddie Alexander talks to Paula about the show, and much else besides. Read on, and buy tickets to see this wonderful artist, with a show that is painfully honest about what artists do to make ends meet… Tix £10 – here.

In his review of ‘Show Me The Money,’ Dave Coates said “[you] know the power of optimism, hope and (more importantly), getting organised.’ What does it mean to be hopeful in times like these? 

It is much easier to find hope if you speak honestly with others facing the same challenges. I find strength and solidarity in opening up to and finding support from other artists.

Transparency between artists is so important. In our “you are your own brand” culture, it is easy to think that everyone is doing better than you. But when we are honest about what we post online, we often discover there is more to the story.

Tell me how training in Stage Management and Technical Production at RADA influenced your work.

My plan at the time was to train as a stage manager rather than director, which is what I really wanted to do. Stage Manager was a job I thought I could get and get paid for, while working closely with directors.

It was an incredibly hard two years. I think I was the youngest student they had admitted. I turned 18 in the first month of my studies. It was my first time away from home, and I was far too excited about everything London had to offer. It took me some months to give the course the focus it deserved.

I have carried what RADA taught me into everything I have done since. This includes craft, focus, and awareness of the roles involved in putting on a theatrical show. It translated nicely into a foundation event production and film production as well!

But I realised I had a problem. As much as I loved the craft of technical production, I was far more drawn to creative roles. This was not true of most of my peers, who often had no interest in discussing the plays we were working on. I felt very alone.

In many ways it was the wrong course for me. Yet RADA also laid the best possible foundation, because they gave me an understanding for the unseen elements of theatre.

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 Have you ever been in love with a piece of art?

I remember an installation in Whitechapel called ‘Take Care Of Yourself’by Sophie Calle. It had a real impact on the way I approached making work, and the interests I had in terms of themes and form. The way it hit me led to a deep interest in Sophie Calle. I went to the exhibition 3-4 times to spend more time with it. I was totally awe struck. She created it for the Venice Bienalle while representing France. Around that time her long term lover sent an email to break up with her, ending with the line “take care of yourself.”

She did the thing many would do, she sent the email to her female friends to help unpack it. Those friends included different kinds of professions, as well as other artists. Each had a different take on what was meant by the line.

Calle became fascinated with these responses. She decided to create an installation where she invited other artists and people of diverse professions, but all women, to respond to the email. The resulting work is a phenomenal onslaught of perspectives on the terms in which a relationship can end.

You have to spend a long time with it, because there is so much to take in. It is overwhelming, a complete sensory overload of images and word. I loved it because it brings together an incredible intersection of media, photography, sound, text and video.

One of my favourite reviews of your work was by Sophia Walker, who described the experience of being ‘Varjacked… [she] reintroduced me to my own genre.’ Tell me about a memorable audience reaction to your work.

One of my favourites was the night after a gig in a Berlin art space/bar called Schokoladen (translation: chocolate). A lot of my friends came out to support me, and afterwards everyone was so pumped.

Considering I was very new to things and had a lot of stage anxiety, I am still surprised at how convincingly I played a confident persona. It was only meant to be a spoken word set, but instead I gave what seemed like a 20 minute extract of a solo show exploring late night Berlin adventures.

Afterwards everyone ended up going to a bar, my friends and people in the audience. Everyone was fired up, and we had this really messy party. At one point everyone was doing jägermeister shots, and I remember getting up and saying “everyone should make out now”. And they did! There were lap-dances between all genders, it was super queer.

I haven’t had a reaction to a performance like that again since. I am ever hopeful.

What will you be doing five minutes before your show starts?

The show has a soft start, so five minutes before I will be sitting at my desk on stage. I will be listening to a mix of music related to money, and checking out who is coming in. This is a way of me establishing a connection with the audience. Letting them know I see them and we are in this together.

The show is about me and them, and I will be talking to them directly. I need them to be engaged with me, to not just sit back and be passive. It also allows me to establish a dynamic with them that is friendly and a bit flirty. I am saying hello to people I know and noticing people that I’d like to know.

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Tickets for Flint & Pitch Presents ‘Show Me The Money’ (plus support) are available from the Scottish Storytelling Centre here.


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Flint & Pitch Presents: Show Me The Money by Paula Varjack (+ support)

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FRIDAY 10TH MARCH  I The Scottish Storytelling Centre   I 7:30pm

Tickets: £10 –   http://bit.ly/2jbB62R

We are delighted to announce that tickets are now on sale for the second of our Presents shows, which are dedicated to showcasing a best of long-form spoken word theatre, with a focus on providing a new and exciting platform for Scotland-based spoken word talent. Our first Presents show sold out, so get your tickets swiftly!

About the show:

Paula Varjack’s ‘Show Me The Money’ is a must-see for anyone with even a passing interest in sustainable arts culture. Based on UK-wide research and interviews with artists across various genres, Varjack flips the lid on what it takes to try to build a sustainable arts career in the UK today, as government cuts bite. With her trademark humour, insight and multi-arts approach, this show is a painfully honest yet ultimately uplifting call to arms.

Watch an excerpt here: https://vimeo.com/159840055


Paula Varjack is a writer, filmmaker and performance maker. Her work explores identity, the unsaid, and making the invisible visible. Trained in stage management, filmmaking and performance, she enjoys working across and combining disciplines; performance, theatre, documentary and spoken word.

And, in the supporting slots, we are delighted to welcome excerpts from two long-form shows, from the spoken word/ theatre practitioners Martin O’Connor and Skye Loneragan!

 

MARTIN O’CONNOR’S ‘Mark Of The Beast’ (excerpt)

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Inspired by Glasgow and its relationship with alcohol and addiction, Martin’s latest poetry performance The Mark of the Beast explores society through a prism of morality, temptation and family attitudes towards the ‘demon drink,’ and is performed in Martin’s recognisable blend of Scots and song, shot through with religious references and imagery.

Martin O’Connor is a playwright, performer and poet from Glasgow.  He is interested in exploring the ideas of Scottish representation and identity through theatre and poetry, with a particular interest in Scots. He makes work for solo performance as well as with, and for, other people.

And

SKYE LONERAGAN’S ‘The Line We Draw’

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Award-winning writer/performer Skye Loneragan shares an extract from The Line We Draw, a quirky verse with live drawing, which explores the line we draw between ages and art-forms. The piece was originally performed at The Arches and also showcased at Wigtown Literary Festival in 2016 where she was Writer In Residence.

“Dr-Seuss-like” – Neil Cooper, The Herald

“Fascinating verse piece” – Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

Fringe First winner, Skye Loneragan is a writer/performer and theatre director with a passion for curiosity as a kind of currency. Creator of Q-Poetics (poetry in places & spaces of waiting), her collection includes I’ll Do a Budget, Possibility, I-Won and A Little Laugh I Lost Somewhere.Her poetry has been published in anthologies and magazines in the UK and abroad, and she has performed at several festivals, including opening for Kate Tempest at the Sydney Writers Festival.

Come see these wonders! Tickets here: http://bit.ly/2jbB62R


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An Interview with Colin McGuire & Michelle Fisher!

On Friday 3rd February, Flint & Pitch presents the first of a series of shows at the Scottish Storytelling Centre dedicated to providing a new and exciting platform for spoken word theatre. Headlining, we have Luke Wright’s brand new show ‘The Toll.’ Support comes from two exciting, emerging acts in Scottish spoken word, Colin McGuire and Michelle Fisher. 

Here, they speak to Freddie Alexander about their new work, their influences, and what they’ll be doing before the show! Come along to hear these great new acts, alongside one of the UK’s most exciting poets. Tickets here.

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(Colin McGuire in an excerpt from The Wake-Up Call)

Tell us about the show that you are developing

Colin: The Wake up Call is a series of poems connected by sleep. I first performed it in in the summer of 2015 at the Edinburgh Fringe. The show was based on my first chapbook ‘Everybody lie down and no-one gets hurt’, which is a collection that deals directly with sleep.

Sleep is a shared common experience. Very few people or species can go without sleep. I was interested in sleep as a biological process, as something ‘good’ that we experience every night. Equally, sleep disorders intrigued me. Insomnia, for one, and general sleep disruption too. I wanted to apply that process to the world at large, to use sleep or lack of sleep as an analogy for unrest in the world. I wanted to reduce the problems of the world at large to the problem of sleep, in order to understand sleep better, and to praise and encourage a good night’s sleep in the world.

Michelle: Love: In The Minor Key is about the side of love we don’t often see portrayed in TV and movies. What happens when love doesn’t go as planned? What happens to you as a person? I wanted to write about love from this angle as I don’t come across it in literature very often – it’s not about having a broken heart – it’s about the impact and the change that it creates in it’s wake.

The show isn’t necessarily about romantic love, although that will be explored. It will look at familial love, self-love and exploring ways in which identity is shaped and altered by these complex processes.

I think it’s important, especially as a woman, to not simply be the heroine in a love story. It’s so much bigger than that. Sometimes love hurts, and sometimes that leaves scars that we never recover from. Not all scars heal, and I want to remind people that that’s normal and that you’re not alone in feeling that.

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(Michelle Fisher, photo credit: Chris Scott)

What is your poetry background?

Colin: I have always written. I read ferociously. Too much perhaps. I have one chapbook, and two full collections, two of which are with Red Squirrel Press. I have a third full collection that is just about complete, and will hopefully be out in 2017.

I have been published in various anthologies, websites, books, etc. I perform regularly in Scotland, and have done for over eight years, more or less. Why? I come to terms with things. To understand. To hear what others have to say. To compare mythologies. To learn.

Michelle: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and poetry came much later. I had planned on being a novelist. I then moved into writing short stories and novella type pieces. After that I took a creative writing class, where I discovered poetry. I really wasn’t a fan of poetry in high school. It was stuffy and complicated and full of long, grand metaphors. My perception changed when I started writing my own poetry and reading work that I found enjoyable. I started performing just over a year and a half ago on a whim, after responding to a shout out for a female poetry performer. I’ve never looked back.

What is the difference between writing single poems and longer shows?

Colin: My show is made up of a series of single poems performed together. If that makes The Wake Up Call a ‘long form’ show then I’d say I’ve had to make sure to ‘connect’ the poems. This means finding the link that will make them work as a longer show, or a ‘connected set piece’ – making the link between the poems, gives it a longer, more robust connection.

Michelle: This is my first so I’m not sure! My approach is to write single poems and then expand them where necessary and write flawless transitions. My show follows a timeline, so I might have it easier than if it were a singular event.

Who have been your influences?

Colin: I would usually list off a series of writers and poets. But I won’t. Experience is the greatest influence. My psychological conditioning is my greatest influence, in that it governs so much of my choices, my idiosyncrasies, my biases, my tastes, my errors.

The people I meet, the people I work with, all of these serve to feed and shape what and why and how I write.

Michelle: The first poet I ever loved was Seamus Heaney. I’d say Patti Smith, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Rosemary Tonks, Maya Angelou, Salena Godden, Hollie McNish, Pablo Neruda, Thomas Hardy. I could go on and on and on. My influences are pretty varied, for the most part probably aren’t ‘poets’. Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, Mohsin Hamid are all writers I admire greatly and Nick Mulvey is probably my favourite songwriter. His lyrics are gorgeous.

My biggest influence is probably what happens around me, as I write a lot about people and current affairs.

 

What will you be doing 5 minutes before your show starts?

Colin: Putting on my pyjamas.

Michelle: Pacing, chain smoking, and panicking.

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See you on the 3rd, if not before! 
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Freddie Alexander is a writer and events organiser based in Edinburgh. He has been a coordinator of the Soapbox and Inky Fingers Open Mic, and in 2014 he hosted the second National UK University Poetry Slam. In 2016 he produced K/RK, a fortnightly performance and interview series focusing on UK Live Poetry. He has been a features journalist for Broadway Baby, and has been featured on other independent poetry blogs. He will be conducting interviews with other forthcoming Flint & Pitch acts over the coming months. Welcome to the team, Freddie!

Twitter: @FredRAlexander


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An Interview With Audrey Tait!

Audrey Tait is a songwriter and producer, perhaps best known for co-founding Hector Bizerk. Alongside singer Michelle Low, her new outfit The Miss’s feature as part of The Flint & Pitch Revue #3 alongside Ross Sutherland, Rachel McCrum, Catherine Wilson and The Strange Blue Dreams. Tickets here.

Cameron Foster of Flint & Pitch, who co-hosts with Jenny Lindsay on Jan 20th, spoke to her about her reflections on 2016 and what is coming up from The Miss’s this year!

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(Audrey Tait and Michelle Low)

Before we talk about the Miss’s; your other band, Hector Bizerk, bowed out in style at the Art School in October – have you had time to assess your impact on Scottish Hip-hop? 

Yeah, it’s been quite a reflective year and I feel really proud of what we achieved with Hector Bizerk. We started the band to push our own creativity and ended up exceeding the little expectations we had. In terms of hiphop, Scotland has had a diverse collection of emcees, b-boys, djs and graff artists for many years and I think we managed to push out to a wide audience that we could then bring into a vibrant scene they maybe weren’t aware existed on their doorstep. I feel like we impacted the music scene positively in general. If there wasn’t a door open for us, we’d find a wee window round the back to climb through and that’s an attitude I’ll maintain for the rest of my life. Too many musicians think they “need” a manager or an agent or whatever but the truth is, you need ambition and the drive to get what you’re after and I think we had that in abundance. A bit of talent probably helps too haha!

Despite being busy with Hector Bizerk, The Miss’s have been around for a few years too, can you tell us about how you got together?

Michelle and I have known each other our whole lives and when I started drumming in a soul band I insisted they had to hear her sing as she had it in her bones! Sure enough, she blew them away and joined the band. After a wee while, we started trying some covers together with me on the guitar which lead to us writing our own songs. We’ve went through a few different stages but we both feel like right now is the strongest we’ve been. I think because we have both always been involved in other projects we’ve grown in confidence and have more belief in our writing.

You guys certainly aren’t messing about, your album Crash due to launch at Celtic Connections in January, what can we expect to hear?

I guess you’re right! I hadn’t really thought about it like that but aye, we’re straight in there with an album! Why not? We both much prefer listening to albums and I think the type of music we make leans more to that kind of audience rather than a few one off singles. We’re not looking to hit the charts, we just want people to listen. Crash is a collection of songs mostly written this year and recorded at Paulshalls. I’ve loved working on it, using production techniques I’ve picked up over the years in the studio and learning loads more in the process. It’s a full band sound on the recordings and we’re acoustic for our live shows but either way expect to hear Michelle’s amazing voice, harmonies, counter-melodies, dynamics and a drummer playing guitar!

You’re obviously quite comfortable flipping between different genres, do you think it’s important that a band has a specific “sound”, or is that not as important as perhaps it used to be?

I think you can have a “sound” without boxing it into one genre. I love when a musician is recognisable by the way they play and the tone of their instrument/voice so I think that’s important but I don’t think people are as fussed about being so specific about things now. At the end of the day, a good song will be a good song and that’s all everybody is working to achieve. Well, that’s our aim anyway.

With an album launch so early in the year, what does the rest of 2017 hold for The Miss’s?

We want to get out and play this album! We’ve both had our fair share of great gigs around the country but not really done that together so that’s the plan for this year. Inevitably, we’ll keep writing along the way as well.

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We’re delighted to be welcoming The Miss’s to our stage! Tickets here! xx