Lights in the Dark: Last Night From Glasgow & Olive Grove

Last Night From Glasgow and Olive Grove artists Pocket Knife, Domiciles, Kohla, The Girl Who Cried Wolf, Lemon Drink, Moonsoup and Mt. Doubt discuss their upcoming gigs and releases

Feature by Fraser MacIntyre | 09 Oct 2019

There are a disheartening number of ailments and predicaments in the world that have no miracle cure or immediate solution. Should you, however, catch a heavy case of the autumn or winter blues as 2019 draws to a close, two of our bonnie wee country’s most celebrated independent labels have prepared an exquisite and eclectic barrage of events and releases sure to light up even the darkest of months ahead. Last Night from Glasgow and Olive Grove Records both put artist and community over profit, as every artist interviewed below has attested. The results, should you be inclined to seek them out, are often sublime.

Glasgow-based newcomers Lemon Drink are set to release their debut single, A Song for You, via LNFG on 25 October. Sophie Bartholomew (vocals/guitar) explains: “It started off as a joke. KC [Kirstie Cunningham, guitar] came to my flat with a verse she’d written about a guy I’d seen a couple of times, then awkwardly bumped into in Broadcast. He was really drunk and wouldn’t leave us alone until he passed out on the bar and got chucked out.

“I can be quite quiet,” she continues. “Every day, as a young woman, you come across things in society that aren’t quite right, and songwriting gives me a voice to respond to that. You could easily assume a song like Pull Your House Down [taken from the band’s first EP, due for release in early 2020] is just another song about a guy, but it’s about pulling down the house of the patriarchy. I’m not literally going next door and pulling someone’s house down.”

Highly proficient in processing “awkward and rubbish experiences that later seem funny” into concise, melodic outbursts, Lemon Drink will, after launching their single at The Old Hairdressers (26 Oct), perform at LNFG's Remember Remember the 3rd of November all-day extravaganza which will see the likes of Slime City and Annie Booth take to the Òran Mór stage.

Booth, in addition to performing solo, is a member of Mt. Doubt, who, alongside Life Model, have recently joined the LNFG family. Frontman Leo Bargery, enthused to be “sharing a roster with bands like Cloth”, is nevertheless a little impatient to catapult the band’s new record out into the world next year. Currently being mixed, Bargery and co’s new songs, their most beautifully and brutally vulnerable to date, can be previewed by those catching the Edinburgh residents supporting Idlewild in Inverness (21 Nov).

Elsewhere on the label, Rachel Alice Johnson is on the brink of following recent single T O U C H – an intimate, elegant and inescapably captivating affair – with an EP and her live debut as Kohla. Rehearsals have begun, with two dancers and labelmates L-Space set to accompany Johnson – moved to incorporate elements of hip-hop, R'n'B and contemporary into her work by the likes of FKA Twigs – onstage.

“Until I started Kohla, I never really thought about how movement can enhance a performance,” she begins. “We’ve choreographed the whole show. It’s like nothing I’ve done before, and I don’t really know anyone else in Scotland that incorporates dance, so it’s kind of scary! The girls [Johnson’s two dancers] are so good. I’ve learned a lot from working with them.”

While most LNFG acts are based in Scotland’s major cities, Domiciles have been transmitting their hypnotic and increasingly stark psych-meditations from Fife since 2015, and their debut record This Is Not a Zen Garden was released earlier this year. “We wanted to record somewhere we’d have time to experiment,” Nick Young (guitar/vocals) begins. “ We went on Airbnb and sourced the weirdest place we could find: a little old lady’s cottage next to Loch Goil. We put all the couches in the kitchen and recorded all day and all night in her living room."

Domiciles are primarily driven by Young and Rory Cowieson, who he met studying sound engineering at Fife College. “Our original ambition,” Young continues, “was to intimidate people with the sheer volume of our guitars. We did that for ages, but people were leaving our gigs. We’ve reigned that back a bit. There are three synths and an organ on stage now."

Notorious perfectionists, Domiciles’ live show has been tweaked and twisted over the years into the force of nature it is now. A winter tour behind the record is currently being pieced together, with a couple of dates, including Edinburgh's Sneaky Pete’s (13 Nov) already announced.

A more recent signing of LNFG’s is The Girl Who Cried Wolf, which brings together seasoned songwriters Lauren Gilmour and Audrey Tait. “We run our own studio,” Gilmour begins, referring to Novasound in Glasgow. “Over the last three years we’ve been writing music for other people, and this year we wanted to devote time to our own work. I was really missing playing live.

“Our job five days a week is writing in lots of different styles,” she continues. “It’s been really nice and empowering just to do our own thing and see what that sounds like now. My voice, what I have to say, and the way I think about things has changed.” 

Gilmour and Tait (formerly of Hector Bizerk), whose impeccable drumming will be familiar to those who have caught Broken Chanter live in recent months, will be accompanying the release of a new single with an intimate celebration at The Blue Arrow (22 Nov). The debut release from Broken Chanter – the new solo project of Kid Canaveral’s David MacGregor – recently brought LNFG and Olive Grove together in co-releasing the album, though the labels were far from strangers to each other before that.

Turning the camera in Olive Grove’s direction, and following volumes one and two of their Archipelago EPs being released in August, the latest instalments of commander-in-chief Lloyd Meredith’s adventurous, six-part Creative Scotland-funded series, volumes three and four are set to arrive in late autumn, featuring Moonsoup and Pocket Knife.

Recent SAY Award nominee Carla J. Easton initially planted the idea of signing Pocket Knife in Meredith’s head. The duo were still taking their first, tentative steps into performing live when Easton offered them a support slot in Edinburgh. Meredith was at the gig, and Easton instructed him to “sign them before someone else does!” Louise Connor (vocals) laughs as she recalls their set: “It was our first seated, more mature audience. They were really nice, but I was like, 'Shit! All of our stuff is really sexual!'” 

Her collaborator Michael Nimmo delights in sharing a particular example of Meredith’s generosity: “I had a stupid idea. I told him I’d love to release a song about cookies on a cookie-shaped picture disc. Later, after we'd forgotten about it, he just said, 'Oh by the way, I could only afford five, but here they are'.”

The vibrancy of Connor and Nimmo’s songs can perhaps only be matched by the duo’s approach to live performance. Connor asked two of her friends if either of them would be interested in dancing onstage wearing a squid costume, and both were so adamant that they must be the one to do so that she ended up buying a second just to keep the peace. “My flatmate made a giant, papier-mâché shrimp costume also,” she nods. “It was very impractical and slightly painful.”

After hearing and meeting singer-songwriter Moonsoup (real name Niamh Baker), who recently moved to Glasgow from Falkirk, the pair were delighted to partake in a split EP with her. Baker is currently performing solo, though her project is “changing in shape all the time," she tells us.

“The EP is quite different to the last one,” she says. “It’s not as innocent.” Recorded with her “mates Luke and Ian at Green Door,” Baker’s songs balance laid-back instrumentation with sharp, funny and commendably forthright observations and confessions. Its title alone, I Don’t Like Rocket Unless It’s In Small Portions, should be enough to entice you into delving into her small, yet promising discography.

There is still, ludicrously, after all of that, more from the two labels to anticipate, including a new double A-side from dream-architects L-Space (4 Oct), and the much anticipated debut record from Cloth is due in November. Pop, garage, psychedelia, R'n'B, folk and a cavalcade of other genres collide in the carefully assembled rosters of these two incredibly active labels. Seek out Last Night from Glasgow and Olive Grove online to find out more, or better yet, catch them at a gig and ask how stressed they are on a scale of one to ten.