Save As Collective: Electronic Musicians Anonymous
We catch up with Save As member MC Almond Milk – James Scott, to his mum – and chat about the collective's weird releases, file management systems and the importance of local rap
A solid example of great minds, thinking alike: Save As is a Glasgow-based musical collective that harbours off-kilter electronic musicians and their very often oddball releases. Home to the brains behind Jonnie Common, MC Almond Milk, CARBS, Miaoux Miaoux, Globules, Jay Rolex, Weep Squad and Bronze Wave, the group started out as a pub session and has since become a community, a gig series, and a record label to boot. We gave their premier non-dairy half-rapper MC Almond Milk – aka James Scott – a quick ring ahead of the November release for Smell the Audi, a joint album with pal and beat-maker Jay Rolex.
Scott estimates that the Save As origin story stems from a joint gig at The Glad Cafe in 2012: “When we first started meeting up for a drink, it was like electronic artists anonymous. You needed to see that there were other people doing the same thing! We could share ideas, and that’s so important when you’re working on your own all the time. It’s a support network.”
The group’s name reflects their collaborative approach, referencing Common's “incredibly boring, organised and sensible” method of file management, as Scott explains, laughing. “He’ll always save a new piece of work as something else, so that he can go back to the original. So it’s a good name to cover the way that we’re working – you’re never quite sure where the boundaries are with collaboration.”
Many of their releases, aliases and samplers see a cross-referencing of the various artists involved, and Smell the Audi is a prime example of inter-Save-As musical creation. Scott’s distinctive lyrics and wry delivery, backed up by Jay Rolex’s extensive, atmospheric crate-digging, creates a hyper-localised rap record that references Blue Lagoon (a fish and chip shop), Larkhill and Kathryn Joseph’s effusive Twitter style.
“Sometimes Jay will send me a beat and he’ll say, 'Can you not just go really hard on this one?' I’m like, 'I can’t.' I can’t go really hard! It’s not what I do!” Scott jokes. “Then other times it totally works. My vocal style has this almost slightly sarcastic element to it, which I don’t necessarily mean, but there’s something about rapping in a Scottish accent... there’s a bit of self-awareness to it, isn’t there? No-one’s really sure about the right way, or the wrong way to do it.”
In the presence of “actual Scottish rappers” like Loki, Scott confesses slight reluctance to describe his “mumbling” as rap, finding inspiration in the legacy of the internet-famous Rap Battle (Parody) YouTube videos. Mostly, though, he emphasises that “the more people that are doing different things, the better”, and it’s that willingness to experiment; to be unafraid of cracking a joke while still taking your work seriously, that defines the Save As ethos.
For further example, Smell the Audi will be released as a cassette and a download – a decision Scott confirms is entirely practical, rather than the product of hipstered nostalgia. “The instrumentals stand by themselves,” he enthuses, so they’ll make up the flip side as a “kind of beat tape.” It’s important for artists to find a format that best suits their music, he explains. “What does the release call for, and also what would be fun? We don’t feel too much pressure – things take as long as they take.”
The most recent CARBS release came on a pizza-printed CD in a miniature pizza box (of course it did), and they’re planning a novelty sunglasses-based release for a new Bronze Wave EP. “Though, I mean, can you even buy a hundred [pairs of] sunglasses? Um, I don’t really know what the quantities of sunglasses are."