OK PAL Records Launch Party @ Brig Below, Edinburgh, 3 Nov

Hailey Beavis and Faith Eliott launch their new venture, OK PAL Records in Leith's Brig Below, offering a gentle, DIY celebration of all Edinburgh has to offer

Live Review by Kirstyn Smith | 05 Nov 2018

'Ok, pal.' The phrase could be taken in two wildly different ways. Typically Scottish cheeriness, the blitheness of ‘pal’ evoking the kind of drunken greeting between colleagues-turned-friends. Or vaguely threatening: a sardonic ‘pal’ spat from between gritted teeth.

Luckily, Hailey Beavis and Faith Eliott’s new venture is more the former than the latter. Their launch night – at Bar Brig’s cellar venue, Brig Below – is a gentle, DIY celebration of all Edinburgh has to offer, from two true stalwarts of the city’s scene.

Brig Below is the perfect setting for OK PAL’s lo-fi night – a cosy-but-cool underground site, the likes of which are rife in Glasgow but when found in Edinburgh are always described as 'hidden gems'. It’s bedecked with homemade OK PAL quilts – "We don’t have any fancy screens, so we’ve gone for a primary school aesthetic," Beavis joke. The whole ambience is fully welcoming in that grassroots way Edinburgh does so well. OK PAL is a label that extends past music into visual art, zines, makers and more, and the merch corner of the room looks like something from The Mighty Boosh. Beavis and Eliott are both visual artists, so monochrome zines and luminous, fever dream screenprints exemplify the side of the label that is dedicated to promoting the arts as a whole and championing homegrown talent.

The first pal onstage is Blue Tiger, the solo project from Plastic Animals’ Mario Cruzado. Typically shoegazey, it’s just Cruzado and a laptop echoing mellow drones over which he sings about stars and suicide. With shades of Surfer Blood in his melancholic sludge pop, Blue Tiger’s dreamlike dissonance is both ethereal and soporific.

Hailey Beavis is a well-kent face in Leith’s indestructible artistic scene and her voice greets us like an old friend. There’s vulnerability and fragility woven through Nico-esque fingerpicking, and intricate storytelling both in delicate songs like Patience and between-song chat, where we learn that there really are fuckboys out there who’ll store a girl in their phone as ‘The Zoo’ to avoid being caught out. Playing off against this is Beavis’ pedal work – on The Key she builds layer upon layer of hypnotising loops to a dizzying and piercing crescendo.

After a break soundtracked by DJ SPILLRISK (aka eagleowl's Bart Owl) – and elevated by the super chill Husky Mix doing the rounds – Faith Eliott lulls the audience into submission with poignant guitar and freight-train lyrics tumbling from verse to chorus all Kimya Dawson-like. These tracks are from Eliott’s upcoming album: it’ll be a bestiary, they divulge, each song about a different creature. The mystical Lilith chronicles Adam’s first wife, who pulled off the ultimate snake move to become the creature that tempted Eve, while the doomed tale of Laika the space dog is an out-of-this-world, ephemeral blend of storytelling and haunting vocals.

Eliott’s record will be the first released by OK PAL in spring 2019 and, if tonight’s performance is anything to go by, both the album and the label should be on all the Ones to Watch lists.