Sacred Paws on winning the SAY Award 2017

We recap last night's Scottish Album of the Year Award festivities in Paisley

Feature by Susan Le May | 29 Jun 2017
  • Sacred Paws win the 2017 SAY Award

Amidst the elegant Victorian splendour of the Paisley Town Hall for the second year running (in support of the town's City of Culture 2021 bid), the sixth Scottish Album of the Year Award ceremony opens with comperes and king and queen of Caledonian music radio, Vic Galloway and Nicola Meighan.

Last year's SAY Award winner Anna Meredith emerges with full band; the jarring, menacing synths and furiously-pounded drums filling the cavernous room along with a wild cacophonous mix of strings, vocals, guitar, clarinet and tuba. Next up are The Spook School with their chirpy, C86-inspired indiepop, before this year's shortlisted acts are presented with a 3D-printed souvenir of their achievement.

Roars of appreciation greet each of the ten acts as they collect their original art and heartfelt hugs from the hosts. Pictish Trail's disappearing act hints at his stand-up past life as he eventually appears having been waylaid in the press room, leaping from the stage to the podium and treating us to a selection of primal howls. Elephant Sessions provide some excellent toe-tapping trad whilst Be Charlotte combine beautiful, energetic pop with the incredible vocal gymnastics of Charlotte Brimner; two acts further illustrating the healthy diversity of Scotland's musical landscape, one that so successfully saves space for each and every genre.

Then it's on to the announcement of 2017's winners, with the much-tipped Sacred Paws taking the £20k prize for debut record Strike A Match. They were clearly a favourite if measured by the crowd's reaction and pre-show chatter, with music fans and fellow artists hailing this year's winner – an album of shimmering sunshine pop riffs and rhythms. Sacred Paws, however, are shocked and a little bit speechless.

Sacred Paws on winning the SAY, and plans for the future

We catch up with the beaming Sacred Paws duo Rachel Aggs and Eilidh Rodgers, fresh from their victory. “I actually can't believe it,” states Rodgers, with Aggs adding: “We're still processing it.”

“I guess it means my dad is going to take it seriously now,” laughs Rodgers. “[He's] going to stop asking me about a career. It will be fun to tell him.” She adds: “It could have gone either way. Unfortunately I had a lot of friends that kept saying [we'd win] and I think that made it worse, it made me feel more nervous!”

The duo suggests that Rock Action label bosses and fellow award nominees Mogwai will be happy with the result, despite the band's Atomic soundtrack missing out on the top accolade. “There were a lot of incredible albums on the long- and shortlists,” says Rodgers. “A lot of people that we really love as well. Ela [Orleans, fellow shortlisted artist] played at our album launch; she's just our favourite, she's incredible, so I hope we're still friends!” she laughs.

The SAY Award has changed the lives of some of its previous winners, with the money a crucial cash injection for their professional musical careers. “I hate disappointment so we won't have any expectations,” admits Rodgers. “If our lives change that would be a good thing I'm sure,” she says, joking that she's now quit her job at iconic Glasgow record store Monorail.

“There are a lot of awards but the SAY Award seems a bit more grassroots and a genuinely supportive thing,” says Rodgers. “They kind of started it for that reason so I think it's in keeping with the more sort of DIY kind of culture in Glasgow. It's cool because they always recognise the smaller acts like us.”

The band plans to play more live shows, including touring with Mogwai, with Aggs set to move up permanently to Glasgow from London. “It will be so much easier now if you live here,” Rodgers enthuses to her bandmate. “It's going to be great, it's going to be so much better from this point onwards.”