A Decade of Defiance: The Skinny at 10

Over 10 years, through a process of sublimation, The Skinny has developed into the cultural artisan before you. To celebrate this first fruitful decade – a party. There will be tunes and words, booze and pizza

Article by Ross McIndoe | 12 Oct 2015

These days The Skinny is a kind of constant background detail in places like Glasgow and Edinburgh, if we do say so ourselves. Piled in the corner of your favourite coffee shops, cafes and bars, we're always there.

There to be lazily flicked through while you’re waiting on your friends or your coffee, maybe lingering on a big interview here and there or taking a glance at this month’s Crystal Baws. Or to flip straight to the events listings to help plan this month’s adventures, work out which nights you’ll need free and which mornings you’ll need excuses for.

Even folk who aren’t readers know us when the name comes up: they’ve seen us sitting there, in the corner, minding our own. When something becomes so fully integrated into a scene it feels not only like it’s always been there but like it kind of had to be, like its coming into existence was essentially inevitable. Roll back ten years and things didn’t seem nearly so certain.

The Skinny at 10: A Decade of Defiance

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In the beginning, The Skinny didn’t even exist in name. Like minds were called together in an Edinburgh bar with an eye to setting up a local cultural magazine, distributed for free in a model as yet untested in Scottish cities. Social media hadn’t quite swollen into the all-reaching leviathan that it is today and word spread as much through leaflets left in cafes and bars about town.

When the day of the first big meet-up came around, the place was packed with an appropriately random crowd, a kind of cultural clusterfuck of people with a passion for the local art scene. The idea was to publish a paper that tapped into the artistic undercurrent of Scotland’s most vibrant cities and beyond, producing a chronicle that really reflected it, that could be read for free.

A bar, a bunch of people and an idea.

In cities as overflowing with creative energy as Glasgow and Edinburgh, projects just like that are born and die every other minute. Groups come together over their shared passion and do their best to will it into existence through sheer force of enthusiasm but most never get to become much more than a glimmer in their creator’s eye. Our baby was baptised The Skinny and, through the hard graft of legion individuals, it has come to thrive. 

Ten years of The Skinny

Ten years later the result is what you see before you: a cultural magazine that dispatches 63,000 copies every month to six major cities on both sides of the border, and a freshly relaunched website hosting hundreds of articles each month. Grown from the eclectic throng of volunteers that sparked it into existence in 2005 to a pool of some 350 contributors, The Skinny now regularly sits down to chat with the biggest names in the business while keeping its finger firmly on the pulse of the local scene.

We nerd out hard when the big guns come to sell out concert halls and even harder when we think we might’ve found the next one in a local bar. As a prelude to our 10th Anniversary party, come witness a few regulars from our music pages in the flesh at Edinburgh's Pleasance on 10 Oct as SAY Award winner RM Hubbert, burgeoning krautrock disciples Outblinker, alternative pop duo Bdy_Prts and formidable Fuck Buttons alum Blanck Mass take to the theatre. 

The magazine might be eight years away from its first pint but that’s not to say we can’t all knock a few back in The Mash House on 16 Oct in its honour, and with the truly mouth-watering line-up for the big night, it’s hard to see how anyone could possibly resist.

The Skinny's tenth birthday party

Music. Over the last decade we’ve looked to leave no dark corner, no crack or crevice of the artistic landscape unexplored, but music has always been right at the heart of what The Skinny does so it kind of goes without saying that any party of ours has got to come complete with tunes of the highest order.

On the ground floor, lauded kings of the guerrilla gig Detour will be filling the stage with something special. In the past they’ve managed to sell out a show in under an hour without letting slip a single word of who will actually be performing and pulled off knock-out performances in the most impractical of locations, so it’s safe to say that whatever and whoever they come up with will most definitely be worth checking out. 

Up above, and having just celebrated their own 9th birthday, Substance will be here to blow some minds and chew some gum. They’ve established themselves as one of the most unerringly excellent club experiences to be had in Scotland’s capital and now stand as a vital part of the city’s nightlife. For our birthday they've pulled together an unmissable line-up including all their resident DJs (Gavin Richardson, Velocity Funk and Dommm) plus special guests Hi & Saberhägen, and more as yet to be announced. 

Lost Map DJs (Pictish Trail vs Bart Owl) will also be playing for us and provide this bizarre manifesto which hints at what they have planned for the night. "START A BARTY PARTY," they proclaim. "With these sacred words a special alliance was formed between myself, Pictish Trail, and Bartholomew Owl from eagleowl. When we DJ together, magic happens. And usually damage happens. Magic damage. Our DJ career highlights so far include pretending to be Tom Cruise, and single-handedly ruining a wedding by playing Ol' Dirty Bastard at disgusting volumes. We can't wait to entertain at the Skinny birthday party."

Sandwiched between these two floors of musical genius will be the mesmerising and bizarre talents of our staff DJs. Our team have eclectic tastes, which will be demonstrated on the night with sets ranging from pop princesses to hip hop to funk to techno. Prepare to be confused. 

"The magazine might be eight years away from its first pint but that’s not to say we can’t all knock a few back in its honour."

Our spoken word stage offers no less mercurial talents. Award-winning literary polymath and co-founder of Neu! Reekie!, Michael Pedersen has assembled a veritable Justice League of poets to take the stage and ring in the big 1-0 in a flurry of sharp Scottish verbiage. If all four of the night’s featured poets brought with them all the awards and accolades they’ve accrued, there genuinely wouldn’t be space for the performers themselves. Or the audience. Or the booze. Just a big ol’ room full of awards.

Up first is Alan Bissett, once named the 46th Hottest Man in Scotland by the Daily Record. He’s also won and been nominated for a slew of more relevant titles in the last few years (Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Writer of the Year, Creative Scotland’s Writer of the Year) but this one is just much funnier. Giving the host a run for his money in the man-of-many-talents field, Bissett is a novelist, playwright, performer and just generally good fella to have up on a stage at a party.

Jenni Fagan is an award-winning poet and author of a best-selling novel – The Panopticonwhich is soon to be adapted for the big screen by Ken Loach’s Sixteen Films. However, she has never been featured on the Daily Record’s Hottest Man list and so we imagine these achievements are somewhat hollow for her.

Edinburgh-born Iona Lee became a spoken word poet “as a means of getting into pubs underage” and has evidently never looked back, her current Wordpress profile stating “I perform poetry in and around Edinburgh and elsewhere and drink a lot of cider.” Writing while studying at Leith School of Art, her work charts the tumultuous experiences of life in limbo between adolescence and adulthood. But, again, never made the Record’s Hot Man list. Not once.

While also promised a “bobby dazzler” of a surprise guest, given that anyone else would just be the icing on a delicious and incredibly wordy cake, we can all just revel in the mystery of it. Like Schrödinger’s cat, except the cat is not a cat, it’s a poet. Maybe.

Whether your speed is spoken poetry, a surprise selection of live music or a thundering techno club, come 16 October The Mash House is the place to be.

And also, there will be pizza.

The Skinny 10th Birthday Party takes place at The Mash House, Edinburgh, 9pm-3am, 16 Oct, free #theskinny10

The Skinny's tenth anniversary celebrations continue with Blanck Mass, RM Hubbert, Bdy_Prts and Outblinker at The Pleasance Sessions, Edinburgh on 10 Oct. The Skinny 10th Birthday Party takes place at Edinburgh Mash House, 9pm-3am, 16 Oct, free #theskinny10 http://www.theskinny.co.uk