Jim Gellatly on the SAMAs

Ahead of the 2018 Scottish Alternative Music Awards on 25 October, radio presenter and DJ Jim Gellatly – who will host the ceremony – explains why the SAMAs are so important to him

Feature by Jim Gellatly | 09 Oct 2018
  • The Van T's Performing at the 2016 SAMAs

The Scottish Alternative Music Awards have become one of my favourite events in the Scottish music calendar since I was invited along to help hand out the gongs in the first year. Stand-up comedian Billy Kirkwood, who these days hosts the Breakfast Show on Ayrshire radio station West FM, was the host for the first few years so it was a delight to be asked back myself to present an award each year. When Billy wasn't available in 2015 I took over the reins and this year I'm looking forward to co-hosting with STV's Laura Boyd.

What I love about the SAMAs is that it isn't some sort of backslapping formal event, but in essence a gig night with a bunch of awards being handed out. It's about celebrating what's out there rather than one act being "better" than another. The SAMAs are an amazing platform for emerging acts with the focus very much on the grassroots scene. While many of its past winners have gone onto bigger things, that's not really the point – it's an incredible showcase of the talent we have right on our doorsteps. Many of the acts on the scene in Scotland don't get the credit they deserve and the SAMAs go some way to resolve that. A spread of judges across the country selecting the shortlisted acts before they go to the public vote have also ensured that the SAMAs haven't become too Glasgow-centric.

I've got so many great memories over the years. Going right back to 2010 when The LaFontaines picked up Best Live Act, frontman and rapper Kerr Okan gave a wonderfully unorthodox acceptance. He just read out the "thank yous" from a Jay-Z CD; fellow rapper Louie from Hector Bizerk did his 2014 Best Hip Hop acceptance speech in rhyme, and in 2015 Dundee outfit Model Aeroplanes arrived all suited and booted like they'd come to the Brits or the Grammys as they picked up the Best Newcomer award.

It's been fantastic to see the event grow over the years. It could have been a short-lived project, starting life as part of founder Richy Muirhead's BA Commercial Music course at the University of the West of Scotland. All credit to Richy for keeping it going and becoming a huge ambassador for new music in Scotland. Not only with the awards themselves, but with a series of spin-off events under the SAMAs umbrella. From its humble beginnings in the small room at the Classic Grand in Glasgow, it upscaled to the main hall before finding its home at The Garage for the third year. After five years at The Garage this year's SAMAs move to one of Glasgow's finest new venues, Saint Luke's.

As a celebration of emerging talent, and the chance to discover and expose under the radar acts, the SAMAs have become an important cog in the development of new music in Scotland and I'm incredibly honoured to have played a small part in the event's progress.

The Scottish Alternative Music Awards take place at Saint Luke's, Glasgow, 25 Oct

The Public Vote will take place from 15-19 Oct via officialsama.co.uk