You get two for the price of one in our penultimate Outsiders feature in which underground gig promotion is the name of the game.
Name: Claire Lim and Paul McCallum.
Job title: Promoters, A Badge of Friendship.
Age: Claire: 24; Paul: 28;
When did you leave Scotland? 2002.
Is your Scottish identity important to you? If so, in what ways? Claire: It was more important when I had just arrived in London as I hadn’t left home before. There are lots of Scots down here and we seem to migrate towards each other subconsciously! I am proud to be Scottish but because London is such a multi-cultural place being Scottish, English, French, German etc doesn’t seem to have an importance. Paul: Definitely. Scots have a warmth and humour inherent in our culture unlike most other nationalities, a trait that attracts us to other people as well as each other. Since moving down to London, I have made probably just as many new Scottish friends as I had back home, which is an indication of the sense of community felt by most Scots.
How did you get your job and what had you done before? Claire: It was quite hard getting a foot in the door in the music industry so Paul and I ended up just creating the job for ourselves. We love music erring on the side of alternative and there seemed to be such a great scene down here and lots of bands waiting in the wings to play so why not start promoting? I had written some fanzines and promoted some shows in Glasgow before but A Badge of Friendship has really taken off and we have big plans for it. Paul: Before ABOF I was involved in music in various guises. I was in charge of sales whilst touring with bands, I took photos and shot videos for bands and for Fender guitars etc. In addition, I have worked in the TV and film world.
Who is the most famous person you have met while doing your job? Claire: Har Mar Superstar. He was all sweaty and was wearing pink cords. He didn’t say much. Paul: There are quite a lot of famous people I have met over the years, however most of them are quite uninteresting. The ones who have excited me would be so obscure to most they are barely worth a mention!
What’s the best and worst part of your job? Claire: Best parts are having fun with bands, meeting so many nice folk, watching crowds flood in to watch great music and have people tell us how much fun they had afterwards. Worst parts are giving shedloads of money to venues for the expensive hire fees when we could be giving it to the bands. Oh, and sound problems – there is nothing worse than the band being unhappy with the sound. Paul: The best is most definitely being my own boss in an industry I truly love and hopefully making a difference. The worst has to be the uncertain nature of putting on any underground gig – you just don’t know how it’s going to go.
What music are you excited about right now? Claire: We put on some really excellent bands recently – These Monsters, Wintermute, YouMeTheSwitch and And So I Watch You From Afar. I’m really excited about the new Dianogah album – I also work for Southern Records so I get to hear lots of awesome bands all day. Paul: In terms of bands that we have put on, The Cathode Ray Syndrome, Lite, Shield Your Eyes, Antelope, The Paper Chase and Silent Front. In terms of what I am personally listening to, Minus The Bear, Traindodge, Riddle Of Steel, Band Of Horses and Melvins.
How would you rate your knowledge of the current Scottish music scene? Have any new Scottish acts caught your eye recently? Claire: I would rate it as zero! Sorry, but I’ve not been back in such a long time. We put on The Twilight Sad last December and they have been the only thing from Scotland recently who’ve grabbed my attention. Lovely boys too! Paul: My knowledge is nowhere near as great as it once was but I have heard good things about Frightened Rabbit and Errors. And, of course, there is my good friends Biffy Clyro who some people may have heard of!
Anything else you’d like to add… Claire: If you are looking for great new music, dig deep. Don’t just rely on the magazines and usual indie websites for the answers. Look at labels’ back catalogues, sift through allmusic.com to see your favourite artists, go see live shows, speak to DIY promoters and bands. Paul: Since this is all about music I’ll end with a Frank Zappa quote – “Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.”