Scotland Week: David Maclean of Django Django | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Scotland Week: David Maclean of Django Django

"I'm not suggesting that creating an independent Scotland will be an easy ride.... But for me running our own country is a no brainier." - David Maclean

Sep 08, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

We have had a special theme on Under the Radar’s website over the last week which we’re simply calling Scotland Week. All throughout the week we have been posting interviews, reviews, lists, and blog posts relating to Scotland and in particular Scottish music. For some of the Scotland Week Q&As we emailed out the same set of Scottish related questions to various different musicians from the country.

For this interview we talk to David Maclean of Django Django. The band might be based in London (where they officially formed in 2009), but Django Django’s members met at the Edinburgh College of Art and Maclean is a Scottish native. In fact, Maclean’s older brother, John Maclean, was in the iconic late-‘90s/early ‘00s experimental indie rock Scottish group The Beta Band, a clear influence on Django Django’s art rock. Django Django also features singer/guitarist Vincent Neff, bassist Jimmy Dixon, and synthesizer operator Tommy Grace. The band’s self-titled debut album was released in 2012 via Ribbon Music and Because Music to much critical acclaim and a Mercury Prize nomination.

Read on as Maclean discusses his favorite Scottish albums, bands, and films, as well as his thoughts on the Scottish Independence Referendum, in which on September 18th the people of Scotland get to vote on whether or not to secede from the United Kingdom and have Scotland become its own country. Scotland was its own kingdom from around 843 until 1707, when England and Scotland united. In 1997 Scotland finally got its own parliament. The major decisions about Scotland and how its people’s taxes are spent, however, are still made by Westminter, the British government in London.

What are your thoughts on the Scottish Independence referendum? Are you for or against independence? Could you explain why?

David Maclean: I’m for independence. I was brought up in the ‘80s and the disdain for Thatcher’s government was palpable for me even at a young age. As I grew up we all seemed to start looking to [the] Labour [party] for answers and there was a real sense of hope and change resting on New Labour’s shoulders. When they were voted in many people felt that the bad old days of right wing politics were over in Scotland. But fast forward to 2014. Labour blew it in almost every way. They’ve left behind them a trail of destruction and bloodshed in the Middle East. And for what? The place is worse than ever. I’ll never in my life vote Labour again. And so we’re back with the good ol’ greedy gang. Something has to change. Scotland on the whole never voted for another Conservative government and we were so sickened by the Labour lies and war mongering that I think we’ve been pushed into this. A lot of people are just fed up of Westminster’s antics. I’m skeptical however. I’m not suggesting that creating an independent Scotland will be an easy ride. We may well end up with the same old self-serving cronies. But for me running our own country is a no brainier and a step in the right direction. P.S.: I love England, the English people, and I in particular love London, I really do. It’s one of the best cities on the planet. It’s where I live, pay tax, work, vote. But I’d like to think we can work together as equals. I don’t see why one has to tell the other what to do.

How do you think Scottish Independence might affect the arts and the Scottish music scene?

Actually it’s the last thing on my mind and that’s because I feel art and music will always flourish in Scotland no matter what. I’m far more focused on pulling the country out of poverty and strengthening our education system, welfare system, NHS [National Health Service], etc.

What is your favorite album by another Scottish artist and why?

Screamadelica by Primal Scream. When this came out I couldn’t believe they were Scottish. It made me so proud. I think it was the first album I had where I thought, “Yeah, I want to make music. If these guys are Scottish and they can do it, then I’m going to too.” Before that the music I liked seemed like something from far away. Either far away in the past like The Beatles, or far away on the planet like Pubic Enemy. Even London seemed exotic! We had the pleasure of supporting them a couple of years ago in Italy and setting my drums in front of theirs, with that Screamadelica image on it, was a hugely proud moment.

Which Scottish musician/band most inspired you to start playing music?

Well Primal Scream as I say and my brother’s old band, The Beta Band. I’d been DJing and messing around with four-tracks when John formed The Beta Band and it was a big part of my life. We share very similar record collections and taste (probably dictated by our dad’s record collection that we pillaged) so it was exciting to see it unfold. I’d DJ before and after their shows and come and hang out at recording studios. It was an exciting time.

Who is the most underrated or underappreciated Scottish musician or band?

Probably loads out there if I think about it. Uncle John & Whitelock spring to mind. Amazing band. I saw them live a lot around 2003/2004. Neil Landstrumm is an amazing producer. He’s loved the world over and has a huge and amazing back catalogue so he’s probably not that underappreciated! But I’m releasing his next EP on my new label Kick and Clap, so here is a plug!

Who is your favorite new Scottish band or solo artist?

I really loved the TNGHT EP [which was] Hudson Mohawk and Lunice. I love a lot of [label] Numbers records’ stuff. Also a producer called Leith Waterworld who I’m working with.

What is your favorite film that takes place in Scotland?

Local Hero is a classic! But I’ve long been obsessed with The Wicker Man. The soundtrack is amazing too.

Who is your favorite Scottish author and what’s your favorite book by them?

Lanark by Alasdair Gray. The man is a true genius. Reminds me that I must read it again.

Can you explain the Scottish aesthetic and how the Scottish music scene is different from others around the world?

Scotland has many different aesthetics. Glasgow in itself has many different aesthetics and its constantly shifting and morphing. You’ll find everything going on there from reggae sound systems like Mungo’s Hi Fi to forward thinking electronic music like Numbers to experimental grooves of Luke Fowler or The Phantom Band.

What do you most love about Scotland and being Scottish and what do you most hate about Scotland and being Scottish?

So, so many things I love about being Scottish. It’s the people who make it what it is though. I grew up with the smartest, funniest, most creative friends and family. It’s a particular humor and outlook that bonds us. Also the landscape. Even the air, something about the air in Scotland! I’m writing this from my east London flat looking at the computer screen through my rose tinted glasses, but do love the place to bits. And hate? Well ask me that after September the 18th.


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