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ELM Presents – Arran Arctic

Arran Arctic was originally discovered by an Icelandic whaling ship whilst floating in the sea. Well, it says that on his website. So it must be true. People don’t lie on websites.

Equally unarguable is the fact that Arran will be playing at ELM Presents on Thursday 6th May at Glasgow’s 13th Note. We caught up with him to guage his excitement:

ELM Presents – we’re excited; how are you feeling about it?
Definitely excited, but there’s a twist of anxiety in there too. This will be my first ever Glasgow gig, so I’m really hoping everything goes well and the audience take to my music favourably.

What got you started in music and who are your influences?
The combination of living in the middle of nowhere and having a beat up, old piano in the dining room was probably a combination that would inevitably lead to an interest in music. However, once I began composing my own material, it seemed like a door was opened to a brave new world. Early influences would have been King Creosote and Iain Archer, however these days it’s more Asobi Seksu and Joanna Newsom!

What’s the best aspect of live performance?
Connecting directly with a group of strangers who, by twist of fate, happen to have travelled across time and space to be in the same room as you is by far the best thing about performing live. I love putting songs and albums together in private, but playing live is a real test of my metal, and great fun too.

What’s your favourite gig played so far?
I headlined a gig in The Tron, Edinburgh for an acoustic night called Out Of The Bedroom late last year (you can watch videos at my website http://www.arranarctic.com). I think that was a transitional gig for me, in that I just relaxed and enjoyed entertaining the audience more than previously. I’m hoping this ELM gig will be a landmark also.

How important do you feel art is in reflecting society?
It all depends on the individual responsible for the art. I think anyone who produces any kind of creative output does so to put their own personal stamp on the society in which they find themselves, or the society they wish they were part of. Whether or not this is a representative reflection or not is entirely down to the personal choice of the artist and subsequently their audience.

Art v Commerce – Is it possible to be hugely successful and hugely respected at the same time? What’s most important?
I’d argue yes, although I think a lot of luck is involved as well as talent. Look at PJ Harvey for example. Not by any means a mainstream artist, however, she is well respected and also hugely successful. You’d have to ask her which she holds more dearly, but I’d assume it would be the former. We’ve all got bills to pay, however, and I certainly make no secret of wishing that I could produce music as a full time occupation.

What do you think of the current UK music scene?
I think there are pockets of small thriving music scenes all over the UK (Northern Ireland is currently home to a massivley popular and well supported scene), however, I don’t think the UK as a whole has a scene at all. Not to get political, but if our national broadcasters continue axeing radio stations such as BBC6 Music in preference to prescribing musical nonsense to the masses, any national music scene will be based on mindlessness and sycophancy.

Who are the most overrated and underrated artists in music?
I’m in no position to pass judgement on any fellow musicians. What I don’t agree with is a handful of artists being handpicked by “industry insiders” to be hyped within an inch of their lives, then dropped once they’ve been bled dry. As for underrated artists, I can list a few of my personal favourites, who aren’t really underrated, but perhaps don’t get the attention they deserve: Songs Of Green Pheasant, Camera Obscura and Cortney Tidwell.

What do you plan for the rest of 2010?
I’ve been working on a new LP for some time now, and hope to get it finished and release some “singles” this summer. It’ll be very different to the stuff I’m performing at the moment, so the upcoming ELM gig may be one of the last folky gigs I do for a while… I’ll say no more! Because the new album has been in the pipeline for so long (almost 2 years!), I’ve actually planned and written my next future project, so the rest of 2010 and early 2011 is certainly looking productive! If you’re interested in hearing more as it happens you should sign up to the mailing list at www.arranarctic.com, or the myspace

Finally, we always ask this; you have one bullet and immunity from prosecution – who’s getting it?
I get the feeling you’re looking for a celebrity name here, but, I’d have to say it would be the people who bullied me throughout my school life (mind you, with one bullet I’d have to line them up and aim pretty accurately!). I’m not a violent person at all, but I don’t buy into the “bullies are victims” rubbish. I believe you choose what type of person you are and how you treat people. Bullies are just plain nasty, and deserve everything that’s coming to them. Boring, but honest!

Arran’s album The Boy in the Brown is out now.

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