The SAY Award – What’s Happening on the night? 4 Days To Go!

With only FOUR days to go until Scotland’s national music prize reveals the winner of the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award, fans look ahead to this year’s live Ceremony which will be a celebration of the past 10 years of the award, as well as what will be a significant moment of reunion for Scotland’s music industry after a turbulent time apart.
2021’s Shortlist have chosen Scottish albums and artists who have impacted their own careers, in a nod to The SAY Award’s 10th birthday and its own cultural impact. With the likes of Joesef choosing Glasvegas, Lizzie Reid picking Rachel Sermanni and The Snuts choosing The View, the list is a true celebration of the collaborative nature of Scotland’s music scene. See below for choices and quotes from this year’s Shortlist including Arab Strap, Rachel Newton, The Ninth Wave and more.
The SAY Award have also announced the performing line-up for this year’s Ceremony, set to take place in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on Saturday 23rd October, 2020’s winner Nova will open the show. Winning the prestigious award in a year like no other, Nova is set to take to the stage alongside other former SAY Award winners Sacred Paws, as well as rising talent Hamish Hawk PLUS special performances from surprise guests to celebrate 10 years of The SAY Award. BBC Radio Scotland presenters Nicola Meighan and Vic Galloway will host the Ceremony, which will also honour this year’s Modern Scottish Classic winner – Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’.
And finally, brand new for 2021, this year’s Sound of Young Scotland Finalists have been announced as; Alex Amor, Cameron Roxburgh, Jen Mac, kitti and LVRA. Chosen by a panel of former SAY Award nominees from this year’s eligible applicants, the winner will be announced at The SAY Award Ceremony, taking home up to £5,000 to facilitate the creation of their debut album, plus 500 vinyl pressings of the finished record.
In alphabetical order, the 10 albums Shortlisted for the coveted Scottish Album of the Year title and final prize of £20,000 are:
The SAY Award Shortlist 2021
AiiTee – ‘Love Don’t Fall’
Arab Strap – ‘As Days Get Dark’
Biffy Clyro – ‘A Celebration of Endings’
Joesef – ‘Does It Make You Feel Good?’
Lizzie Reid – ‘Cubicle’
Mogwai – ‘As The Love Continues’
Rachel Newton – ‘To The Awe’
Stanley Odd – ‘STAY ODD’
The Ninth Wave – ‘Happy Days!’
The Snuts – ‘W.L.’ 
As the final countdown to The SAY Award Ceremony begins, some of this year’s Shortlisted artists took the time to reflect on standout Scottish albums and artists that influenced and shaped their careers.

Arab Strap said: “Am I allowed David Byrne? A bit tenuous (and obvious) maybe, but I was obsessed with Talking Heads from about the age of 13 onwards. Other than that, I remember seeing The Proclaimers on Top of the Pops, singing in their own accents as though it was perfectly normal. The only other time I’d seen that must’ve been the 1982 World Cup Squad with John Gordon Sinclair, so it was quite an ear-opener, and I still listen to their first two albums all the time.”

Joesef said: “Probably Glasvegas and their debut album. Being from the East End, it was so strange to hear the things I’d grown up surrounded by reflected in music for the first time. I was only thirteen at the time but I remember hearing songs like ‘Daddys Gone’ and ‘Ice Cream Van’ and having quite a visceral experience in the kitchen listening to it on a CD player. Their influence lies in James’ matter of fact style of writing and delivery, as well as their guitar tones and reverbs, I think that’s definitely something that’s seeped into my music.”

Lizzie Reid said: “Discovering Rachel Sermanni for me was quite a revelation. As a huge Joni Mitchell and Laura Marling fan, it was nice to discover someone from here that was making music of that ilk. She also knows how to captivate an audience and hold them in the palm of her hand, which is inspirational to me.”

Rachel Newton said: “One of the records that has influenced and inspired me most is Martyn Bennett’s album ‘Grit’. It’s a brave, emotional, genre-defying album that mixes the modern and the ancient with a deep, natural understanding that is exhilarating to behold.”

Stanley Odd, Dave aka Solareye said: “For an artist that has influenced us, I think it has to be Loki. I could pick any number of Loki albums that are inspirational, from ‘Summer Knows a Darker Shade of Grey’ to ‘Trigger Warning’, the acerbic razor-sharp cultural commentary, dissection of complex social constructs and brutal straight-up top-tier braggadocious wordplay are mind-blowing and energising. Dunt would have ‘Trying to Sell a Bridge’, with Konchis’ production, at the top of his list as one that inspires him. Throughout Loki’s back catalogue he pushes boundaries, creates interconnected collections of songs tied to a wider narrative and challenges his audience. Each release has me drawn into a world brought to life by the metaphors and imagery, set in motion by the plotlines, and makes me want to be a better emcee.”

The Ninth Wave, Haydn said: “The Twilight Sad have probably been the biggest influence on me as a songwriter, mainly because their songs have taught me to be more at ease with what I actually want to say in the songs that I write. There’s a starkness to so much of their music, especially in the lyrics, and that sort of brutal truthfulness got me hooked on them from the first time I listened to their music.”

The Snuts, Callum said: “Hard to choose just one if I’m honest! I feel as a smaller nation, our output into the world has always been massive culturally and musically. The View’s debut record was a massive one for us, and their sound – in the same way The Libertines did, made us fall in love with scrappy guitars. Glasvegas debut was one of the first records I remember listening to cover to cover with no skips. Every tune just connected. Then there’s Franz Ferdinand, Biffy, Jesus & Mary Chain, Lewis Capaldi – the list goes on.”
2021’s SAY Award Longlist also voted for the inaugural Modern Scottish Classic Award, recognising an album from Scotland’s past that still inspires music being made today, with the winner chosen as Frightened Rabbit – ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’. The album, which is cherished by many, will be recognised on the night of The SAY Award Ceremony.
2021’s Sound of Young Scotland Award finalists are today announced as Alex Amor, Cameron Roxburgh, Jen Mac, kitti and LVRA. The new award, supported by Key ProductionYouth Music and the Youth Music Initiative, aims to drive the future of Scotland’s music scene by annually awarding a young, emerging artist. The winner will receive up to £5,000 funding to cover costs relating to the production of their debut album, such as producing, studio rentals, engineers, mixing, mastering, recording expenses and more. They will also receive 500 vinyl pressings of the finished record, along with a bespoke art prize from The SAY Award Design Commission.

Alex Amor
 said, “I am incredibly honoured to be nominated for the Sound of Young Scotland Award. Each year, I am blown away by the abundance of stellar albums nominated for The SAY award, and it would be a dream come true to be given funding towards my debut album, hopefully following in the footsteps of the contemporaries I look up to.”
Cameron Roxburgh said, “We are ecstatic to be finalists for the Sound of Young Scotland Award. Both Callum and I have been following The SAY Award for many years and we simply cannot wait to attend the event, and celebrate Scottish music with so many others.”
Jen Mac said, “I’m genuinely lost for words being a finalist for the Sound of Young Scotland Award. For me, this is an opportunity to represent my home region of Dumfries and Galloway, a region that I believe is often overlooked and underrepresented in the national music scene.”
kitti said, “I am absolutely over the moon to be a finalist for this wonderful award! To even be in the running for being considered for The Sound of Young Scotland Award is fabulous and I definitely feel like my career is headed in the right direction!”
Rachel Lu, aka LVRA said, “This project is a huge part of me, so to have it recognised by such an acclaimed group of judges feels incredible. I am super grateful to the SAY team for giving young Scottish musicians a platform and a voice.”
For the third year, The SAY Award has collaborated with Local Heroes to commission an exciting design talent to create a trophy for the prestigious music prize. Local Heroes curator Stacey Hunter selected Glasgow based design duo Still Life to create the colourful trophies which will be presented to the overall winner and 9 shortlisted artists of The SAY Award 2021 on Saturday the 23rd of October. The striking recycled plastic vases are made using a range of waste plastics including bottle tops and bleach bottles. The winners of the Modern Scottish Classic Award and the Sound of Young Scotland Award will also be presented with engraved trays created by Still Life at The SAY Award Ceremony.
The SAY Award Design Commission, in association with OVO Energy and curated by Local Heroes, highlights the enduring links between music, art and design and will provide a lasting tribute for all nominees and winners
This year’s trophy designers, Still Life said: “We wanted to make something bright and vibrant to celebrate the artists achievements, whilst sparking a conversation around sustainability and the climate crisis. These awards have been created from 21kg of waste plastic and we hope they will help to change perceptions of what we consider waste.”
Speaking as the awards were revealed, Local Heroes Director Stacey Hunter said: “We held an open call to widen our understanding of designers in Scotland working with sustainability high on their agenda. We were delighted with the quality and breadth of submissions and chose to work with Still Life because their products were fun, well-designed and thoughtfully and sustainably produced. The SAY Award is a joyful celebratory commission and we wanted to capture that with a series of designs that also highlighted the importance of sustainability and the possibilities offered by new technologies and ways of making. This is our third year curating the Design Commission and we wanted to create a trophy that is both decorative and functional and we’re delighted with the vases for the Shortlisted and winning artist of the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award, and the trays for the two new awards: The Sound of Young Scotland and the Modern Scottish Classic.”
Colin Banks, Head of Sponsorship & Partnership at OVO, said: “With anticipation building for what’s sure to be a brilliant celebration of Scotland’s diverse and vibrant music scene at this year’s SAY Award Ceremony, it’s equally exciting to see this year’s award design unveiled. The awards will serve as a perfect tribute to the music and artists being honoured and the fact the awards are made from recycled materials is fitting for an event which is making positive strides in becoming more sustainable.”

Now in its tenth year, previous winners of The SAY Award include Nova ‘Re-Up’ (2020), Auntie Flo ‘Radio Highlife’ (2019), Young Fathers ‘Cocoa Sugar’ (2018), Sacred Paws ‘Strike A Match’ (2017), Anna Meredith ‘Varmints’ (2016), Kathryn Joseph ‘Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled’ (2015), Young Fathers ‘Tape Two’ (2014), RM Hubbert ‘Thirteen Lost & Found’ (2013) and the inaugural winner Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat ‘Everything’s Getting Older’ (2012).

To keep up with The SAY Award 2021 journey, make sure you follow the award on Twitter @SAYaward, Instagram @sayaward and Facebook @SAYaward.