SAY What? The Award With The Musician In Mind.

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Just over a week ago the SAY Award was announced. SAY what? Yes, that’s right SAYScottish Album of the Year Award.

This was an idea that was put into fruition by Stewart Henderson of Chemikal Underground Records. He is also part of the brilliant Scottish Music Industry Association and they have additionally played an incredibly pivotal part of the organisation of the award. Furthermore, Creative Scotland are the main associated body.

So what is the purpose of the award? Well essentially it is about the music, as it should be. The main prize is an incredible £20,000 and also a further £1000 going to EACH of the nine runners up. Nothing like this has ever been done in Scotland and whilst with every new exciting venture involving a prize of money may be tainted with scepticism, I am 100% behind this.

The reason I am so committed in the belief of this project is that it really has taken into account the welfare of the musician. The album list that was compiled is made up of literally hundreds of albums released in 2011! (You can find eligibility requirements here: The focus is on the merit of the artist, it is not about how many albums sold, what style of music or even if the band has a label.

100 nominators were selected and we are happy to be one of them. We were issued an extensive list of albums that included self-released albums, label released albums and artists ranged from ones that have enjoyed differing mediums of success. We were then asked to pick 5 albums and rank them in order of preference; I must say at this point that this was like picking your favourite child. The nominators (which can be found here: cover all parts of the industry, right through to us bloggers! They are from all over Scotland and have lived and breathed many of the artists selected.

One of the best things for me was seeing artists like Beerjacket, Jonnie Common and Adam Stafford in a list along with the likes of King Creosote & Jon Hopkins who were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. It is artists like Kelly, Common and Stafford that I feel are so ridiculously underrated and to see them included is very satisfying. When you write a blog or a music site that is on our level you immerse yourself in the community. You end up socialising, meeting and getting to know the artists. You then follow them and it can be more intense than say sites like Pitchfork or Stereogum who churn out reviews and features with no personal knowledge of the artist. Whilst it is about the beatific music that these artists make, there is a personal part of this in that you pray for these artist to succeed as you see the work that they put in first hand.

The SAY Award is one of the most important things to happen in Scottish music in years. It has the potential to give artists a significant platform without all the glorified bullshit and really help put Scotland on the map. It has the ability to translate outside of the UK and build into something that is recognised as being an honest and essential part of our calendar.

The long list is announced in 2 days and this alone will help encourage people to check out artists they may have never listened to. This ideally will encourage sales of albums and create a terrific buzz in its build up. All the people that have worked behind the scenes to get this on its feet really understand what needs to be done. Ultimately, they have grabbed things by the bollocks and actually put words into action instead of speaking loudly and hoping for a change. Scotland needs this now, I cannot stress this enough.

I must mention Song, By Toad’s brilliant blog covering the negative aspects of what people will come out with. Please go and read it here:, it is what it says on the tin and does indeed cover all conspiracy theories that will no doubt arise.

So please visit the website:, keep up to date with developments and above all check out the musicians nominated and promoted. You may just find your next favourite album.

Halina Rifai

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