Amanda Aitken is a Glasgow based music promoter with a strong not-for-profit ethos and an unwavering commitment to the city’s DIY aesthetic.
She started Lost and Found in 2008 as a monthly night in various venues around Aberdeen. Past line-ups have boasted the likes of Rozi Plain, This is the Kit, Chris T-T, Panda Su, Katerwaul, Esperi, and Julia & The Doogans.
Since relocating to Glasgow, Amanda has found a new home for her nights at the Glad Café on the southside of the city.
Alongside Lost and Found, she currently works with the female collective TYCI, producing monthly radio shows and podcasts.
We caught up with her to get the lowdown on life in Scotland’s most musical city…
You started Lost and Found in Aberdeen. What prompted you to move to Glasgow?
There is a lot more happening down here than in Aberdeen. Which, given the size difference of the two cities is no surprise really. I miss the Aberdeen music scene a lot though. As small as it may be, there is a lot of talent floating around up there. Also, Interesting Music Promotions do a brilliant job of bringing really interesting artists to Aberdeen
Lost and Found began as a monthly night in Aberdeen aiming to provide a platform for local artists and the occasional touring musician too. It really began when I realised how some of my favourite musicians, both locals and those from afar, weren't getting shows in Aberdeen, and I wanted to change that.
There is very little money in music promoting unless you want to be one of them 'pay-to-play' promoters, but I can't think of anything worse! In my opinion, these people aren't promoters, they're bandits! All the best music promoters I've come across genuinely love the music they put on. It's not about making money, it's about making a great night. I think that is something I have always kept in mind to this day.
What is your experience of working with venues in Glasgow?
Since moving to Glasgow I have only ever worked with one venue in the southside of Glasgow called the Glad Café. It's such a great little cafe and music venue. Joe who runs the place is a lovely man who is really keen to help Glasgow's music scene grow and also bring it to the southside. The cafe is actually a social enterprise which aims to provide affordable music lessons to people. Everything goes on there from rock shows in the venue to philosophy lectures in the cafe.
Many people I’ve spoken to about the city put the health of its music community down, in part, to a well-established and supportive live circuit. Would you agree?
I would completely agree. As an outsider moving to Glasgow, at first I found the prospect of putting on shows rather daunting. Everyone seemed very set in their ways, and it felt like certain groups divided the music circuit up. But this is not true at all really. I mean, yes there are certain similar bands who will always be in each other’s pockets, but nobody is really excluded, everyone overlaps, and that was something I found really interesting.
It seems people in Glasgow – both musicians and punters - really care about the music scene. I remember going to see Sky Larkin play earlier in the year and although it was a Sunday night people were going nuts! Katie from the band said afterwards, ‘There's no such thing as a Sunday in Glasgow’, and it's absolutely true! There's a wealth of local talent and support for music here.
What are the main challenges facing local musicians at the moment?
There are certain venues in the city still working a pay-to-play scheme or ticket sales scheme. The musician is given a certain number of tickets to sell for the venue, and if they can't sell them they don't get paid. Saying that, even if they do sell them all, their wage is still determined by the number of extra tickets they sell. It's absolutely ridiculous. I wish musicians would boycott this scheme. It's preying on local talent to get bodies through the door. I remember hearing a story about a musician who drove through from the east coast to play a show to be told he had been thrown off the bill because he didn't sell enough tickets. Absolutely ridiculous!
Why do you think the music scene in Glasgow is so vibrant?
I think there are a lot of reasons. Perhaps the standards are a bit higher? You never know when Frightened Rabbit or someone is going to take to the stage at an open mic night. I also strongly believe that there is a lot more time to be a musician or creative type in Glasgow as the cost of living is a lot cheaper.
Is there room for all genres?
Hip-hop has definitely come to the surface across the past few years and it has been great to see it evolve. I guess with pushes from media types like Vic Galloway and Ally McCrae, as well as general support from the music scene, it's been great to see bands who might not necessarily fit a certain bill be on it anyway. There's a great sense of diversity in Glasgow and room for everyone!
Honeyblood are a female two-piece from Glasgow who are doing great just now. Also Glasgow favourites Julia and The Doogans. Moving across to Edinburgh, my favourite two acts there right now are hip-hop group Young Fathers and R&B soul singer Law. She is incredible on stage.
Can you tell me more about your partnership with the TYCI collective?
TYCI is a feminist collective based in Glasgow. We run a website and zine, host monthly club nights in Bloc and also host a monthly radio show on Subcity Radio as well as podcasting too. We aim to promote women who are doing awesome things be it musicians, artists, theatre, journalists etc. It is great to be involved in a collective full of passionate people who care about what we aim to achieve. Everything we do is not-for-profit. Our monthly night features female musicians and DJs and the money we make goes to various charities. I would urge you all to look it up and come along to one of our nights.
Are there a healthy number of females working within the Glasgow music community at the moment or is it still male dominated?
I feel that the music community of Glasgow is definitely still male dominated but that's not to say there are not female promoters and musicians doing great things. Glasgow Podcart is a music and arts website run by my friend Halina, who also co-runs Olive Grove Records, with a roster including Randolph's Leap, Jo Mango, Woodenbox. In terms of club nights, there’s TYCI of course, but also the ladies who run MILK and Pretty Ugly. Two great nights worth checking out! There are a lot of great things happening in Glasgow - it's just finding the time to go to them all!