The award will give one young and emerging artist a prize fund to facilitate the creation of their debut album.

We speak to Robert Kilpatrick from the SAY Award and SMIA about the new award and find out more about how the SAY Award supports new music.

What is the inspiration behind The Sound of Young Scotland Award?

Responding to the challenges facing young and emerging talent, the Sound of Young Scotland Award has been developed to support and drive the future strength and diversity of Scotland’s recorded output. With its name giving a nod to the iconic Postcard Records, the award (supported by Youth Music and Youth Music Initiative) will provide a prize of up to £5,000 to support the creation of a debut album. It highlights the continued importance of the album format, as well as the impact and contribution they have on Scotland’s cultural identity. 

It’s a nice touch that previous SAY Award nominees will be judging the award. What will they be looking for?

As former SAY nominees, each of the Judges will have been recognised for creating and releasing outstanding Scottish albums. “The Sound of Young Scotland” is an intentionally vague phrase, and it will mean different things to different people. What it encapsulates, however, is the sense of innovation, progression, inspiration and cultural credibility. These attributes are what The SAY Award recognises in albums that already exist, and the judging panel will now be tasked with picking a winner who they feel will create a record which embodies what continually makes Scottish music punch above its weight.  

What are the demographics of artists submitting albums over the past few years? Have you noticed any trends?

For The SAY Award itself, year on year, the diversity of albums submitted (and the artists who have created them) varies significantly. From mainstream platinum sellers to albums recorded in bedrooms, The SAY Award was designed to provide a bold and unifying platform from which Scotland’s most outstanding albums – across all genres – can be celebrated, discovered and championed. Each year, our eligible albums list comprises genres including hip-hop, rock, alternative, traditional, folk, classical, dubstep, reggae, pop and jazz. Through accommodating all genres of music and artists at varying career levels (there’s no submission fee to enter), The SAY Award plays a unique and powerful role in stimulating a cross-pollination of audiences in the best of Scotland’s musical talent.  

Do you get many brand new artists or debut album submissions for the SAY Award?

Yes – and debut albums have a history of strong impact and engagement with regard to SAY. Last year, for example, 8/10 Shortlisted albums were debuts, including the eventual winner ‘Re-Up’ by Nova (which also became the first grime album to win the prize). 

Who are some of the most well-known artists from previous Shortlists who were undiscovered at the time?

SAY’s played a key role in developing careers over the years. A strong example is with Kathryn Joseph, who won the award back in 2015 with her debut album ‘Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled’. Kathryn went on to sign to Mogwai’s Rock Action Records and has since gone from strength to strength. She was chosen by The Cure’s Robert Smith to perform at Meltdown when he curated it back in 2018, and has had syncs including two tracks in the Netflix hit ‘Outlaw King’.  Last year Kathryn spoke to The List about the impact of the award on her career 5 years on from winning, stating “I feel like I owe everything to that happening. I feel really, really proud of having won it, and proud of our country for having it.” It’s great to hear things like this, and we continually look to maximise the impact of SAY for both nominees and winners year on year.

What would you say are the main barriers to new music being recorded by young people and how can the industry help?

Over the last 18 months, the challenges facing young and emerging artists have in a lot of ways felt greater than ever. Many development routes and opportunities vanished as a result of both Covid-19 and Brexit, resulting in a lot of anxiety, worry and self-doubt. With that said, however, the resilience, innovation and sheer determination of artists – especially young and emerging ones – has been incredibly inspiring, and now as we begin our recovery process following what is hopefully the worst of the pandemic, the industry should look for new and impactful ways to support and champion our future talent pipeline. The Sound of Young Scotland Award is an initiative that was designed to do just that, and it’s great to see many others also be established with similar goals. 

Finally, any inspiring words to those young artists who are thinking of writing an album, finishing an album or submitting an album for The Sound of Young Scotland Award?

Whilst recent challenges facing our artists and industry have never felt greater, never has the role and power of music been more important in our lives. Keep creating records. They matter.

How can young and emerging Scottish artists apply?

Applications for The Sound of Young Scotland Award close midnight Friday 13 August.

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