Ryan Joins Hiva Oa at DECAGRAM 1.1

December 5, 2013

I will be performing at Henry’s Cellar Bar Saturday 7 December with our good pals Hiva Oa at DECAGRAM, Ten Tracks Collective’s party night.

The DECAGRAM collective bring you a series of extended Saturday nights with short film and visuals, live music and club in one. Featuring DECAGRAM artists joined by very special guests …

Tiered pricing ensures those most inquisitive for a bit of independent film and audio/visual collaboration (7pm) can stay right through the gig (9pm) to the club night (11pm) for only £3.

Whilst those arriving later for what they prefer about the night don’t pay an arm and a leg (gig £4; club £4/£6).

The headline band for the gig *is* the band for the club night, and plays at 11pm before the club price goes up to £6 (midnight) for the live electronic set and/or DJs.


When: Saturday 7 December, Short Films kick off at 7pm, Live music at 9, Club at midnight

Where: Henry’s Cellar Bar, 16 Morrison St, Edinburgh, EH3 8BJ

How Much: 7pm tickets £3, 9pm tickets £4, midnight tickets £6/4.

Culture Laser Collaborates

July 9, 2013

In this edition of the Culture Laser I have a chat with Ed Stack of Ten Tracks and Decagram about his project to bring collaboration to the music community in Edinburgh, Rachel Anderson of Small Feet Little Toes & Dave Wheatley are also here to tell us about their collaboration, and we get the chance to hear tracks from both of them and also the track Supersonic Speed Freak from Numbers Are Futile.

And it’s all at the click of a little sideways triangle.

A Reason To Help

December 2, 2010

Buy a Building, Save a Forest

(Skip the speech and just donate here?)

Didn’t think so — well, here goes.

There are many reasons why Mark Vitelli and I came to Edinburgh in September 1999. There are two reasons I came back in 2000 — one was a job, the other knows her own name. But there is only one reason why I still live here today. That reason is, quite simply, The Forest. For those of you who don’t know — The Forest is a volunteer-run, collectively owned, free arts and events space masquerading as a vegetarian cafe which was founded in August 2000 and (as if you can’t do your sums) just celebrated its tenth birthday.

The Forest is many things to many people. An art gallery, a space to share skills and have free workshops, a resource, a place to eat good food, a rehearsal space and more. There has been a pretty comprehensive listing of what The Forest does on The Forest’s website and on the Guardian Blog and if you are interested you can download the press pack but I want to talk about why somebody who doesn’t know or care about The Forest might want to consider donating to help the cause. Here’s a short video to bring you up to speed:

For a decade The Forest has run a vegetarian kitchen. You could call this a business-model: Volunteers work for free in the kitchen, money made from the kitchen goes into supporting The Arts and keeping the place open. This means — paying rent, buying equipment, paint and more. The Forest also supports an independent press, a fringe-theatre, a record label, a community choir, free workshops, a radical library and much much more almost solely through volunteer power alone. We are not sponsored by the government, city council or the arts council and we don’t exist for profit. Mostly, the Forest exists in order to exist.

Now, if you’ve been reading the news you might think — “Well, these young idealists got scuppered by a bad economy and brutal arts cutbacks.” This is not the case. We’ve been running a successful alternative business for years. The problem is — our building is up for sale. This means either a costly, time-consuming and difficult relocation, closure OR — we BUY the building.

Why Buy a Building?

Well, it won’t be easy. But — it can be done. We only need 5,000 donations of £100 and if we don’t know 5,000 people willing to help out — I don’t know who does?

My feeling for why a city centre building is important for the Arts community is a semi-story: I was in Paris at Shakespeare and Co. talking to a guy who was living in the bookshop. Now, Shakespeare and Co are right across from the Notre Dame – an incredibly historic, tourist centre, a place where rent is astronomical. I remember standing there and this guy saying, “I love this place because – surrounded by all this – it is an Anomaly.” And I thought – yeah, it is.

And, the beautiful thing about Forest (to me) is the fact that it too is an anomaly. In an increasingly commercial, logo, corporate, bland, safe, disney-fied world The Forest is an anomaly and a beacon. A flag-ship social enterprise. A place that exists outside of commercial pressures which allows artists and organizers of all types to co-exist, perform, and produce without fear of failing, without fear of economic ruin. This is why young bands from all over the world play The Forest. This is why the Forest Fringe is one of the most unique parts of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Forest allows people to try. Sometimes this happens on stage with a GameBoy (like the chip music festival) and sometimes this happens with hammers and saws as people work together to build kitchens and toilets and hang curtains and paint etc.

From the looks of the world being built around us – there is no earthly reason why Forest should be in a beautiful building in the heart of Edinburgh, doing what it is we do. Providing a space, doing nearly anything folk want and doing it outside the regular way of things. It is even more important now, because, if nothing else we show what giant things can be done when people get together.

Donate Now?

Even if you have never been to The Forest — you have to understand the profound and lasting effects this one place has. It is a beacon to other community and artistic-minded people. The Forest has spawned no less than four similar projects (that I know of) — one as far away as South Korea. People who have been involved in The Forest go on to do great and good things — bands like Aberfeldy and Withered Hand and White Heath and St. Jude’s Infirmary and Foxgang and Billy Liar all have had early gigs there. Jed Milroy and Hailey Beavis play together because they met through The Forest. People who help organize events and workshops and festivals at The Forest go on to do similar things in their hometowns, or Berlin or London or elsewhere. Sometimes they make careers out of it. Sometimes they do it for free. Young people with no work experience or people who  have not been able to find work in a long time — get skills and confidence and companionship working in the kitchen. In short — ideas are made. Connections. Community. And these things don’t just stay in our building or even our city. They fly to New York and Damascus. They go to Bosnia and Washington D.C. Sometimes they even make it over to Glasgow. Forest mingles and works with other festivals, organizations, and institutions and the people who do things in The Forest spread out and create networks and continue to share and exchange art and information.  Ideas and art spread and there is a good chance if you are reading this — then The Forest has touched you too. Maybe not in our  building — maybe in a field during Knockengorroch, maybe at a Golden Hour gig at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, maybe through your TenTracks subscription, your visits to The Bowery, Balkanarama, The Roxy or Octopus Diamond? Maybe through Reel Festivals maybe through one of the many ‘zines the Forest Free Press has fostered, maybe via the many touring fingers of Robert Sarazin Blake? I certainly would not be doing what I am doing at the Scottish Poetry Library without it. I would not have had the confidence — I would not have tried and failed and learned and tried again. If you like me, you like The Forest and as friends, I hope you’ll consider lending your financial support.

You’ll Donate Now, Won’t You? It does sound amazing, right?

I recently was watching this video about “Where Good Ideas Come From”. Good ideas need people and places. Places where artists and organizers and interested people and uninterested people can meet and share and play together. I don’t know about you but I want places like this to exist forever. I don’t want people to turn this building into flats or a Costa Coffee or a Sports Pub. There are millions of those. But there are very few genuine alternatives — The Forest is one of them. If The Forest can, through community donations from good-minded spirited people, keep a building then we can be a beacon to others. We can, together, say This is What We Can Do. We can change the world in small ways but those small ways have a lasting affect on people’s lives, their happiness and that is good for everyone.

Please Donate as Generously as you Can

Not Convinced? — My, You are Tough!

Where else all of this: (Forest Press Pack)

Read the Guardian Blog for inspirational stories.

Watch this brilliant video.

Look at at what Claire Askew wrote on One Night Stanzas.

Visit the Forest Site to learn more / donate!

Scottish Poetry Library at The Meadows Fest

June 4, 2009


Between The Forest / Police Box Stage and The Beer Tent we’ll have a Scottish Poetry Library Stall along with workshop space, a ‘zine stall and loads of brilliant live music from The Forest / Police Box Stage.

We’ve got two exciting poetic adventures for you to experience:

From 2pm on Saturday we’ve got a Poetry Postcard & Poster Making workshop.

* We’ll provide the words (a la magnetic poetry) and help you screen print your own original poetry poster or post card. Our Screen Printing Expert will be on hand to help you make everything look beautiful.


If you don’t feel like making your own poem some friends and I will be hanging out with copies of our favourite poems to pass on along with other free goodies. The people (and poems) will change so come early and come often.

Details of bands and DJs

Saturday 6th:

Noon – The Tuberians – a mystical journey of sound exploration from the undiscovered land of Tuberia.

12.45 – Hailey Beavis & The Byrons – a double threat of dazzling songwriting, punk fury and experimental pop.

1.45 – Ruby and The Emeralds – wrap your entire being within a cosmic layer of sassy mayhem.

2.30 – The Black Diamond Express – a rocking, hell-playing, old time string band.

3.15 – Meursault – starry-eyed electronica with cotton-picking wreaths of banjo plucks and ukulele strums.

4.15 – William Douglas and the Wheel – Punk Gospel with a twist of Rock ‘n’ Roll splendour.

5pm – Darkness – The Exploading DJ with bells, whistles, and Special Guests!

The Meadows Festival --- See You There

The Meadows Festival --- See You There!

Sunday 7th:

Noon – Chandra + The Forest Chior – The freelance folk adventurer starts the day with the blazing, amazing Forest Chior!

1pm – White Heath – a blend of space-rock and tribal noise.

2pm – Jesus H. Foxx – both modest and wrong.

3pm – FoxGang – wickedly satirical lyrics with an irresistible party vibe, that’ll flash to mid-July with only a tinge of sangria-soaked regret.

4pm – Punch and the Apostles – Wild, frenetic, yet underpinned by a probing sense of existential doubt.

5pm – Exhaustion – Jiggery Fuckery – Sun-soaked lashings of DJ juice!