Today’s International News

EN4 News journalist Bryce Arthur discusses all the biggest international news stories of the day.

 

In today’s international news:

  • Jeff Bezos accuses National Inquirer of blackmail
  • Thai princess announces bid for Prime Minister in upcoming elections
  • Ten die in Rio fire – check our EN4News report for more.

 

EN4 Newspaper Roundup 8/2/19

EN4 News journalists Ross Hempseed, Bryce Arthur, and John Menzies bring you the headlines and top stories from today’s newspapers.

 

If you want to read the Herald’s Brexit Voices stories, click here.

For more on the upcoming match against Ireland, listen to our podcast.

Find EN4 News’ previous stories on the tourist tax here.

 

BREAKING: Mother found guilty of FGM

A mother of a three year old girl has been found guilty of female genital mutilation today, marking the first time a person in the United Kingdom has been found guilty of the crime.

The 37-year-old woman from Uganda was convicted following a trial at The Old Bailey in London.

Her 34-year-old partner was acquitted by the jury.

The mutilation was likely committed as part of a religious or cultural superstition. The trial heard that “spells and curses” intended to prevent social workers and police from investigating were found at the woman’s home.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act has existed in UK law since 2003 but this marks the first time someone has been prosecuted under this legislation.

Today’s International News

EN4 News journalist Bryce Arthur presents the latest development and news stories from abroad.

Today’s National News

EN4 News journalist Bryce Arthur discusses the biggest national news stories for today.

 

EN4 Newspaper Roundup 1/2/19

EN4 journalists Ross Hempseed, Bryce Arthur, and John Menzies discuss the front pages of today’s papers, as well as the top sports news.

Musician Zoe Graham on being Scottish, being female, and being Zoe Graham.

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“Even now if you’re a good female guitarist, people are a bit surprised.” (Photo credit: Cameron Brisbane)

EN4 journalist Bryce Arthur spoke to Zoe Graham before her Celtic Connections show at King Tut’s in Glasgow. Zoe discussed her influences, her shows, and what she has in store for the future.

EN4 News: So let’s start at the beginning. How long have you been doing music? 

Zoe Graham: I picked up my first guitar at about 10 – got it for Christmas – and I just started playing from then on. I did my first gig at 14.

EN4: How old are you now?

ZG: I’m 21 now (laughs) so I guess I’ve been playing for quite a long time. I started gigging at 14, did tons of tiny local gigs, but I didn’t really know that there was a huge music scene in Glasgow until I was 18. It was weird, music was something I always wanted to do but I wasn’t hugely influenced by the Glasgow music scene since it was something I came upon years afterwards.

EN4: Speaking of music and Glasgow, you’re doing Celtic Connections just now, and you’ve done it a couple times before. You seem to do a lot of festivals and showcases [Zoe’s played at TRNSMT, performed at the Off The Record showcase and did the St. Andrews Sessions last year]. Do you prefer the vibe of a big group of musicians, rather than having all the pressure on you?

ZG: Yeah, these things differ depending on what the specific event is. Sometimes I find it’s nice being a support act because then you can build on the fans of the headliner, but sometimes nobody shows up to see the support. It’s nice to take part in a bigger thing, ’cause sometimes a lot more people are there – sometimes they’re not, though! It depends on a lot of stuff.

EN4: With Celtic Connections in mind, as well as the Scottish references in your back catalogue [Hacket & Knackered, Anniesland Lights], would you say you think of yourself as a Scottish musician? Is it a big influence or your music or more of a background thing?

ZG: It’s kind of the same as how I don’t really think about myself as a female musician, I don’t really think of myself as a Scottish musician. I sometimes think it’s because when your life is filled with tons of other Scottish musician, it very much becomes the norm. It’s a lot to do with the accent, being Scottish in Scotland isn’t a big deal but the minute you go abroad –

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EN4: Suddenly you’re weird.

ZG: Yeah! When I was growing up doing gigs I did this thing called Sounds of the Summers. I supported a lot of American artists there and they all had these really strong American accents, and they could tell any story and it sounded great, but after them I always felt a bit daft getting on stage with my accent. But that’s the only time I’ve ever thought about it, honestly.

EN4: So the Scottishness isn’t a huge influence, but what is? Are there artists that you hear and think “I want to sound like them”?

ZG: All the time, actually. It’s a big thing for me, sometimes it’s a hindrance as much as it is a good thing. Like, I’ll hear something really left field and say “aw yeah I wanna sound like that!” and I’ll get really confused. I’ll forget to stick with what I’m doing and I’ll start doing really weird jazz music or try to create a rock album or something. But what I’m listening to right now: St. Vincent, Christine & The Queens, I’ve always been a huge KT Tunstall fan for a bunch of reasons, Hookworms, The National… there’s this amazing jazz musician Esperanza Spalding that’s absolutely awesome.

EN4: So being a female musician isn’t something you actively think about, but you listen to a lot of female artists, so would you say it’s been kind of an unconscious influence?

ZG: For me, it’s genuinely never really been a thing I thought about until I discovered the Glasgow music scene and I saw bands like The Van T’s or Crystal. Not to discredit all-female bands but I really like a mixture in a band, I love the teamwork there. I’ve never thought of myself of a female artist but other people do. It comes with its burdens sometimes, even now if you’re a good female guitarist, people are a bit surprised.

EN4: Do you still find that? In 2019?

ZG: Yeah. People are like “she’s really good…for a girl.” It’s stupid to hear that but it’s still positive. (Laughs) It’s like people are trying to make me feel better? I dunno.

EN4: We could go on for ages but I guess I’ll wrap up: what does Zoe Graham have coming up?

ZG: I’m gonna release some new music at some point this year, but no dates. That’s all I can really say for now, it’s all a bit mysterious. (Laughs)

We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from Zoe as much as we enjoyed speaking to her! You can find her tunes on Spotify and Apple Music, and feel free to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Zoe Graham at Celtic Connections (supported by John Edge & The Kings of Nowhere)

Zoe Graham played at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut’s intimate venue space in front of an adoring crowd on January 24. Its stage has hosted many massive acts, like Snow Patrol and Radiohead, but Zoe has lived up to the pedigree.

The concert was part of the Celtic Connections festival, Scotland’s wintertime festival which celebrates Scottish music & musicians.

Spread across Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, it invites musicians from around the globe and attracts thousands of visitors which pack the city’s most spectacular venues, attending concerts, ceilidhs, art exhibitions and much more.

It can occasionally tend towards the old-fashioned, but Thursday night’s show was evidence that Celtic Connections is very much moving with the times.

John Edge & The Kings Of Nowhere opened for Zoe Graham and their genre-defying melodies are a perfect example of Celtic Connection’s modernisation.

The band self-describes its music as “folk musings” but that doesn’t really scratch the surface. The Scottish highlands musicians manage to be multi-layered yet superbly smooth, bringing to life their Celtic roots.

John Edge as a band could be compared to Scottish synthpop band Prides, except they’ve torn out all the keyboard and autotune and fired about three acoustic guitars in its place — that’s John Edge’s sound.

However, at times they over-relied on this sound. It’s good, but they may have gotten in the habit of repeating themselves, and end up sounding a little repetitive on occasion.

The music somehow manages to roll over the crowd like a physical thing — this is maybe where the patriotic vibe comes from, with their tunes emulating the landscape.

But that’s a deeply pretentious description of a deeply unpretentious band. The five musicians on stage have obviously known each other a while, and if not, they get on well enough that they enjoy the mere act of playing alongside each other. The jokes between songs, the natural smiles and banter, all point to the bond these five artists share — something which is invaluable to smaller artists trying to make their reputation. John Edge & the Kings of Nowhere have the advantage being a five-piece band. When you are a solo artist, however you have to work a little harder to create a atmosphere around you.

Zoe Graham does this with ease.

Zoe — a fairly short 21-year-old Weegie gal with a great big guitar — shows appearances are deceiving and easily fills the rooms with her presence.

As well as a great big guitar, she brought with her a great big voice: clear, slightly accented, somewhat ethereal. It’s a voice that makes her recorded singles sound personal and emotional (they’re available on Spotify in case you don’t believe me) but her live performances change the nature of her music, becoming a bit less emotional and even more powerful. It’s definitely music that makes you will make you sit up and listen.

I’ve reviewed Zoe before, when she was performing solo. It’s all very slow, very moving, and a little melancholic. This time, backed by several musicians, the difference is startling. Personally, I’d call it an improvement.

The emotion that disappears from the softer songs changes them into these big powerful room-filling anthems — Industrial Strength, which on record is a quirky little tune, got completely turned on its head. The core of the songs remains the same though — Zoe’s songs all have a synthy soul, all very indie.

She returned to her solo portfolio for a few last songs — and for an artist of her size, getting called on for an encore is pretty nuts — for which she played Anniesland Lights. This last moment reflected the girl’s range — her last song, a track called Know By Now, had this big rock-on drum-solo finish. But for the encore, she returned to break hearts with her soft little ballad.

I have big hopes for Zoe Graham. Her music, her lyrics, her chat on-stage are all so refined and full of personality. If nothing else, she’s a unique character. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

John Edge & The Kings of Nowhere have plenty songs on their Youtube and a few on Spotify, and you can keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram (@johnedge_thekings) for news of their forthcoming album. You can find a link Zoe Graham’s Spotify in the article, her Youtube is here, and check out her Facebook and Instagram (@iamzoegraham) to keep up with her gigs and future releases.

 

Oscar nominations podcast

EN4 News reporters Bryce Arthur, Jade du Preez, Ross Hempseed and Liam Mackay chat about the 2019 Oscar nominees, announced on January 22 by the Academy Awards Committee.

 

Want more film chat? Listen to Liam talk about Scotland’s top flicks, read our Bohemian Rhapsody review, or read Jade’s Oscars article mentioned in the podcast.

 

Holyrood recommends free music lessons “in every local authority”

The Scottish Government’s education committee has stated that music tuition should be free across the country.

The committee has stated that they respect each individual authority’s democratic right to make decisions regarding the tuition, but have stated that “in principle, music tuition should be provided free of charge in every local authority”.

Edinburgh’s local council still provides free lessons, as does the council in Glasgow. Other local authorities still charge up to three figure sums per pupil, and these fees have been increasing in recent years.

Clackmannanshire Council, for example, charged £258.50 in 2017/18. This school year (2018/19) they charge £524, more than double the previous charge and by far the highest tuition cost in Scotland.

South Ayrshire, East Lothian, West Lothian councils also only started charges this year, going from no charge to a cost of £200, £280, and £354 respectively.

West Lothian, the council with the largest price increase, saw 70% of pupils drop extracurricular music lessons after the decision was made, something the council described as “alarming”.

 

mr. and mrs. jones

Infographic by Jade du Preez for EN4News

 

Charging for music tuition, despite Holyrood’s statement, is very much the rule as opposed to the exception. 25 of Scotland’s 32 councils charge for lessons, although some are fairly reasonable (£140 per pupil per year in the Scottish Borders).

The issue with charging for music lessons is that it inevitably lowers participation in these programs (as education committee convener Clare Adamson told MSPs, the fees are “increasingly unaffordable” for “far too many young people”).

Lowered participation is a problem, not only because of young people missing opportunities due to their financial situation but because of the proven benefits of music lessons for young people.

A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last year suggested that music lessons help schoolchildren learn languages and improve their language processing skills.

Another study showed how extra-curricular activities (such as music lessons) can reduce delinquency in young people. If councils continue to charge for the lessons — and children, therefore, continue to drop music tuition from their schedule — young people will not gain these small but notable benefits.

COSLA, the umbrella body representing Scottish local councils, has proposed allowing children who are entitled to free school meals to also receive music tuition free of charge.

This suggests progress on the issue. However, no single local authority lowered their tuition costs in the 2018/19 semester, which implies that unless Holyrood takes greater action, universal free music tuition could be a long way off.

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