Interview: The Pictish Trail on how the Fence spirit will live on
We caught up with Johnny Lynch aka The Pictish Trail ahead of his gig at the Liquid Rooms on Saturday to get some inside information on how the Fence spirit will live on with his new label Lost Map, with hat-tips to comedian Josie Long, artist David Galletly and BBC Scotland DJ and author Vic Galloway.
Interview by Milo McLaughlin
The Scottish music scene was left reeling last week after it was announced that Fence Records, one of Scotland’s best independent record labels, announced it was no longer continuing in its current form. Thankfully Johnny Lynch (aka The Pictish Trail), who has helmed the label for the last few years, is forging ahead with a brand new venture called Lost Map, and he’ll be joined by the full line-up of bands from the recent Fence roster, including Kid Canaveral, Rozi Plain, eagleowl and newest signings Monoganon.
Hi Johnny – You’ve just announced that Fence Records is no more, and you’re starting up a new label. This came as a shock to a lot of people and there was also a bit of confusion in the aftermath of the announcement, with founder Kenny Anderson (King Creosote) saying that he would be keeping the Fence name going. Can you tell me what the story is?
I decided after ten years working at Fence, and following Kenny’s departure from the label at the end of last year, that there wasn’t really a Fife base for the label anymore – and it was best to continue under a new name with a more singular vision, based on Eigg, called Lost Map.
I’ve agreed with Kenny that as it’s a continuation of the label as it has been for the past ten years, the Fence name will have a bit of downtime, after which he’ll use it as an imprint for his own back catalogue and collaborations going forward in 2014.
So what’s the plan with Lost Map?
We’ve got the same artist roster as we had with Fence Records, and it’s about being open to discovering music in a new way and not being force-fed everything all the time. This is something I’ve always stood by with all the music I’ve released – I’ve not been a big fan of streaming or anything like that.
With Lost Map we want to make it a bit more difficult for people to get hold of the music, and maybe invest a bit more of a spirit of adventure and discovery in terms of finding the music.
So you want to stop people getting your music?
Not stop, but we don’t just want to give the entire game away straight off the bat. Having said that, we do have a free sampler available at lostmap.com (laughs)!
In the same way we’ve always done, we want to get the audience to engage with the music we put out, not just through streaming sites but through a series of weird and intimate live shows, and breaking that boundary down between performance and audience. So that’s something we want to continue to do, both in the live sphere but also with our recordings.
You launched the new Lost Map website just this week, and it’s all very mysterious, with some great artwork by Glasgow artist David Galletly. How did he get involved?
Yes, we’ve been working with David for the last three or four years at Fence. He’s done a lot of the layout and art design for the EPs and LPs that we’ve released in the last few years, so he was a natural first choice when we were starting this new thing. He’s someone who has got so many ideas – whenever I’ve given him a theme or something to build on, he’s always come up with lots of different options, and he’s very open to input.
He’s great across the board, from graphic design to photography and short films and animation. He did a music video for Kid Canaveral, so he’s someone with a very wide artistic vision.
[Lost Map teaser video by David Galletly, with music by Monoganon]
Let’s move on to your gig this Saturday at the Liquid Rooms as part of Haddowfest. You brought out a new album at the start of the year and you’ve done quite a lot of touring since then, haven’t you?
Yeah, I’ve done quite a few tours. I did a tour with eagleowl at the start of this year, where they were the opening support and my backing band, and that was amazing fun. It was a bit of a logistical nightmare with ten of us on the road, but amazing fun!
Then I toured with James Yorkston and Seamus Fogarty, and that was amazing too. It was a completely different tour, much more stripped back and acoustic, which is great. For me it’s always a good reminder because it’s easy when you do a run of gigs to get a bit lazy and settle into the same set-list, and that tour really kept me on my toes the same way the Josie Long tour did a few years ago – it’s a slightly different audience and a different set-up.
There’s also been a bunch of summer festivals this year which I’ve played with Eigg metal band The Massacre Cave as my backing band, and as well as the Edinburgh show this weekend there’s a whole batch of dates happening in October.
I saw Josie Long support yourself and eagleowl in Preston.
She did yeah, and I did a show with her in London, a small gig for Moshi Moshi a few weeks ago. She’s a comedian who doesn’t want to just do one thing. Her comedy is already quite alternative and she’s doing short films at the moment and we’re talking now about her doing an actual album for Lost Map, but that might take a bit of time to put together.
Sounds good. So what can people expect from the gig on Saturday? Why should they go to your gig instead of one of the many Fringe shows?
Well it’s better value for money for starters! Half six until ten o’clock for ten pounds, you’re not going to get that anywhere else! And we’ve got an amazing support act, Monoganon, who are going to be the first official release on Lost Map. In fact, for those who get there early and catch Monoganon, we’re going to have a limited number of copies of their debut album which isn’t coming out until October so people can get it two months ahead.
Vic Galloway is also DJing and hosting. Vic’s a good friend, and he’s just written a book called Songs in the Key of Fife which is about Fence and other artists from the area – so it seems right to have him there as we launch the next chapter.