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A look at the Scottish Alternative Music Award nominees

By Ciara Watt

For musicians in Scotland making music out of the ordinary, the Scottish Alternative Music Awards (the SAMAs) are a respected and impressive award. The Glasgow Guardian takes a look closer at each artist and breaks down the ones to watch on this year’s list.

It’s no secret that the wave of Covid-19 spreading throughout Scotland has had a devastating impact on the live music scene and its community of artists and industry workers. With the loss of jobs and the possibility of some of our favourite local venues closing, it has been hard to celebrate the incredible and underrated talent that Scotland has to offer this year.  However, with the Scottish Alternative Music Awards (SAMA) announcing their first-ever online ceremony, hope has been brought to some of these artists that perhaps they will get the recognition that they deserve, despite the difficulties they will have encountered this year.

The SAMA are best known for recognising new Scottish music while exploring a variety of different genres and areas of music.  Previous award winners include The Snuts, Be Charlotte, Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 and Lewis Capaldi. This year marks the 11th anniversary of the awards which take place online at 6.30pm on Wednesday 18 November via Twitch. Tickets for the virtual ceremony are available to purchase for free on Eventbrite which includes an option to donate to leading music charity Help Musicians Scotland, with funds to be put back into supporting Scottish musicians, which, at this difficult time, is essential for the arts in Scotland to survive.  

The awards are divided into seven different categories: Best Acoustic; Best Electronic; Best Hip Hop; Best Live Act; Best Metal; Best Newcomer; and Best Rock/Alternative.  Let’s have a look at this year’s nominations! 


Bobby Kakouris

With their richly textured voice, emotive guitar playing and captivating writing, Bobby Kakouris rightly deserves to have a place in this year’s awards. Their song Orange has a particularly intriguing chord progression, accompanied with deep cutting, personal lyrics and impressive production. 

Fair Mothers

Coming from the east of Scotland, Fair Mothers, also known as Kevin Allan, describes himself as an “old nervous wreck” that writes lo-fi, indie folk music. His most recent album In Monochrome is dark, poetic and hosts unflinching, raw emotion that has listeners hooked from beginning to end.  

Jenny Sturgeon

Taking inspiration from nature, folklore and wild places, Jenny has established herself as a folk singer/songwriter with lots of notable accomplishments, including airplay on BBC Radio 2 and a feature on STV news. Her recent album, The Living Mountain, incorporates many natural elements by opening with the sound of birds chirping; well-matched to the pure and melodic vocals laced throughout the album.  

Man of the Minch

Glaswegian singer/songwriter, Pedro Cameron, blends his love of traditional Celtic music with his personal storytelling and uplifting melodies. Previously establishing himself as a fiddle player and vocalist for the likes of Rachel Sermanni and Broken Chanter, Man of the Minch gives Cameron the opportunity to showcase his own songwriting and persona. His most recent single, Circles, also helped to further establish Cameron as an artist to watch.  


Lady Neptune 

Moema Meade originally formulated the alter ego of Lady Neptune in London. Now based in Glasgow, Neptune continues to develop her bass-heavy, synth-pop. Her most recent album New Gorbals Gabber showcases her love for electronic music and skill in recording and production. 

Pleasure Pool

Another new band to emerge on the electronic music scene in Glasgow, Pleasure Pool are newcomers to the underground music scene and are already known for being bass-heavy with dreamlike and enchanting vocals. Their most recent EP release, Night Scars, showcases the best elements that the talented band have to offer.  


Making history as the first Black trans artist to be nominated for a SAMA, and the first artist to be nominated for two categories in the same year, TAAHLIAH has used her talent for creating electronic music to raise money for LGBT Unity Scotland through the release of her single Limelight on Bandcamp.



Well known for his versatility and ability to freestyle, CLING has been getting lots of attention on the Scottish hip hop scene. His most recent single Mi Amor was released on 6 November 2020 and is already getting a huge reaction from his Instagram following.  


After having airplay on BBC Radio 1 it is no surprise that LOTOS, or Last of the Old School, are being recognised by the alternative music awards. Their recent single Home Free has had an incredible response and suggests that there is much more to come from this band.  

India Ros3

Also well known for her freestyle, India Ros3 is an established singer/rapper/actress. She is best known for her songs Henry, I Pray and Pretty Boiii, which have all caused a buzz amongst hip hop fans and showcase the artist’s sheer writing prowess.

Louis Seivwright

Based in Aberdeen, Seivwright is best known for his impressive production skills and his recent album Cloud 9, which acquired an impressive 20,000 Spotify streams on the first day of its release. There are two sides of the album, with Side A focusing on a more universal audience while Side B explores and challenges more elements of hip hop and production.  


Callum Easter

After being nominated for Scottish album of the year, Easter is no stranger to being recognised as a major contributor to Scottish music. His album, Green Door Sessions, was written, performed, and mastered completely by himself, which is transferable to his live shows as he showcases his multi-instrumental and songwriting skills. Once live music returns to Scotland, he is one that you won’t want to miss!

Free Love

Led by S. & L. Cook, Free Love are a Glasgow-based band that has garnered quite the reputation for their live performance skills and ability to connect with an audience. The band took to Facebook to express their excitement at being nominated; “Like everyone else we’ve missed live music a lot … Luckily we had a lot of shows at the end of last year that we won’t be forgetting soon and so it feels particularly good to discover that we’ve been nominated for best live act”. 

Kapil Seshasayee

After an impressive live performance at this year’s Scottish Album of the Year Awards, it’s of no surprise that Seshasayee is nominated in this category. Kapil Seshasayee is an Indian classical/R&B/art rock artist from Glasgow and has recently released his single The Pink Mirror which captures the essence of R&B and soul with an electronic and exciting production.  

Still House Plants 

Still House Plants are a Glasgow and South London-based group made up of Finlay Clark (guitar), Jessica Hickie-Kallenbach (vocals), and David Kennedy (drums), who met at the Glasgow School of Art. Their newest album, Fast Edit, is a continuation of their oft-kilter rock music influenced by emo, slowcore, free improvisation, and more. 


Bleed From Within

Bleed from Within are a Scottish heavy metal band from Glasgow formed in 2005.  After the release of their highly anticipated album Fracture, the band plan to commence their 2021 European tour next winter starting in Club Volta, Cologne and ending in The Garage, Glasgow.  

King Witch

After the release of their latest album Body of Light in April, King Witch have been receiving recognition all over the Scottish music scene and was recently played on BBC Scotland Introducing. The band took to Facebook to express that they were “really chuffed” to have been nominated for the award and pleased with how well their album was received. I’m sure this won’t be the last award we see the band up for.  


After the success of EP Green last September, and a successful launch night in the Cathouse, Glasgow it is safe to say that the Neshiima boys have earned their place in the SAMA awards. Although they are best known for their heavy drum fills and incredible guitar riffs, the band produced a video of them covering Backstreet Boys’ Larger Than Life that went viral during lockdown, demonstrating their ability to turn anything into a stomping heavy metal tune.  


Since its formation in 2013, Saor has continually evolved while remaining boldly faithful to its Scottish heritage with “saor” being the Scottish Gaelic word for “free”. With a group of session musicians, Andy Marshall successfully combines the atmospheric black metal with traditional Scottish music.  


Nathan Somevi

Originally from Accra, Ghana, and now living in Glasgow, Somevi classifies himself as a “hybrid guitarist”. After the release of his jazz-infused EP, Can’t Be Done, in September this year, the artist is definitely making his mark on the Scottish music scene with his effortless playing and enchanting rhythms.  


With her 2019 single _Gorgeous currently featuring on the BBC Introducing Hot List, Kohla is certainly a newcomer to watch. A combination of alternative R&B and soul, Kohla’s EP Flux explores many different paths of musical genre with enriching vocals and haunting melodies.


From Cromarty in the Scottish Highlands, Tamzene is a multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter. After studying at Leeds College of Music, Tamzene returned to Scotland as she missed the “fresh air and the sea”. Originally busking on the streets of Inverness, Tamzene started to work on her craft at the age of 14 and has since gone on to play at Belladrum and the Queen Tuts stage at TRNSMT. There is still much more to come for Tamzene if her single Accidentally Told You is anything to go by, with a lullaby-like quality, soothing vocals and therapeutic piano.  


Dead Pony

After their most recent single 23, Never Me being played on BBC Radio 1 Jack Saunders’ indie show, this band would definitely appeal to fans of Wolf Alice with a strong female frontwoman accompanied by a strong lead guitar with a heavy rock production.  Dead Pony would definitely be a crowd favourite in a live setting!


Describing their sound as “Art Funk”, Fauves are a six-piece band from Glasgow that assemble their sound from “elements of indie, funk, R&B and electronica”. With unique sound and visuals, Fauves take their name from Fauvism which is an early 20th-century French art movement which utilised vibrant colours and shapes.  Their newest track, Spaced Out Face, released this month, has already been played across multiple radio stations in Scotland.  


Pop-duo from Glasgow, HYYTS, are at the beginning of what is set to be a long career with their catchy pop melodies and exciting stage presence. Although they create exciting and electronic music, the boys are also able to strip their songs to make them acoustic and intimate with their recent singles The Low Sound and Dreamkiller, which are accompanied by acoustic versions. This shows the duo’s versatility and musical ability as they can change the way the listener feels simply through clever production.

Pleasure Heads

Falkirk band Pleasure Heads released their recent single Cosmopolis in July of this year; recorded at Glasgow’s esteemed 7 West Studios just before lockdown hit Scotland. Since first bursting onto the scene in 2017 with their debut track Concrete Lips becoming massively successful, the band have gone from strength to strength with their punk-inspired sound.  

With the awards showcasing the best of Scottish talent, it’s safe to say that there are so many talented musicians in Scotland right now, that are all doing incredible things for Scottish music.  More than ever, these musicians deserve to be recognised and celebrated!


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Stuart McLean

Great article