Fleur Kas, Ava Ahmann
In what appears to be a standard room in the McIntyre Building, the bustling office of Subcity Radio is housed. Founded back in 1993, it is an independent and non-profit student radio station where electronic music of all sorts are streamed. Composed of mostly students from across Glasgow, Subcity provides an opportunity for anyone to contribute and host their own shows. Rather than being a highly selective team of resident DJs, team members have creative freedom to compose their own setlists and experiment with genres ranging from ambient to grime. This upcoming Friday (the 22nd of September), Subcity will return to GSA’s iconic Vic Bar in collaboration with Hill52 for a club night themed ‘Distortion.’ You don’t want to miss this celebration of Glasgow’s young, electronic talent.
When speaking to the co-station managers, it becomes evident how much the station is both a passion project and a hub of creative activity for its members. For co-manager Ada Fuge, Subcity’s 2019 Freshers party, Ecotopia, which also took place in the storied Art School venue (encompassing the Vic Bar and other rooms), introduced her to clubbing and enticed her to eventually get involved with thetation. Noting that, “every cool thing I’ve been involved in Glasgow music wise can be traced back to Subcity.” This passion for the station is similarly felt by co-manager Hamish Barrett, who, while having joined the station more recently, described the inherently engrossing nature of Subcity, explaining how the station “took a very significant portion of my life up in a way I appreciated and had needed for a while.” Subcity’s balance between being a community radio station and the more party oriented side makes it an all encompassing collective to be part of. Hamish was quick to mention the sentiment of engagement and the culture of working with music collaboratively that comes with being a team member on the station. With the influx of new students, as well as those simply looking for something new to try as the year begins, Subcity awaits, excited for fresh talent. The station, which is chugging ahead into its 30th year, and can list an extensive set of station graduates such as Perko, Boosterhooch, and Hudson Mohawke to name just a tiny set, has certainly seen times both tough and exhilarating.
“The same time that the art school burned down, we figuratively burned down,” Hamish comments, explaining how COVID and technological issues resulted in a challenging period for the radio. Fortunately, the past couple of years have been a rebuilding process, leaving Ada and Hamish feeling confident about the year ahead. They are especially excited about new members joining the team and hosting shows in bigger, unusual venues. “We don’t want to have a default style or a default theme. We’re always trying to change stuff up,” Hamish adds, noting how this reflects in details such as poster designs, which vary with each event, never relying on the same typeface or design aesthetic. Ada continues on to describe how they’re also planning another night of live ambient music, to diversify Subcity’s target audience, emphasising a broader interest in events that may reach more people in Glasgow’s student community, including those who aren’t as big on classic techno club nights.
Friday’s event is an exciting opportunity to get acquainted with the joys of community radio and corporate free clubbing, and a chance to experience sets from a broad range of the crem de la crem of Glasgow selectors and station DJS. The sounds of jungle, breaks etc. and “perhaps even some grime” are expected to make an appearance, however, the music that will constitute the night will be a surprise to even the managers themselves. When posed the question of what to expect, the managers were keen to highlight that a key operational tenet of the nights that Subcity throws is that genres are to be happily erased. The station emphasises a more experimental approach to promotion, meaning the music played on the nights is left up to the performers themselves, who are thus entrusted with doing a good job. With everyone performing also being a station contributor, there’s a natural “vested interest” in ensuring that sets will be well planned, fun, and varied. Reinhabiting a revived Glasgow cultural bastion is certainly an exciting inflection on an already exciting time of year for the station and for students in Glasgow.
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