Starting out around two years ago, Glasgow’s White have been kicking up a fuss since the release of their debut track ‘Future Pleasures’. Comprised of Leo Condie (singer), Hamish Fingland (guitar), Chris Potter (guitar), Lewis Andrew (bass), Kirstin Lynn (drums), Gigslutz caught up with Leo, Hamish and Kirstin after their set at this year’s Y Not Festival to talk about everything from wasps in their music videos, to not being a heldback dickhead.
“I was put in touch with Hamish,” Leo begins. “He was looking for someone to do some singing on a side project he’d been working on, but as soon as we got together we realised we could do something more full on.”
“A more substantial thing!” Hamish continues, “I live with two other people in the band and we write music anyway, so we tried Leo singing on it and decided to make a full band out of it. We then got Kirstin to play the drums, and she added the magic touch!”
After adding Kirstin’s “delicate yet magic touch” (she jokes calling it “the elephant touch”), things have only gotten bigger for them, but the past two years haven’t seemed as fast paced as they may seem.
“We spent some time writing songs and deciding what we would be about before putting ourselves out there, so we were ready for what the world’s got,” they start. “We didn’t tell anyone about the band existing for around seven to eight months. It was a secret for over half a year so it feels like a long time coming.”
After months of preparation and a couple of previous releases, White dropped their track ‘Living Fiction’ on SoundCloud. Following a mention in NME’s Radar feature, Mario, a DJ at Hamburg’s Molotow, got in contact to book them for their first gig after hearing their track and playing it in his set. “It was an awesome night! We felt no pressure,” Leo explains before reminiscing over their Hamburg experience.
“We’d just driven for 20 hours so were were in a strange mind-set anyway. It was all dream life. We’d also rented a warehouse there through Airbnb and it had a sex swing in, and the stage had a window at the back and the front so people in the street could see all!”
White are due to release their debut EP, Cuts That Don’t Bleed, in autumn and will feature five (“four and half really”, Leo adds) tracks. They’ve already unveiled ‘Step Up’ and ‘I Liked You Better When You Needed Me’, and plan to slowly leak little bits.
Though their sound has been described as many things, including art-pop, synth-pop and indie-disco, Hamish sees their current sound as “the 5:30am part of the after party. So no one’s too messed up yet, and they’ve still got their cool clothes on, but it’s a bit dark and there’s still dancing happening.”
“It seemed to come naturally. We’ve gone on tangents and come back, and found new bits to come in but we totally know what the sound of White is now.” Leo adds, with Hamish whispering “I fucking hope so” in the background.
The new EP sees them begin working with their friend’s label, Dead Beet Records, rather than RCA which they released the likes of ‘Blush’ and ‘Future Pleasures’ through. “We’re really enjoying the freedom! It’s less creatively restrictive,” begins Hamish before Kirstin continues. “RCA was a fantastic building block to start us off. We had that backing to get us to a great place but now we’re taking control.”
“We were in a good position even before we were involved with RCA. With them, we had a really good team behind us but we still did a lot ourselves. We did all the artwork, we recorded and produced all the music ourselves and we were running the social media with a wee bit of help so we knew what we were doing anyway! Also, it feels nice to take a step back and help the Glasgow music scene, as people like Dead Beet records are really important.”
Making their own music videos, however weird they might seem, is something White have always done. ‘Step Up’, directed by Hamish, saw them hire out another interesting Airbnb (which apparently wasn’t a deliberate thing) whilst new track ‘I Liked You Better When You Needed Me’ is apparently “a pretty fucked up video” as described by Hamish, and a “ramshackle” by Kirstin.
The latter sees the band bouncing large black balloons on a beach in time to the beat whilst leaving Leo to frolic alone in a swimming pool with a bottle of champers. However, ‘Step Up’ goes deeper into it’s meaning, with the silhouettes of the band interrupted by intermittent clips of wasps.
“Apparently if a hornet flies into a certain kind of wasps’ nest, even though all the wasps are smaller, they team up on each other and vibrate at a certain heat that actually burns the hornet alive,” Hamish defends whilst the others mock him (“someone’s been on Wikipedia” jokes Leo). “The lyric “step up and kill your friends” kind of relates to it!”
Supporting the Glasgow music scene is something they’re very involved in. Whether it be touring with the likes of Baby Strange, or working with Dead Beet, they’re all up for helping out their city.
“There’s always been bands in Glasgow, but now there’s an atmosphere and a chemistry between everyone that’s more supportive,” Hamish explains. “The quality of what’s coming out is amazing and I’m not being biased! It’s nice to be able to be positive about your friends’ bands because they’re actually really good, not just because they’re your friends.”
Kirstin adds, “It’s a community. No one’s jealous of anyone else’s success. Everyone’s there using their success to leapfrog the next!”
Today, the band played The Quarry at Y Not Festival, one of many festivals they’ve played over the summer including Latitude and Metropolis. Though, as they all agree today’s set will take some beating.
“This year was even better than last year! It was great seeing people singing along quite far back in the crowd.” Leo begins before Hamish adds confused, “my brain doesn’t work very well after a gig, I can’t even remember it. Every gig we do, we try and enjoy it, but then up our game for the next one. Our aim is always to have better shows.”
“I really enjoy playing festivals as you get to bring a party on stage! You get to jump out the van looking relatively immaculate and better than everyone in mud and wellies. Everyone’s here for a party and to be receptive to new music and I think we’ve written our songs to be enjoyed by people who’ve never heard them before so we’re half way though the battle to start with!”
Later this year sees the band’s biggest headline show to date, alongside friends Baby Strange at Glasgow’s O2 ABC. The 1,300 capacity venue sees the two bands co-headline with fellow Glaswegians The Ninth Wave and The Cut supporting. “It’ll be a good statement that we’re at that stage [to headline],” they explain. “It’s so cool that we’re getting to do it with our friends as well. There’s nothing nicer than being able to share a stage with people that you like.”
“We only did our first tour in February and March, so it was amazing to see how people engage with the songs as we’d only put out three at that point. We were just like ‘cool, do you know any of these songs? Do you know who we are?’, but we still had such a great reception! It’s amazing that they’ve come to see us, especially as they had to pay.”
The thought of their huge homecoming show doesn’t seem daunting at all to them though, as Hamish explains: “I always try and do the same for every gig. It’s easier to feed off an audience that want to like you than try and build one that are only there to appreciate it. I always try to have the attitude to have fun so I always try to have a laugh and I think that feeds off people!”
“I didn’t realise how much of an effect a good audience had until this year,” Leo continues. “I’ve always been doing gigs since I was a teenager but have been quite self-absorbed. Once you start getting the audience singing lyrics back to you, and reacting to specific things you do, it’s such an amazing thing. It does kick up so many gears as you’re getting such a buzz off them and it works both ways.”
White are a band that act totally at ease on stage, explaining it as simply “there’s nothing worse than a heldback dickhead!”. Leo continues, “I really enjoy putting on a show and everyone else does too. I think it’s good if you leave people not only wanting more, but also aware that you’ve given everything on stage and have absolutely nothing left.”
“If you look like a dickhead, no matter how hard they dance, they’re not going to look as much of a dickhead as you so if you go for it, they’ll feel no inhibition. If you look like a dickhead and try and hold back, it’s a lot worse than going all the way and looking like a dickhead.”
White are definitely at their greatest when playing live, so there’s no doubt that when they joke calling their huge Glasgow show “the pure gig of the year!”, they’re far from wrong.
White co-headline Glasgow’s O2 ABC on December 16. Tickets are still available here.