Continuing our series of articles looking back at previous SAMA winners we were able to fire off some questions to Best Newcomer winners Bella and the Bear.
Made up of Stuart Ramage and Lauren Gilmour, Bella and the Bear are a two-piece who’ve shaken off the newcomer tag and gone from strength to strength in the world of music. From their own gig-trail to touring with a full theatre production, what year it’s been for this acoustic duo and what a year 2017 promises to be for them and their fans.
Were you surprised to win Best Newcomer at SAMAs last year?
We were totally surprised to win the award on the night. After such a short time together, we were so chuffed to even be nominated amongst such great talent – winning was a real bonus and a huge encouragement at such an early stage.
Do you feel the win has enhanced your reputation further?
A band’s profile is, undoubtedly, raised a little when they’re recognised through these kinds of platforms. The SAMAs is pretty varied and awards musicians of different disciplines for different reasons so we were in good company – being one of the winners on the night was definitely another wee feather in our cap.
What have you been up to as a band since then?
It seems like such a long time ago but it’s not even been a year! We have recorded and released our third EP Still Cold, we have written the music for a theatre production called Cafe Missing down South and toured with the company, we’ve had a Summer full of festivals, a wee tour in Ireland and played two brilliant home shows in Cottiers Theatre and The Old Hairdressers – collaborating with some really talented people.
Will you be attending the 2016 SAMAs?
We’d love to! There’s a bunch of nominated acts that we know well or have had the pleasure of playing alongside. The night itself does a great job of highlighting how much good music is coming out of Scotland right now!
Do you think the SAMAs can help mould more successful Scottish acts out there, and how?
Absolutely. If nothing else, being nominated or going on to win one of these awards gives a band a huge confidence boost. For a band like ours to win after such a short time playing together – it sends out a clear message that it’s definitely possible to be recognised at this level and go on to develop from that.
What do you have lined up for the rest of the year?
We’ve got some brilliant shows lined up at home and back over in Ireland – we’re working on a new recording and animated video release and we’ll be playing Celtic Connections in early 2017!
What’s been your favourite gig so far in your short time together as a band?
We’ve been really lucky to play so many great shows in such a short time. Our own show in Cottiers this year felt like a pretty significant one for both of us. We also loved playing HebCelt Festival up North and we’re just back from playing some of our favourite shows in Belfast – some of them were really intimate but some of the best audiences we’ve experienced!
Have you found any other platforms that have helped you reach out to the music community in Scotland and beyond?
CalMac Culture was a platform that really helped us – through it, we went on to win our first festival last Summer and that definitely gave us a taste for the kind of stages we want to play and the kind of audiences we want to reach. I’d highly recommend any acoustic/folk acts to find out what they can offer.
Last but not least – the silly question – what is your favourite Star Wars film and character? (Really is a silly question – it’s obviously Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back)
Emm… DEFINITELY Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back.
…it was never in doubt.