Interview: Tenement Trail director on Glasgow’s rich music scene and growing a grassroots festival

“Over the years we’ve had acts like Lewis Capaldi, Sam Fender, Yungblud all play as smaller acts, and now they’re all selling out stadiums. It’s amazing, that’s what it’s all about.”
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Scotland’s festival for music discovery is returning to Glasgow’s East End on Saturday 7 October hosting over 50 acts across eight venues within ten hours. Tenement Trail presents a rich and diverse lineup of both new and established acts including a headline performance from the Northern English indie group Circa Waves.

Now in its tenth year the event operates as a platform for local bands, particularly those at the rawest stages of their career, to cut their teeth and develop their repertoire. Ahead of the event we spoke to founder and director Chae Houston on Glasgow’s evolving music scene.

“We started it back in early 2013/14 and we started it on Sauchiehall Street, it was just a couple of small venues at the time, that’s when the old Art School was there, the old Capitol building. It was just four venues, 20 bands, and from there it grew up to using the O2 ABC and The Garage. We had our sixth or seventh year there and unfortunately the ABC burned down just a couple of weeks before our festival was set to take place, so we ended up moving all those acts into The Garage. After that it was a no brainier to move it to this side of the city, to the Barrowlands and Saint Luke’s in the East End, there’s lots of great venues round here.

“Over the years we’ve had acts like Lewis Capaldi, Sam Fender, Yungblud all play as smaller acts, and now they’re all selling out stadiums. It’s amazing, that’s what it’s all about, the festival is all about supporting new grassroots bands and trying to give them a platform to move on in their careers.

“Every band that we have play the festival we think is good and can go onto do special things. I don’t think any of us thought that Lewis Capaldi was going to become number one in America and one of the biggest acts in the world, but you could definitely tell there was something special about them.

“I think over the last ten years, along with other concert promotors in the city and with us giving these acts a platform, the scene has grown for the better - there’s more opportunities, there’s more acts that are going on to do big things.

“The music is much more diverse now, especially after Covid you’ve got loads of bedroom artists who wrote songs during lockdown and now they’re playing some of their first live shows. Everything’s so different, we used to do a genre split article where we put bands into three categories, but now it doesn’t make sense. Music is now coming from all over the world, there’s elements of hip hip, indie, pop, folk, everything’s intertwined. It’s hard to pigeonhole things at the moment.”

One ticket provides access to all venues throughout the day and can be purchased here.