Hot on the heels of an explosive live session on BBC Scotland’s Sportsound at the Edinburgh Fringe last month, Livingston quartet Dictator unleash their new single ‘Candlemaker Row’ (Out Friday 5th November) on Blackhall Records
The follow-up to July’s psychedelic and atmospheric ‘Mirror Mirror’ sees the band carry on down an experimental path. The track could quite easily soundtrack many a midnight walk through the gloomy and mysterious side streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Musically, it’s another leap forward for the band in terms of synth and percussion layering which jump out the speakers at you like a ghoul might on a haunted walk down Candlemaker Row on a dark, chilly Autumn evening.
With songs like this at their disposal the band are continuing their impressive upwards trajectory.
#MissWriter caught up with the Dictator boys ahead of their newest release:
Hey! We’re Dictator, a 4-piece electronic indie Pop (or alternative Rock) outfit from West Lothian. Joe, Allan and Michael and Zach. We consider our official formation to be late November 2019, that’s when we released our first song and started taking the band stuff seriously, we were a wee jam group a little before that though.
Why did you pick the name Dictator for the band?
It was just a wee bit of a running joke around how Michael writes songs. Allan and I (Zach) were in bands together before and everyone had an input to the song writing process, it was definitely a case of too many chefs and took a long time to get anything done. With Dictator Michael writes the skeleton of a song then we add some meat to the bones. It’s definitely a more efficient way of song writing, and Michael is such a good songwriter that we trust him wholeheartedly in the process, it just took a wee bit adjusting to so we’d often refer to him as a bit of a Dictator. I think we’ve come to personify the title though. We’re very much a band who need to do things on our own terms. We don’t really like playing the industry ‘game’. We do what we like and what sounds fun and that’s it.
What part of being in a band do you love the most?
Joe: The thing I love the most about playing in a band is gigging. And not exactly the playing part but everything else that comes along with it. The lead up to a gig is the most stressful/exciting times, whether you know the gig is already a sell out or you’re praying on folk walking through the door. Believe me when you see a band jumping about and having a good time on stage, that’s not because they are putting trying to put on a good show, it’s just an outburst of relief that they have not put days/weeks/months of work in to play in front of an empty room. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing in front of a packed-out crowd with a great sound and cool lights and that, but some of my best and funniest memories come from the weird and wonderful venues. And when I say weird, I mean scary. And when I say wonderful, I mean shithole. I guess what I’m trying to say is I just like to get out the house, especially if it’s to play a gig!
You’ve recently signed a record deal with Blackhall Records, how does that feel?
Allan: I think I speak on behalf of the whole band when I say it feels ABSOLUTELY CLASS!!
It’s the sort of thing you dream of as a young inspiring musician. After 15 years of playing in various bands, growing up, getting married and having kids it still fills me with complete joy that this has been made a reality.
It’s also a feeling of complete relief, the whole process took around 6 months. Discussions back and forward amidst a lockdown during a pandemic, having to introduce lawyers to our team as well as keeping on top of own day jobs and families. So, to finally have this signed, we’re able to put our full focus back on what we do best. And I cannot stress how excited I am for everyone to see our live shows and our now imminent EP release into next year that we’ve pretty much grafted over for the whole of the pandemic.
In Your Ears champion ‘under the radar’ bands and artists, who are some of the standout artists you’ve found recently?
Zach: You lot absolutely have, and firstly can I just say how grateful we are to you all!
In terms of exciting music, we’ve been coming across, I’ve really been enjoying The Chase, Arcade State, Ava Carlyle’s first release, Lock-in and we’ve loads of time for PG Ciarletta. SILVI are supporting us at our next headline, and I know IYE have been great champions of them too.
What has been the highlight for Dictator so far?
Zach: So, I’m hoping this interview goes out AFTER it’s been announced and I’m not leaking news I shouldn’t be! But we’ve just found out we’ve been nominated for a SAMA (Scottish Alternative Music Awards) in the ‘Best Rock’ category and we’re really, really buzzing on that.
Previous winners have included The Snuts and Fauves and it’s just so mind blowing for us to gain this kinda recognition from our peers. I didn’t think I’d care about stuff like that, but it feels like a representation of all the hard work we’ve put in over the last 2 years and I’m really very proud of that. (we’re gonna need the IYE community support to win the public vote for this please)
If you could play any venue in the world, where would it be?
Michael: I think if there were any one venue that sums up live music for me, it’s Glastonbury, main stage on a Sunday night when half the world is tuned in and there seems to be some sync between the band, the crowd and everyone at home, that, and the pressure to have a good show usually pushes you up a few levels! So, for me, pyramid stage Glastonbury on a Sunday night headline slot.
There is a growing band of people supporting the new music scene – what can we do to support you?
Just keep sharing/listening to our music, buying our tickets, and massaging our ego’s!
Zach: I’d just like to say thank you to the entire IYE team and extended community, you guys have been an absolute lifeline over such a tumultuous period, and I can say with absolute confidence that Dictator wouldn’t be anywhere near the stage we are just now without your support. We are genuinely so grateful to you all, please keep up all that amazing work, discovering and sharing new music and championing new artists.
Check out Candlemaker Row on Friday 5th November 2021
Links: Dictator | Linktree
If you’d like to interview Dictator or find out more about ‘Candlemaker Row’ you can reach
the band at firstname.lastname@example.org