One of the most exciting new record labels on my radar right now is the home of synth-based music in Scotland, Tonic Note Records. Since its inception 18 months ago, Tonic Note has put out three releases of original electronic music. The collective has also put on twelve live events in nine locations, including a free outdoor rave on top of Calton Hill in Edinburgh and a synthesizer festival across two nights in Edinburgh and Glasgow. 28 different performers have appeared across these events. Tonic Note has also been responsible for three YouTube episodes entitled Whisky and Synths and has been reaching out to aspiring artists through music technology tutorials and workshops in Scotland, as well as online workshops with students as far away as Cambodia and Thailand.
In terms of releases and merchandise, Tonic Note has a strong image, largely down to its partnership with artist Lee Tomasulo aka Smasherelli, who has designed not only EP and sampler artwork, but also four separate designs of T-shirt. The label has also released limited runs of cassettes and even released music in the format of a vegan buckfast brownie (I’ll leave you to figure that one out). Certainly a tonic for what ails ye!
The label’s most recent release, the sampler ‘Blame it on The Bucky 2’, follows on from previous sampler ‘Blame it on the Bucky’ and label founder David Maitland’s solo project Hostel Freaks’ EP ‘Melt’. Melt also features some stunning guest appearances from artists on guitar, vocals and saxophone. Where the first instalment of ‘Blame it on the Bucky’ featured five artists, ‘Blame it on the Bucky 2’ expands to a new roster of eleven artists, with some such as Yoker Moon and Memorex Memories making a welcome return.
Memorex Memories (aka Sean Harte) also released his debut album ‘Pictures of Purple Skies’ on the Stratford Ct. label in 2019. He has amassed over two million plays of his back-catalogue online and even has the honour of making my top five Spotify artists of the past year! I’m sure there are much greater things in store for him than the latter, however.
Tonic note claims it is the home for artists who don’t quite fit in the club scene or in the gig scene. It’s this misfit identity that makes Tonic Note so unique and to me stands out a mile from almost anything happening in Scotland right now. There is a real sense of community with Tonic Note. The April tour embarked on last year took in 436 miles of travelling around Bonnie Scotland and David has been honing his own production skills on ten artists (so far) in his very own Tonic Note Studio. The sharing has also extended to providing patrons of the label with stems from the latest sampler when they purchase it from the Tonic Note Bandcamp site, in order to remix certain tracks; an opportunity that isn’t going to be missed with my own Ableton Live exploration over the next wee while…
This, on top of all the online content, including behind the scenes footage with artists within the scene, all adds up to a melting pot of talent, connection and celebration. Having met David at a Hostel Freaks performance and at other gigs and events across Scotland, I can vouch for just how passionate and genuine he is. He exudes creativity, and the best bit is he is willing to share this with other artists, music lovers and the wider community. Let’s hope the community continues to grow, be nurtured and, more to the point, produce some more synth-based bangerz!
– Sandy (Chief Pict)