I remember the day that Synergy Concert’s Grainne Braithwaite brought Bossy Love to my attention. Her excitement was palpable and when I look back now, I know it was a massive turning point in terms of how I regarded new music in Scotland.
I was part of women’s collective TYCI and thanks to Braithwaite’s introduction we put on what I believe is their first live show in Glasgow. We all knew that night they were something special. Their exuberance, professionalism and musicianship were pristine, but there was something more. You were left almost starstruck by their performance and I hadn’t experienced that with a new band for some time.
Amandah Wilkinson and John Baillie Jnr have an inspiring relationship, it spans their souls, creativity and work. Their ability to remain such a tight and engaging duo is a testament to their love and respect for one another. They also express what a dream come true it’s been to work with one another, “we are both into a lot of the same music when it comes down to it and sonically we like a range of similar things. I feel like when I am writing something, I’ll know exactly what it’s for within the first couple of ideas and verses.”, explains Wilkinson. Baillie Jnr echoes the sentiment, “Creative differences” are only a problem if someone isn’t willing to acknowledge they might be wrong about something. If we disagree about something and Amandah feels stronger about it than I do then I’ll trust her instinct and she’ll do the same for me.”
The duo are no strangers to the music industry, Wilkinson was formally part of indie-pop juggernauts Operator Please and Baillie Jnr, ex-drummer of the indefatigable powerhouse, Dananananaykroyd. It’s clear that Bossy Love isn’t just about entertaining others, it’s a marriage of musical necessity.”This project is about exploring all the things that you’ve missed before maybe, I’m talking emotion here. It’s like starting again and doing exactly what you want to do and really trusting your own process.”, says Wilkinson.
When I recorded a podcast special with the duo, their characters shone and this is part of the magic when it comes to their creativity. I felt the blazing confidence that exuded from the pair, but it was also a really beautiful moment to recognise their doubts as well and that has really contributed to how they have evolved as a band. It’s also obvious that this is life for them, “I think getting a little taste of success can really show you that the thing you may have been originally aiming for doesn’t really exist and it can make you look at why you are doing it in the first place. While that might sound dour or unexciting, it’s really liberating because aiming for ‘success’ / fame and fortune through music is really inefficient – if you want to be rich, go be a banker; if you want to be famous, go on a killing spree; if you want to be adored and be accepted, become an insufferable Instagram #influencer. Trying to be an artist as a shortcut to all these things isn’t really up for grabs in the first place, better to let the music exist in its purest form for its own sake, the reward is instant.”, says Baillie Jr.
Over the last 3 or so years, they have released a number of devastatingly addictive singles. One of the finest for me and indeed my favourite song of 2016, ‘Want Some’ was a game changer. It’s bubbly ebullience, a chorus hook that had your hands to the sky and its production was impeccable. Scotland was going through a period of twee folk, indie lad rock or generic pop-punk. This stood out head and shoulders and eclipsed even the best of these other genres. The R&B core of the song made it feel relevant whilst the delivery made it feel empowering. Even revisiting this song makes me emotional, this might be strange for some, but I think I was just so incredibly fatigued by what was being released and this broke the cycle. I will always be thankful.
With the pair older and wiser, their lifestyles have changed from the music industry they were in before. With Baillie Jnr being a business owner and working in music alongside has been a notable hurdle. “Money vs time basically is and has always been the issue, I’ve been in bands where sometimes some of us couldn’t eat meals and had to eat the fruit and crisps in the dressing rooms for weeks at a time to save P.Ds (“per diem”/dinner money) to pay rent when we got back home. Getting labels, managers etc. to invest money is probably harder now than it was before, but the tools you need to do well without other people have never been better, as long as you’re willing to put the effort in.”
For Wilkinson, it has been literally life-changing, with a move across the other side of the world, she has to build her home all over again, “It can definitely be challenging getting things off the ground but sometimes you just gotta work to ensure your foundations are strong and truly have trust and faith in what you’re creating and doing.”
Their live performance is otherworldly. The last time I saw them was thanks to a curated event by Anna Hodgart for the National Theatre Of Scotland. The event, Just Start Here was a fantastic cross-pollination of discussion, art and music. I remember saying to Hodgart, “I cannot wait to see people losing their shit to Bossy Love”. That’s exactly what happened. It was one of the most dynamic crowds I have seen at a live show and you could see the sheer joy and surprise of the audience. They were witnessing greatness.
Bossy Love are one of the finest bands to come out of Scotland in recent years. They are part of a class with the likes of Young Fathers, Kathryn Joseph, The Twilight Sad and a few others that step above the filter. From their visual aspect to their performance, songwriting and production, they have paved a thrilling path. I will continue on it as a fan and I can’t wait to see the looks once again from new fans of unadulterated euphoria at their live performances. Welcome to your new favourite artist.
Bossy Love will be at this year’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton.