When Young Fathers won a shock victory at last year’s Mercury Prize for debut album Dead, they put Edinburgh’s music scene on the map for thousands of fans who never would have thought a hip-hop act could come from Scotland.
Now the trio are putting the spotlight on sights that even some living in the Capital might not know much about.
The group have listed their top 13 “Ways to Experience the Real Edinburgh” for Australian website Music Feeds, picking out unlikely highlights including Drylaw shopping, Lighthouse Park and Crewe Road Youth Centre.
Their most-loved landmarks might be off the beaten track, but the group say they were pivotal in helping to shape and inspire their music.
Young Fathers – made up of Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and ‘G’ Hastings – met as secondary school pupils in Edinburgh, brought together by their shared taste in music.
Prominent on the list are the venues and record shops where the three went to club nights, saw gigs and eventually began performing their own shows, including The Bongo Club, where the trio first met at an under-18s hip-hop night, and record store Elvis Shakespeare.
The list also suggests the reasons behind some of their favourite haunts, with the group revealing that they enjoy a permanent tab at Cowgate club Sneaky Pete’s after the manager won big by betting on their unheralded Mercury Prize success.
According the group, “most of the good stuff” is in Leith, which they describe as being “Edinburgh’s mad aunty, normally kept in a cupboard but occasionally spruced up and shown off to the world then put back in the cupboard before she says anything too mad or gets arrested”.
The list gives a different take on what the three think of Edinburgh – they were quoted after their Mercury win saying that the Capital is “a city for tourists and rich, middle-class people, it’s not made for people to be creative”.
The Bongo Club’s Andy Richardson said he wasn’t surprised the group had chosen to highlight some of their favourite haunts.
He said: “They originally met at The Bongo Club, so we’re really pleased that they are mentioning what we’re doing. They came out of the hip-hop scene, and that music has always been about authenticity, being real, and staying true to your roots, and they are doing that.
“Even if they’re not making hip-hop music any more, they have an element of that about them still.”
Elvis Shakespeare owner David Griffin said: “We’ve got some photos of one of their first ever gigs at our shop. They were just looking for places to play, so they did a gig with us.
“They pop in to the shop sometimes. They are nice lads, we’re really proud of what they’ve done. The rest of the list is really interesting – abandoned buildings and shopping centres and the like.”
The group’s second album White Men are Black Men Too was released in April.
Young Fathers’ verdict:
1. FOOT OF THE WALK
FOTW, or The Foot, right, is an unpretentious place where you can see families enjoying basic food and the cheapest pint in the city.
2. AFRICAN FLAVOUR LOUNGE
Formerly Mama Africa’s. This is where you go to get joloof rice and chicken, rice and peas and other flavoursome dishes.
3. LIGHTHOUSE PARK
Fabulous views in a demi-industrial landscape. Across the harbour to the Ocean Terminal and the Queen’s old ship, and across the Forth to the mysterious Kingdom of Fife.
4. DRYLAW SHOPPING CITY
For an authentic Scottish experience take yourselves away from Princes Street and head north to Drylaw.
5. CREWE ROAD YOUTH CENTRE
Scene of many a barrie night. Looking for a little loving from the funders that be. Stop by and stick a few dollars under the doormat for luck.
6. DEAN VILLAGE
It’s as if someone has slid a huge postcard of a picture taken in some mill village in the Borders in 1928 and hidden some kind of eyesore. But this place, right, really is a ten-minute walk from Princes Street and people actually live there.
7. ELVIS SHAKESPEARE
This second-hand and new record and book shop is in Leith, along with most of the good stuff. As likely to have a local beat group squeezed into a corner with customers spilling out on to the pavement as to have a single lone enthusiast spending hours and a surprisingly small amount of cash in the store, below, to come out with some lovely pre-loved to be loved again.
8. SNEAKY PETE’S
The funkiest venue in the city. Small (100 capacity) but manages to book the latest must-see touring groups and run several intense clubs after every show. Go here for live music or . . .
9. LIMBO (AT THE VOODOO ROOMS)
Long running live club night with a superior booking policy in stupidly sumptuous surroundings. Great sounding room.
10. THE BONGO CLUB
In its original guise, the place where we met. Two moves and one demolition later and it’s still the same raggedy, vibing club, that can’t decide whether it’s completely alt or a little alt.
11. DUNBAR’S CLOSE GARDEN
Typical of Edinburgh to hide away the good stuff. Down an alley off the bottom part of the Royal Mile opposite Starbucks. There. Not so hidden now!
12. ARTHUR’S SEAT/CRAGS
In the middle of Edinburgh is a bloody big volcanic mountain. That’s all.
13. THE STUDIO
Where we end up and where we work and where we spend all our waking hours when we’re home.