FANCY A RAVE? Electronic Music Scenes in Glasgow and Edinburgh

Kevin Bridges once noted that Glasgow is the only place in Europe to be named both the murder capital and the City of Culture. That’s a pretty accurate description of the Toon. It can be rough at times. But for every wee bam with a vendetta and a chib wanting to paint the walls red with your blood, there is just as much art and culture to balance it all out. Sometimes the murder and the culture even co-exist, as cutting edge DJs and receptive punters have been laying waste to dance floors for decades. And if you’re looking for a hotbed of electronic music, you’ve come to the right city. 

Some of the best electronic artists in the world have emerged from Scottish shores, and Glasgow has produced a good number of them. In recent years, we’ve witnessed the likes of Gary Beck, Harvey McKay, Jasper James, and Jackmaster inherit Slam’s legacy as linchpins of native techno. That said, Slam is still going strong in their own right. Their label Soma is home to a number of great artists – both homegrown and foreign – tearing up the contemporary scene. Meanwhile, their Pressure and Return to Mono residencies are not to be missed. And with Pressure returning in September, there is no better way to celebrate your newfound student life. Enjoy it while you’re still young. 

Electronic Music Scene
Jack Revill, better known as Jackmaster, is a Scottish DJ from Glasgow


As for the other artists, their globetrotting adventures don’t keep them away for too long. The former will appeared at the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh last month. There is no better live act in this world than Gary Beck. The guy knows his way around the decks and into our hearts. Meanwhile, Jackmaster kicked off Subby’s September festivities. 

Last month, Optimo celebrated their 20th anniversary as trendsetters. You’d think that after all this time you’d know what to expect from such an established duo, but that’s just silly. The beauty of Optimo is that you have no idea what surprises they have in store, and if you’re new to the electronic nightlife then you owe it to yourself to get acquainted with them. Their sets incorporate an “anything goes approach” and musical diversity is embraced, which is always refreshing to hear when so many artists (even great ones) don’t step out of their comfort zones. They play in town all the time, so keep an eye out for them.

Electronic Music - Optimo
Optimo celebrated their 20th anniversary

Elsewhere, Hudson Mohawke’s ascent from playing happy hardcore under the alias of DJ Mayhem to Grammy-nominated artist who’s worked alongside Kanye West is one of the city’s greatest success stories. Mohawke is also a prime example of some of the boundary-pushing artistry the city is synonymous with. He’s a pioneer of the current incarnation of trap music that’s blown up across the pond. Yet, at the same time, his style is too experimental to be placed within a single genre. The same can be said for Rustie, whose rise to prominence coincided with the dubstep boom nearly 10 years ago despite being something else entirely. These artists exemplify how original and genre-bending electronic music can be, which you’ll find is commonplace in the Glasgow music scene if you seek it out.

Of course, being a student isn’t always financially ideal. Some weekends you’re going to be skint, living on Super Noodles and MD 20/20. If that’s the case, just bear in mind that George Bowie still has a radio show and he gives shout outs if you text in. I don’t know why anybody would listen to happy hardcore, but if that’s your cup of tea then Uncle George has you covered. Alternatively, if you’re into good music performed by great local DJs, be sure to jump down to Flat 0/1. It’s free entry, and their monthly events are some of the most fun in town (and cheap). Furthermore, be sure to keep an eye on what’s happening over at the Art School as well. 

Even though it’s just a train ride away, Edinburgh is less revered on the global scale than Glasgow when it comes to clubbing. But it’s not too shabby in its own right. It’s especially decent if you’re looking for an alternative to the nights we associate with Glasgow’s top clubs, like Subby and SWG3. While venues like Cabaret Voltaire and Sneaky Pete’s host similar nights, sometimes you just want to step out of the house and into the jungle. That’s where Bongo Club comes in, which caters to your drum ‘n’ bass, dubstep, and dancehall needs. 

However, just before Fresher’s Week officially kicks off, Cabaret Voltaire welcomes Glasgow’s own Denis Sulta on September 15th for a night of madness. The lad is rapidly becoming one of the best breakthrough artists in house and techno, so you can bet that this will be an evening worth attending. Furthermore, it’s always worth keeping an eye on the clubbing calendar to see what’s coming up at the Liquid Rooms and Belushis.

Electronic Music - Denis Sulta
Denis Sulta plays Cabaret Voltaire on September 15th

Glasgow and Edinburgh are both lively cities for electronic music, whether it’s for clubbing or discovering new producers to listen to in between your studying. Once you become a part of the scenes, you’ll find yourself exposed to a lot of wonderful artists the world doesn’t know yet. Chances are you’ll discover them DJing at illegal after hours parties and, when they finally do take off, you can tell your pals you knew them before they were famous. 

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