It’s exciting times to be Jamie McGeechan, aka Little Fire, with the music industry starting to take note, and career highlight following career highlight.
Little Fire is a blend of folk, indie and pop sensibilities, conveyed via acoustic guitar, and delivered with a lot of heart and soul.
The songwriting is quite gorgeous, and this is clearly a talent we have on our hands, but it’s also refreshing to come across someone with such enthusiasm and fervour for what they are doing.
It’s probably best to read on for yourself, and all of this will soon become apparent.
If you had to introduce folk to Little Fire in one tweet (140 characters or less), what would you say?
I’m a 25-year-old singer songwriter from Ayr, and Little Fire is the meaning of my wee brother’s name, Aodan, from Gaelic to English.
I heard you were almost ready to leave music behind and join the armed forces last year, what changed your mind?
After dropping out of University I became quite unsure of what path to take and confidence in myself was low. I didn’t really enjoy the course I was doing and didn’t find it very inspirational at all, which is funny with it being a music course. It just didn’t grab me at all.
I guess my confidence was low and after a few turns in army cadets and air cadets when I was younger I somehow got it into my head that a career in the navy would be a good idea. I think I saw a recruitment poster for it in the Glasgow Subway, a photograph of a guy in a submarine or something I think it was. Why I thought it might have been fun to be stuck in a submarine for 6 months at a time is now quite beyond me but at the time I guess I was looking for an extreme thing to do.
In May 2010 when I won the Burns an’ a’ that battle of the bands, it was my turning point and my catalyst to get me here. I was going to join the navy if i didn’t win it, I knew that if I won it I would be able to convert that success into more of success and good things would happen. It was a bit fatalistic to decide that it was my last chance somehow with music when really maybe it was my first for a long time. I had gotten it into my head than joining the navy would be a good idea and a good career for me. Where I am today I realise that it wouldn’t have been the best choice for me, that I would have struggled with a lot of the whole obeying orders over personal opinion thing, that it would change me and not necessarily make the best use of who I am as a person and that I’m far too free-spirited to join anything to do with the military or the armed forces. I respect those who serve in the armed forces, but it’s not for me. Fate had other plans for me.
A lot of exciting things have happened to you in the last year, it must have been a manic 12 months?
Particular highlights for me include winning the Burns an’ a’ That battle of the bands competition; to win it on my own as a solo singer songwriter when there were some fine bands in it was a great thing for me. Although more of a local concern being an Ayrshire Festival it brought a real feeling to me that things were about to change and it was fantastic to see my mum and dad proud of me for achieving something. Being nominated for a Young Scot Award for Best Unsigned Act was positive, and it was great to be the only solo singer songwriter to be awarded the Demo Recording Fund Award from Chem 19 in partnership with Creative Scotland.
Every day brings really good positives though, I plug away at my music day and night – if I’m not out singing or at a gig I’m sat at the computer and on the phone. I’m getting quite addicted to plugging away. I’ve had some wee tastes of success and I’m hungry for a lot more.
It was great to share a bill with Dougie MacLean and Midge Ure at this years Burns an a’ That Festival, I really enjoyed my first gig at King Tut’s a few months ago with The Boy Who Trapped The Sun and This Silent Forest. It was my first gig at King Tut’s and a really encouraging ( loud ) crowd came up from Ayr, which was fantastic. A bit of encouragement and energy from a crowd goes a long way even if I’m ‘just’ a solo singer songwriter. It can be a bit weird when an audience are very receptive but very quiet. I like to hear people having a good time, assuming they are of course haha. In the future I would really, really like to support KT Tunstall.
Festival season kicks off this weekend, and I believe you have some plans up North?
Indeed! I am absolutely thrilled to have been selected to perform at Rock Ness on the Sound City Stage for new music. There were around 300 applicants and I think there are 2 other solo singer songwriters so I’m really chuffed to be chosen to play, I really am. It will be my first major Scottish music festival and I’m over the moon about it. I was going to the festival anyway to write about it for the Ayrshire Post as I write a music column for it but when I got the email to say I’d been selected I almost fell off my chair, I’m that excited about it! I think maybe with big music festivals there is of course a tendency to choose bands for the new music stages as opposed to solo singer songwriters so I’m a happy man to get chosen.
As well as Rock Ness I have been invited to support JLS on July 2nd at Victoria Park in Dingwall – Ross County FC’s homeground. The question I would ask any aspiring band or singer songwriter in Scotland is would you honestly turn down the opportunity to perform in front of 7,000 plus people regardless of who you might be sharing a bill with? I’ve had a couple of negative comments about doing the gig along the lines of me ‘selling out’ by doing the gig but my response to that is who I’m sharing a bill with doesn’t affect how I sing or my music when I’m performing. I can’t dance and I’m hardly being signed up by Simon Cowell.
You can see a sort of defence mechanism coming into play there and to be honest I’m very happy to perform to thousands of people. If 500 leave the concert thinking they really liked me then that’s a major plus. Beats singing in a noisy pub with nobody giving a fuck.
The massive shows keep coming, what else have you got planned for the rest of the summer?
I’m honoured to say that I’ve been invited to perform in July at the Annual Nick Drake Gathering in Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire, the village where Nick was born and died which holds this celebratory concert of his life over a weekend each year. I’m sure a lot of singer songwriters would hold him as some sort of influence on them even if not directly in their music. He was as many people know a wonderful guitar player. To be invited to perform at this is a real honour and a privilege for me. I remember the first time I was given a Nick Drake CD by an old girlfriend, it was the Five Leaves Left album, it really did take me to another world, clichéd but true. Time Has Told Me and River Man are just sublime tracks.
I’ll be performing at King Tut’s on Sunday July 17th as part of the Summer Nights programme with Aerials Up, Blochestra, 100 Paper Boats and the excellent Esperi.
I’ll be running a John Martyn tribute night at Su Casa in Ayr where I put on original acoustic sets every Thursday night. John is a big hero of mine and, like Nick Drake, just wrote these absolutely amazing songs that just come from somewhere else.
As you mentioned you’re based in Ayr, how do you find the music scene there? and can you tell us a bit about the nights you run?
I find the music scene here in Ayr and Ayrshire to be pretty good indeed. Glasgow’s obviously got loads of venues but I think there are a lot of great music acts here. For me the majority of them are acoustic based but maybe that’s just because I’m biased. I write the music column for the Ayrshire Post and that’s a really great way of me getting to hear lots of new music and I’m out at gigs or running my own a lot of the time.
I run original acoustic music sets for singer songwriters at a lovely vibrant wee venue called Su Casa in Ayr. To my mind it’s definitely got the best community atmosphere for musicians and artists in Ayrshire. It’s a coffee house by day and music venue by night. I’ve made a lot of good friends there and heard some absolutely brilliant sets. We have an originals only policy for our performers. I think that’s great for encouraging singer songwriters to really develop their own material and have a place where they’re not only going to find they’re welcome to play their own songs but it’s absolutely insisted upon. That’s not meant to be draconian in any way it’s meant to be encouraging and I’ve heard a lot of great performances there. We get visits from Glasgow based artists like Julia Doogan who is always very welcome, Esperi, and we’ve had The Imagineers down recently. We have some great up and coming singer songwriters and musicians locally in Rose Parade, Alan Frew , Craig Martin Ward, Colin Hunter and Ben Ellis. One young lady who I think is going to go on to do amazing things is Melisa Kelly. She’s got an amazing voice and I think she’s going to do some really special things she’s awesome.
The Su Casa acoustic sets run every Thursday from 8pm at Su Casa , Lorne Arcade Ayr.
If your music was to be the soundtrack to any film or Tv show, which would you choose?
Eh I’m going to say The Littlest Hobo, for reasons quite unknown to myself, why not.
If you could steal a song from an act on the unsigned circuit and have it as your own, which would you choose?
I absolutely love being inspired by my peers and friends, hearing a clever lyric or something so sweet, heartfelt and yet simple can be really touching sometimes. I would nick something from Colin Hunter, he’s just brought out his debut album and he’s got some super lovely lines and melodies. I can’t pick one song but I really love his style and he’s a brilliant vocalist who always impresses me.
And finally, random question from The Seventeenth century: If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
I would choose to be able to fly. I think that would be absolutely brilliant. I’m a bit shit scared to go sky diving but I imagine it’s an amazing feeling, maybe one day. I’ll settle for a Ryan Air flight to god knows where ever whenever I go on my next adventure abroad. I’m talking with some people about going over to Germany to do a wee tour there, that would be nice.
June 12th – Rock Ness – Sound City Stage (time tbc)
June 19th – Fete de la Musique – Ashton Lane, Glasgow
June 24th – Dirty Martini’s, Kilmarnock
July 2nd – Ross County FC, Dingwall w/ JLS + Olly Murs
July 17th – King Tut’s, Glasgow – Summer Nights w/ Aerials Up
23rd July – Tamworth-In-Arden -The Annual Nick Drake Gathering
25th September – Sneay Pete’s, Edinburgh
Every Thursday night Little Fire hosts and performs at the invited open mic at 9pm in Su Casa, Ayr.