El and Rowan are two prolific ladies when it comes to the Scottish creative scene. El Parks is an artist and DJ from Edinburgh who recently brought her talents to Glasgow, while Dundonian Rowan is well known for her music making on both the east and west coast since relocating to Glasgow in 2013. The two have paired up to launch Drugstore Glamour, a monthly club night at Nice N Sleazy specialising in what they describe as nostalgic, glittering, all singing, all dancing slasher queen anthems. I met up with the pair to discuss the exciting new night and all about the creativity thriving in Scotland right now.
Firstly, what is Drugstore Glamour?
Rowan: I suppose it’s like our brainchild.
El: Yeah, when I came up with the idea of doing a club night, I knew I didn’t want to do it alone. Then moving to Glasgow and becoming more friendly with Rowan, it just seemed right to have Rowan on board because she just totally got it. She’s really into music, bands…
Rowan: We’ve kind of agreed on everything, I think everything’s been nice and easy because we’ve always known exactly what we want to do.
How did you two meet?
Rowan: So, El ran a zine in Edinburgh, and I was in a band at the time [Blood Indians] and we played at the launch. That was when I first met El and we kind of just stayed in touch I suppose. It was about a year ago, probably. Then El moved here and we’re practically neighbours as well.
El: We realised that we knew a lot of the same people anyway.
That often happens in creative scenes, it can be a very small world. So, why are you launching Drugstore Glamour and what inspired you to do so?
Rowan: I think in Glasgow, there are a lot of club nights and stuff, I think recently there’s sort of this, I don’t know…I like to go out and dance. But there’s a lot of places I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it. A lot of the big club nights at the ABC and stuff are just not, yeah…
El: There are lots of promoters out there doing amazing things, for example Push It’s awesome, PVC….
Rowan: Yeah, I think that sort of inspired it. The first time I went to Push It I thought ‘this is great’. Sadly it only happens once a month.
El: But that works, it pents up all the energy and stuff so it makes you want to go even more. I think the club nights that I’ve had in the past, like DM Lovers and Cream Soda and stuff, I really did just want to play music that I would want to hear and that I would want to have fun with. I don’t really like walking into a club and like – don’t get me wrong, I love new music and I love DJs that are trying new things and they make their own music and mix live and stuff, but I can sometimes get a little intimidated by that. Sometimes I just want to dance to Prince, or like The Clash and shit. I don’t want to take myself seriously, I really don’t, especially for Drugstore Glamour. I think we both really appreciate art and a lot of the art work that we’ve gone for is kind of like slasher queen, and although there’s something really beautiful about it, there’s something kind of vulgar at the same time. So we don’t really want to put too much pressure on it being too perfect, we do like it being crazy and a little out there and fun. And approachable.
Rowan: Approachable, just a club night that people can go to and have a nice time, all the songs will be something you can dance along to, enjoy and not feel intimidated.
El: I really want people to hear a song and think I haven’t heard that in ages.
That’s a great way to think about it – so how many nights is it going to be on for?
Rowan: We’ve got the first one booked for the 25th of May but I think the plan is that it’s going to be the fourth Wednesday of every month.
Good plan! You’re both creative in the Glasgow and Edinburgh scenes, what else do you have up your sleeve both collectively and individually?
El: Well you’re in a band!
Rowan: I suppose for me it’s just I want to make music with my pals. I don’t want to put pressure on doing music seriously, like the band I was in before, I loved it to pieces but I realised that that sort of thing, right now anyway for me, making music all the time isn’t quite for me. It’s a lot of dedication, a lot of work. I admire people who do music that way, I think it’s great, but I just can’t commit to it at the moment. But I have so many great friends that make such amazing music, so I just want to make as much music with them as possible. I did a few recordings the other day with Eilidh [McMillan] and Gus [Stephens]. That was really nice, that was the first time I’ve made music properly in about two and a half years or something. I’ve kind of been in a musical slump but it’s really nice, that first step of getting started again. But I think I’m gonna be jamming with a few other people and I’m playing guitar/bass in a band, it’s someone else’s band but it’s just nice doing that. Yeah making music with cool people is my big plan I suppose!
El: What am I doing? Well, I’ll Be Your Mirror blog has offered me a column series to do a kind of monthly art review thing. I haven’t been told exactly what it they want but I think they’re just gonna be like ‘do anything you want!’. So I’m looking forward to that but, I think I’m really keen to do something a bit different – I want to get back into gigs and stuff, organising gigs and stuff. I really like the idea of doing like…hiding bands around the city and leading people to them! So like, I don’t know, going into a public toilet and see a band playing there. And I would link it all to Drugstore Glamour anyway, you know.
A musical scavenger hunt, I like it!
Rowan: Yeah, that’s the thing with Drugstore Glamour, we’re keen to link it to live music as well. It’s more than just a club night, I think the big plan is to have bands playing every month as well, sort of late night bands and then the club night following that. There’s just so many good bands here I think.
Who are some of your favourites at the moment?
Rowan: Ah, I mean Breakfast Muff are always gonna be up there for me. Like I love them so much. They’re just amazing people and they’re making amazing music. I have a lot of respect for them, I think they’re great.
El: Here there’s a huge huge difference compared to you know, what happens in Edinburgh. Glasgow has -it’s not just bands, it’s great bands.
I don’t hear so much about the music scene in Edinburgh, in fact I hear less and less about it these days.
El: I think Edinburgh is more club and bar orientated, trying to be more artsy and stuff. But here, there’s everything. None of it is mediocre. It can be intimidating at times, how brilliant people are – you walk into a venue and per chance you see an amazing band and it’s maybe the first time they’ve ever played, like that sort of thing.
People seem to be a bit more experimental here maybe, willing to take a few more risks and things?
Rowan: Yeah, and people are far more supportive. They’re willing to take a chance on a band that they might not have heard before, and give people that opportunity to kind of break into the scene. It makes it a lot easier, because people are so nice about it. I don’t feel that there are many figures that are intimidating in the Glasgow scene.
El: I really love Outblinker! I remember seeing them for the first time at The Hug and Pint, and it’s a really tiny venue but the sound is so perfect that it just felt that you were bathed in the sound of their music, so it wasn’t like hitting you or coming at you, you were just surrounded by it. And I was just entranced, it was amazing, really really good.
Rowan: Yeah! And I suppose Antique Pony are up there for me, especially live as well. They’re one of my favourite bands to go and see. And The Yawns, they’re always one of my faves. There’s just so much. There’s always new stuff which I think is really nice. When I was in Dundee it felt like it got stagnant really quickly.
So, linking it all back to Drugstore Glamour, if you could each pick five songs to go on your personal Drugstore Glamour playlists, that best define the night – what would they be?
El: Definitely Queen Latifah – Bad As A Mother, Pulp – Babies, Republica – Ready To Go, Seal – Killer, and I’m tied between Hadaway – What is Love or… Rhythm Is A Dancer.
Rowan: I think…probably…sorry…I’ve got so many songs here I can’t decide which ones I should pick. Probably It Feels So Good by Sonique, maybe Check The Rhime by A Tribe Called Quest, that’s my jam. Knock On Wood by Amii Stewart, that’s a tune. Probably a wee bit of Abba, that’s always gonna get people going.
El: I don’t want anyone classing it as like, guilty pleasures or cheesy bangers, it’s not that, it’s just classic fucking goodness. Stuff that’s really timeless, that’s really good.
Rowan: I’m Every Woman by Chaka Khan.
Rowan: I don’t want it to fit into a genre thing, I want it to have an underlying theme but not stick solely to one kind of music. A lot of club nights tend to do that and obviously it works for drawing in a certain crowd or whatever but also sometimes I’m like, uh, I just wanna hear this right now, something that doesn’t fit in with that genre or whatever.
El: I think as well , we’re gonna go by song selection. See for example, you might hear something by Justin Timberlake and the next minute it’s Prince or something like that. We’re gonna go with energy, rather than genre. You could have some disco, then all of a sudden it’s like R&B. I really don’t take myself seriously when it comes to things like that though, what I do take seriously is that people enjoy themselves, nobody feels weird or kind of out of place when they come to it. Very inclusive.
I take it you’ll be adopting a safe space policy as well then, that’s something becoming increasingly common among independent club nights?
Rowan: That’s something that we’ve talked about quite a lot.
El: Yeah because we’ve experienced stuff like that.
Rowan: And I think in any club you’ve got the risk of people being a bit weird. But both of us feel quite strongly that if anyone makes anyone else feel uncomfortable, there’s pretty much no tolerance for that. I think for me, one of the main reasons I wanted to do it is I just want to make a night where all my friends and all these people can just have a really good time and if I knew that any one of those people was uncomfortable in any way that would really not be a good time.
El: I’m really excited about having a club night and people coming up to us in like a few months time and saying, ‘oh I met my boyfriend’ or ‘my girlfriend’ at your night! That sort of thing. I’m looking forward to the wee stories and stuff that come out of it.
You just stole my final question! It was going to be what are you most excited about when it comes to Drugstore Glamour…and you are most excited about being a Cilla Black figure El?
El: Yeah, just being at the core of the baby making. I’m up for that. I’m gonna be like, if Barry White was a female, but didn’t actually sing. He just played the music. That kind of thing. I’ll bring the atmosphere.
Rowan: I think for me, it’s just being able to play music that I love to a room full of people that I love. There’s nothing else I would ask for.That’s a pretty special thing to be able to do.
El: Plus our club night is really influenced by some of the films that we love as well! Like Empire Records, Scream, that sort of shit.
El: Yes, Heathers, 100%. Jawbreaker, isn’t it? I was gonna say Gobstopper. Anything with Rose McGowan. A lot of our stuff has got a lot of strong female influence behind it.
Rowan: I mean we’re two female DJs, that’s always gonna come up.
I take it you’ll both be DJing at the night then?
Rowan: I think for each month we’re gonna have a guest DJ for half of the night and then for the other half it’ll be us.
El: For this first one we’ve got this really cool artist and DJ that I used to DJ with at Retro Cats, Rachel Watson, and her boyfriend’s DJing at it as well, so it’s just people from the art scene that we know who are really encouraging and supportive and really just want to be part of it.
Rowan: I think as well, it’s sort of like a platform that isn’t offered to a lot of people – being able to DJ, I don’t think that’s something that’s there for people very often. You can’t just kind of go ah, I wanna do a club night, and then it happens. It’s very different from putting on a gig or something like that. It’s more difficult, and I’d quite like to give that platform to people, because I do know a lot of people that are interested in it.
So finally: what are the must know details about the first night and how would you describe Drugstore Glamour in three words?
Rowan: It’s the 25th of May, a Wednesday night, free entry for all and it’ll be 11pm kicking off until 3!
El: How to describe it, aaaaah…well, tacky. Trashy. And glamorous.
Like the Drugstore Glamour FB page here!