DJ Rebecca Vasmant is the driving force behind With Love, From Glasgow, shining a bright light on the music and life and love of Glasgow.
06 July 2021 | James Porteous | Clipper Media
Rebecca Vasmant – With Love, From Glasgow
(REBREC001 LP review by Adam Sieff)
There have been a number of records released recently celebrating the jazz scenes which are being redefined by young musicians and new audiences in cities including Los Angeles, New York, London and Chicago.
Now add Glasgow to the growing list, with the help of an extraordinary new album from that city’s DJ and producer Rebecca Vasmant. She is the catalyst and driving force behind With Love, From Glasgow, a personal musical statement which also shines a light on the city’s exciting pool of jazz talent that includes graduates from the RCS Jazz course.
Through her position as a club and festival DJ and a broadcaster on Worldwide FM and BBC Radio Scotland, she has all the credentials necessary to be a jazz messenger and spread the word: ’it’s an exciting time because the jazz scene in Glasgow feels young and fresh with new bands forming every month, with a real hunger for their music to be heard around the world’.
The idea for WLFG developed from Vasmant’s electronic music and jazz project Glasgow Jazz Experiment with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s Chris Greive (piano/trombone).Two of the collaborations, Morning (Mourning) and Pride of Winter, are reprised here, which also feature the classically trained Nikki Foster (voice), Lorne Cowieson (trumpet/flugelhorn) and David Robertson (percussion).
Released on digital and vinyl that’s cut and pressed at Pallas in Germany, it’s the first release on her Rebecca Records imprint (with label partner !K7 Records)andwas recorded and mixed by Vasmant at her home using just a MacBook, Ableton Live software and one microphone, a method in keeping with the city’s jazz scene’s strong DIY ethos. She would start the process by composing and laying down the bare bones of an idea to work on, then record each musician’s performance individually, the music taking shape and fitting together like a jigsaw with everyone’s contribution supporting her ideas and words.
And it works very well, the music ebbs and flows through electronic keyboard textures to more uptempo beats, creating a warm and spiritual feeling. I loved Emilie Boyd’s vocal on a floating Autumn Leaves (an original, not the standard) with Lorne Cowieson’s trumpet and flugelhorn over Tom Gibbs’ Fender Rhodes. I want to hear more of saxophonist Harry Weir after hearing his playing on the first single Jewels of Thought, a track with a touch of The Creator Has a Master Plan about it, and both Weir and Cameron Thomson Duncan’s trumpet are terrific on Timing’s End, the mellow second single. Nadya Albertson delivers agorgeous vocal performance on the excellent Freefall, and Gillian Katungi (Paix) recites poetry over an insistent Brodie Jarvie’s looped double bass.
Vasmant has developed into an excellent producer, she has great taste and her heart is in the right place: ‘I want people to feel how much of a massive fan I am of jazz and spiritual jazz and to show my respect to the albums I love and the artists who made them. I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to collaborate with all these amazing musicians we have in Glasgow. I love this music and music makes my life better’.
Glaswegian musician, producer, DJ and curator Rebecca Vasmant announces her debut LP ‘With Love, From Glasgow’, showcasing the breadth of the incredible Jazz talent the city has to offer.
Through the ethereal, floating textures of LP opener ‘Start Of Time’ via the the uptempo beats and horns of first single ‘Jewels Of Thought’, and the sombre, reflective sonics of tracks such as ‘Morning Mourning’, ‘From Glasgow, With Love’ is a textured, emotive and calming listen from start to finish. A crucial insight into the modern day sounds of a city which has already contributed so much to music culture.
“Without musicians, there would be no music, and without friendships there would be no life. From Glasgow, with love.. Rebecca Vasmant”
Recorded, and mixed at Stanmore Road, Glasgow by Rebecca Vasmant Mastering : Nick Moore at Athens Of The North HQ,
With Love, From Glasgow
What a constantly surprising, constantly evolving city we live in. Rebecca Vasmant is a DJ, musician and force of nature who has been digging deep into global jazz scenes for her various radio shows but has now turned musical director for her debut album, an instant classic of cosmic, spiritual jazz recorded right under our noses. Recorded completely in her home studio in Glasgow using the cream of a vibrant central Scotland jazz scene that to date has been scarcely recorded, it’s a true wonder that’s bubbled up unexpectedly, for us at least.With Love, From Glasgow serves as both an overview of this new, exciting scene and the formidable talents that comprise it and a majestic studio album that paints its native city as a spiritual place far richer musically than it’s known for.
From With Love, From Glasgow uses a over 20 different musicians on traditional, acoustic jazz instruments to weave a sound that would fit quite comfortably in the spiritual jazz lineage: think Phoroah Sanders and the mid-60s Impulse! catalogue married with a more spacious early 70s ECM vibe, Alice Coltrane atmospherics with some stunning virtuoso jazz singing performances from a total of 5 vocalists.
One of the many stunning things about this album is the purely DIY aspect of the production, how much atmosphere and tone is generated from a living room in a Glasgow southside tenement. We’re talking, in places, of late 60s Miles spaciousness anchored with gorgeous double bass tripping out into a Mount Florida night, the swaying of trees waving through bay windows as this wonderful music is laid down.
Rebecca Vasmant as the central figure on the album acts as a centripetal force, a focal point directing the band’s energy inward and outward. It’s a beautiful magic trick she has pulled off, to so indelibly put her stamp on a body of work while still allowing the multiplicity of voices to shine through.
There’s so many highlights and musical textures that the album’s unfolding feels like being constantly uncovering new treasure. Timing’s End, with it’s looping, loping double bass allows Harry Weir’s saxophone the space to search every corner of the stereo field, Paix (a name new to us) guests with a spoken word narrative on Internal Dispute under swirling synth chords and some beautiful bass playing, Morning (Mourning) uses electronic kick drums and a soulful, weaving vocal performance to alternately question and resolve the chord sequences. Really, the album sounds nothing like the Glasgow a lot of us know, which is probably one of the most exciting things about this release. It’s time to re-consider our preconceptions and dive in.
Aside from the music, her role as a curator and promoter of this nascent scene can’t be overlooked. With Love, From Glasgow is the first release on her new label Rebecca’s Records and it’s just so incredibly exciting to have this whole new rich seam of expression starting to blossom.
While promoting and touring in over 22 countries constantly over the last five years, Rebecca has honed her craft on production projects which feature world class musicians from The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and more, her talents are not only in spinning records, but in composing, producing and performing.
Though known for its rich musical heritage, Glasgow is not a city perhaps synonymous with Jazz. However, on ‘With Love, From Glasgow’ this is all about to change, as Rebecca and her cohort of hand picked musicians set out to change people’s opinions. Rebecca explains: “There is such crazy wealth of talent in this city of Glasgow and I wanted to make an album that helped to demonstrate this and which captures my own love and passion for deep and spiritual music. This album highlights just some of the exciting things that are happening here in Scotland and it’s been a real honour and pleasure working with the hugely talented musicians who came together to collaborate in such a free and beautiful way. During the time spent working on this music an amazing family formed, something for which I am so grateful.”
Debut album by Worldwide FM presenter Rebecca Vasmant
Resident DJ of jazz focused ‘Era Suite’ party at Sub Club Glasgow
‘With Love, From Glasgow’ features an all Scottish line up including musicians from Corto Alto, Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and more
A1. Start Of Time
A2. Timing’S End
A3. Freefall (Ft. Nadya Albertsson)
A4. Jewels Of Thought (Ft. Harry Weir)
B1. Autumn Leaves (Ft. Emilie Boyd)
B2. Morning (Mourning)
B3. Pride Of Winter
B4. Internal Dispute (Ft. Paix)
B5. Idealists (Outro)
- 04 June 2021 | Rebecca Vasmant
Start of Time
Start of Time is exactly as the track title describes – it’s a homage to the concept of time. How we as humans perceive time and space, the concept that time dictates how we feel at any given moment, to any given situation, and that leads to us feeling emotions towards people and things. It’s about feelings, and feeling connected to the universe, space, people, time, and love, because we should always feel love.
Timing’s End is a soundscape that I wanted to give a feeling of being comfortable with [one’s] inner peace and vulnerability in modern-day life. We all feel things, we often deny them and cover them up, and I wanted this to be a place in which we could all feel the things that modern-day life does not allow us to feel in our everyday lives. Vulnerability is beautiful, and we should all feel strong enough within ourselves to show this.
Freefall (feat. Nadya Albertsson)
Freefall is a love story about a soul who is afraid to fall, and to ‘freefall’ into that space where there’s no turning back. Nadya does emotion so perfectly in this track, and Cameron-Thompson Duncan on trumpet along with the bass soundscape [helps] form the feelings that make the track [come to life]. I really love this track thanks to the amazing musicianship and singing from the musicians who have become my musical family.
Jewels of Thought (feat. Paix and Harry Weir)
We wanted to pay homage to our favourite ever musician and musical hero, Pharoah Sanders. This is a bit of a modern take on his record Jewels of Thought, and we hope that if Pharoah ever heard this track it would do him proud. Harry Weir plays perfectly on this – and does Pharoah’s sound so well – as does Paix who ties the whole thing together with her beautiful vocals floating in and out. We hope you like this one, Pharoah, and we love you very much.
Autumn Leaves (feat. Emilie Boyd)
Autumn Leaves is a little walk through a rainy autumn morning. Myself and Emilie Boyd put this little poem together inspired by autumn, the changes in the seasons, and our love for nature.
This track was written about the feeling of mourning when leaving someone you know you won’t be able to see for a while, and the feeling of mourning the loss of that person. Imagine being at the airport and dropping someone off who is going far away from the place you need to be – it’s really all about that feeling. Sitting back in your chair and feeling the loss of someone you love.
Pride of Winter
Pride of Winter is a song about the dark cloud black dog making everything a bit muddy inside of yourself. It’s about pride, loss, love and everything in-between.
Internal Dispute (feat. Paix)
This track is really personal to me and is really about the internal dispute inside my head. It is a letter to all of you who have this same battle, and it’s about making peace with that inner battle, winning the war, and experiencing true self-love.
Universal Code is about us all being united and equal, and living by a universal code and loving each other.
Revolution (feat. Paix)
Revolution is all about thinking and feeling empathy for others, looking outside of yourself, and thinking about more than yourself. If we all did and acted like that in our everyday lives, then that would be very powerful indeed.
This little outro skit is about the admiration and respect that I have for all of the musicians who have dedicated their whole lives to perfecting their craft. I respect and have such admiration for those in the world who have done this in order to give us amazing music.
Music really is a privilege, and I can honestly say that deep within my heart I am totally grateful for every piece of amazing music that I have been lucky enough to have been able to hear. I realise that even if we spent every waking minute of every day searching for music, we would not have enough time to discover it all, and this thought is overwhelming.
I thank every musician, composer, maestro and producer for every piece of music, whether it has been noticed or unnoticed, and wake up every day happy to be able to just take the time to listen and appreciate music.
With Love, From Glasgow is released on 4 Jun via Rebecca’s Records
Rebecca Vasmant plays Riverside by Night, SWG3, Glasgow, 4 Sep
15 June 2021 | Ally J Steel | Jazz Revelations
Glasgow-based DJ, crate-digger, producer and label boss Rebecca Vasmant sat down with Ally to talk about her debut LP ‘With Love, From Glasgow’, giving us an insight into the development of her career and the scene which she represents.
DJ, producer and label boss Rebecca Vasmant has been supporting the Glasgow and Scottish jazz scene for many years. Having established her central place within the Glasgow music community through her residency at the famous Sub Club, the last few years has seen her branching out, becoming a broadcaster through her monthly spot on Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM, as well as dabbling in production in creating a string of remixes for Scrimshire, On The Corner Records, Dundundun and most recently Amanda Whiting’s After Dark. This last year has now seen her establish her very own label Rebecca’s Records with the release of her debut LP With Love, From Glasgow, which sees her showcase the exciting Scottish scene in style.
For the past 13 years, Rebecca has been honing her craft of DJing as she has performed sets across the world from India to Nicaragua. Despite being known for backing jazz in recent years, Rebecca started her career by playing electronic music. “I started out DJing, and I actually started out playing house and techno exclusively”, she tells me, “But the house and techno that I played makes sense to me because it had a lot of jazz samples in it. It was musical and I still play house and techno in all my sets…But when I first started, I didn’t do that – I just played electronic music. So, it’s been kind of a journey that’s formed.”
Reflecting on what drew her to DJing in the first place, Rebecca credits her brother’s influence through his exposure to skateboarding. “This was before the internet”, she explains, “he used to show me and my little brother all these hip hop tapes that his friends would make. He had friends for America because he used to tour around skateboarding, and I remember being so fascinated by the fact that we had access to this music that other people didn’t know”. Captivated by sounds she hadn’t been exposed to was pivotal to Rebecca’s desire to DJ. “The kind of idea the theory of me then going to show this music to my friends, and them not being as interested in it as me was totally mind-boggling. So, I think the obsession and the bug for discovering new music started then because I think for me, it’s all about discovering music, and then sharing it with the world.” Defiantly, Rebecca states, “if I can play a small part in the kind of puzzle of that music being then loved by others, then that feels like a really privileged position to be in”.
Being self-taught, and never receiving any form of musical training, Rebecca landed a world tour residency with Ministry of Sound aged 22, helping lead her to the point of landing a gig at the prestigious Sub Club in Glasgow, one of the longest-running clubs in the world. “Playing at this club was one of my goals”, Rebecca says chirpily, “When I first moved to Glasgow, I was like, ‘I’m gonna play. I’m gonna play at the Sub Club, and I’m not going to give up until I do that’.”
Landing her dream gig, Rebecca’s time at Sub Club led her to become one of the central champions of the Glaswegian jazz scene, hosting the first-ever jazz showcases at the venue. Reminiscing how this came about, Rebecca says, “I had been making mixtapes, jazz mixtapes for years, putting them online and they were doing really well. But it just didn’t equate to be able to play that kind of stuff on dance floors. And, with this UK jazz thing being on the rise and the fashion coming round, and jazz being less of a buzzword to young people, it gradually was moving closer to being a possibility”.
Establishing such events has helped fuel and drive the lively Glaswegian scene over the past few years. Thinking back to the time when she first hosted these gigs, Rebecca explains “It was just really exciting because I just wanted that for such a long time. Like, I knew that putting a jazz band on, that were playing cover versions of things like Fela [Kuti] tracks and original material mixed in and stuff like that, I knew that that would hold the dance floor. But I think it was a case of persuading the general public that they want to come and see that”. Having got to the point where the Glasgow music scene was ready for jazz gigs, these events had their challenges. “It’s still to a certain extent difficult”, Rebecca reveals, “but I think they know it’s become a bit easier to do it. And it’s very exciting because I feel like young people are hungry for it now. And young people actually want to pay to go and see jazz while they’re in a party environment and not just sat down or at gigs. So, I think we’re at the sweet point, we have a very young jazz scene in Glasgow, where it’s really exciting. And when events are allowed back again, I think it’s gonna just all kick-off. It’s just it’s bubbling melting pot of all these amazing musicians”.
Having released a string of remixes and, and featuring as part of On The Corner’s Door To The Cosmos compilation, With Love, From Glasgow marks Rebecca’s first major solo release. “I always wanted to produce music,” Rebecca states, “more for like a personal achievement type of thing. So, like, to say to myself, ‘I want to learn how to make music. And I’m going to prove to myself that I can do that’. Because obviously, making music is not something that just happens quickly. And it’s only something that you can do if you have the patience to stick with it for years and years and years and years.”
Through dreaming and determination, Rebecca has got to the point of producing her debut album, overseeing a list of leading Scottish talent to help make With Love, From Glasgow a reality. “It’s taken me 8 years to get to the point where I’ve released my first album”, she tells me, “But for me, I just it was my absolute dream to be able to produce music, and I don’t play an instrument. But I have all these ideas in my head for like tracks and for lyrics and for poems and for soundscapes and all that kind of thing. So, it was me being able to teach myself the software, to be able to actually get an idea into my head and be able to put that onto paper… I think the self-confidence aspect of it took quite a long time”.
Pondering over With Love, From Glasgow, Rebecca reveals “I think for me, it was just all about like, personal experience and about a feeling. And the album’s kind of about, like, emotions and space and time, and just giving yourself that the space to feel stuff properly. And I guess each song is about something different in my life, and I’m sure that everyone can relate to. So yeah, it’s just about an emotional journey and putting things together in a way that resonated with me, which hopefully would then resonate with other people.”
Deep, spiritual and rich, Rebecca’s unique way of creating music has created a fascinating and encapsulating record that transports you to another world. Yet, remarkably, when Rebecca finished With Love, From Glasgow, she approached many of the labels that she respected and turned the project down. “All of that definitely happened for a reason”, Rebecca positively exclaims, “Because now look where we are. There’s this amazing label [Rebecca’s Records] that’s formed. I’ve got the next 12 months’ worth of releases lined up. There’s all this amazing, exciting stuff we’ve booked in two dates with the Rebecca Vasmant 11-piece band, it’s just insane! Like, it definitely just shows you that other people might not believe in you. But if you just keep believing in yourself, then it will go well.”
This grit and tenacity which Rebecca has displayed throughout her career has clearly paid off. Whether that’s storming onto the DJ circuit, shining a light on the Scottish jazz scene or making the move towards producing and creating records, Rebecca’s self-belief in her talents has led to success. Now, having landed a deal with K7 to create her very own label Rebecca’s Records during a global pandemic, her debut record has sold out across the board, leading to a rush to release a repress run. However, this certainly isn’t the stopping point.
“The label is going to focus on Scottish based artists” Rebecca informs me, “we’re going to be releasing a range of music, definitely jazz themes and spiritual jazz themes, but not exclusively jazz, we’re going to obviously deal with things like the jazzier end of hip hop and electronic music, and, you know, like, neo-soul, and all that kind of stuff. But I do want to try to focus the next 12 months on female-led projects within the Scottish jazz scene because I think that’s really important. And, I think that’s something that is not that there aren’t females in Scotland who are doing amazing, but I feel like a lot of them aren’t being given enough of a platform. So, it would be really good for me to be able to do that. And I would like to hopefully be able to achieve that.”
Whether working with the vanguard of the Glasgow scene or the up-and-coming stars, central figures like Rebecca Vasmant and her contemporaries have collectively worked incredibly hard to give Glasgow the exposure it deserves. “We really have worked very hard”, Rebecca strongly states, “And we have fought to be heard. And now it’s finally happening. So, it’s, it’s really exciting”. Smirking, she tells me, “But it’s funny, because, you know, I get the impression people think that this is all just happening, and this is all new. We have fought to be listened to and we are now being listened to. And this is why I’ve done this album as well, precisely for this reason.” Joyously Rebecca exclaims “And it’s working! So, it’s exciting!”