Having a foot in several camps – or musical genres – can’t hurt if you want to get your music ‘out there’ – or indeed create a hard-to-pigeonhole sound that is all the better for its grab-bag of myriad musical influences. So Edinburgh trio Check Masses seem pretty well set up – featuring a hip hop DJ who’s featured on the MoWax label, a soul singer once signed to EMI, and our ‘contact’ in the band, a familiar face around the Scottish indie scene…
‘Philly’ Angelo Collins – Lead Vocals.
Saleem Andrew McGroarty – Beats, Bass, Keys, Samples, Percussion & Production.
Vic Galloway – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keys, Melodica, Percussion & Production.
The band is based in Leith, Edinburgh and we all live fairly close to each other. Andy has been DJing in clubs and making Hip-Hop and beats for years, including having had a track featured on the legendary Mo Wax compilation ‘Headz’. He also works in Underground Solu’shn record shop in Edinburgh.
Philly made acoustic soul music in the past and was signed to EMI for his own stuff, as well as writing with Graham Gouldman of 10cc and singing backing vocals for Macy Gray amongst other things.
I’m from an rock’n’roll/indie/punk background having played in Miraclehead, Huckleberry and Hail Caesar, as well as being part of the Fence Collective in the prog-pop duo Deaf Mutes. We’ve all known each other for years from overlapping music scenes within Edinburgh – it’s a capital city but it’s a small city. If you imagine, all of our influences and experiences coming together, you’ll understand the music we’re making as Check Masses.
We started messing about in 2016 recording music with Andy’s beats and my music, then Philly got involved as the main vocalist fairly soon afterwards. After a year or so, we had around 18 tunes recorded and realised we genuinely had something special together. We then chose 10 tracks from the batch for the forthcoming album ‘Nightlife’.
In the live band we are joined onstage by Jack Dorrian (Skjor, Riley, Dlu) on bass and Craig Somerville (The Merrylees, Rituals) on drums. Those guys are brilliant musicians, lovely chaps and help us bring the tracks to life onstage. We hooked up with Triassic Tusk records, and are ready to release the album on vinyl whenever we can… the crisis around the pandemic dictates what happens and when, obviously. So far we’ve put out two singles, ‘Dripn Angel’ and ‘Lonesome Little Paradise’.
(We like to challenge our interviewees to sum themselves up in five words)
Hip-Hop – psychedelia – soul – dub – rock’n’roll.
It’s a mash-up of different styles that reflect all our varied influences and loves really. We’re now saying simply – Psychedelic Soul. Is that better?? Our newest/second single is ‘Lonesome Little Paradise’, and out forthcoming album is ‘Nightlife’.
It’s art for art’s sake, to be honest. We just really enjoy writing music, recording it, performing it live and being creative whenever we can in our busy lives. The music developed incredibly naturally too. Although we come from different backgrounds, the tunes came really quickly and it’s probably the most effortless musical collaboration I’ve ever been a part of. Egos are left at the door, and whatever sounds good is kept in regardless of style/vibe.
We think this music could definitely appeal to a global audience however, given half a chance. That’s kind of why we’re putting this out there.
The idea is to release a selection of singles and then follow it with the ‘Nightlife’ album on vinyl via Triassic Tusk and across streaming/download platforms. Just build it up slowly with releases and live shows. The blending of influences and musical backgrounds gives us a unique twist we think. We’re not a zeitgeist band or trying to be ‘on trend’… we just hope the music sounds effortless and cool.