Interview: Richy Muirhead – Scottish Alternative Music Awards

Richy Muirhead is a Glasgow based music entrepreneur and the founder of the Scottish Alternative Music Awards (SAMAs). This interview was originally broadcast on Praize 4G and Rosai’s Radio Buena Vida show.

What are the SAMAs?

The SAMAs are the Scottish Alternative Music Awards. For us it’s about celebrating artists and genres from across Scotland, whether that be metal, or hip hop, or indie, or electronic, everything. We want to take all artists and sounds and showcase them to the world. The SAMAs are predominantly about the music awards which take place annually, but we also host a lot of other events, and we host a monthly new music playlist online.

What’s been going on with the SAMAs recently? 

At the start it was a bit precarious with COVID-19, but now it’s busier than ever. SAMA launched a new event called HANG [Hip-Hop Aimed Networking with Grime], we have the 12th edition of the music awards just coming up, and we’ve also just held a Scottish Showcase in Liverpool at Sound City which was incredible and sold out. I’m really pleased to see live events returning and people smiling, dancing and having fun. 

Can you tell us more about HANG? How did you get involved and expand into Hip-Hop?

We’ve had the ‘Best Hip-Hop Award’ in the SAMAs for a very long time. We hosted a music panel event in 2018 with [Hip-Hop artists] Kobi Onyame, Steg G, Mobo Agoro from UP2STNDRD, and Alana Hepburn, who’s now part of the SAMAs team. We really enjoyed this event and wanted to do more. There’s been a huge surge of hip-hop and rap artists emerging for a long time, so it felt like HANG arrived at a good time. I think the genre has been ignored by a lot of funding agencies and within the media for too long, and that really needs to change.

What was your first introduction to working in the music industry?

I’m 32, and I started off when I was about 16, I used to do e-team and street-team work for metal label, Roadrunner Records UK. I handed out flyers, reviewed music online. Then I started promoting events when I was 18, and then I launched the SAMAs when I was 20 – it was the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done.

How has organising the 2021 SAMAs after not having an in-person event since 2019 been?

I’m very excited. I think the show that we’ve programmed is shaping up well – we have LVRA, TAAHLIAH and Union of Knives all performing live and Leyla Josephine and Jim Gellatly on hosting duties. Planning has been quite unpredictable with COVID-19, within events you never know if an artist or staff member will have a positive test, or if the rules will change yet again. The uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen is tricky, but I think you just have to put that to one side, and go for It.

The SAMA’s will be held Saturday 27th November at Saint Luke’s, Glasgow

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