The 2017 winner of the most coveted music prize in Scotland was announced live as Sacred Paws with their album Strike A Match. At a ceremony on Wednesday 28 June presented by co-hosts Vic Galloway and Nicola Meighan at Paisley Town Hall, an audience of industry insiders, avid music fans and some of Scotland’s best and brightest creative talent watched as Sacred Paws emerged as the winner from a fiercely competitive shortlist, winning the £20,000 first prize. The band also received a unique Paisley-inspired winners trophy, created by local jeweller Lisa Crockard, winner of the The SAY Design Commission.
Band member, Rachel Aggs was overwhelmed by their win, saying: “I just want to say thank you so much, thanks to the SAY Award, thanks to the judges, thanks to everyone at Rock Action and I can’t believe it! I’m trying really hard not to swear! We are not always the most confident people and I think playing music has a lot to do with confidence so this is completely overwhelming and we don’t feel like we belong here but at the same time we feel validated for what we do. Thank you.”
Formed in 2014, Sacred Paws, comprised of vocalist and guitarist Rachel Aggs and drummer Eilidh Rodgers, released their debut album, Strike A Match on 27 January 2017 on Glasgow label Rock Action Records. The duo, based between Glasgow and London, received critical acclaim from the likes of Clash Magazine, Pitchfork, Q Magazine, DIY Magazine, amongst other titles and can now include Scottish Album of the Year to their repertoire.
Produced by The Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA), and now in its sixth year, The SAY Award has grown to become the most prestigious music prize in Scotland. For the past two years, the award has teamed up Renfrewshire Council, supporting the Paisley bid for UK City of Culture 2021. The shortlist served to highlight the very best in Scottish music, spanning a range of genres and audiences (see below).
The winner of this year’s public vote was the poignant Future Echoes by Pictish Trail, which won an automatic place on the shortlist after a 72-hour public vote. The remaining nine slots were awarded by The SAY Award’s panel of independent judges (see notes below for full details). Each of the shortlisted bands won a £1,000 prize, and all ten received a 3D printed plate produced by Glasgow School of Art graduate and Paisley jeweller, Lisa Crockard.
Throughout the night guests were treated to outstanding live sets from Scottish acts including boundary-breaking The Spook School, folk quintet Elephant Sessions, vivacious Be Charlotte plus last year’s SAY Award winner, Anna Meredith. Presenters also paid tribute to the late Gary Watson of Scottish indie-rock band The Lapelles, who tragically died on Sunday 14 August.
The SAY Award’s chosen charity this year was Help Musicians UK. It is their mission to create a sustainable future for all musicians and the industry, and is looking to create innovative opportunities for Scottish musicians and the music sector to develop their talent, skills and experience.
Robert Kilpatrick, Projects and Operations Manager, Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA), said: “On behalf of the Scottish Music Industry Association, I’d like to say a huge congratulations to Sacred Paws for winning this year’s Scottish Album of the Year Award. ‘Strike A Match’ is a beautiful, joyful record and a very worthy winner. Commiserations to the other 9 Shortlisted albums, but what an outstanding Shortlist and incredible year for Scottish music.”
Alan Morrison, Head of Music at Creative Scotland, said: “Massive congratulations to Sacred Paws for their SAY Award win. Strike A Match is such a warm, energetic record, full to the brim with musical influences from all over the world. Yet again a SAY Award jury has decided that a debut release is a worthy winner – proof that there’s always exciting new talent ready to be discovered on the Scottish music scene.”
Jean Cameron, project director of Paisley's bid to be UK City of Culture 2021, said: "We were delighted to host the Scottish Album of the Year Award ceremony here in Paisley for another year - Paisley Town Hall again made a striking venue for a really memorable night. Having been a judge at a previous award I know how hard it is to pick a winner - this year's award was another wonderful showcase of the great strength and diversity in Scotland's music scene. My congratulations go to the winner and everybody who made the shortlist."
Emma Casey, Global Marketing Manager for Black Bottle, said: “Congratulations to Sacred Paws and all the bands on the shortlist. We’ve been very proud to be involved in the SAY Awards this year, from creating special cocktails for the Award Ceremony which were inspired by the acts performing, to helping support an event which celebrates the wonderfully eclectic landscape of Scotland’s music scene."
Jonathan West, Director of Marketing & Artist Services, TicketWeb, said: “It's been another stellar year in Scottish music and once again the SAY Awards has played a magnificent role in showcasing that talent to the world. Congratulations to the winners, we can't wait to catch each of the shortlisted artist's playing live very soon.”
Peter Leathem, Chief Executive, PPL, said: “For decades, Scotland has been a thriving hotbed of musical talent, nurturing artists as diverse and varied as Orange Juice, Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura right through to Biffy Clyro, CHVRCHES and Young Fathers. This is why, at PPL, we think it is vitally important to continue our partnership supporting the SAY Awards, an event that recognises and puts on a spotlight on some of the best music coming out of Scotland.”