The progress in 2021 of West Lothian electro-pop band Dictator has ensured they're an artist to keep your eye on.
Listening to Purpl Macaron's Sunday sessions In Your Ears indie radio show earlier in the year, I was impressed with the quality of many of the unsigned guitar bands being heard. However, near the end of the show, one particular electro-pop song made the hairs on the back of my neck rise and had us paying extra attention.
That song was called 'Equate' and was one that sounded so fresh, unique and nothing like I'd heard in a long time. Upon the announcement that it was by a band called Dictator I strived to listen to as much of their music as I could. Noticing some of the tracks only having triple-digit listens on Spotify, I felt it was my duty as a music blogger to spread the word and let others hear the brilliance on offer.
I quickly became an instant fan of their work to date, with songs like 'Hide and Seek', 'Days Gone By' and 'Moonlight' in particular leaving a lasting impression. The music had such an eerie beauty to it, being both heart-warming and emotional in equal measure.
Inspired by the likes of Gorillaz, Primal Scream, Alt-J and London Grammar, Dictator produce a unique brand of electronic indie-pop that has seen them build a committed fan base in Scotland and far beyond.
Formed in 2019, the West Lothian four-piece began on the same circuits as Lewis Capaldi and they even shared a rehearsal room with The Snuts. Whilst their contemporaries went on to gain number 1 singles and albums, progress has been a little slower for Dictator. But fear not, they're hopeful that they can find their own path to glory and such is the confidence they possess, they've even called themselves "the next Scottish anthem makers". Bold claims, but it's hard to argue.
Dictator are made up of singer Michael Campbell, Joe Murty (bass), Zach Tarimo Goodhur (guitar) and Allan Ramsay (drums). They met at school in Livingston over a decade ago, though it would be many years later before they'd come together as a band. Whilst lockdown halted their initial progress, thankfully more and more people are beginning to see their potential and a word of mouth fanbase has grown within the indie community over the past 18 months.
One Saturday morning earlier in the year, things took an even better turn for them in their quest for success. Legendary Scottish actor Robert Carlyle shared 'Anthem of a Doomed Youth' as one of his Saturday tunes to his 491,000 followers thus confirming what many of us knew already; Dictator are a band going places.
The ascent has been notable since. In August, they performed for BBC Scotland’s Sportsound Live at the Edinburgh Fringe and they’ve sold out Glasgow’s Stereo venue for a performance there in December. With each gig getting bigger, such acclaim led to them signing with Edinburgh's Blackhall Records, before then being nominated for Best Rock Act at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards 2021.
On Friday 5 November, they released their first official single on the label, 'Candlemaker Row'. It's inspired by a famous street in Edinburgh's old town and frontman Martin Campbell's fascination with that part of Auld Reekie. Another stunningly intriguing effort from Dictator and one which the band have said, "could quite easily soundtrack many a midnight walk through the gloomy and mysterious side streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town". Something I won't be doing in all honesty!
With things kicking off for them within the past few months, we can't wait to see where they go next. Dictator may have only released a handful of songs, but what we've heard so far has been of the highest quality. They're definitely a band to keep your eye on in the coming months as more music is due to come out.
Like what you hear? You can vote for Dictator as Best Rock Act at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards on the SAMA website. It's due to take place at Saint Luke's in Glasgow on 27 November 2021 and, judging by the support they've had online so far, it wouldn't be a surprise if they were to take home the award. And rightfully so.