IN the context of the cost of living crisis, standstill funding and sweeping budget cuts, it seems near impossible that creativity would be allowed to flourish in any natural way.

And yet, the Scottish music scene once again proves itself resilient, ending the year with a list of significant releases, noteworthy accolades and names to keep a close eye on.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t be concerned about the future – anyone in the industry will tell you that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to carve out a ­career in music, whether you’re an artist, performer or work behind the scenes. But with so many ­individuals, projects, communities and initiatives ­doing incredible work in their specific genre and field, there’s enough out there to emphasise the need for meaningful and long-term investment.

Just last week, at DJ Mag’s Best of British awards, Scotland took home a record number of trophies, with Ewan McVicar winning Best DJ, Barry Can’t Swim taking home Breakthrough Producer and Terminal V voted Best Festival, beating the likes of We Out Here, Waterworks and more.

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We’ve welcomed new events to the festival calendar like ­Glasgow’s Core, billed as “a celebration of the diversity and power of noise”, two-day trad music event The Reeling at Rouken Glen Park, and new festival of radical and experimental music Deep Time at ­Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery.

And as we head into 2024, there’s so much to look forward to from Scotland’s up-and-coming bands and artists, who have been laying the groundwork for ­another bumper year of music.

It's been particularly encouraging to witness the rise of grassroots and DIY ­initiatives, and in turn, attention being paid to underrepresented voices and ­genres not typically linked with Scotland. Hip hop and R&B, for example, are thriving thanks in part to the efforts of collectives and platforms like Peach, Sunny G Radio, EHFM, UP2STNDRD and Hip Hop Scotland. The latter is run by ­Sanjeev Mann, aka Supermann on da beat, a phenomenal producer and DJ working across genres, while also ­raising awareness around issues facing disabled people.

Earlier this year, Mann led a campaign asking the UK Government to provide funding to create more accessibility in music venues, which led to a greater number of conversations around access nationally. In terms of both his music and vital activism, there’s evidently much more to come from Supermann on da beat in the near future.

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Elsewhere in Scottish hip hop, fast-rising star Bemz found himself in the ­running for the SAY Award for the ­second time, showing that he’s destined to eventually take home the prize. At the Scottish Alternative Music Awards (­SAMAs), JusHarry was the winner in the Best Hip Hop category, which had an incredibly strong shortlist featuring the aforementioned Supermann on da beat, Queen of Harps and Triple01s.

Queen of Harps (above) was also nominated for this year’s Sound of Young Scotland Award, with her unique blend of hip hop, spoken word and harp compositions bound to result in an extremely ­promising debut EP imminently.

With the release of gritty and urgent Exit this year, Aberdeen’s Yxng ­STUNNA will hopefully be working towards an EP or mixtape in 2024, while Glasgow’s Psweatpants will likely be able to build on the momentum gained from this year’s mixtape LIFE WAS SHIT, IT STILL IS NOW.

Looking more towards R&B, names worth keeping note of in 2024 include South Asian singer-songwriter Nikhita, emerging vocalist Ziggy (below), Portuguese ­professionally trained dancer, actor and singer Flava J, Shetlandic alternative R&B artist Philomenah and Viv Latifa, who blends R&B with Afrobeat and ­Latin sounds.

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Like hip hop, progress within the ­electronic music scene feels positive, as evidenced by Scotland’s success at the DJ Mag awards. But it’s also hopeful to see so many exciting new projects popping up in all corners of the country – 2023 saw the launch of Sigi Whittle and Jemima Fasakin’s baile/baile at Ullapool’s 100-capacity venue The Ceilidh Place.

Billed as Scotland’s most remote club night, the series supports local talent while inviting some of the country’s ­finest DJs to the Highlands, with names such as Edinburgh’s Smiff, Feena and Sandy Woodhouse featured on line-ups.

Fresh from their win in the Best ­Electronic category at the SAMAs, ­darkwave duo Casual Worker (Eve King and Hamish Wickham) will inevitably be bringing more to the table in 2024, as will Glasgow-based DJ Rosie Shannon, aka AISHA, who works for Soma Records, producing her own tracks in her down time.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on DJ and producer Hannah Laing, who is signed to Patrick Topping’s label Trick, TAAHLIAH, who continues to pack out clubs around the world, and An Dannsa Dub, whose fusion of traditional Scottish folk, dub reggae and dance music will hopefully draw in yet more fans, giving them the recognition they deserve.

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When it comes to pop music, we’re lucky to have groups like Popgirlz ­Scotland, which supports ­female-identifying, non-binary and trans artists in the Scottish music scene. In the not too distant ­future, we’re likely to see more events, advocacy and collaboration through ­Popgirlz, which was originally founded by Rachel Alice Johnson (Kohla) and Josephine Sillars, two wonderful musicians in their own right.

Fellow Popgirl Cortnë’s dreamy ­debut EP Florescence gave us an ­impressive introduction to her sound, while ­Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Fiza began to properly make her mark with shows as part of Sofar Sounds, Amplifi at the Queen’s Hall and as support for Skinny Pelembe, drawing attention to her promise within the live music sphere.

Edinburgh-born alt-pop singer and producer LVRA continues to make an impact; her 2023 album Soft Like Steel was praised across the board for its explosive and angsty energy.

Katie Gregson-MacLeod’s star also continues to rise, following the viral TikTok success of her 2022 single Complex and numerous sold-out shows this year. ­ Meanwhile, electronic pop duo ­Gefahrgeist can look forward to a solid 2024, having kicked off 2023 with their excellent new single Reach, and hard-hitting Glasgow quartet Dead Pony will be treating audiences to their highly-anticipated debut album IGNORE THIS in April 2024.

Other acts with plenty more on the horizon include Glasgow-based ­music collective Azamiah, led by vocalist ­India Blue, who released their debut in 2023; Isle of Lewis-born indie-folk singer Rosie H Sullivan, whose recent EP In My ­Nature exhibited a stunning ­collection of tracks; Raveloe, the project of ­Glasgow singer-songwriter Kim Grant; ­composer, ­producer and multi-instrumentalist ­Susan Bear; and Terra Kin, whose ­merging of jazz, lo-fi and ambient sounds led to them being announced as the ­winner of BBC Radio Scotland’s Scottish Act of The Year.

Also in the new year, soulful five-piece Grace & The Flat Boys are due to build on the buzz from their recently released EP Dark Glass//Rose Tint, which already shows immense growth since their first EP Wheels. And Brownbear (below), the indie soul project of Matt Hickman, are set to celebrate their 10th anniversary in 2024, following the release of their powerful and popular second full-length Demons in 2023.

The National: Brownbear, led by Matt Hickman, will perform in Greenock next month

With decisions on multi-year funding due in the next few months and constant advancements and changes within the wider music industry, it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen in the coming year and beyond and what Scotland’s music scene will look like when the dust settles. And with this in mind, it can be difficult to feel optimistic.

But as musicians, collectives and ­organisers have shown this year, the landscape remains dynamic, with an ­increasing ­diversity of voices ­committed to pushing the achievements of our best and brightest forward. We’re ­increasingly seeing collaborations from artists from varying genres, resulting in unique, ­otherworldly and boundary-defying sounds and it’s in this ­cross-pollination of styles and general camaraderie across artforms that we’re likely to see the most innovation.

As music fans and audiences, we have a very clear role – to continue to ­support both our favourite artists and up-and-coming creatives, some of which have been highlighted here, to ensure that Scottish music remains a facet of our ­creative output that we can be overwhelmingly proud of.

So in 2024, it’s up to all of us to shout loud about the artists we believe ­deserve to be heard, to take a chance on new ­music by heading out to gigs and events in our grassroots venues and to keep the pressure on decision-makers and ­gatekeepers so that our local scenes can keep seeing the growth they quite rightly deserve.