AS hip-hop starts to settle into its position in the Scottish musical mainstream, one Glasgow band have effortlessly established themselves as a household name in the scene. Formed in 2011 by rapper Louie and drummer Audrey Tait, Hector Bizerk combine hypnotic, razor-sharp wordplay with a relentless, rhythmic beat. In 2014, the band won the Best Hip-Hop award at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards and released their second LP, Nobody Seen Nothing.

Fresh from packing out tents at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, we spoke to frontman Louis as the band work on recording their new album, The Waltz Of Modern Psychiatry, which is set to be released this June.The album is made up of songs which will feature on the soundtrack to Crazy Jane, a play written by Nicola McCartney.

It tells the story of Jane Avril, the star of the Moulin Rouge who was immortalised in Toulouse Lautrec’s iconic posters. Avril was a can-can dancer with mental health issues who was put into an asylum purely because she did not conform to “normal behaviour”. Louie said the band decided to approach the soundtrack like “an album project inspired by the characters and themes of the play”.

The band’s previous release, Nobody Seen Nothing, combined tales of nights in A&E and struggles in life caused by the current political situation.Louie’s words slip off the tongue with a ferocious speed and power, with his thick Glasgow brogue giving the lyrics a certain edge, hard hitting and intensely realistic.

Their The Bird That Never Flew EP, released late last year, featured poet and Scots Makar Liz Lochhead on the track Trouble Is Not A Place.

Although he takes influences from so many areas of life and art, the enigmatic frontman said they still remain “unashamedly Glaswegian”. “We take elements of hip-hop, dub, funk and punk and make lots of noise. We are different from other bands in that when we write songs, the rhythm is the main driving force, the harmonics and melody are sometimes irrelevant to what we are trying to achieve.“I think we try to find a balance between thunderous drum-led festival anthems and unashamedly Glaswegian, socially analytical poetry.” 

The group recently travelled with NME to the SXSW festival in Austin, and will be returning to the US in October to tour their new release. Louie said the shows in Austin were “incredible”.

‘‘All the shows we have played in the US have been great”, he said, but added that SXSW “was a bit special”. “I think the type of music we make is conducive to audiences having a good time. We interact with the crowd quite a bit and in the States crowds are really receptive to that type of thing.” 

More and more Scottish hip-hop acts are beginning to be recognised outside our borders. Edinburgh’s Young Fathers are currently midway through a North American tour and are also headlining several dates throughout Europe. Far from just breaking out as a genre, Louie feels Scottish hip-hop, as a broader culture, has already firmly established itself on the world stage. 

“The mainstream media perception of hip-hop in Scotland is always wrongly centred around “rappers”. That is a totally inaccurate view on this culture.” 

Louie cited acts such as Richie Rufftone, U-Turn and Krash Slaughta, three turntablists who have all previously been world champion, as well as producers, graffiti artists and breakdancers who “show what hip hop in Scotland is capable of”.

Although hip-hop is a broad spectrum, Hector Bizerk are seen by many as one of those flying the flag for Scotland. Louie insists that he is not driven by success. “I just want make music with my mates ... music that excites people enough to come to a live show and forget about their worries,” says Louie.“I don’t give a f*** about money or celebrity ... I just want to achieve sustainable creativity that people feel represents them.”

While making that music, he has found a formula which has caught the imagination, slipping seamlessly from social to political commentary.

Hector Bizerk launch their new album, The Waltz Of Modern Psychiatry, on June 6 at King Tut’s in Glasgow.