A NEW live series celebrating some of the most exciting names on the Scottish music scene has been inspired by videos filmed in a garden during lockdown.

Zimbabwean-born Sean Focus, who is based in Edinburgh, hopes the new videos will make the London record labels pay more attention to emerging Scottish talent.

Now 32 years old, Focus knows only too well how difficult it is to become noticed but was actually making progress when the pandemic hit. He had just been named as the only Scottish artist in the prestigious Ones To Watch list released by Amazon Music’s celebrated black music platform +44 when everything ground to a halt.

Trying to find ways of staying active but with very limited resources, Focus decided he would just go into his garden and use his mobile phone to make videos of himself singing.

READ MORE: Ian Rankin and JK Rowling books have opening lines translated into Scots

“The first one got 2000 views in two days, which had never happened before, so I started posting more,” said Focus. “There was something about it that connected with people and I think it was the rawness of it.

“I didn’t have the gadgets for a good background – you can see trees and laptop speakers – and it was just random. I was outside with my partner and son and did my song literally with no edit. I only wanted to show the labels I was versatile and self-sufficient but the videos caught traction with the people that the labels are trying to sell the music to.”

The videos were such a success that Focus was able to win funding of £15,000 from Creative Scotland in order to make more – this time featuring up-and-coming talent from across Scotland.

They showcase five artists, including Glasgow’s Benz who has recently shot to prominence after embarking on a UK-wide tour supporting The Snuts and last month was the sold-out headline act at King Tut’s in Glasgow.

Focus points out that he signed Benz up to his GRDN Sessions before his breakthrough but said his inclusion and recent success demonstrated the potential of artists on the Scottish music scene.

As well as Focus, the other artists are Aberdeen rapper Gidd Gamz, Livingston R&B four-piece 4TUNE, and Dundee singer-songwriter James Liandu, who was a busker for five years, experimenting freely with a range of genres from afro-house to acoustic. He has just released the single Voyage.

“I picked people I think Scotland should hear,” said Focus. “I wanted to put musicians who are not so obvious in the videos so that people could find out there is so much more talent in Scotland.”

With or without more funding, Focus intends to continue the GRDN Sessions and is planning a trip to the Highlands and Islands to look for talented musicians in need of

a platform.

HE said: “I’m happy to bring along other artists now to this project, some that I feel people overlook.”

He added that the hip-hop scene, in particular, was growing in Scotland, but record labels “could be paying way more attention”.

“One of the things I am trying to do is get the labels involved because they are the machine that will put Scotland into its rightful position,” said Focus. “If the labels are not taking us seriously, then consumers are not going to take us seriously, so my goal is to put us into a position where we can get the labels to sit up and take notice.

READ MORE: Glasgow in talks to host Eurovision next year, council leader reveals

“There’s definitely a hip-hop community building, and I’m looking to build a studio in the new year to have a base to create with artists across the cities.”

Project producer Emma Picken said it had been good to work with such a range of artists on the GRDN Sessions.

“We’ve got a brilliant mix and balance of sounds in there, and all the artists featured on the project were excited to be involved, which is fantastic,” she said.

“It’s always good to see artists collaborating to promote themselves and the Scottish scene as a whole, and great to have the support and backing from Creative Scotland for this work.”