An interview with Edinburgh’s own riot girl band: Medicine Cabinet

Hailing from Edinburgh, Medicine Cabinet are rapidly growing in reputation around the Scottish gig scene, with good reason. Fresh from shows supporting post-punks Cheap Teeth at King Tut’s and Press Club at Broadcast in Glasgow, Medicine Cabinet are quickly cementing themselves as one to watch. A successful run of shows has garnered them high praise amongst those lucky enough to see them play. The Student spoke to Anna Reeves, lead singer of the self-proclaimed ‘riot-girl band’, about their unlikely conception, diverse tastes and their place within the Scottish music community.
The members of Medicine Cabinet were thrown together from all walks of life, with Anna and Joshua initially meeting due to a mutual right-swipe on Tinder; “it’s a more common way for bands to start than you’ think!” she confesses, alluding to a contemporary way of scouting for band members. Drummer Tom Lawrence was plucked from bands they admired already, with Cal and Joshua also meeting through the live music scene, where Joshua worked as a gig photographer. These talented young things have been deeply rooted in the music scene long before the conception of Medicine Cabinet. Despite this, Anna reveals that initially there were no concrete plans for the direction of the band, and their creation stems from the desire to create “sweet, sweet art.” It is remarkably impressive to behold a band who is so strikingly making a name for themselves grow from merely the ambition to make music, no frills attached.
In terms of influence, Medicine Cabinet are a band composed of a multitude of tastes, and Anna suggests this is likely what gives them their unique sound. “We take influence from contrasting genres all the time,” she says, “from punk to disco to electropop and new wave.” This is clearly reflected in the boldness of their music, as they are undeniably a force to be reckoned with in terms of live performance. Their music can be described as distinctly new wave, a kind of pop-come-punk not entirely unlike bands such as Tom Tom Club and Talking Heads. A band composed of such diverse tastes is inevitably one which is constantly evolving and growing. Medicine Cabinet perfectly encapsulate a band for which it would be an injustice to limit to one genre.
Playing alongside well-established bands within the Scottish music scene, Medicine Cabinet are making a strong impression already, and have easily found their place within the gig circuit. “We feel such a sense of community in the Scottish music scene right now” says Anna, “I think people are just genuinely really excited by the music that their peers are making.” Anna describes the joy of being listed on a line-up with your pals, and being able to see them play, explaining, “there’s nothing better.” Bands such as Walt Disco, Press Club and Sports Team are leading the way in a community-led music scene. The Scottish circuit is saturated with energetic new artists who, like Medicine Cabinet, are rapidly garnering attention.
Speaking on their aforementioned ‘riot grrrl’ image, Anna reveals influence from punk legends such as Kathleen Hanna. “Initially we had a really direct ‘riot grrrl’ sound, but as we find new ways to express ourselves and achieve dissonance, it’s more in ethos and attitude.” Medicine Cabinet are steeped in influence from the punk denomination, but they are not defined by it; their sound is far more complex than that. The punk influence comes across more directly in terms of the energy of their live performance: “there’s so much to be said about how your onstage musical identity reflects your thoughts and opinions on gender identity and dynamics, I think our awareness of that is visible like it is in the ‘riot grrrl’ scene.” It is this acute awareness which makes Medicine Cabinet such an energetic and powerful live act, fueling their assertion as bold front-runners on the gig scene.
Their writing process is a varied one, with every member bringing something to the table. “We all write music to some extent independently too, so usually songs will start with someone bringing in a really cool idea or riff or synth melody to a practice and we all add things onto that.”
This process is undeniably the cornerstone to their recognisably bold music. “We also sometimes sit down and take a day to write in the studio with friends or other artists,” Anna describes, “you get a really good look at the bones of what you’re making that way, it’s a more tangible process.” Having such a refreshing perspective on the way in which Medicine Cabinet go about making their music is a credit to Anna; and it is evident that the talent and energy which they bring to live performances is well translated into the writing process.
Pressed for news about new releases, Anna reveals little; “you’ll have to stay tuned to find out” she says, keeping us on our toes. Somehow, despite the fact that they have not yet released any music, Medicine Cabinet are earning themselves a great deal of expectation surrounding their next move. Anna teases more gigs in the pipelines, and it is clear to see their enthusiasm for what lies ahead of them.
Medicine Cabinet make their return to Broadcast to support Thyla in October, and will grace the stage supporting alternative up-comers Walt Disco headline the Mash House. Without a doubt, Medicine Cabinet are looking to become one of the most highly anticipated live acts on the Scottish gig scene.

 

Image: Oli Erskine

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The Student Newspaper 2016