SMIA Members Spotlight: Ian Crawford (El Rancho Music)

  1. Tell us a bit about you and what you do…

I’m Ian ‘Jnr’ Crawford, I’m a music obsessive who’s played in bands and been involved in many facets of the music industry for a number of years. I currently juggle a few roles under three different umbrellas. I run El Rancho Music which has been active for just over ten years. El Rancho started as a club night (El Rancho Relaxo) which became a record label firstly before moving into live gig promotion. Over the past year it has naturally developed into artist management, booking and a press agency. I also host a radio show on Subcity Radio and DJ regularly around Glasgow. I’m also the co-founder of Freakender, a unique small music festival held in September now in its fourth year. Freakender regularly promotes gigs in Glasgow and has a strong identity and following amongst the DIY music community. I also book the events at Mono, which in my humble opinion is the best venue in Glasgow

2. How long have you been working in the music industry?

Gulp, for about 22 years now and going strong! I’ve only recently gone full time with El Rancho which is something I should have done years ago, so I’m really just starting this as an actual profession now, everything before was a labour of love and on a part-time basis.

3. What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Sharing my enthusiasm for music, discovering new (and old) music, putting on events and developing ideas. My recent foray into artist management is equally as enjoyable as it is stressful. I’m passionate and maybe slightly obsessive when working on projects, but I love the artists I work with and I’m happy working hard to see their talents recognised.

4. Who are some of the people you’ve worked with?

In my band days I played a lot of shows over ten plus years and supported too many bands to mention. At one point Alan McGee was co managing my first band Kain. Fun fact, on one occasion Ed Sheeran opened the stage for another of my old band’s Schnapps, which we headlined!

In 2013 I moved to New York to intern for the Brooklyn label Captured Tracks. I worked on new releases by Wild Nothing, Chris Cohen, Soft Moon and memorably Mac DeMarco’s album ‘2’ which saw the artist conquer the indie world in months. The team at Captured Tracks were inspiring and it was proof that you can compete as a small indie label.

Through El Rancho I’ve released music by Wilson Tan, Schnapps, Halfrican, Cassandra Jenkins and LYLO. El Rancho continues to be my own vision and workload!

As Freakender I work alongside Holly Calder (Eyes Wide Open) and Ross Keppie (Fuzzkill Records) who are both great friends and workmates, we never argue and always pull together to make Freakender what it is.

5. Where do you see you/your organisation in the next five years?

In the next five years I would like to build up the artists I manage (LYLO, Sweaty Palms) and grow the booking side of things into something that can support Scottish artists at home and abroad. I’ve always had a strong DIY ethos and I can see El Rancho taking a few more turns before it is recognised fully. It would be nice to see earnings for the artists and myself!

With Freakender we hope to develop our relationships with the artists we have booked and promoted from the start and to continue bringing amazing new acts to Glasgow for the first time. Freakender was born out of a DIY idea to host a small indoor music festival for Glasgow, now we’re in our fourth year which we never imagined would happen. We hope to make the festival bigger and better while keeping our DIY roots and party vibe. I would like to see Freakender collaborations with other festivals in the future.

6. What’s coming up for El Rancho?

I’m working with LYLO and Sweaty Palms two Glasgow bands who I’m happy to be great friends with. Both bands are committed and have a strong belief in their music, they are very much doing their own thing and doing it in their own way which I love. Both LYLO and Sweaty Palms are about to record new material and go on tours. It’s great to see they are gaining attention organically on their own merits.

Freakender will be heading to SXSW next week to host an all day show featuring eleven bands from around the world at the legendary Hotel Vegas. We host a free day party and an official showcase at night featuring

and Rascalton on the bill. Following this we’ll be announcing the dates for our next Freakender festival and the first artists confirmed.

7. What’s the best thing about working in music in Scotland?

The wealth of talent on our doorstep is mind blowing and it’s inspiring seeing it developing in front of your eyes. I love witnessing new bands popping up all over the place with various members of this band and that. In Glasgow alone there are so many different music scenes catered for and a strong community vibe within them, almost everyone is promoting a DIY ethos. Everyone is very much up for helping each other out and sharing information without boasting an ego.

8. What do you feel Scotland’s music industry needs to excel?

I still feel we have a long way to go to get our artists noticed and in front of the UK and world music industry in general. I don’t think it’s our fault it’s just the bigger music cities are more dominant and bigger labels tend to revolve around them. We’re a fairly small country with an extraordinary history in music and I feel sometimes we’re seen as punching above our weight when in fact we are producing an endless stream of ground-breaking music and incredible artists. I’d like to see more initiative in terms of development and support from the government. If we could trade in a song I think we’d do alright.

Learn more about El Rancho Music