bram e gieben

Six Questions for…The 2015 Scottish Slam Champ BRAM E. GIEBEN!

In February 2015, Bram E Gieben competed against fifteen of Scotland’s best slam poets to win the title. He’ll go on to represent Scotland in the Slam Worlds in Paris in June. Rally & Broad were both in the audience that night, and it was an incredible performance, equal parts power, control and fire. We’re delighted that he’ll be appearing at Rally & Broad on Friday 20th March for ‘Dance While The Sky Crashes Down’ with RM Hubbert, Alan Bissett, Lynsey May and Elyssa Vulpes. In the meantime, a few queries about what makes him tick tick tick…


  1. So…how does it make you feel?

    It honestly feels incredible, for a number of reasons. I’ve always seen myself as something of an outsider on the slam, hip-hop and poetry scenes – too hip-hop for the poetry crowd, too poetry for the hip-hop crowd, and too hard to place for a lot of slam judges and fans. To win, especially against a huge field of very talented poets, has definitely made me feel that I’ve been working towards this eventual goal, and that it hasn’t all been in vain. I was ready to quit slam after this year, just to make space, I guess, for new voices… but this has given me an extra boost to keep going. What I hope, more than anything, is that my win gives hope to people whose poetry is a little weirder, edgier and more combative that they too can win slams and acclaim for their performances if they work hard enough… and that it’s not always deeply personal, emotionally-wrought poems and poets who win; that polemic and rhetoric and satire and wordplay all have their place, if delivered with passion and a little bit of stagecraft.

  2. You’ve been doing spoken word in Scotland for a while. What are your thoughts on the scene over the past number of years? And how is it looking to you now?

    I think in may ways the scene is healthier than it’s ever been – people like Loud Poets have popularised it for a new generation of people, and the level of talent coming up through the ranks is inspiring. Someone like Sam Small, who I’ve collaborated with in the past, have pushed spoken word out to new audiences who had never encountered it beofre. There’s a progression – a talented poet can go from packed clubs and bars doing open spots or features, to paid gigs at showcases like Rally & Broad and Neu! Reekie! I have benefitted from that progression a great deal, and I think in general, spoken word has much more mainstream recognition than it did when I started 10 years ago. If I was going to be negative for a second, I might express some concerns that a generic, slam-influenced style and solipsistic subject matter have become more prevalent – I think it is still very hard to get noticed or applauded in the same way if your work is transgressive or experimental, and I also think this is a factor in the feeling that some artists have that work which deals with gender, sexuality or race in a confrontational way can sometimes be passed oveer or marginalised. I might also lament the fact that although the performance scene is driving interest in poetry, it is still page poets who get most of the press – as if one has to ‘graduate’ to the page from the ‘sophomoric’ spoken word scene. But these are minor quibbles, and quibbles that existed in some form 10 years ago, so I don’t let it bother me much. The fact is, the scene continues to grow and evolve with little outside interest or interference, and probably, this is a good thing. I’d like to see more Scottish poets travelling to perform, I’d like to see more recognition for Scottish poets from English tournaments, organisers and events. But the fact is if any of that is going to happen, we have to make it happen ourselves. Thus has it ever been!

  3. Poet, performer, rapper, musician, novelist, journalist, record producer, ex-Chemikal Poet, Post-cyberpunk miserablist and crime junkie…you have an insane number of strings to your bow. How do they relate to one another? And do any of them play more loudly than others, for you?

    I’ve long struggled to separate music, spoken word, performance and storytelling. I think the confusion about ‘what I do’ stems from that. With my new stage show, I am combining all of these disciplines and approaches – something which synthesises them all in a theatrical way is what I am working towards. Journalism was fun for a while but wasn’t very renumerative – like many of the strings in my bow, coins don’t tend to rain from the sky when I pluck them. But I am still writing the odd piece for places like The Quietus, and I still write fiction for publication as well as performance. In my experience, self-taught artists like myself, in this day and age, are usually multi-platform artists. It’s a function of the accessibility of the means of production, promotion and visualisation which are part and parcel of our bold new creative era. The one thing left for me to figure out is what I, as an artist, can do which will be a financially rewarding pursuit as well as a creatively fulfilling one. I;m working on that…

  4. How important are Slams?

    I think slams are vital for a number of reasons – first and foremost, they still draw a big crowd, and for an event organiser, the slams tend to help pay for the shows, which will be quieter but more expensive to mount. Secondly, they make you raise your game, by comparing yourself to other poets, and learning from their technique. Thirdly, they provide a calendar or focus for a calendar of spoken word events in a city or region. This gives the scene a chance to renew itself every few years. The only way in which they are damaging, I think, is in terms of what they do to some poets’ egos. It’s worth remembering that the opinion of a judge – no matter how qualified – is just that, an opinion, and that there is a degree of arbitrariness in every slam contest. Finally, I’d say that the need for more regulatuon of which slams qualify a poet for the nationals, how that qualification works, and standardisation of rules for slams is looking increasingly necessary, just to avoid squabbles over fairness. I can see a two-tier ‘pro’ and ‘semi-pro’ slam circuit arising in years to come, and I think that raises as many problems as it solves…

  5. What are you bringing to Paris with you in June?*

    I’ll be bringing some old favourites like BURN and KEEP GOING. I am a bit worried about finding a French person who can translate words like ‘phenotype’ and ‘polycyclical’ in plenty of time… I’m optimistic, as they like a bit of controversial politics and science fiction, the French.

  6. Finally, looking to ‘Dance While The Sky Crashes Down’ at Rally & Broad in March…how will the world end?

    I’m on record as being a great believer in ecophagy, or Earth-death. I strongly believe we are among the last generations of humans to walk the planet. I think the world will not end, but rather carry on without us, or with a considerably diminished human presence. The great die-off seems inevitable to me. There are a few technological scenarios I could see ending capitalism, dispensing with profit-driven economic models and leading to a kind of population plateau, which might resemble a post-singularity technocratic utopia, where humans get to mine the asteroid belt, explore the stars and spread the human virus beyond the Sol system. But my strong gut instinct tells me that billions upon billions of us will die before those technological high water-marks are reached. 

    In the resulting chaos, I think it’s unlikely that the values we prize as ‘civilised’ will be seen as important by those with the traits to survive. My prediction for the next few decades is an abrupt slide into fascist totalitarianism for what is now known as the ‘West’ and a continuing descent into medieval barbarism elsewhere in the world, with the surviving population hotspots tending to favour dictatorships like Russia rather than quote-unquote ‘democracies’ such as we inhabit. The erosion of liberal values in favour of ruthless self-preservation is already perfectly visible in the rise of UKIP and the Conservatives in the past decade. But the true horror won’t start until the temperature rises a few degrees – then you’ll see democratic and liberal values thrown out in favour of the genocide and murder of climate change refugees. Religion is due for a big revival – people will reject utopianism and myths of progress in favour of the simplistic ‘eye for an eye’ fables of dead eras.

    Teach your children to hunt, fish and grow vegetables. Teach them to kill without hesitation in self-defence. Teach them to ride horses. Teach them not to put their faith in machines or live their lives through the proxies of social media. All very easily said, of course. Harder to do. Me? I plan to hole up in a tower block with a bicycle-powered dynamo, a DVD player and a box-set of Adventure Time. That or join some sort of post-apocalyptic biker gang….

Dance While The Sky Crashes Down (Glasgow)

Rally & Broad present…Dance While The Sky Crashes Down. Sunday 29th March, Stereo, Glasgow. With Apocalypse Redux (Bram E Gieben & Sam Small), No More Tiger, Hannah Jane Walker, Calum Rodger and Josephine Sillars. Door at 230pm, £5.

We’ll always dance. Let’s waltz over the rubble, strike a tango among the debris. Even when the sky is falling and the horsemen are riding in, whether it’s utopia or dystopia we’re facing, or maybe just the end, we’ll be making our steps. Come dance with us.

Joining us for the beautiful endtimes this month…



Reprising their 2014 battle of optimism and pessimism, poets Sam Small and Bram E Gieben set the stage for the struggle between hope and cynicism for the future of the human race. Bittersweet, passionate, furious. Not to be missed.


nmt broadcast

No More Tiger sing songs about bus routes, doppelgängers, people lost on desert islands, siblings falling out, local rebels and, according to singer and multi-instrumentalist Flore, about nothing at all. There are echoes of The Andrews Sisters, The Ink Spots, Jonathan Richman, The B52s, The Cookies in their sound and even a touch of Moondog, though they still have a unique and strong musical identity all of their own. There’s a lovely warm very charming easy humour between the members of the group on stage that makes you feel glad to be in their company while they are on stage together. No More Tiger deliver irresistible, pop and are fast becoming one of Glasgow’s most exciting new bands.


HannahJaneWalkerHannah is a poet and performer from Cambridge, now (sometimes) based in Edinburgh. She has toured nationally and internationally, and has written and performed in two award winning shows with playwright Chris Thorpe ‘The Oh Fuck Moment’ and ‘I Wish I Was Lonely’. She is passionate about engaging people with poetry and using poetry to have conversations and believes that poetry is just another way of talking, that poetry is for everyone and that it is something that we need as we go forward. We love her very much.


CalumRodgerWhere to start with the unending fire of inventiveness that is Calum Rodger? Poet, performer, PhDist undertaking research on the poetics of Scottish revolutionary Ian Hamilton Finlay, co wrangler of The Verse Hearse, member of the CENTRE FOR LULZ RESEARCH, TED talker, author of ‘Glasgow Flourishes.’ Aye, well, there’s a start. ‘In my leisure time hedonistic impulses compel me to chase poetic reverie and probe at the outer fringes of poetic possibility by all technological and psychological means available.’ There’s an end, for now. Come marvel.

…and JOSEPHINE SILLARS! (with the Glasgow launch of her debut EP!)


Josephine is a singer songwriter, originally from the Highlands, now living and studying in Glasgow. Her voice is a think of ethereal beauty, and we’re thrilled to be hosting her debut EP launch.

See yous at the front. Ours is a visionary sours, with a maraschino Cherry float.


‘Dance While The Sky Crashes Down’ (Edinburgh)

Rally & Broad present…’Dance While The Sky Crashes Down.’ Friday 20th March, The Bongo Club, 66 Cowgate, Edinburgh. With RM Hubbert, Alan Bissett, Lynsey May, Elyssa Vulpes and the 2015 Scottish Slam Champion. Doors at 7pm. £5.

You know we always love to dance. This month, we’re kicking up our heels while we watch the sky fall down, sequins and silk in hand. Whether it’s utopia, dystopia or just good old fashioned apocalypse, we’re dancing through it all. Come waltz over the rubble with us.

See you at the front? Ours is a swirl of radiation and star dust.*

It’s a particularly lush bill of delights this month. Joining us…



Prolific Glasgow-born songwriter and guitarist who, in his own words, “writes music about love, death, friendship, mental illness and occasionally a dog called D Bone”. He is the winner of the Scottish Album of the Year Award 2013 (forThirteen Lost & Found); was short-listed for the SAY Awards in 2014 (for Breaks & Bones) and his live performances “provide the rare spectacle of a noisy rabble falling instantly silent to marvel at both his technical ability and the emotional impact of his music” (The Scotsman)



Speaking of prolific: Alan Bissett is a novelist, performer, activist, theatre-maker, playwright and essayist – a man of many literary talents and firm Rally & Broad favourite. His Collected Plays from 2009 – 14 are released this month by Freight Books and demonstrate why Bissett is one of Scotland’s brightest, multi-award-winning literary and theatrical talents.



Lynsey lives, loves and writes in Edinburgh. She was born to be wild but she didn’t realise and got into the habit of keeping receipts paying her taxes on time. Her stories are where the wildness runs free.



…dreams and firelight, shadow and rock and roll. Late night tales of witchcraft, mystery and desire from battle-scarred survivors of the Love Wars…

...and the 2015 Scottish Slam Champion BRAM E. GIEBEN!


Scotland, hail your champion! Rally & Broad were both in attendance at the Scottish Slam Finals at the end of February, and such a night it was. We are without fingertips. The rightful winner, in the midst of glorious competition, was none other than Bram E. Gieben and we are delighted to have him (back) on the Rally & Broad stage.  Self described poet, performer, rapper, musician, novelist, journalist, record producer, ex-Chemikal Poet, Post-cyberpunk miserablist and crime junkie, it’s all held in one furious balance. Come and marvel.

* and with due credit given to Jason Webley, where the title of this month’s show has come from.

The Apology Shop – Glasgow!

Proof of the pudding, the cake and the runaway coo…photos from Rally & Broad: The Apology Shop, Stereo, Glasgow on Sunday 25th January. With stupendous performances from Shambles Miller, Carly Brown, Kevin Gilday, Texture (aka Bram E Gieben) and the makar hersel, Liz Lochhead. With due nods made to Rabbie Burns (there was a haggis in the raffle). Sorry for NOTHING! xx

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