Snapper began life as an introduction to the book on what not to do in the music business, and have continued to delight its authors ever since.
Snapper HQ is in Edinburgh Scotland, where they gather all the necessary components to create perfect pop records, beat them together and drop them from a great height. The resulting meringue is the Snapper sound, best served cold.
The unusual cast of characters that constitute the Snapper collective is the result of lax standards in education, hygiene and alcohol licensing laws. It should be an object lesson in how far things can go wrong when delinquency and music are combined.
Snapper have taken to their beds in an attempt to avoid further exposure to popular culture.
File under ‘Quietly Subversive’.
In fact, file under ‘None of your business’.
FIFI LAFLAME - Vocals
ADOLF (FAT) - Guitar
ADMIRAL - Bass
IGNACIOUS SPORE - Drums
HELEN KEGGIE - Vocals
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You don’t break an appointment with Snapper, or even anyone connected with them. The elusive four in...You don’t break an appointment with Snapper, or even anyone connected with them. The elusive four individuals behind the band make Howard Hughes look like a regular party-goer. Even manager George Lyttleton claims to have only met them once face to face; all other communication coming via fax machine. So it is with great anticipation that I await Lyttleton’s arrival in the capital’s Bar Kohl, after my days of calling him pay off.
Lyttleton is prompt and greets me with a firm handshake. A short, amiable man in his fifties, he is the kind of guy who appears entirely gregarious until the conversation turns to business. Then you realise what makes him so good at his job.
For anyone needing to play catch-up, Snapper are one of the increasing number of acts to shun the traditional methods of major record companies by making download-only material available online. They have retained their independence by refusing to sign with the majors, securing distribution contracts only.
But more importantly, Snapper have been responsible for some of the most arresting and challenging new music around. Their lead singer (named only as ‘Girl’) delivers lines of unquestionable originality and beauty on themes ranging from urban isolation to how to make it in the movies. The heavenly voice is backed by a band that either cooks up densely textured sonic landscapes or teases out tender but deeply unsettling guitar gems.
I begin by asking Lyttleton some general questions about the music, on which subject he is hugely forthcoming. “The sound can be a real web. If you were to take it apart you’d find all these strands that somehow mesh together and make the finished track. But then you have songs which are deliberately under-produced and sound deceptively simple.” When I suggest that the beauty of songs like ‘Wednesday’s Child’ is the combination of a seductive sound coupled with an underlying violence, Lyttleton agrees, adding “And sometimes it's vice versa. Some of their more brutal sounding tracks have passages of real tenderness. You’re never quite sure where you are with them.”
We’re off to a good start so I try to dig deeper into the personalities behind the sound. Lyttleton beats around the bush a little before advising me that this would not be correct etiquette. “Snapper are first and foremost artists,” he explains, shooting me one of his frequent off-centre smiles. “And like most artists, you take the rough with the smooth. That means along with the creative talent, there’s a degree of unpredictability about them.” I nod, meanwhile wondering exactly where he’s going next with this. “They are ferociously protective of their privacy. Look, we’re not in Hollywood here. I’m not about to say that this conversation will be terminated if you ask personal questions. Let’s just say that a personal line of enquiry will not prove fruitful.”
I decide to change tactics and begin telling him the little that I know about them, in the hope that he might inadvertently fill in some of the gaps. The story is vague at the best of times and downright obtuse at the worst.
There are entertaining yarns - the band being created by a collision in space is one - but they are not terribly helpful. And the numerous rumours only serve to make honest hacks like me laugh and then ask even more personal questions. Depending on where you heard it, they are either bored household names working undercover, or Bruce Wayne-style everyday joes who walk amongst us. The suggestion that the four individuals hail from different corners of the globe – Greenland has been mentioned – seems more likely, as well as the idea of individual contributions being recorded in different countries.
Lyttleton focuses on me and lays down the law. “Here’s the truth of the matter. I don’t know. We’re living in the 21st century, the age of remote communication. Anything’s possible. But gone are the days when artists’ private lives are in the public domain. Isn’t it enough to have the music?” He sounds momentarily brusque, but Lyttleton is not about to lose his cool here. He’s a real pro. “When Snapper have new music to offer, I get a phonecall. Then I do my job.” When I ask when we will be hearing the next batch of ‘new music’, he smiles and says “I haven’t had a phonecall.”
And with that, our brief meeting is over. Lyttleton exits as he entered, with a handshake and a smile. I’m no clearer about who these people are. All I know is what I already knew – the enigma that is Snapper has got to be heard. As he reaches the door, Lyttleton turns and says, “I’ll call you.”