Updated: Jan 15
Three. Two. One. Actionnn. We had our callback with “The Stirling Boy” just before Rangers stretched their lead at the top of the A-List with their very own Green Screen, something we’ll soon come on to talk about.
We also wanted to understand Actionnn’s thoughts on the Scottish music scene, his early inspirations and his future ambitions as he pilots his own Rap Game. But, for now, let’s go from the top.
First of all, tell us about your Stirling upbringing. I was born in the city and I’ve lived there my whole life. I grew up in St Ninians but, for a few years, I went to a school in Bridge of Allan… which was shit, to be honest! I was constantly bullied from not coming from an affluent part of the city whilst I was there, so I quickly moved schools! In terms of my Stirling upbringing shaping me as an artist and a musician, I like to think that I am totally different from any other rapper in Scotland because of that simple fact. It’s the same with accents - every city in Scotland has a different accent and, with that, comes different traits and phrases. People from Stirling over to the East coast say words like “ken”… that is sacrilege in Glasgow! (Laughs) So, if I can bring that influence into my music it’ll hopefully set me apart from everyone else.
Despite coming from Stirling, you support Rangers; tell us more about your affinity with the Light Blues. I’ve been a fan since primary school. I’ve gotten a lot more into it in the last couple of years, mind you - I’m not sure if that’s as a direct result of our upturn in form or not! Our school was pretty much split down the middle between Rangers and Celtic and I ended up following the former just because of my social circle at the time.
Why do you think places like Stirling have such a strong Old Firm following when they have a local club on their doorstep? I would love to support Stirling Albion and do a show in Glasgow in a Binos shirt but the fact still stands that they’re just not very good… (Laughs) So when Stirling Albion reach their potential I’ll start showing them all the respect they deserve!
You are 21 years of age; Rangers, therefore, have spent the majority of your adolescence in Celtic’s shadow - how has it been for you as a Rangers fan over the last decade? To be honest, I really enjoyed it. In saying that, it would have been great if it never happened but it proved who the real Rangers fans were versus those following the club for success; it was a test of loyalty for everyone associated with the club. But the current campaign is part of that journey going back to our first season in the fourth tier as we’ve had to suffer the hardships to reach where we are today.
What do you think winning the title this season would mean to supporters? It would be amazing. It would be the reward for coming through that period of struggle that we’ve just touched on and it would be perfect timing to stop ten-in-a-row! As much as I am a Rangers fan and believe we are better, ourselves and Celtic are virtually on a level playing field - they are the Batman and the Joker of Scottish football - they need each other and that was highlighted when Rangers were out of the top-flight. It is the perfect rivalry. But we need to get back to winning silverware to really prove that and re-establish ourselves at the top. It would have been good to beat Celtic in the League Cup Final that we somehow lost to lay down a marker and I think that had an affect on how the remainder of last season played out. But I’m excited about this season and hopefully getting our hands on that trophy!
We’ll come on to talk about the Rap Game in a bit, but Ransom FA appeared on Series 1 of the show, who has built up a connection with Aberdeen Football Club - do you think that other clubs in Scotland should look to build up connections with music artists? 100%. It would be great. It’s in the best interests of all parties, in my opinion. It would allow the artist a larger platform and it would also allow clubs to diversify their audience to a wider audience. I don’t know many other Rangers fans who make music though, so the pressure would be on me to deliver!
If that is the case and the pathway is clear for you to work alongside Rangers Football Club, what role would you handpick for yourself to perform? That’s a good question. I’m not sure what the role would be, but I would just like to showcase that being a Rangers fan doesn’t necessarily mean that I, as a supporter, associate myself with the negative connotations that comes with following the club. I want to dissolve that ideology and show that myself, and many others, follow Rangers purely for the love of football.
Going back to Stirling, how would you describe the music scene in the city? It’s a lot better now than when I first started. I felt that I was the only rapper in Stirling for a while before I saw someone in a Facebook Group talking about rapping. So then there were two! Big music scene… (Laughs) But, as time has went on, more and more people are starting to make music up here and some are guys that I’ve known for years, so I would love to think that I had a hand in giving them the confidence to come forward and start putting out music. I think there is a lot of potential in the city and, over the course of the next few years, we’ll hopefully be heading towards the same standard as Glasgow and Edinburgh. But those places are always going to have a bigger scene across the board, even outwith music, as both the population and the opportunities are greater - that’s just the reality.
You mentioned there that your profile has perhaps inspired aspiring artists in Stirling but, for yourself, who was it that first sparked your interest in music? I’ve always been in to rap since I was a kid. It would be Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West - especially Kanye. It was American rap that was the more dominant market over here until I moved to high school and started listening to the likes of Skepta, JME, and guys like that. In terms of me actually making music, it wasn’t until I went to college in Perth when someone on my course got me in to rapping. After leaving college, I came back to Stirling and just kept it going with the intention of being that guy who could represent my city in the music scene.
Producer Sam Gellaitry also hails from Stirling, who has been a massive success since he began making music - did you look to him for inspiration when looking to make your own breakthrough? I did. He was a big influence on me and has proved to everyone that you don’t need to be from a major city to have a standing in the industry. I say that to him every time I see him actually. So he definitely was one of my inspirations and continues to be given his profile and portfolio.
On the subject of other artists, talk to us about collaborations; what kind of artists or producers are you looking to work with in the future? I’d like to do more collaborations with rappers and producers from the dance music genre. I think that the hard style, techno scene is probably the most popular in Scotland and I want to experiment with that. Other guys have worked their sound in to that market and have flourished from doing so and I think it could be the way to go to really breakthrough in the UK.
One person you have shared a stage with is Rap Game series 2 contestant Shogun - tell us about your relationship with him. I had never met him before the day we had been on stage together but we had interacted online here and there so he was aware of me, albeit on a small scale! I was doing a show through in Glasgow and he was there. I was rapping over this mad drum and bass beat - it was 180 BPM - and everyone there was surprised as not a lot of people would choose to rap over that kind of beat in Scotland. It got wheeled and I shouted out to the crowd to bring Shogun in from outside as he needed to see it! (Laughs) I think the crowd thought I was joking at first but someone went outside and brought him in. I got 16 bars in and he jumped on stage and we were stood rapping back and forth over the beat! So it was a cool night and it was great to see someone like that respecting my music.
Do you think that the Rap Game including two Scottish artists in the only two series so far gives hope to people like yourself looking to make a career in the industry? Definitely. I think a lot of Scottish artists have taken belief from that. I think it has allowed people in England to see the talent that we have up here and begin to respect it. So the Scottish scene is definitely moving in the right direction.
On the back of that, where do you see yourself in five years time? Who knows! I wouldn’t have predicted my current position this time last year so it’s difficult to call. I could have left the game or I could be a multi-millionaire; it could go either way! (Laughs) One thing I do want to achieve is respect and following from Stirling. That was my goal when I first started. I didn’t have the objective of blowing up and being UK-known back then, I just wanted to be known in my own city and people to say “that’s Actionnn, he’s the guy who makes music”.
Location: Washington Street, Glasgow
Photography: Connor Stewart
Words: Scott Kelly