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Returning to Inverness to DJ is Tam Coyle – a man with a lifetime spent embedded in Scottish music's evolution

By Margaret Chrystall

A LIFETIME of passion for rock and indie music is what you get when Tam Coyle DJs – and he is back in Inverness at Mad Hatters on Friday night.

He is someone who has been involved in the evolution of the Scottish music scene since his teens in Glasgow.

In the last week, he has been involved in press coverage of the start of legendary venue King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow – he was the venue’s first music booker.

“I was the first booker at King Tut’s. I had been in New York the year before with Factory Records who I used to work for then and had been in a place called King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and had suggested the name to Stuart Clumpas [owner of DF Concerts which opened King Tut’s and founder of T In The Park] though it was Stuart who named it. The only thing galling about King Tut’s over the years was, when I was the booker, I got it in my head that we were going to call the bar King Tut’s and upstairs where we put the bands on would be the Wah Wah Hut.

I’m still as obsessive as I was as a 16-year-old listening to John Peel every night!

“But it never stuck, not to this day!” Tam laughed. “ It’s just been Tut’s to the whole world ever since.

“I’d end up sleeping there. I would be there till three in the morning and think ‘If I go home I’ll just wake the wife!’

“So I’d literally keep spare underwear, T-shirt, socks and sleep in the dressing room! Wake up, get a shower and start again the next day.”

Tam Coyle returns to DJ on Friday in Mad Hatters, Inverness.
Tam Coyle returns to DJ on Friday in Mad Hatters, Inverness.

Also as part of Tam’s role in music, he met up with the bands going out to the premier music conference in Austin, Texas, South by South West to organise their back line and visas – it will be his 20th year going out to seek out the best new music at the event.

New music is his real passion, and that hasn’t changed since he was a teenager.

Tam laughs: “I’m still as obsessive as I was as a 16-year-old listening to John Peel every night!”

These days he admits he has calmed down from his last man standing mentality that would see him there to the bitter end of gig nights.

He has attended every goNorth and XpoNorth since the Invernessevent began, to track down the most exciting new bands from Scotland and beyond playing at the showcase gigs that have been a core part of the music and now creative industries conference since it began.

“You would be going on tips, in the early days,” he said. “But these days every band has songs up on Spotify or social media, so you can spend that couple of weeks before you come up to Inverness looking through.

“So your schedule is pretty much worked out before you head out the door.

“But you still end up running from A to B to C and to be honest three or four drinks can affect your judgment, so I’ve got old and boring and don’t drink at these things!”

Tam Coyle (left) pictured at the Resonate music conference in Glasgow. Picture: @kirstinmcewanphotography
Tam Coyle (left) pictured at the Resonate music conference in Glasgow. Picture: @kirstinmcewanphotography

As well as being a manager – currently managing Astrid, among others. Tam is also involved with the Tartan Army, whose Tartan Special band have a single out later this month.

But Tam’s main occupation is DJig – he regularly DJed four nights a week in Glasgow for years and also had the post of music business development officer for Glasgow City Council in the early 2000s.

He was last up in Inverness last year DJing for The Proclaimers gig – his choices going down a storm with the crowd at the Bught Park.

Tam said: “I’ve been a DJ all my life since I was 18 years old and I have known The Proclaimers for 25 years and I’ve been friends with Craig and Charlie since then.

“I sit and talk to them for half an hour and find out what they are into at the moment and what they are listening to. And with them there has got to be a Johnny Cash song, an Everly Brothers song and there’s got to be a Dexy’s Midnight Runners song andClash song, and after that I’ve got a free hand within reason.”

Though Tam says modern developments mean that anyone can DJ, he has a huge collection to choose from.

“I’ve got 12,000 records – I’ve been buying records since 1973. I still buy CDs every single week so I’ve got a massive collection. I’ve got a little flat – I’m about nine minutes’ walk to King Tut’s! – and it’s just full records , CDs and books everywhere! . AndI still buy CDs every single week – I bought one off a band in King Tut’s last night!”

Tam Coyle DJs at Mad Hatters, Inverness, on Friday, midnight until 3am.

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