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Getting To Know: Midnight Ambulance

Introducing Midnight Ambulance, the electrifying Scottish alternative rock duo making waves in the music scene. Shortlisted for the BBC Introducing Scottish Act of the Year, Midnight Ambulance burst onto the scene with their debut EP, Smoke and Sweets, which The Skinny praised as "electrically charged." Their EP launch at Edinburgh’s iconic venue, The Caves, sold out, signaling the arrival of a formidable new presence in alternative rock.

Inspired by the likes of Frightened Rabbit and London Grammar, Fraser (guitar, vocals) and Amelia (drums, lead vocals) craft music that delves deep into the intricate realms of the human psyche. Their journey began with a serendipitous meeting in Paris—Fraser, a backline technician for First Aid Kit and Sam Fender, was on tour, while Amelia was forging a career in international PR. A chance encounter at an Edinburgh open mic a decade prior laid the groundwork for their unique musical partnership, one characterized by an uncanny sense of familiarity and mutual inspiration.

Midnight Ambulance's sound is a captivating blend of "ominous, looming" cinematic landscapes and delicate, folk-infused melodies, leaving listeners "intrigued...but slightly scared," according to Vic Galloway of BBC Radio Scotland. Their dynamic performances have headlined venues across the UK and beyond, sharing stages with notable acts such as Texas, Twin Atlantic, The Pigeon Detectives, and Fatherson.

In 2023, they made their international showcase debut at Sweden's Future Echoes Festival, Wide Days (Scottish Showcase), and Focus Wales (Welsh Showcase). Fraser's talents were also spotlighted as a special guest during Sam Fender’s headline performance at TRNSMT festival. Described as "dark, brooding and extremely dynamic" by Tenement TV, Midnight Ambulance continues to captivate audiences with their compelling musical narratives and powerful live shows.

1. Can you tell us more about your chance encounter in Paris and how it reignited your musical collaboration after a brief meeting in Edinburgh years before? How did this serendipitous moment shape the foundation of Midnight Ambulance?

Fraser was on tour with Fatherson (supporting Lewis Capaldi) and I was pursuing a career in international PR at a French creative agency. We hadn’t spoken since about 2014 and ended up chatting after I released an acoustic song online (my first in years). We’d both stepped away from performing music since school and when Fraser invited me to the Capaldi show, we discussed collaborating. A few months later, the world went on pause and we suddenly had a lot of time on our hands. The project became a bit of a cocoon against the outside world; we’d write everyday, sometimes until 3 or 4am. It was a very cathartic process which reignited our love for music. We were both surprised at how easy it was to write together, and really enjoyed the fusion of our different styles and ideas. We wrote over 70 songs in a few months, styles ranging from folk to rock. When I came back to Scotland, we jammed together for the first time and finished our debut single ‘Black Gloves’, which is where we found the ‘Midnight Ambulance sound’. And here we are four years later! 


2. Your music draws inspiration from bands like Frightened Rabbit and London Grammar. Can you discuss how these influences manifest in your sound, and are there any other artists or genres that have significantly shaped your music?

We both love honest lyrics and storytelling, which is something we always try to integrate in our music. We never set out to write a particular style, but the combination of dark, intense sounds with delicate, folk-like melodies really hit something for us. (Fraser & Amelia)

I (Amelia) grew up listening to The Beatles, enchanted by their surreal narrative and use of harmony. Lyrics and melody are usually what interests me most in a song. Forever Changes by Love is one of my favourite albums, and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) is a definite drum inspiration. 

I (Fraser) grew up listening to a pretty eclectic mix of music. My parents have great taste and my Mum introduced me to the likes of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, which, like Amelia, has given me a real love of melody and harmony. My Dad brought guitar music into the mix. Early memories of the Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry and later bands such as The Felice Brothers and Drive By Truckers really showed me how honest music really resonates with me. In my teenage years, I discovered Scottish bands like Mogwaii and Biffy Clyro. This was a real seminal moment for me in fully appreciating just how expressive the guitar can be. It can be tender and beautiful, but sometimes it’s ok to absolutely beat it up too. 

3. Your debut EP, "Smoke and Sweets," received rave reviews for its "electrically charged" sound. Could you walk us through the creative and recording process of this EP? How did you balance the cinematic soundscapes with delicate, folk-inspired melodies?

We wrote the EP in 2020-21, a time with many changes both personally and globally. I’ve always used music to help process experiences, and the EP moves chronologically through that time. As is always the way, some of the songs came together really easily, and others did not. Someone Else’s House and The Well were a session away from being binned…but thankfully the final try pulled them back and turned them into some of our favourites. 


Like songwriting, we like the recording process to be pretty honest and kind of let the songs dictate the production. The juxtaposition between Amelia’s delicate vocal and the aggressive background came pretty naturally, and we only later realised that this was a bit of a symbolic development (a metaphor for how we felt at the time really). 

We tried to go pretty low-fi in the recording process. Minimal digital instrumentation was used and we tried to find more analoge ways of achieving some of the more modern / synth based sounds (pianos ran through overdrive pedals, for example). Paul, our wonderful friend and producer, has been really instrumental in helping us achieve this….and he has helped bring us back down to earth when we get a bit too excited. 


4. Your upcoming single "Alice" explores themes of disinformation and distorted realities. What inspired you to delve into these topics, and how do you hope listeners will interpret and resonate with this song?

Besides the band, I also work in public relations. Ethics in PR is something I’m really interested in, and have been learning about over the last few years. The psychology of communications is fascinating but also very troubling, particularly as we have these (relatively new) powerful tools, and our understanding of their effect and proper safeguarding takes a while to catch up. I’ve discovered that communications is its own battlefield, for example alongside any big world event, with disinformation and manipulation having hugely detrimental impacts. 

I’m also interested in the effect of technology and social media, and how they impact our brains and mental health. I hope that listeners will feel a sense of solidarity with ‘Alice’, as we try to traverse the strange and overwhelming new world, that looks ever more similar to the absurdity of Wonderland. 

5. You've headlined shows across the UK and internationally, and supported notable artists like Texas and Twin Atlantic. How do you approach your live performances to ensure they capture the dynamic and brooding energy of your recordings?

We put a lot into the show’s production and try to create an immersive experience.  Fraser is a backline technician so it’s great having his expertise, and we’ve an awesome live team, including FOH Peter Fergie (Sam Fender, Bullet For My Valentine, Liam Gallagher) and our fantastic lighting engineer Sam Jones (Wolf Alice, Primal Scream, KT Tunstall). The stage is really where the songs come alive. 

(Amelia & Fraser)

6. The artwork for "Alice" was created by Ritchie Collins and the music video by Em New. How important is the visual aspect of your music to you, and what was the collaboration process like with these artists to bring the song's themes to life?

The visual aspects are a really important part of the music. The songs are quite reflective (hopefully, anyway!) and the colourful and surreal artwork is where this internal, emotional world can stretch out and be expressed in a way real life can’t always capture. It also allows us to explore the themes through a different medium which is really enjoyable. 

Ritchie Collins designs the artwork and is a fantastic artist. His work incorporates magical realism, Celtic stories and Scottish landscapes. He’s been a very important part of creating Midnight Ambulance and we often take inspiration from his art.

Our animator, Em New, is a great upcoming talent. They won Best Animated Film at Zepstone International, were the 22-25 Winner at INDIs Film Festival, won Best Debut Fantasy Film at Genesis International Film Festival, and got an honourable mention at Tatras International Film Festival. 

We’ve worked with Em on a few projects (i.e. for our debut EP Smoke and Sweets) and we asked that the videos take inspiration from Ritchie Collins’ work; Em managed to create an animated world which incorporated Ritchie’s style but upheld its own identity. It was really fun collaborating with them on ‘Alice’ and diving into the bizarre. We tried a few ideas and styles (including digital) but I fell in love with their painted characters. Em perfectly managed to capture the essence of the song as it descends into something really quite sinister. 


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