Tell Me Something Good: The Rise of Ewan McVicar

  • By Ashley Keenan-Price & Morven McKinnon
  • BBC Scotland News

image caption,

Evan McVicar wanted to rekindle the rave scene in Ayr

Two years ago Ewan McVicar was working in a cold storage warehouse when his dance Tell Me Something hit the charts.

Since then, Earworm has been streamed more than 75 million times, becoming a huge club favorite and inspiring a regular feature on Greg James’ BBC Radio 1 breakfast show.

29-year-old T.J. It was the springboard to help him achieve his long-held ambition of reviving the rave scene with a major dance music festival in his home town of Ayr.

That event is now the subject of a BBC iPlayer documentary – and McVicar is working with another superstar Scottish DJ.

He first dreamed of hosting a festival in Ayr when he was a regular DJ at the city’s famous clubs Club de Mar and Furies.

After all, being a student, he had no money to spend on any expensive kit.

„I was DJing on a £100 laptop with a £50 mixer and PC speakers on an ironing board,” he told BBC Scotland.

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The McVicar Pavilion brought 7,500 people to Ayr for the festival

At the end of the night, he wanders down to Low Green – a huge park along the beach – thinking about what a great festival it will be.

„It was a dream come true,” he said — but he never thought it would actually happen.

Then about five years ago he decided to leave Ayr.

„I was kind of lost, and I was going to quit music, and then I … I needed a fresh start. So I quit,” he said.

„I signed Patrick Topping the week I went to England [Trick] The label and my career went from there.

„But I never forget where I come from. I go about Ayr as much as I can.”

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McVicar’s music finally hit the big time in 2021, with his Rufus and Saga Khan’s 1974 US hit Tell Me Something Good spending 13 weeks in the top 40.

„I was working in a cold storage warehouse that was locked down when I was on schedule,” he said.

„It was a crazy experience because I was working there and people on the shop floor were listening to my song.”

Despite moving away, he retained a deep affection for his hometown, naming an EP Heather Park after the Kinkeidston street where he grew up.

DJ’s father was murdered before he was born, but he has a strong bond with his mother and younger brothers – and is driven to succeed.

image source, Good pictures

The genesis of his career was made as a teenager, watching bad documentaries with his friends. He’s now trying to emulate the scene’s ’90s sound, „soulful and raw.”

In April his two biggest passions – dance music and air – finally collided when he hosted the Pavilion Festival in his hometown.

With the help of Streetre, who were responsible for some of Ireland’s legendary club nights in the ’80s and ’90s, they brought 7,500 ravers to Ireland for the inaugural event.

He said it was „biblical” to work with seasoned promoters returning to the Ayrshire coast for the first time in 30 years.

„I didn’t know how to run the festival, I had an idea in my head,” he said.

„I can always picture things like this, but you never know how it’s going to turn out until you have the people there, and I never thought it would happen.”

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McVicar said working with Ricky from Streetre on the festival was a 'biblical experience’

McVicar headlined the two-day event with acts like Skream, Kettama, Karen Dunbar and Optimo Espacio.

„It’s all about celebrating being Scottish and having fun,” said the DJ.

His house rules: „Don’t be tafty”.

„It worked,” he said. “Everyone was really nice and it was a credit to the punters who came to the pavilion.

„I put my faith in my hometown and they have given it back to me tenfold.”

He said he wanted to give a boost to a city whose fortunes had fallen since his departure.

„I want people to see with confidence a different part of Scotland that isn’t usually talked about,” he said.

The event was a huge success – and now the chairman of South Ayrshire Council has backed plans for an annual festival over the next five years.

But McVicar remains tight-lipped about his future plans for the pavilion.

„We’re focused on making the experience as good as we can make it on the site, and we’ll increase the capacity little by little — little by little every year.”

image source, Good pictures

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Calvin Harris has collaborated with McVicar on a track for his new album

Although he can now add „successful festival organiser” to his CV, he doesn’t let it distract him from his music.

He has a new album and collaboration with one of the world’s most famous DJs and record producers.

„I’m writing an album right now and me and Calvin Harris have got a track right now… it’s an exclusive and I haven’t told anyone about it,” she said.

They are both Scottish – Harris is from Dumfries – but McVicar says they are from „different areas”.

“We both play different music, but the respect I have for him for everything he’s done and the fact that he’s Scottish is crazy.

„Then when he looked at me: 'It’s good to finally meet you.’ He’s handsome… what a handsome boy.

„I’ve got an album coming out next year and it’s Evan McVicar, a very happy DJ, and I think that’s going to be a big turning point in people actually taking me a bit more seriously.

„It’s not fun anymore. I want to show the world the music I’ve made.”

Watch the BBC iPlayer documentary about Ewan McViar’s Pavillion Festival, Back Tae Ayr

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