Spotlight - Glittery Bums and Glasgow sun: a blog from Shobhita at Ensemble

Ensemble is about making music to change lives. It empowers young people, many with experience of homelessness and mental health issues, to team up with professional musicians to write and record original music.

The award-winning Glasgow based project is funded by Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative and run by Wheatley Care, part of Wheatley Group, a leading housing, property management and care organisation in Scotland.

A group of people sit on a sofa clapping - one is holding a guitar - they look excitedPictured: Ensemble Workshop, Credit: Beth Chalmers

Ensemble Coordinator Donna Maciocia says ‘When songs and stories are shared in a safe and supportive space like we have managed to create, it is incredibly powerful. People feel heard – often for the first time – and feel that they finally belong somewhere.”

“I don’t think we realised early on just how powerful the sense of belonging and community was going to be, or the profound positive difference Ensemble was going to make to people’s lives.

The project has launched a brand new music video for the fourth single ‘Glittery Bums (feat. The Sistas, Clare McBrien, Jonnie Common)’ from their debut album ‘No Place Like It’.

We invited Ensemble’s Young Music Reporter, Shobhita, a former Ensemble participant and co-writer of the track, to tell us more about how the song came about via an interview with the rest of ‘The Sistas’ and musician Clare McBrien. Over to Shobhita…

Shobhita holds a pair of sunglasses up - glitter is reflected in them

Pictured: Young Music Reporter, Shobhita. Credit: Ensemble.

Origin myths come in a variety of shapes and forms, but you’ll be hard pressed to find one that is as hilarious as that of The Sistas’ song “Glittery Bums”. Once upon a time a bunch of girls got together and said “Let’s write a song about bums!”. As I was one of the aforementioned girls, I remember how that thought spurred on the free flow of bum centred ideas and puns relating to the rear end. Humour and silliness were at the heart of a tribute to the city that had become home for this bubbly bunch of girls. Add in some cool beats and lo and behold, you have the perfect summer banger about friendship, sun and the spirit of Glasgow women.

Is there a story behind the song and if so where did the idea for the song come from?

Fatma: We were on the bus, me and Asma. There was a festival happening at Glasgow Green and we saw a lot of ladies wearing really short shorts with glitter on their bums and we were surprised because we were not used to seeing a lot of that. It was the glitter that caught our eyes.

And then we were sitting in one of Ensemble’s rooms and we were struggling with what to write. So Donna asked us, “What have you seen this week?” and we said, “The glittery bums! We’ve seen them everywhere this week.” We didn’t know then that the song would go out there so much.

What was your first impression when you moved to Glasgow? What things about the city did you find the most interesting and why?

Ell: The first time I came here it felt so different because the sky was so blue. But then after five years, I realised that actually the weather here is so bad and that blue skies are very rare.

Clare: My first impression was how everyone just airs their dirty laundry in Glasgow, whereas in Belfast everyone hides stuff and it’s like best foot forward. It’s a very honest place.

Christianah:  I think what surprised me when I came here was the amount of tea people drank even when it was sunny. In Africa you only drink tea when you’re cold or you’re sick. And the way they eat bread in the UK. Wow! It’s always bread and something, bread and tea, bread and egg, bread and biscuit……”

What do you find inspiring about the women of Glasgow? Why did you decide to make Glittery Bums an ode to the women of the city?

Asma: Their confidence and audacity, they just have that daring kind of habit.

Mawaddah: It’s their kindness for me.

Christianah: It’s just the way they do their thing. They carry themselves with so much attitude like “This is what I want to do and I’m going to do it. You’re not gonna say anything about it.” And I really love their lip fillers and even their lashes. They just come to the salon and they look so good. Their eyebrows are tinted, their lips are shaped, the face is nice and the hair … Oh wow!

Summertime is nearly here. What is your favourite thing about Glasgow in the summer?

Fatma: Since everything will be open, I am really looking forward to seeing the glittery bums, seeing everyone free, looking happy, with bright colours and glitter on their face and bums.

Asma: I agree with her. And it’ll be nice to shed some layers, not wear so many jackets.

Christianah: I think one thing is getting to see people’s tattoos when they’re wearing shorts.

Mawaddah: That’s the thing about summer. It’s like “See my body!”

What parts of Glasgow make you feel most at home?

Christianah: Parkhead! Next question (laughing). I think I chose Parkhead because my people are there. There’s also the diversity I love about Glasgow. It’s not necessarily posh or polished but it just has a rowdiness and as big as it is everybody knows everybody.

Fatma: For me it’s everywhere. Maybe because everywhere I go, I meet lovely people and they are all so nice to me and I feel like I’m home.

Clare: I think it feels like home because it’s also quite dysfunctional as a place, which adds to that honesty and family dynamic.

What was it like to collaborate with a large group of women to write this song? Were there any particularly fun or challenging aspects?

Ell: It was fun and challenging. It was challenging because it’s hard for me to talk to a lot of people. I was so shy at first but it was fun to meet everyone.

Asma: Everyone was creative and everyone had something to contribute, so that was interesting.

Christianah: We were able to write what we felt and turn it into a song which was rare back where we’re coming from and that was like an achievement for me. With this song there was the element of surprise which let us just have fun and it brought out the honesty in people.

Clare: It’s the long two years we were together that let us really trust each other and why Glittery Bums came so quickly.

What are your hopes for the song in the future?

Fatma: I hope that Glittery Bums will be the summer banger.

Christianah: No 1! Top of the billboards.

Clare: My aim is that one day in a couple summers time, we’re just driving down the road and we hear it playing out of someone’s car window and loads of people are enjoying it and dancing.

Steph sits on a sofa and plays violin - she is smilingPictured: Steph McCrystal on Violin, Credit: Beth Chalmers

Ensemble are pleased to announce the exclusive launch of the music video for Glittery Bums by Creative Scotland.

Read more of Shobhita’s blogs: Read Ensemble blogs from Wheatley Care

This article was published on 10 Aug 2021