Dead Stations are out of use platforms on a remote train line winding through the forested mountains. An unscheduled stop leads a passenger to leave the train and continue on foot, straying from the path.
At 5pm Monday 27th June internet TV channel TRADtv will be streaming a live programme about our latest show, The Dead Stations.
The Dead Stations is an inventive cross-arts project by writer/producer Charlotte Hathaway and composer/performer Mike Vass, described by Alan Morrison in The National as “…one of the most ambitious projects to emerge in Scotland this year so far”.
The piece aims to tell a story by interweaving audio drama and music album, with animated visuals to focus the eye.
It began life as a recording project, which came about as a result of the 2013 Remembered/Imagined project which commissioned pairs of composers and writers to create a collaboration of words and music inspired by the School of Scottish Studies Sound Archives. The pieces were then performed by Mr McFall’s Chamber, an actor and a singer. It was the first time Charlotte and Mike had worked together creatively and they wanted to develop this concept to create a longer, more ambitious and more immersive piece.
“…a satisfyingly unsettling tale, perhaps made more so by the serenely beautiful music” **** TVBomb
Since its initial conception the project has grown arms and legs, involving animators (Nica Harrison and Atikah Zailani) and sound designers (Lewis Jones and Yoann Mylonakis) from Edinburgh College of Art. It attracted brilliant contributing talent from the likes of Ishbel McFarlane and Tommy Herbert (voice actors), Mairi Campbell and Yoann Mylonakis (musicians) and guestsKathleen MacInnes, Ian Watt, Euan Burton and Scott Mackay. A live tour developed, climaxing at the Queens Hall in Edinburgh, and the full animated film was showcased at Edinburgh’s Hidden Door Festival at the start of June 2016. The two songs for the project will be released as singles, along with a specially commissioned animated music video by Gavin Robinson for ‘Eyes Fixed’.
“Charlotte Hathaway has conceived a performance that compels on a number of different fronts, each one of them mesmerising”Folk Radio UK
The show on TRADtv will feature a segment of the main animated piece, an interview with Charlotte and Mike, and performance by Mike Vass and Mairi Campbell. The live audience will be invited to send in any questions they might have for the team. You can watch the show and get in contact with the station here. The recording is available as a CD (featuring the artwork by the project’s animators) released by Unroofed Records.
It’s a story designed to be listened to: a mystery about loneliness and the mind, inspired by a train ride through Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest and the tale of Little Red Riding Hood.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The whole thing was made possible with the generous support of Creative Scotland, Arts Trust Scotland and Edinburgh College of Art.
Hidden Door is a volunteer-run multi-arts festival dedicated to opening up disused spaces in Edinburgh, making them available to artists and emerging creative talent for new ideas and groundbreaking projects.
This year, from 27th May- 4th June 2016 Hidden Door will return to the amazing disused street lighting depot behind King’s Stables Road in Edinburgh for an event called ‘Hidden Door Electric City’. It will transform it, for one last time, into an area where the public can explore and discover live music venues, theatre spaces, bars, a cinema, and a multitude of art exhibition, installation spaces and some of Scotland’s best emerging creative talent.
Our show will feature the full Dead Stations album (we performed a stripped-down version for the live shows) with accompanying animated visuals from Nica Harrison and Atikah Zailani. There’ll also be a guest appearance of the music video animated by Gavin C Robinson.
Our piece is being shown in the cinema space at King’s Stables Road on the evening of Monday 30th May, exact time to be confirmed. See the website for further details.
Date: 30th May
Time: tbc (evening)
Venue: Kings Stables Road, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Tickets: £10 (£8) – ticket gives you access to all evening events for the day
Whilst making The Dead Stations, we’ve been lucky to work with two talented young animators, Nica Harrison and Atikah Zailani. They’ve made visuals to go with the live show, and a trailer. Take a look!
“The whole forest has this feeling of going on forever. And if you lose track of the train line then you’re lost…”
A story told through live music, recorded actors and projected animation. Mike Vass and Mairi Campbell come together to create a haunting landscape of music and song.
Dead Stations are out of use platforms on a remote train line through the forested mountains.
The piece came about as a result of the 2013 Remembered/Imagined project which commissioned pairs of composers and writers to create a collaboration of words and music inspired by the School of Scottish Studies Sound Archives; and performed by Mr McFall’s Chamber, an actor and a singer.
It was the first time Charlotte and Mike had worked together creatively and they wanted to develop this concept to create a longer, more ambitious and more immersive piece.
The Dead Stations brings together music, sound design and recorded voice actors to build the atmosphere, with animators creating accompanying images.
It’s a story designed to be listened to: a mystery about loneliness and the mind, inspired by a train ride through Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest and abstract ideas about Little Red Riding Hood.
Written and conceived by Charlotte Hathaway, music and lyrics by Mike Vass.
Collaborating with: Nica Harrison and Atikah Zailani (animation); and Lewis Jones of Red Eye Sound Design and Yoann Mylonakis (sound design)
Featuring performances by:
Mairi Campbell (vocals and viola)
Mike Vass (tenor guitar and violin)
Yoann Mylonakis (piano)
Ishbel McFarlane (voice actor)
Tommy Herbert (voice actor)
Ian Watt (voice actor)
Kathleen MacInnes (voice actor)
Poster design by Lizzy Doe and additional material from Iain Hutchison, Euan Burton and Scott Mackay.
Supported by Creative Scotland, Arts Trust Scotland and Edinburgh College of Art
For more information contact email@example.com
The 10-track recording, recently nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year Award, featured samples of “found sound” recorded on the trip (from flapping flags to Tobermory clock chime) and live instruments captured later in the studio. Highly original and genre-hopping across folk, classical and electronic styles, it is a suite of music that ebbs and flows, variously subtle and symphonic.
At the Fringe shows Mike will be joined by some of Scotland’s foremost traditional musicians who also featured on the album. While Mike plays tenor guitar and masterminds the sampling, Jennifer Port plays oboe and clarsach (Celtic harp), Hamish Napier is on piano and flute, Euan Burton plays double bass and Innes Watson plays guitar. Adding to the filmic sound is The Cairn String Quartet of Katie Rush and Catherine Robertson on violin, Annemarie McGahon on viola and Susan Applebe on cello.
The performance will integrate traditional, classical and electronic elements alongside film, photography and spoken extracts from Gunn’s work – vividly evoking the moods of the sea, weather and landscape in one memorable musical-maritime experience.
We’re over the moon that our first release, Mike Vass’s beautiful album ‘In the Wake of Neil Gunn’ has made the longlist for the SAY Award. He’s up there along with fellow trad representatives Treacherous Orchestra as well as heavyweights like Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai, Paolo Nutini and The Phantom Band.
“The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award is a prestigious and exciting arts prize developed by the Scottish Music Industry Association to celebrate, promote and reward the most outstanding albums released by Scottish artists between (for this year only) January 2014 and March 2015. Inaugurated in partnership with Creative Scotland, The SAY Award promotes a longlist of twenty albums which, in turn, is reduced to a shortlist of ten in advance of the award ceremony when the winner is announced.
With a first prize of £20,000, nine runners-up prizes of £1,000 and a Graduate Design Commission valued at £2,500, The SAY Award is a hugely ambitious arts prize that reflects the cultural importance of music in Scotland, celebrates its links with art and design and rewards the extraordinary wealth of artistic talent we seem to effortlessly produce on an annual basis.
The SAY Award this year, has been an SMIA production in partnership with Creative Scotland and PPL. Our media partners are The List and The Skinny.” – SAY Award website
Over the next few weeks all of the albums will be streamed live (Mike’s on 11th May) and listeners will be able to nominate their favourite. Find out more about the process here. We love the SAY Award because it brings to a fore a great variety of new music we might not normally pick up. This year’s list is fabulous and we can’t wait to delight our ears with all these albums over the next little while.
Take a look at Mike’s nomination page here and find out more about the In the Wake of Neil Gunn journey here.
“It was those two voices working in tandem … that served notice that they already have something special going on… a quality of vocal sound that made it exciting just to be in the same room.” **** Rob Adams, The Herald.
“inspired collaboration” **** Jim Gilchrist, The Scotsman.
You can get tickets here. In the meantime, have a listen to a preview:
Unroofed are working with Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin and Jan Bee Brown on a cross-arts project called ‘Coming Home’. Mike has been commissioned to create a sequence of new music to be performed by young musicians, which will get its first outing at the Queens Hall, Edinburgh on Saturday 15th November. Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin’s Big Band will support Kathleen MacInnes and Rachel Newton during the show. Find out more.
Coming Home- ‘a’ tighinn dhachaigh.’ Coming Home is a cross arts platform project exploring our rich and diverse culture and the importance of community in Scotland today. The project is inspired by the importance of a sense of belonging and by the powerful feelings associated with a sense of place. In 2013 photographs of abandoned croft houses in the Highlands and Islands, by Ian Paterson and John Maher, were shown in the exhibition ‘Leaving Home’ in Stornoway. These photographs acted as a springboard for a creative collaboration between Jan Bee Brown, lead artist at The Thrive Archive and composer Mike Vass. Mike’s composition has been funded by Enterprise Music Scotland and enables the young musicians of Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin Big Band to interact on both an emotional and creative level and work with a variety of creative artists. We hope this pilot project will result in future collaborations with diverse community groups and enable performances throughout 2015 interweaving this new composition with stories and images.
This is the world premier of work in progress, we are perhaps only half way through our collaborative journey so join us to see the result at The Thrive Archive on Facebook.
We are delighted to announce the first official release from Unroofed Records, Mike Vass – In the Wake of Neil Gunn. The journey started over a year ago now, with Mike taken ill in hospital with Lyme Disease leading to the conception of In the Wake of Neil Gunn and Unroofed Records itself.
Huge thanks to everyone who was part of it, including Creative Scotland, Enterprise Music Scotland, House of Lochar and Calmac Ferries for contributing sponsorship. Also the fabulous designer Lizzy Doe who has made a lot of gorgeous artwork to go with the project, including the sleeve itself.
We’re still setting up our shop system but the album can be bought through the project website and on iTunes.
We have already begun our next album project which is a cross-arts concept album featuring drama, music, song, and animation in collaboration with Edinburgh College of Art. Watch this space for more on The Dead Stations.
Here is a music video made by Salmon Films for the track ‘Heave and Roll’, enjoy!
It is ‘A journey of recovery and discovery’ – the exciting culmination of an ambitious project which has seen composer and multi-instrumentalist Mike Vass voyage round Scotland’s coastal communities, sailing, composing, and revisiting the 1937 journey of writer Neil Gunn.
The 10-track recording features samples of “found sound” recorded on the trip (from flapping flags to a diesel inboard) and live instruments captured later in the studio. Mike plays tenor guitar, fiddle, mandolin, dulcitone, melodica and percussion. Joining him on the album are some of Scotland’s foremost traditional musicians – Iain Hutchison on piano (who also co-produced the release with Vass); Jennifer Port on oboe and clarsach (Celtic harp); Hamish Napier on flute and whistle and Euan Burton on electric and double bass. Adding to the filmic sound is The Cairn String Quartet ofKatie Rush and Catherine Robertson on violin, Annemarie McGahon on viola and Susan Applebe on cello.
Highly original, it is a suite of music that ebbs and flows, variously subtle and symphonic, seemingly having arrived fully formed with edge, atmosphere, nuances and even boat creaks that makes you feel you are taking the voyage too!
Listen to a preview track here: [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/161796961″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Last summer Mike frightened all of his friends and family by spending several weeks comatose in hospital, struck down by a very rare form of Lyme’s Disease which caused meningitis and encephalitis. Whilst he was recovering in his hospital bed he was given a copy of Neil Gunn’s non-fiction account ‘Off in a Boat’ to read. Mike has a lifelong love of sailing and was so inspired by this book that he decided that once he was well again he would recreate Gunn’s original trip to inspire his own composing. So we spent the month of May sailing this epic voyage. And as project manager, I thought I should at least get to come too (even though I’ve hardly done any sailing in my life and am definitely prone to seasickness).
The route was planned around the locations visited by Gunn as described in his book: Duntulm, Skye; Portnalong, Skye; Eigg; Arisaig; Tobermory; Bunessan; Iona; Oban; Kentallen; Fort William; and finally travelling up the Caledonian Canal to Inverness and eventually reaching Nairn for a homecoming celebration. The aim was for Mike to perform a series of concerts in the various ports, absorb the inspiring beauty of the west coast, and come home to write a new album to be toured in October. We’ve had a huge amount of interest and positive feedback about the project so far and support from Enterprise Music Scotland, Creative Scotland, Calmac Ferries and House of Lochar who originally published the book.
Concert 1: The Red Roof Cafe, Skye
Our first stop was Skye, where NG bought his boat, The Thistle. One of the joys of this trip is that different guest musicians are joining Mike for each concert, so we arrived at Portree with harpist Jennifer Port and her husband Graeme. The guest musicians meant that each local concert was a one-off, flavoured by the place and the people performing with him. Mike spent a few weeks in the School of Scottish Studies Archives in preparation for the performances, looking for music local to each area he was to visit, transcribing them and arranging them to give something unique to each performance. You can read about that here. The Skye visit was characterised by transport logistics – it’s not simple to get about Skye if you don’t have a car, and changing weather conditions meant we had to have contingency plans in place and public transport identified. Fortunately a few very kind people were able to give lifts and be generally brilliant. Us inexperienced sailors were also all severely seasick on the first voyage and I honestly thought I wouldn’t make the month if things were going to be like that. Luckily things got better.
Concerts 2&3: Eigg and Arisaig
Guitarist/flautist Sean Gray and piper Angus Binnie met us in Eigg for concert number two. We were also joined for the first time by a couple of film-makers who are making a documentary about the trip. We’d had some lovely sailing by that point and had probably anticipated some kind of sleepy island watching the ferry come in and out and diligently shutting down for the Sabbath. Suffice to say Eigg folk are pretty wild, and anyone who has the privilege of being a guest on that island is in for an exciting time of it. By this time we were 7 of us (Mike had quite the entourage and the boat itself was skippered by his dad David) and it felt pretty crowded on the short crossing from Eigg to Arisaig. The numbers swelled again as Tia Files and Eilidh Shaw also joined the performance team for a mega line-up for the lucky Astley Hall audience that evening.
Concert 4: Iona
We were selling copies of Off in a Boat and had sold out of books in Arisaig. Fortunately the publishers had diligently sent the last of their stock to the Iona Post Office for us, and got some reprinted in time for the next gig in Duror (the closest hall to Kentallen). It’s amazing how taken people are by the book, actually. It’s selling much better than any of the CDs!
Each concert has been coloured by something different. Eigg and Arisaig will always remain in my memory beautiful sunny places full of mad and welcoming people. Mull and Iona are mysterious lands picked out in drizzle, mist, and gales. Guitarist/fiddler Innes Watson joined us in Tobermory for the trip round to Iona. He didn’t get the smoothest of sailing experiences but he did get to play in the gorgeous acoustics of Iona Abbey. Iona was such a different experience from the likes of Eigg, but the hospitality was excellent and the audiences enthusiastic. Read more about it here.
5th Concert: Kentallen & Duror
Halfway through our stay in Oban, Mike delivered a workshop for Fèis Latharna and their Ceilidh Trail musicians. The Ceilidh Trail is a brilliant initiative which takes place all over Scotland. Young musicians are given a summer job performing as a band around the local area, earning a fee and learning about what it’s like to be a touring musician. These guys are still working up their sets, but we invited them to perform a support slot at the next concert which would give them some performance experience before the big tour. It was a great experience for everyone and they were brilliant.
We decided to stay in Oban that day rather than sail to Kentallen, and got lifts to the concert instead. Mike was joined by Scots singer Fiona Hunter and whistle player/pianist Hamish Napier. The audience at Kentallen and Duror was brilliant. We had arranged the concert ourselves via a hall hire, which is always a risk and we honestly didn’t know if anyone was going to turn up. Luckily we had an enthusiastic hall committee on our side and they worked hard to invite people. We were told ‘nobody’s heard of Mike Vass but they love the concept’. Connie, our main contact, told me that they never get touring acts of that standard coming to play at the hall so it was a great novelty. They seemed to really enjoy themselves and were keen for a return visit. Hopefully we can make that happen!
Hamish joined the crew at Oban and we set out up Loch Linnhe towards the Caledonian Canal. He immediately instated Songs in the Cockpit (coming ready prepared with folders full of lyric sheets – suspiciously organised for a musician) and even wrote a couple of tunes during the voyage. You can hear his tune for the boat, Windsong, towards the end of this video.
The flavour of the voyage changed drastically when we hit Corpach. Suddenly we had moved away from salt water and were into the realms of locks, motoring, and not being able to use the sea toilet (fine for the guys, not so fine for one needing toilet paper). We made it up into the canal, paid our fees (offset by a bit of sponsorship from Scottish Canals – thanks guys!) and moored overnight, waiting for locking up at 8.30 the next morning when we would be taken through Neptune’s Staircase. I celebrated shore power by slow-cooking a bolognese on the electric hob. The boys not so pleased about the long wait for dinner.
It took us 3 1/2 hours to get up the series of locks from Corpach that makes up Neptune’s Staircase. I got to become very familiar with the different types of slime on the lock walls, and Hamish and Mike were particularly adept at standingaroundholdingropes. They made some friends along the way, a French couple heading to Norway with further plans to head across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. They keep a cartoon blog about it here. The canal itself was nothing like my expectations. Stunning mountains (Ben Nevis and friends) at the start, then huge lochs (Lochy and Ness) and tree-lined stretches that felt more like rivers than canal.
6th Concert: Coming home
The boat lives in Nairn where Mike is from, so after an overnight stay in the Seaport Marina in Inverness, we completed our last set of locks and found ourselves back on salt water in the Moray Firth. I’d forgotten what sailing was like after just a few days of peaceful motoring through the canal! We saw our first dolphin too. It played at the bow for a bit before disappearing as we headed under the Kessock Bridge. The wind wasn’t with us that day and we mostly motored, but as we approached Nairn the sun decided to come out and the wind blew in the right direction to allow us to do the last little bit under sail.
It was odd to be back on dry land right enough. We had a few days to recover and then the final homecoming concert at Nairn Sailing Club. This was a real community affair with members of the Nairn Fèis (who Mike recently wrote a 10th anniversary tune for) and the Sailing Club who have known him since he was a boy. He was joined on stage by the last of his guest musicians – none other but the Skipper himself David Vass. It was a great ending to an epic voyage.
Now Mike is back in Glasgow about to start writing the album that will be based on the voyage. Take a look at the blog and follow for updates about the album and tour www.inthewakeofneilgunn.com.
Mike Vass has launched his new website, www.inthewakeofneilgunn.com, with gorgeous artwork from Lizzy Doe. He’ll be spending the month of May sailing round the West Coast of Scotland recreating the voyage made in 1937 by writer Neil Gunn. Along the way he’ll be visiting some of the communities Gunn originally wrote about, meeting and performing for the people who live there now and exchanging stories about the changes in the region. Read more about the project here.
As he goes he and the team (skipper David Vass, guest musicians including Jennifer Port, Hamish Napier and Innes Watson, and project manager Charlotte Hathaway) will be writing blogs about the journey. Follow the blog to catch regular snippets of music, video and news from the trip. The crew will also be joined by film makers from Salmon Films who are making a documentary about the project. Follow the blog here to be kept up to date.
This project wouldn’t be possible without the generous help of Creative Scotland, Enterprise Music Scotland, House of Lochar publishers, and Calmac Ferries.
Unroofed is delighted to announce a very special collaboration between two of Scotland’s most gorgeous voices: Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes and Scots singer Fiona Hunter. They will explore the two linguistic traditions, sharing songs and finding common ground. It’s part of a pilot project supported by Creative Scotland’s Quality Arts Production Fund.
TradFest Edinburgh · Dùn Èideann 2014 Tuesday 29th April 7.30pm Scottish Storytelling Centre
Presenting seven of Scotland’s creative artists as you’ve never seen them before…
Four new works are interwoven with beautiful traditional repertoire and poetry, creating a performance that captures the riches of our cultural history through music and words with live instrumental, vocal and electronic sound.
The Summerhall gig also features a world premiere performance by the Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin’ of a new work by Ailie Robertson.
Remembered/Imagined is produced by Amble Skuse in partnership with Mr McFall’s Chamber, The University of Edinburgh School of Scottish Studies and Hands Up For Trad’s Distil. It is supported by Creative Scotland, The Robertson Trust, PRSF Women Make Music, Highland Council, National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music, An Lochan and Summerhall.
Follow the artists as they blog about the creative process by clicking here Read their full biographies by clicking here
Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin’s Archive Project (in partnership with the School of Scottish Studies Archives and supported by Creative Scotland) has been shortlisted for the Voluntary Arts Epic Award. This is exciting for us as it is the first project the both of us (Mike and Charlotte) worked on together (Charlotte as co-ordinator and Mike as musical director) and the album that was produced is the last release on Unroofed’s predecessor, Rusty Squash Horn Records.
The School of Scottish Studies, established in 1951 and featured in a recent BBC documentary, houses a treasure trove of recordings including traditional songs, music, and stories. It’s a fantastic resource and an important asset to Scottish heritage. EYG wanted to inspire new people to use the Archives and break down barriers young people and the wider community might have with visiting or using them.
The aim of the Archive Project was to encourage young people to get a meaningful understanding of the content of the Archives and the context of the recordings, and then creatively respond. We picked 7 young traditional musicians aged 16-23 who explored the recordings and photographs in order to build material for their first professional album. We encouraged them to look beyond looking at the archives as a simple source for repertoire, but to find new creative angles to developing their own material.
The young musicians worked with mentors Alasdair Roberts, Mike Vass and Matheu Watson, as well recording with David Gray at the Sound Cafe. They also wrote and arranged a track for EYG’s Big Band to perform, worked with a design student from Napier University to put together the cover (featuring fabulous images from the photographic archives and original artwork from Conrad Molleson), and some of the music was then taken on and re-arranged to be performed by the Tinderbox Orchestra.
What resulted was an excellent album full of new music: songs inspired by anecdotes and practices described in interviews, instrumental music inspired by photographs and recollections, new melodies for collected poetry, found voices, and fresh arrangements of traditional material. There was even a music video.
You can find out more about the project here, buy the album here (all proceeds go to support Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin, a youth music charity specialising in traditional music) and vote for the project here.
Monday 2nd Dec – The Outhouse – Edinburgh 7.30pm
Thursday 12th Dec – The Acoustic Music Club – Kirkcaldy – 7.30pm
Friday 13th Dec – The Ceilidh Place – Ullapool 9pm
Saturday 14th Dec – The Sailing Club – Nairn – 7.30pm
Wednesday 18th Dec- Folklub – Glasgow – 8.00pm
There will also be an online broadcast on 20th December through Concert Window.
Award winning Composer Mike Vass takes his sounds of the Scottish winter on tour throughout Scotland in December 2013. DecemberWell was released in 2012 to rave reviews and Mike subsequently received the prestigious ‘Composer of the Year’ award at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards.
DecemberWell was conceived during one sleepless night in October 2011, and culminated in the recording of Mike’s most ambitious project to date. He set out to write and record a full length album in one month, inspired by the Scottish Winter.
Mike’s trio will feature previous Composer of the Year Award winner Mairearad Green, who will showcase some material from her forthcoming ‘Maggie West’s’ EP in the first half of each concert.
Mike’s reputation as a composer has been growing steadily in 2013. He wrote and performed the soundtrack for Gavin Robinson’s ‘Hart’s Desire’ animation which recently received a Scottish Bafta, and ‘Cavers of Kirkcudbright’ (which won the inaugural Niel Gow composition award) has recently been recorded by artists from Scotland, Ireland, France and the USA.
‘a master of the contemporary Scottish music scene’ -Alasdair Maclean, Scots Magazine
‘Vass has an inimitable and distinctive sound that rings clear throughout Decemberwell’ -Adrian Holden, Artree
‘Decemberwell’ is an instrumental meander through various moods, all themed around the month of December; evoking the Caledonia frost and hail, the dark short freezing evenings, the Christmas lights and the warm inviting indoors.’ -Ian Fildes, AmericanaUK
‘exceptional control, enchanting melodies and exemplary arrangements.’ -Alex Monaghan, The Living Tradition
We are over the moon that Gavin Robinson’s animation Hart’s Desire (which Mike wrote and performed the score for) has won a Scottish Bafta for Best Animation. Congratulations Gavin, and congratulations Mike! Here’s Gavin’s reaction:
“Winning the BAFTA Scotland Award for animation is all rather surreal, and I’m not sure that it has quite sunk in yet. Since this was my degree film from Edinburgh College of Art, all that I was really hoping from it was that I would graduate! So to have been honoured with this award is just fantastic.
I have to congratulate my fellow nominees Claire Lamond and Ross Hogg and thank them for making the awards ceremony extra entertaining! I’m proud to be part of such an exciting group of short animation filmmakers in Scotland right now.
And of course the film wouldn’t be what it is without the fantastic job that Mike has done with the soundtrack, so a huge thank you to him! I hope that we may continue to collaborate in the years to come.”
Andrew Greig has been called ‘Scotland’s Renaissance writer ‘ by journalist Mariella Frostrop and has been at the forefront of Scottish poetry and literature since the mid- seventies. He is the author of six acclaimed books of poetry, two Himalayan mountaineering expedition books, and several novels including That Summer, When They Lay Bare, InAnother Light (Scottish Book of the Year) The Return of John Macnab and Romanno Bridge. His last non-fiction book At The Loch of The Green Corrie is already seen as a contemporary classic.
His recent collection Found at Sea was adapted for the stage by David Greig and performed to sell out audiences at The Traverse Theatre in Feb 2013. His latest novel Fair Helen published by Quercus Books is set in the Scotland-England Borderlands in the 1590’s. Greig’s vital prose renders the Border Ballad Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea as a breathless romance, as stirring adventure, and a memento mori. Gutsy atmospheric and wry as ever, he shines a candle light on the dark days of a lawless land, land and the real woman behind the legend often called the Scottish Romeo and Juliet.
‘What sets Fair Helenabove the usual run of historical novels, aside from Greig’s extraordinarily deft use of language, is its moral depth, its acute sense of the intricacies of the Border feuds and of the Byzantine intrigues of King James’s VI inner circle and, most poignantly, the helplessness and determination of those characters who would live decent lives, if only “feckfu’ gentry” would allow it…’ The Guardian
The first half of the evening will consist of a selection of readings from Andrew’s published works including Fair Helen with musical interludes from the Fiona Hunter Band.
The second half will feature an hour set from Fiona Hunter with her band Mike Vass, Gillian Frame, Innes Watson and Euan Burton who will be celebrating the release of Fiona’s debut solo album.
After nearly a decade as vocalist and cellist of award-winning folk band Malinky, Fiona Hunter is stepping out on her own and gaining a deserved reputation as one of the finest young singers on the Scottish folk music scene today, with her fresh interpretations of songs of her native Glasgow and of the Scottish Travellers. In pursuit of the latter she has worked with members of the Fetterangus Stewart family, the last tradition-bearers of this celebrated folk song dynasty. Her academic qualifications in the field are of the first order – a BA in Scottish Music from the Royal Scottish Academy and studies at the Smithsonian Institute in the USA – but it’s her passion and natural ability to inhabit her material that sets her apart.
“Hunter’s strengths lie in a vocal tone that she varies to suit the mood of the song while always sounding like the real deal and her ability to project a genuine empathy with the characters she’s singing about.” Rob Adams
“It’s a beguiling tapestry of sound which leaves you wanting more.” Matthew Linley
Nominated for Scots Singer of the Year in the 2013 Traditional Music Awards and participant at the 2013 Womex Festival
We’re very pleased to announce that Fiona Hunter has been nominated for Scots Singer of the Year at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards 2013. They take place in Aberdeen on the 7th December at the Aberdeen Music Hall. The aim of the awards is to highlight Scotland’s wonderful traditional music in all its forms. You can take part by voting here.
We received an exciting bit of news this week. Earlier this year Mike composed the soundtrack for a short animation by Gavin Robinson. It ended up being accepted into the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and has now been nominated for a Scottish Bafta! You can listen to the full OST here.
WOMEX is an international World Music Expo and this year was held in Cardiff from the 23rd to the 27th of October. ‘Horizons at WOMEX‘ was a special collaboration between Creative Scotland and Arts Councils in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland to showcase some UK acts at WOMEX. The ‘Horizons’ collaboration will continue into next year with opportunities for musical collaboration and touring.
Earlier in the year I sent in four unmixed tracks from Fiona Hunter’s forthcoming debut solo album to ‘Horizons at WOMEX’. I had the great privilege of producing Fiona’s record and I play tenor guitar and fiddle in her band, alongside Gillian Frame (fiddle), Euan Burton (Double Bass) and Innes Watson (Guitar and Fiddle).
9 acts were selected from over 900 applicants to the Horizons stage, and we were absolutely delighted when Fiona was offered a slot. I believe this is the first time Scots song has been represented at such a high profile World Music event, and am thrilled that our traditional music is gaining more widespread recognition.
After much preparation, we took the whole team (5 piece band plus Charlotte, Fiona’s agent) to WOMEX, and so began an extremely busy long weekend. None of Team Fiona Hunter had been to anything like WOMEX before and we were lucky to have support and guidance from the Creative Scotland team and from Lisa Whytock. Lisa is an experienced ‘Womexican’ and was down with Active Events representing Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson who were also showcasing on the Horizons stage.
Our showcase was on the Thursday night of WOMEX at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. We took to the stage at 10.30pm and I was surprised by the huge number of people in attendance. I’d guesstimate four or five hundred coming and going, and a large proportion of those were WOMEX delegates – representatives from international festivals, agencies, arts councils and record companies. It was quite overwhelming, but also hugely exciting.
We were delighted at the positive response to Fiona’s showcase. Apart from appreciation for the songs, several delegates mentioned Fiona’s stage presence and her apparent ease at such a high pressure event. We even had several congratulatory comments on our dress sense (see photo!)
The following day we had several meetings with festival promoters and agents. As well as offers of work, many people were keen to candidly discuss how to build on the success of our showcase and how to keep the buzz going long after WOMEX.
One of the buzzwords (or buzz-phrases) of the weekend was ‘export ready’. Regardless of the occasion, be it WOMEX or an intimate Folk Club, I believe that our music should be ‘export ready’. What does this mean? It is an opaque phrase and for many at WOMEX means the band should be ready to zip off on an international tour at the drop of a hat. For Fiona and her band, it means the quality of the music should shine through and have the ability to captivate any audience. It means presenting the songs in an uncluttered way. The arrangements support the songs and hopefully augment the narrative, or the emotion conveyed in the words, ebbing and flowing with them. I think the simplicity of the music suits the (often) heavy subject matter of the songs. We also believe in being thoroughly well rehearsed and the team worked very hard in the run up to the showcase.
Next year I am launching a new live arts production and record company in partnership with Charlotte Murray: ‘Unroofed Records‘. Charlotte and I had a meeting at the Trade Fair with a representative from a New York record company who shared his thoughts on the changing music business and how to to the make the best of it as an emerging company. I think the gist was; work hard and make great art.
On the last night of WOMEX Team Fiona Hunter, our work done, settled down to two fantastic showcase concerts on the Horizons stage. First up were We Banjo 3 from Ireland, a whirlwind of traditional Irish and Scottish tunes on the tenor banjo and some beautifully sung Americana songs. A real pleasure from start to finish, As well as virtuosic playing, their performance was a masterclass in stagecraft. Next up were 9Bach, a seven piece band from Wales singing exclusively in the Welsh language. Beautifully crafted arrangements supported beautiful singing. The music had such mesmerising space in it that you could have heard a pin drop at times. Fiona and I both found that concert hugely inspiring, both musically and with ideas for the oft-forgotten things like stage presentation. Fiona commented ‘What a stunning night of music, it just makes me more determined to keep improving musically and I’m keen to experiment with new sounds and see where it takes us.’
We definitely hope to be back at Womex at some point in the future!
‘After nearly a decade as vocalist and cellist of award-winning folk band Malinky, Fiona Hunter is stepping out in front of her own band of accomplished players and gaining a deserved reputation as one of the finest young singers on the Scottish folk music scene today, with her fresh interpretations of songs of her native Glasgow and of the Scottish Travellers. In pursuit of the latter she has worked with members of the Fetterangus Stewart family, the last tradition-bearers of this celebrated folk song dynasty. Her academic qualifications in the field are of the first order – a BA in Scottish Music from the Royal Scottish Academy and studies at the Smithsonian Institute in the USA – but it’s her passion and natural ability to inhabit her material that sets her apart. Hear for yourself.’
We are delighted that Fiona and the band have been selected to perform at WOMEX in Cardiff this month. WOMEX is a showcase of the best world music acts, attracting music professionals from across the globe. Fiona will be playing on WOMEX’s Horizons Stage on Thursday 24th October (10.30pm, Weston Studio). The Horizons stage is dedicated to showcasing the best local talent.