Raised on soul, swing, rock n roll, puppetry and some Gaidhlig song, Scottish singer-songwriter Ewan Macintyre has spent much of the past year in Canada recording his first solo album, You Probably Look Better Naked Anyway, which will be launched at the first TradFest club session on Thursday 28 April. Here he tells us more about the album and about his thoughts on trad and tradition.
Tell us about your new album.
You Probably Look Better Naked Anyway was recorded in Montreal in 2015, alongside 10 guest musicians from France, England, Ireland, Quebec, Canada, and Scotland. Written while hitchhiking around the east coast of Canada, this music is about identity and self-exploration, smashing bits of trad folk alongside soul jazz and some Zeppelin-esque rock. I’ll have a new album project in 2017, too.
Which other musicians have been your main influences?
John Martyn, Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Martyn Bennett, Jeff Buckley, Southern Tenant Folk Union, Parliament Funkadelic, Marvin Gaye, Annie Lennox, Shooglenifty, Cera Impala and the New Prohibition, Pokey Lafarge, the Silverhearts…
What inspires you when writing music?
My own fears and insecurities, my passions, recurring patterns in life; the little intricacies that reflect the world on a greater scale. Songs, for me, can be the most detailed pieces of art or throwaway one-offs. Writing and sharing is more important than filtering for quality. Quality is subjective.
Which bands/artists from the contemporary Trad scene, in Scotland or elsewhere, do you rate most?
Sheesham and Lotus & ‘Son, Gillespie and Wolfe, Halton Quartet, Le Vente de Nord…
Have you played TradFest before? Are there any other acts on the programme you’d recommend seeing?
Go see Sheesham and Lotus & ‘Son!
What does Tradition mean to you?
Tradition is a pattern that is rooted in culture. As culture changes and evolves so does tradition. When I travel around the world and want to connect with someone on a deep level without language, I use music and sometimes dance, teaching dances and songs that I learned growing up or as an adult. I embody my own traditions and as I mature they change.
Burns Night is a brilliant example of how people from different cultures can relate to a Scottish tradition: encourage Scots poetry, but let the people you’re with take that tradition and make it their own by singing songs and poems that mean something to them. We make new traditions everyday often without realising.
Ewan Macintyre launches his album at TradFest Club at the Pleasance on Thursday 28 April. Buy tickets.