Malin Lewis from Ardnamurchan/Skye is a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2022. The finals will be held at Celtic Connections Festival on 6th February 2022 at 5pm. Buy a ticket here or listen live on BBC Radio Scotland.
We asked Malin the following questions:
How did you get involved in traditional music?
Whether it was Hogmanay, Ceilidhs, weddings or just in the house listening to CDs I always seemed to be surrounded by Folk music.
I started learning the bagpipes in school and was soon drawn to the allure of sessions and group playing. I fell quickly in love with the folk scene in Skye and began writing music from the moment I had a vague grasp of the instrument
Why did you enter BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award?
Mostly for the chance to perform. I always feel it is a privilege to have my music listened to. I also enjoy the intensity of practicing something to perfection. I did lots of piping competitions when I was younger and although I didn’t always love them, I enjoyed the process of preparing and valued the motivation and challenge that it provided.
Who has been the biggest inspiration/influence on your music-making and why?
To name one I would say Martyn Bennett. Grit was one of those albums that lived in the family car and it was on at times all through my life. I love Martyn’s ability to transcend genre and expectations.
Increasingly I am drawn to jazz and improvised music. There is a lot of amazing stuff from Finland that is inspiring me at the moment.
Although my grandad was a violinist and helped me take up the fiddle unfortunately I didn’t get to spend as much time with him doing this as I would have liked. When I was younger I felt I was missing out by not being from a ‘musical family’ but now I have come to see it as a blessing. I got to be exactly the musician I wanted to be. I always got to choose my own path and got to make the music that interested me without any expectations.
Are there any moments in your career so far that you particularly cherish and why?
Doing my ERASMUS at the Sibelius Academy.
Quite simply, I learnt how to listen in Helsinki. How to listen deeply and hear the whole picture. I spent a lot of time improvising both in and out of the Academy and this has shaped my music a lot going forward.
At the end of 2021 I got to work as Musical Director on the Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart in the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre. I wrote lots of the music for the play and got to improvise with people from many different creative genres. This was only possible due to what I learnt in Finland.
Last summer I also got to do an whole gig of improvised music with Jason Singh and some house plants.
Jason turns the electrical signals generated by the plants into music and then these signals can be played with to have musical conversations.
What are your plans and aspirations for the future?
I plan to record my own album soon! Once I finish my degree I have so many projects and ideas that I hope will blossom.
Particularly I would like to spend more time working with creatives of different genres, mediums and cultures.
In music I crave those moments of genuine spontaneous connection. I would like to find myself in all situations that foster these connections between performers as well as connections with the audience.
When you are not playing music what else do you enjoy doing?
I make my own pipes and intend to spend more time experimenting with this and inventing new pipes, and adapting the instrument to create unusual and unique sounds.
I also enjoy gardening lots and although I don’t have a garden in my flat, I do have lots of house plants that seem to require a lot of attention!
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