Congratulations to Balter who have been nominated in Trad Video of the Year sponsored by Threads of Sound in the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2020. Vote here! Vote now!
We asked Anna Hughes of Balter the following questions.
Tell us about yourself
We are a four piece band comprised of accordion (Heather Ferrier), fiddle, (Anna Hughes and Imogen Bose-Ward) and mandolin (Janice Burns). We have been playing together for 4 years, during which time we have really developed and changed our sound. We have a somewhat unconventional approach to arrangement, developing lots of our sets from initially improvised melodies and arranging them with intricate harmony and texture. We like to develop different forms used in traditional music by creating through composed sets and songs, and much of our practice, from writing through to performing, is based on listening and responding. We like to explore unexpected corners of our music, challenging harmony and rhythm to create music which is uniquely ours in both style and form.
Why are you involved in Scottish music?
With Scottish music being a big part of all of our lives, we have found that the music we make is so informed and inspired by our love of it. Ultimately, our shared love of Scottish music has led us to become full time musicians, a career path that can be uncertain and fickle, and the only way that you can maintain the lifestyle of being a freelance musician is by really loving the music that you make and are surrounded by. Amongst the noise that this year has brought, one of the most grounding and mindful things you can do is to flick through a collection or listen to a favourite old album and teach yourself a new tune.
Any particular career highlights?
A big highlight for us was being invited to play Rauland Internasjonal Vinterfestival. We spent a few days in Janice’s little cabin in the remote Norwegian countryside playing music, chatting and drinking coffee. The gig was really intimate and sociable, and quite a special memory for us. Other highlights include our 3 DIY tours and being finalists in Hands Up for Trad’s Battle of the Folk Bands (2018). Our self titled EP was released in 2018, but writing, recording and filming our newer single and video ‘Erica’s’ definitely feels like the best career move for us yet. We are so so proud of the video, loved working on it with the cast and crew, and are really happy with the response to its release, resulting in a sold out home gig back in February (feels like a lifetime ago now!).
What are your plans for the future?
This is the first year that all of us have been graduated, and living in the same place, so we plan to spend some time writing and going a bit further in to the sound world we have started to discover over the last year or so. We spent a week of solid time together in August as part of Sage Gateshead’s Summer Studios artist residency programme and have already started to make some music that we are excited to show you soon! Long term, we want to build up a bigger body of work ready for release. Otherwise, we have a couple of live streams coming up, including a new collaboration with Howzat TV. For now, we can’t plan too far ahead so are keeping as busy as possible and trying to adapt to our changing times. We hope for another collaboration with Kaleidoscope CFA (who filmed Erica’s) when we can. Expect new music soon!
The MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards, Na Trads 2020, will be broadcast on BBC ALBA on 12th December 2020 at 9pm where the award winners will be announced along with specially recorded music performances. During the day on Saturday the 12th, you will be able to watch from 1pm til 9pm a day of live Scottish trad music including Kinnaris Quintet, Dallahan, Inyal, Paul McKenna Band, Ryan Young and Jenn Butterworth and many more here https://youtu.be/amByvVzxl5E. Keep up to date with all the latest information by joining the Hands Up for Trad newsletter at https://handsup.link/Newsletter or use the hashtags #natrads #HUFTonline.
If you would like to support Hands Up for Trad in their work with Scottish trad music and musicians please consider supporting our Patreon campaign. We have 3 tiers starting at $1 a month and everything helps support us in our work. Read more at www.patreon.com/handsupfortrad