Student Spotlight – Anna McLaughlin
Tell us about your past experiences with music and the music industry.
Prior to moving to Glasgow, I spent over 7 years in London, where I was constantly surrounded by music in all shapes and forms. I’d go out to punk gigs where I’d often man the merch stall for my friends’ bands, or be an extra in video clips, work as a box office attendant in iconic venues such as The Garage. I briefly worked in tour booking agency called Positive Nuisance where I’d perform basic assistance tasks or be on rep duties.
I also loved the folk scene and ended up joining the London Irish Centre in Camden where I was taught to play the tin whistle. My passion for Celtic music lead me to settle in Scotland. Here, I work part-time in one of the biggest musical instrument retailers, Guitar Guitar. In 2019 I established my own Celtic Punk band The Gallowgate Murders with friends from Edinburgh. I write most songs, share singing spotlight, play the tin whistle and rhythm guitar. We have 2 singles under our belt and a UK tour supporting bigger names within the genre. Aside from that, for my HND creative project, I set out on a self-release journey within darker folk field.
Why did you want to study at Riverside Music College?
When it comes to music, I am mostly self-taught. I have always wanted to be able to understand and apply music theory onto what I’m doing. My grandfather was a multi-instrumentalist and a music teacher back in Poland where I am from, and I have always wanted to follow in his steps but never quite had the chance or time to fulfil it. On top of that, I have met many incredible musicians here in Glasgow and a lot of them graduated from Riverside so I decided I’d go back into study and RMC was the obvious choice for me.
For me, one of the most important units of knowledge – often overlooked by performers – is Music Business for Musicians. I think it’s crucial to know your rights and legalities, whether you’re the main songwriter or a session musician. Also, being a part of the HND course is helpful in many different aspects – it helps you to take yourself more seriously and adds value to your creativity, allows for networking and collaboration with other students from Sound Production so you get to establish all those important connections at an early stage of your journey.
What projects are you currently working on?
My latest musical project is called ‘Carnyces’, dark sounding alternative folk, with a range of traditional instruments. The idea is to collaborate with various session musicians and allow each to bring something unique of their own to each song. The inspiration behind it lies within my deep fascination with Scotland and its rich cultural heritage, mystical landscape and Celtic art and mythology.
Musically soaked in traditional song, Carnyces draws its lyrical content from timeless folklore and superstition that transcends into modern times. I wanted to create a sound that has all those elements but also one that taps into the ancient aspect of our psyche. My research went as deep as into archaeology where I came across an incredible ancient Celtic war horn called the Carnyx. The very first one ever discovered was in Deskford, Scotland in 1816.
It has been reconstructed by an internationally acclaimed trombonist John Kenny who successfully turned it into a functioning wind instrument that it once was. I got in touch with mr Kenny to ask for permission to sample one of his performances into my song. And that’s how my debut single “Widdershins” got its ominous tone.
The Carnyx within the song provides a bridge between the realm of the ancient sound and its continuous expression and meaning it gives to contemporary music.
***All proceeds from Widdershins will be donated towards Carnyx & Co. – a charitable company which provides a unique interface between musical archaeology and the world of contemporary performance and recording, and which produces concert programs and projects that seek to level the playing field between able bodied and disabled musicians.***
What are your future plans?
I am very excited about Carnyces and how it helped me with self-expression. I certainly want to continue in this direction musically. Also, I can’t wait for live music to resume and to play gigs again my band The Gallowgate Murders. Aside from that, I am working towards my HND which I believe will open further opportunities to work within music industry. Scotland has an incredible music heritage and I would love to get involved in some exciting projects in the future.
The Gallowgate Murders…
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