We are pleased to have an interesting Q&A with Andrew Mulhern. Andrew is one of the people behind Aberdeen's Other Music Festival which is happening throughout Aberdeen venues between Thursday 19th April to Sunday 22nd April. We are really pleased to be part of this new addition to the Aberdeen festival scene. There are some really great shows happening throughout the city so if you're looking for something a bit different then please check out some of the shows.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how the Other Music Festival came to be?
In 2016, musician Simon Gall and music agent Susan Whyte formed Other Music Promotions (OMP) to promote concerts showcasing contemporary folk music from around the world in response to a lack similar programming in Aberdeen.
In 2017, we secured funding from Aberdeen City Council and began work on a pilot festival entitled “Other Music Festival” (OMF). We joined forces with local partners such as Aberdeen Performing Arts, Jazz at the Blue Lamp, The Polish Association Aberdeen, Aberdeen Multicultural Centre, NAFCo and the Elphinstone Institute.
I joined Simon and Susan in 2017 to help with the marketing and organising of the festival and general Other Music programming. It is a great experience to be part of an exciting new festival in Aberdeen.
Can you tell us a bit about the programme you have on this year outwith the APA venues?
The inaugural OMF festival is split across two venues: The Lemon Tree and The Blue Lamp.
Friday evening in The Blue Lamp we have a split-night, triple-header of contemporary Polish folk music, Scottish jazz and a one-off collaboration of local young musicians in celebration of the Scottish Government’s “Year of Young People”.
Early Friday evening has the award-winning Polish folk duo Hanka Wójciak and Susanna Jara travelling to Aberdeen for a debut performance to share the earthy sounds of Poland and the Carpathian region using seven dialects and languages. (Tickets Available Here)
Late-night Friday presents a commissioned performance from local, world-jazz youth group Hamlet in collaboration with Aberdeen-based Swedish singer Nadya Albertsson and SAMA-nominated local Aberdeen rapper Jackill. The evening concludes with Glasgow’s world-jazz fusion improvisation collective Mezcla, who recently performed a set for BBC at the Quay, blending soulful, danceable grooves and rhythms from West Africa to Latin American. (Tickets Available Here)
Again in The Blue Lamp, we have a Saturday afternoon performance from an artist lauded by, among many others, J.K. Rowling and Irvine Welsh. Darren McGarvey (aka LOKI the Scottish rapper) will present his engaging and thought-provoking spoken word, rap and comedy performance piece inspired by his best-selling book “Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain’s Underclass.” The book examines the often-misunderstood concerns, fears and angers of people from areas of depravation and has just received an Orwell Prize nomination which celebrates “honest writing and reporting to confront uncomfortable truths to promote Orwell’s values of integrity, decency and fidelity to truth”. (Tickets Available Here)
Celebrating the Fiddle looks like a really good night for fans of the more traditional side – do you want to tell us a little about that?
The festival opens with a “Celebration of the Fiddle” inspired by Scottish and Eastern European traditions.
Thursday evening’s entertainment doubles-up as the launch of the internationally-renowned North Atlantic Fiddle Convention (NAFCo) which returns to Aberdeen this summer for the first time since 2012.
Celebrated local Tarland fiddler Paul Anderson will lead a Scottish fiddle and dance ensemble and collaborate with top-notch Hungarian Roma musicians Janos Lang and Janos Kallai. The evening will also premiere an exciting new commissioned fiddle composition by Pasty Reid before it receives its complete, official debut at NAFCo in July.
This is a fitting start for our first festival which will celebrate local folk traditions alongside Eastern European flavours and opens the door to the remainder of the festival as we look outward to folk music from the rest of the world.
We’re really looking forward to the Learn to Dance Bhangra Workshop at the Lemon Tree, how did that come about?
Aberdeen Bhangra Crew will lead a “Bhangra Dance” workshop just before the Bollywood Brass Band concert on the Sunday evening.
We are partnering with the Aberdeen Multi-cultural Centre and the Indian Association of the North East of Scotland and they – alongside the Aberdeen Bhangra Crew – approached us with the idea to run a dance workshop. We jumped at the chance to give the audience the chance to learn about this vibrant and energetic folk dance and as a preparation for Bollywood Brass Band to close the festival on the Sunday evening.
The Lemon Tree, Sunday 22nd April, 6pm - 6:45pm, £5 on the door.
You must email email@example.com to confirm your place.
The Bollywood Brass Band looks like it’ll be an awesome night out, I’m interested in seeing how we’ll fit them all on the Lemon Tree stage, what sort of thing can we expect from them do you think?
The Lemon Tree stage is larger than you think ;)
We are massively excited to have the Bollywood Brass Band closing the very first OMF with their Aberdeen debut.
You can expect four funky dhol drummers and six hot-horns to lift your spirits in a bombastic, aural and visual celebration of the most popular music in the world. Having recently featured on the BBC’s World on 3, they are a 10-piece brass and drum-driven party band playing hits from the Bollywood film tradition in a colourful, riotous and compulsively danceable performance filled with joy and exhilaration guaranteed to leave the audience tired, and smiling.
We cannot wait!
Great to have a collaboration between yourselves and our Northern Arc Show with HEIDI TALBOT & VASEN, have you any thoughts on this show?
Yes, this is a co-headline show with two world-class artists performing as part of the Northern Arc series of concerts.
The Northern Arc concerts have been running since 2013 with a series of genre-defying and ground-breaking artists selected from Scotland and across the Northern Hemisphere to join in a one-off concert, finishing with both artists joining each other on stage for a unique collaborative performance.
Saturday’s Northern Arc night of the festival has acclaimed Irish singer-songwriter Heidi Talbot (with her band featuring John McCusker) working with Swedish folk virtuosos Väsen presenting not just original song and traditional tunes, but also the ethereal sound of the Nyckelharpa; a 16-stringed bowed and keyed Scandinavian chordophone. Which is well worth seeing and hearing in its own bizarre right!
To book for the Northern Arc Show, please click here.
Something a bit more fun, if you could book any act, one past, one present for the Other Music Festival who would you book and why?
Ha! We are entering the realm of dreams here (perhaps)... but we would love to bring Los Van Van from Cuba as one of the post-revolution musical pioneers from one of the most amazingly rich musical cultures on the planet.
Or the stunning vocals of Spanish Grammy-award nominee Concha Buika who has received acclaim the world over as a singer and poet covering genres from jazz and flamenco to pop, soul and African polyrhythms.
Or the exciting sounds of Imarhan; they are an Algerian desert rock sextet who are pioneers of exporting the music of the Tuareg people and their tradition to the rest of the world.
We will do our best… but please look out for Other Music Festival 2019 and beyond…
And finally can you tell people why they should go to the festival, what you feel you can offer others can’t?
Aberdeen is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in Scotland and our festival reflects that. We’re keen to celebrate the North-East’s cultural history and heritage while also recognising that this area is now home to new Aberdonians from around the world.
Our story and cultural is evolving, as culture always has, in interesting ways. We don’t believe that cultural differences are something to be feared. They should be embraced and ideas exchanged in a respectful way. In fact, it’s probably the most natural thing in the world: no culture is “pure”, they are all the result of fusion.
We’ve worked closely with some of the city’s minority ethnic associations to create this programme and hope that the audiences will be as diverse as the artists programmed. We’ve also considered issues of class and access and have tried to reflect that in the programming.
So… what does this festival offer that others perhaps don’t? We’d say a chance to celebrate the real North-East.
Thanks Andrew, that was a really interesting chat, please have a look at some of the shows at the Festival and we hope to see some of you there.