Pictish Trail

by the partae

What is your name?

Pictish Trail.    Although i have been toying with a hip-hop alter-ego called Lil’ Nutsack.

Where are you currently based?

I live on a small island called the Isle of Eigg.  It’s just off the west coast of Scotland.  At the moment it is blimmin’ freezing up there, so I have made sure that I am on tour throughout the winter season, in order to keep warm.

Please tell us a little about your latest album ‘ Future Echoes ‘ where and when did you record?

It was recorded awhile ago now, I guess.  I started writing demo ideas for it years ago.  It took about 18 months to make – I remembered thinking it would never end.  I recorded the songs down in London, with my friends Adem and Rob, in cosy rooms.  Lots of cups of tea, to keep our brains fuelled.

Image credit : Beth Chalmers Photography

What equipment / programs did you use?

Some old keyboards, a guitar, some effects pedals, and some drums.  There’s a lot of my voice on there, layered up.  Sometimes you hear a solo which sounds like a guitar, but it’s actually me doing some air-guitar with my voice.

What was the inspiration for the album and how do you usually find inspiration when writing new music?

I don’t really look for inspiration.  Songs kind of just happen.  I feel like the songs I write are songs that have already been written, I just have to remember them.  I realise that doesn’t make sense.   I guess what i’m saying is that writing songs doesn’t make much sense.  Anyone I’ve met that can write songs to a formula, or with a consistent regularity, tend to write really boring, empty songs.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

I listen to a lot of the acts on my DIY label, Lost Map Records.  I’m on tour with my friend Monoganon, whose album, Killmens, we just released, and his music blows my mind.   I’ve just signed to Fire Records, and have been immersing myself in the music of Spacemen3.  Beautiful.

You’re currently on tour in the UK, what has been the highlight of the tour to date?

We played in a small town called Hartlepool last week.  There was a giant in the audience, he was 7ft 2”, and he bounded up to the front of the stage just before our last song: “Hey, fellas, can I come up on stage and do me Mick Jagger impression?”.   We were a bit startled, but agreed.  Next thing we know, he’s jumped up on stage, has taken all of his clothes off saving a pair of Superman logo underpants, and is gyrating in front of the audience.  He picked me up whilst I was singing my song, and cradled me like a baby.  I have never felt so loved.  The entire audience was on coke, and they ruddy loved it.

You have also just toured through Europe with KT Tunstall in Oct with many more dates to follow, what do you find most challenging about touring and how do you prepare for each show?

I find it quite hard being away from my family.  I try not to think about it too much, and instead drink lots of beer.  In Europe, the beer is pretty incredible.   The beer is my tour family.  The best way to prepare for a show is to make sure you eat good meals every day.  If you are feeding yourself properly, you won’t get ill.  Unfortunately this means i usually put on a lot of weight while touring.  When i go back home, I always have to go on a diet.  It’s quite a good routine, though, I guess.

This summer you’ve made appearances at festivals including Field Day, Glastonbury, Green Man and Lost Map’s Howlin’ Fling, what do you most enjoy about to such large crowds?

Haha – Howlin’ Fling is my own festival, which I host on the isle of Eigg … and it is tiny!  Well, tiny compared to something like Glastonbury.   It has been amazing fun playing on big festival stages this summer.  It’s been great, because I’ve got a really great band – which frees me up, allows me to do knee slides across the stage, and mess about.

How did you first get into playing music?

Growing up, there was a guitar in the house, and a Beatles song book.  I learned all the chords they used, and then realised that meant I could write my own songs, with my own arrangements.  There was an old Yamaha keyboard in our house too, which had a demo button with a backing track to Rick Astley’s ’Together, Forever’.  When I was about 8 years old I would make up my own songs to that same backing track.  Thinking about it now, i should really record an album of songs with that backing track.  Would be a good concept record.

Please tell us a little about your beautiful track https://soundcloud.com/firerecords/pictish-trail-lionhead-acoustic when and how did she come to life and what inspired the songwriting?

Ooh.  I wrote that song a long time ago – it was one of the first songs for Future Echoes.   At the time, I was feeling quite angry about the end of a friendship, and the song was maybe quite aggressive.  Earlier this year I rerecorded some versions of the songs, with my friend Suse – we did a new version of that song, and it was a lot more blissed out and relaxed, and it made me feel less guilty about singing it.

Do you have any advice for musicians who are just starting out and dreaming of making it to the level that you’ve reached?

I’ve not really reached a very high level … but i guess i’ve managed to make music my living, and that’s all you can ask for really.   If you believe in your own music, and you have ideas – good, original ideas – about how your music can reach people, then you need to stick to your beliefs and push it with all your energy.  Fuck anyone else’s perceptions on who you are as an artist.  If you believe, then others will.

What do you have planned for the future?

Thinking about music, listening to music, making music.  And maybe having the occasional glass of cold beer.

Favourite food and place to hangout?

Pizza is the greatest food known to mankind.   There is nothing better, i’m afraid.  I don’t think i’ve ever had a bad pizza in my life.  FACT.  My favourite place to hangout is at the ceilidh hall on Eigg, where all the island parties happen.  It’s only a 5 minute walk from my house, and is filled with the best people.  It’s the greatest place, because you can party your ass off and then decide to sneak off to bed, or cook some pizza.


Featured Photo Credit : David Galletly

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