Fiona J Mackenzie and The Kilmarnock Edition (Interview)


Generally we have an idea in our heads of what sort of ‘feel’ we can imagine for a song but sometimes it ends up being totally different to the first template! For instance, in ‘Gazz’,  that developed from Roberto playing a riff on the upright bass then each of us just joining in with some little snippet, then I threw in some odd Gaelic words which then developed themselves into a wee new genre- Gazz- Gaelic Jazz! It’s great fun as well as being completely inspirational, working with the others. 

Gaelic/Traditional Vocalist/Member of The Kilmarnock Edition talks to The Celtic Music Fan about her new exciting musical project.

So excited to feature this band from Scotland. I follow Fiona Mackenzie’s update so that’s how I was able to read about The Kilmarnock Edition. What got to me was their reggae sound on top of the distinctive Scottish trad tune. And yes folks ’tis the season to party! I set this interview up to know more:

1. After your last album A Good Suit of Clothes which I enjoyed so much, this is one good news! Your voice is really beautiful. What is the most exciting thing about The Kilmarnock Edition?

The most exciting thing about being part of the KE is the realisation that we are bringing a new style of Scottish music to the public ear.  We are all well known in our own individual genres but as we work together, we are creating something that I think is very special and that wont be found anywhere else on the Scottish music scene. We are thrilled to have the chance to work on establishing what is in effect, a new genre of Scottish music- we are not a folk band, we’re not a classical band, we’re not a rock, jazz or reggae band- but we have  elements of all this within our style-  but it doesn’t emerge as if we are a real ‘hotchpotch’ of sound, the music presents itself as an exciting, hopeful and inspirational style, all  of its own.  

2. The members are high-powered coming from their own bands and projects. Is it a great experience working with the rest of the band?

 It is hugely exciting with the band. We all manage to get along together very well socially as well as professionally and we have formed  very strong personal bonds, as well as various other duo/trio partnerships for other gigs. Everyone is very generous with their Songwriting and willing to ‘let their songs go’ to others in the band, for vocals, instrumentation etc  if  they feel that is what the song needs. When we get together for writing/rehearsals we are always very excited to see what the latest sounds will emerge- we never quite know what’s going to happen, but we do know when its right! We are very lucky to have such a diverse range of talents within the group, both musically and in writing. Roberto for instance, is hugely talented at writing funny, observational but very incisive songs about normal day to day life, which are really brought to life in his own Italian accent and style. Lisa writes beautiful songs about the world today, political/socio-economic environments as well as taking history as inspiration for example.  Yvonne writes truly stunning lyrics of life and love and gives us the gift of her beautiful keyboard skills. Alex writes wonderful songs which are easy for audiences to pick up as well as the most tender of love songs.  I write contemporary songs incorporating Scottish Gaelic with English and the Scots tongue-  on contemporary subjects such as technology and ‘empty nest syndrome’!  It gives me the chance to experiment with new ways of making Gaelic accessible to a wider audience. And Stu, our cajon player  and percussionist  gives us that fantastic extra brilliance of beat for whatever the style and tempo.

3. What can we expect from this project musically?

Musically we want to show an audience that Scottish music does not have to be traditional to be representative of our language and culture. That is is possible, in the hands of good musicians and writers, to take elements from all aspects of the Scottish musical spectrum and blend them into something new, fresh and invigorating, a new face of Scottish music. All members of the band are well established and well respected in their solo careers and we only perform to the highest professional standards. We are all passionate about what we do and we believe that is evident in our performance.  

4.Is there an album coming out soon?

We will be going to Watercolour Studio on the lovely Ardgour peninsula at the end of April to record our debut album “Pay it Forward” and we are hugely excited by the prospect of working very very hard at producing what we hope will  be a truly special and indigenous album.  We are totally delighted and honoured that the album will be released on the Greentrax label and we are very grateful to Ian Green to having faith in us to produce an album for his catalogue. He has been following us since our first rehearsals and says that he did indeed spy something unique about us right from the beginning. We take our title from the fact that , having been lucky in being given support from various people over the last 2 years, we now want to ‘pay a little forward’ and do something for other people or groups in the Community. To date , we’ve done some local charity gigs to raise money for the new Church roof in Prestonpans, where  Alex comes from.. The album will be out during the Summer.  

5. I heard a few sample tracks and I understand what makes the band exciting. The tracks are really groovy and good enough for dancing. I am sure fans of Reggae, Traditional music as well as Jazz will love the music. Who lays down the musical ideas for the tracks?

 All the ideas for the tracks come from ourselves. We bring an idea to the group then just jam for a while until something gels then we work on that basic idea.  Its often easier working with others than on your own as you can bat ideas around and someone will play a wee riff or sing a ‘doo wop’ that sparks something interesting and unusual.  Generally we have an idea in our heads of what sort of ‘feel’ we can imagine for a song but sometimes it ends up being totally different to the first template! For instance, in ‘Gazz’,  that developed from Roberto playing a riff on the upright bass then each of us just joining in with some little snippet, then I threw in some odd Gaelic words which then developed themselves into a wee new genre- Gazz- Gaelic Jazz! Its great fun as well as being completely inspirational, working with the others. We’re all so thankful that we met in the Burnsong House in 2009- Kilmarnock Edition has given all of our musical careers a totally new direction and hopefully it will take us to all parts of Scotland, the Uk and to further afield too- we really do believe that overseas markets will find out new style of Scottish music, appealing whilst still drawing on our traditions and respecting where we come from.          




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