We recently sat down for a catch up with Survival Sesions featured artist Josie Duncan to chat about everything from the pandemic and her special Survival Sessions commissioned project through to what's on her playlist.
Can you tell us a little about your first memories of music and what inspires your work?
Throughout school, music was a fantastic outlet for me both creatively and socially. (I was also delighted to get to leave class for rehearsals!) - it has remained incredibly special to me and is at the heart of my social and professional life. I feel lucky to be from an encouraging place with such a rich musical tradition.
What and who do you like listening to yourself?
I like to keep my music listening varied. My Spotify algorithm is very confused because I listen to a lot of indie, electronic and pop but I also listen to lengthy traditional ballads. If a song makes me feel something, whether that is a lump in the throat or the desire to boogy, I consider that a good song.
So much great music has been released during the pandemic. Last year my favourite album release was 'Punisher' by Phoebe Bridgers, and so far this year it is 'Obviously' by Lake Street Dive.
As an artiste how have you had to adapt to the pandemic?
Before the pandemic I was busy touring and didn't have much time at home. Since spending more time in the house I have started to learn a lot more about the production side of things, which has been a lot of fun.
It's a weird time to be a singer because singing has been not allowed in public spaces. But through commissions like this, Patreon and live streams I've been lucky enough to keep working and connecting with people and I am very grateful for that.
What can we expect from your Survival Sessions work, “Turus Dhachaigh” (Journey Home)?
Turas Dhachaigh/Journey Home explores the emotional connection to place. Each piece is written from a different view in relation to travelling to the Isle of Lewis. I interviewed different people about their experiences of returning to the Island, visiting for the first time, visiting every year as well as people who barely leave the Island. I also drew on my own personal experience.
It is accompanied by a video from one of my favourite creatives, Elly Lucas. I am a long-time fan of her work and I am so delighted to work with her.
What have been the particular challenges /opportunities in producing this commission?
Film-maker Elly Lucas and I took a trip to the Island. This trip felt like it summarised the themes of the work, as I was visiting home and Elly was witnessing the Island for the first time. It was amazing to be there with someone who so profoundly appreciates beauty in the natural world like Elly does. This was definitely a highlight of the process; it was so special and I won't forget that trip in a hurry.
The biggest challenge has been not being able to be in the same room with the musicians. However, I chose absolute pros and couldn't be happier with what they produced.
As an introvert and a songwriter, locking myself away and writing the music was a delight.
Do you think new ways of working brought about by the pandemic will lead to new opportunities?
I think musicians who are separated geographically now see all of the collaboration opportunities. Likewise, I think there's a lot to be said in terms of accessibility of online concerts. I hope that some festivals continue to reach online audiences when live music in front of an audience returns.
“Turus Dhachaigh” (Journey Home) is a new audio-visual work developed by Josie Duncan and presented by the Hebridean Celtic Festival. By combining tunes and songs inspired by the Gaelic tradition with atmospheric visuals, the piece takes its audience on a nostalgic and impactful trip to the Isle of Lewis.
Inspired by the many little moments that comprise a journey across the Minch, ‘The Journey’ will capture the imagination of first-time visitors and seasoned travellers alike.
The piece features Charlotte Printer (Skipinnish) on bass, Megan Macdonald (Eabhal, Heisk) on accordion and Charlie Grey (Westward the Light) on fiddle, with accompanying visuals designed by Elly Lucas. ‘The Journey’ is presented in a mixture of Gaelic and English.
“Turus Dhachaigh” (Journey Home) will be streamed as part of the Survival Sessions Opening Concert on Wednesday 14th of July.
Details and tickets can be found at: https://www.hebceltfest.com/booking
You can also catch Josie LIVE as she hosts the first of our Survival Sessions Virtual Club nights, live @ 23:00 on Wednesday 14th for FREE via www.facebook.com/HebCelt