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Culture Close-Up: C. Macleod

Colin surfing the in betweens and stoking the creative fires… Image: Mike Guest

We talk barn punk, the bus at Barvas, salmon running, surfing the in between moments and island stories with caught up with singer/songwriter Colin Macleod.

We’ve been friends with Colin since we first met him in 2013. He’d flown in from Norway, guitar in hand to support a filmmaker friend at the London Surf / Film Festival and ended up blowing away the closing night crowd and us with an epic acoustic set.

This year we’re stoked to be showcasing “Shake The Walls” from Colin’s latest EP ‘Old Fire’ on our festival trailer.

To hear Shake the Walls in full hit the LINK

How does your average day go?

An average day at home usually starts with a strong coffee and a surf check. I live on a croft, which is a small farm, so depending on the time of year theres some work with the animals and feeding sheep. Once thats done, a surf and maybe some song writing in the evening. If I’m not at home its usually touring, playing shows or recording and writing music in London. Its a nice life, I’m very lucky.

Colin Macleod // Image: Mike Guest

Can you tell me a little bit about your musical journey and recording in a bus…

I was late coming to music, it wasn’t until I was in my mid teens that it really took over. I can’t explain why it really took such a strong hold on me, I just found it really exciting and fun then all of a sudden it was everything! Its a strange thing.

I started out playing punk songs in the barn of my mates house. There was three of us, we used to set up the drums leaning against the sheep pen and the microphone was tied upside down off the rafters with bailer twine. We used to routinely get electric shocks from dodgy amps and played all day every saturday without ever improving. That was about 17 years ago and I still love it just as much. I was signed to a major label in my early twenties that I wasn’t ready for, but loved every second of it. Got to make an album and play some amazing shows, but I don’t think I really felt settled in my music until now.

I recorded an album in the green bus at Barvas on the Isle Of Lewis. I work there in the summer, helping out on the estate watching the salmon run. It was great, I did most of the writing for this album in the bus as well, its a good spot for a bit of quiet.

Colin playing King Tuts // Image: Mike Guest

Congratulations on signing with BMG this year – what does it mean for the future?

Im really happy to be with BMG. They are such a good team, so accommodating and really understanding and passionate about what Im trying to do. I feel really fortunate. Its going to make such a huge difference in getting the album out to more people and giving me much more opportunity to tour and play in more places. Its no secret that its getting harder and harder to be a working musician these days, and having a good team behind you makes a world of difference.

Image: Mike Guest

The epic Shake the Walls is the soundtrack for this year’s festival. It feels like a change in direction from your previous work…

Yeah the song and the album is a little departure, but kind of a natural one. The album is kind of a concept album, in that all the songs are stories from the island collected over the last few years. Some are well known locally, some not, some are personal experience. In line with this, in my mind the music had to be a bit more expansive, a bit more full and realised with lots of reverb and space, but still in the folk style of writing and story telling. i want the music to feel like the island and the lyrics to read like the locals telling story.

Being a surfer on the Outer Hebrides – is it all white sands and crystal clear blue waters?

I feel very spoilt to be local and surf in the Hebrides. I don’t think its any secret how good it is here! Theres a lot of weather, the wind kills is 99% of the time, but when you get those little moments in-between when everything lines up theres nowhere else I’d rather be.

Does surfing feed your creativity?

Yes absolutely, but not directly. I think surfing is the reset button, it just clears everything out and gives fresh perspective. Its my thinking time. Im sure everyone who does creative things for a living has there own version of this, it goes with the territory of spending that much time in your own head. wether its something good for you or something not quite so good for you, everyone has a reset button. It just so happens mine is surfing, its been very good for me.

Colin Macleod Studio Lines // Image: Mike Guest

Anything else you’d like to get off your chest?

Thanks for having me, good luck with this year’s LS/FF, so stoked for you guys that its the seventh year and its going from strength to strength!

To hear more of Colin’s music, head to Spotify and for gig info – Facebook.

We’ve got some really exciting things coming up in the next few months and some gig announcements…