Magnetic Music questioned Mànran's Ewen Henderson in the run-up to the Irish Heartbeat Tour 2017.
What is it that makes the Mànran sound so special?
Well, we feel what makes the Mànran sound so special and unique is that we are the only band that has the Scottish highland bagpipes and the Irish uilleann pipes in the same band, with Scottish Gaelic language and English song as well and together that is what makes up the unique sound of Mànran.
So what is the process of making a Mànran album?
Well, it’s a great question and usually it starts with us in the rehearsal room coming together with all our own material and then just basically putting that kind of Mànran stamp on it, as you will. What we did with the last album, our latest album, An Dà Là, was we road tested most of the material and we took it out on the road, let people hear it and if they enjoyed it worked hard to make it sound better and if we didn’t really like it, or felt it didn’t get a good reaction from the audience, then we just disregarded it and maybe we’ll look at it another time for the fourth album, but that’s usually how we go about making a Mànran album.
What do you think will happen to Scottish musicians touring in Europe after Brexit?
Well, it’s a very good question and to be honest it’s a question that I can’t really answer, I don’t think anyone can yet. We have found ourselves in quite a predicament to be honest, it’s very difficult as a Scottish musician and as a country that voted to stay in Europe to be told that you’re leaving. It is going to be quite difficult, but with those changes, you know, we will just have to wait and see what happens as a Scottish musician.
What impact will have your lives and the cultural exchange?
Well, again at the moment that’s quite difficult to tell exactly, it’s very disappointing looking ahead after we wanted to remain in Europe, but we absolutely love touring in Europe, especially Germany where I’d actually say we probably have one of our biggest followings and that’s something that we’re definitely going to want to continue to tour in Germany and Europe as much as possible and we just really hope that the government don’t make that really hard for us to do.
So you’ve done the Irish Heartbeat Tour once before. What do you make of the idea of bringing Irish and Scottish musicians together to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Germany?
Well it’s probably one of the best ideas in the world, to put Scottish people with Irish people and let them go and have a party and that’s usually what happens. We did the Irish Heartbeat Tour back in 2014 and we just had the time of our lives. The audience that came out absolutely loved it and having the differences between Scotland and Ireland, once you see them on stage and you hear the stories and the culture, you realise very very quickly that they’re pretty much one in the same with the music and the culture and the history of the two countries.
And what are your memories of the tour?
Memories, well my goodness. Lots and lots of tunes, lots and lots of fun, and just being treated so well, and from myself and the band we just cannot wait to come back and play for you all again.
Photo Credits: Mànran: (1) unknown/website, (2) by Walkin' Tom (Tønder Festival 2016); (3) Irish Heartbeat (unknown/website).