Magnetic North Blog
I have been playing the drums from the age of 13, and touring all over the world from the age of 21, but I've never been involved in anything quite like the Lost in Music project. Traditionally, drummers are the lowest in the food chain within any band... then bass players... then guitarists... then those human peacocks with the God-shaped hole in their soul: lead singers. Drummers are also considered to be a bit thick, with a touch of the caveman about them. As a drummer, I am used to the role of supporting other people's ideas. But I am also lucky enough to have done that with some of the most innovative musicians of my generation. So, I have had privileged access to some very unusual and highly developed methods of song writing, recording and performing. This has served me well when I have come to start my own bands and write my own songs.
Magnetic North is developing a new performance project based on the book Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland. The book explores the strong connections between folk tales and forests, and investigates our forest-dwelling roots. Our adaptation will use live music (particularly traditional/folk) and storytelling. The team working with Magnetic North’s Artistic Director Nicholas Bone is writer Martin O’Connor, songwriter Kirsty Law and three performers: Biff Smith, Kirsty Eila McIntyre and Claire Eliza Willoughby (you can read more about them at the end of this post).
We were due to begin work on the adaptation with a development week beginning today at Summerhall, but like everyone else we have had to re-think our plans very quickly. Half the team is based in Edinburgh, the other half in Glasgow. Once the advice about only undertaking essential travel was given, we realised that it wouldn’t be possible to all be in the same physical space. After talking to everyone, it was apparent that people still wanted to work, even if we couldn’t all be physically in the same place. So this morning, we’ll start an experiment in working together separately. The three Edinburgh artists all live within walking distance of Summerhall and will meet in a studio big enough to mean they can be in the same room while maintaining the suggested physical distance from each other. We will undertake tasks, including learning the song that Kirsty Law has written, and at times the other three will join us via a video-conferencing app. How will it work? We don’t know, but we will talk about it at the end of each day and see how we feel. It’ll be a learning experience, but we are all going to have to get used to doing things differently over the next few months.
Magnetic North help experienced artists. Why would they do that? Isn’t that like offering to help an elite athlete cross the road? Or polishing a Formula One car?
Before we can even begin to have this conversation, we must first look at what an experienced artist does. The myth is that they sit around all day, thinking self-indulgent thoughts then pouring them out onto canvas, or the page, or in a little dance. If their work is good, they will leave the grubby Art World behind, for the glitzy world of Meeja. That’s how we know if they’re ‘worth’ something. Because they’re rich and famous.
We are developing a new performance project based on the book Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland. The book explores the strong connections between folk tales and forests, and investigates our forest-dwelling roots. Our adaptation will use live music (particularly traditional/folk) and storytelling. We are currently looking for three performers for a development week from 23-27 March 2020 in Edinburgh.
The breakdown is as follows:
1 musician/performer – this is primarily a musical role but will also involve some dialogue, so it needs someone who is confident with this as well as being a highly-skilled musician with experience of folk/traditional styles. Experience of working on arrangements, especially with songwriters, would be useful.
2 actor/musicians – confident theatre performers with experience of storytelling and strong musical skills (instrumental and/or vocal) and an understanding of folk/traditional music.
Experience of both devising and working with a playwright would be invaluable.
Fee of £500, plus travel or relocation (as appropriate) at ITC rates if based more than 25 miles from Edinburgh.
For more information about Magnetic North and its work, please visit magneticnorth.org.uk
Magnetic North is delighted to announce the artists who have been selected to take part in our next Space/Time retreat. This edition of Space/Time is presented in partnership with Dance North Scotland and will take place at Findhorn, Moray.
Space/Time is a paid creative retreat for experienced artists from different disciplines that asks the question “How does an artist keep developing?”. It aims to refresh participants through a stimulating examination of creativity. During the residency, we explore how creativity can be nourished and how artists can continue challenging themselves to develop. The residency combines facilitated dialogue - built around a series of self-generated questions - with time for individual reflection and work as well as time to cook and eat together. It is led by Nicholas Bone and Alice McGrath.