The highs and lows of Scotland

Soak your senses with the lyrical sounds of the Scottish Highlands as contemporary folk singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni brings a slice of life from across the seven seas at her live performance, this evening

Scottish singer Rachel Sermanni (19) is in the city as part of the Troikala project where she is collaborating with percussionist Bickram Ghosh and Assamese folk singer Papon for an upcoming  album and concert tour. It is an initiative by the British Council and Folktronic. In her conversation with The GUIDE, she spoke about her early beginnings, major influences and collaborations. Excerpts from the interview:

Scottish singer Rachel Sermanni. Pic courtesy/ Tommy N Lance

Can you tell us about your musical journey so far?

My exposure to music began from an early age. After leaving school I decided to take a year's break and play songs in Glasgow. It felt like the right thing to do. Opportunities came up and so I have remained on this 'road'.
I live in a village in the Highlands just south of Inverness called Carrbridge. It is ensconced in a valley, under constant watch of the old, blue mountain range, The Cairngorms. I like its wild weather and the walks.
It allowed my innocence to reign and ring like a bell, much easier than it would have anywhere else. It is also a place were creativity is encouraged. I am sure this connection has a presence in what I write
and sing.

What were your major inspirations?
I am certain there is a Scottish influence in my songs. I love where I come from, but it doesn't define the boundaries of what I write. I was brought up singing hymns in church, playing traditional music in school and now I find myself in Glasgow amidst many circles of musicians -- traditional, Jazz and contemporary. So, I am influenced by everything around me.

How would you define your sound?
My songs could perhaps be deemed as 'contemporary folk' but they are actually a mix of things. It is about an exploration of the self and the world around and finding the best way to convey it in sounds. The songs, for me, act as miniature explorations of a concept.

What will be on your playlist at the upcoming performance?
I never really decide on a set until I have been to the venue and felt what the atmosphere is like. But I will surely be singing songs from my upcoming EP. There will be some pretty laid-back songs along with some upbeat tracks as well. I like the darker aspects of life, so there are a few dark songs. I am fond of foxes, so there's a song for a fox. I love the powerful and inexplicable symbolism in dreams so there's a lot of odd imagery. I try to vary the sounds as much as I can but it's just a guitar and me and some piano. So, it's not going to get overwhelming in sound at all.

How was your experience of collaborating with Bickram Ghosh and Papon?
All three of us seem to be open spirits. From the minute we met, we became friends. They are fun company and have an enthusiasm, which is contagious. They are full of information about music, which is great. I have been learning how classical musicians train and understanding simple warm-up techniques which will inevitably aid my breathing. We have completed about seven templates for new songs in just three days at Bickram's studio. But there is still a lot to do.

From: 6.30 pm 
At: Live From The Console, Mehboob Studio, Bandra (W).
Cost: Rs 150

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