After releasing four acclaimed solo albums, Scottish artist Kim Edgar has taken a different approach to her new project, Consequences. Between October 2021 and September 2022, she wrote and recorded a new song each month with a different artist that she admired. You can hear the results of these collaborations this week when the record is released and at a live performance at Celtic Connections in Glasgow on Feb 2nd. Tickets may still be available at https://www.celticconnections.com/event/1/kim-edgar-special-guests-consequences
Kim has played at the Cambridge Folk Festival, appeared on “Later with Joel’s Holland” and performed for The Queen at the opening of the Scottish Parliament’s fourth session. She is also involved in running the youth choir at The Big Project (a children’s charity) and Freedom of Mind Community Choir. If that wasn’t enough, Kim is also a member of Cara, a German-based folk band.
We caught up with Kim to talk about the new record and how she approached getting the other artists involved in the project.
Hi Kim! How’s everything going right now?
Great, thanks! I’m super excited to be launching my fifth studio album, “CONSEQUENCES,” at Celtic Connections this Thursday, February 2nd at St. Luke’s in Glasgow, and really looking forward to the whole thing! I hope all’s well with you, too!
What classic album cover is your current mood?
It would have to be “The Velvet Underground & Nico” (1967) – peel slowly, and see! I’m all anticipation at the moment… the album grew out of song collaboration project, supported by Creative Scotland, where I wrote and recorded one song a month with 12 songwriters I admired. Tomorrow, I’m going to meet many of my song collaborators for the first time in the real world! Some of them are flying from Canada and Finland, coming up by train from Wales and others are a bit closer to home. We’ll rehearse for a day together with the band, in advance of the album launch at Celtic Connections on Thursday evening. I’m bursting with excitement to see how it all goes together, live, after working remotely to create the album!
You have a new album “Consequences” out this week featuring songs that you’ve collaborated with different artists on over the last 12 months. What was the inspiration behind this idea?
The idea, which I devised during lockdown in 2021, was inspired by a paper-and-pen game from my childhood called Consequences, where you completed a story by passing it on to other people. I completed a story by passing it on to other people. I thought that the album could unfold, like a story, to reveal itself over the year, and would be perfectly suited to international as well as local collaborations, because due to restrictions, most interaction had to be online. I also wanted to consider the personal, social and environmental consequences of human behavior, having released a very personal album, “HELD,” in 2020. When much of normal life had been stopped in its tracks, it felt like the right time to open up conversations about how we live, and how we choose to address the challenges we face currently.
You work with a lot of great artists on the record – how did they become involved?
Yes, indeed – I’m really grateful that these incredible songwriters all agreed to collaborate with me! I decided, for the project, to ask songwriters whose work I really admired, and with whom I had never collaborated before. In some cases, these were songwriters I’ve worked with in community music settings (such as Louis Abbott and Goodnight Louisa through Vox Liminis, and Rachel Sermanni through The BIG Project in Edinburgh). Some, I had met through a project called Global Music Match in 2020, which provided musicians from across the world with support, stimulation, social media training, and a sense of belonging at a challenging time. In other cases, I just took a deep breath and reached out to them online to ask! Ron Sexsmith, for example, is someone whose work I’ve admired deeply for many years. During lockdown, spending more time on social media than usual, I noticed that he loves to write puns, which really reminded me of my Grandpa Jones, and suddenly he didn’t’t seem so remote any more, so I messaged him on Twitter to ask if he’s be up collaborating! And Stone, who’s from a hugely successful band called Mayday in Taiwan, is someone I studied Popular Music and Sound Technology with at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts back in 2001/2 – still under contract from his record label, he chose to study for a year while two of his bandmates had to do national service in the army; we had a great affinity and have kept in touch, but he’s usually super busy touring. During lockdown, he and his family started taking part in free to access online singing sessions that I was making for a mental health choir I co-lead, called Freedom Of Mind Community Choir, and he got in touch to say so, so I knew he had a bit more time than usual as well, and I asked…
If you could only listen to one record, what would it be?
That’s a tough one! For seven years in early adulthood, I listened almost exclusively to “Court & Spark” and “Blue” by Joni Mitchell – but that’s two albums. More recently, “Young Man In America” by Anais Mitchell has been the album I’ve listened to the most, so if I had to pick one, I think it would be that.Kim Edgar
You have a show at Celtic Connections this week as part of the release. What do you have planned?
It’s a full show, with no support – so we kick off at 7:30 p.m. (doors 7 p.m.). I’ll be joined by a full band of amazingly talented musicians, which features Mattie Foulds (drums – who also did a fantastic job producing the album), with Kevin McGuire (bass) and Mikey Owers (trombone/vocals). These two, along with Mattie and some of the collaborators, helped me to record the whole album. We also have Steven Polwart (guitars/vocals) and Matt Gough (flugelhorn/trumpet). We’re going to play the full album, in order (cause that makes sense in my head, to unfold it in the way it unfolded over the year when it was written), and we’re also going to be joined by the following special guest collaborators from the project: Horse McDonald, Boo Hewerdine, Dan Bettridge, Goodnight Louisa, J-P Piirainen, Sandra LeCouteur, James Grant and Louis Abbott. I’ve asked each of the special guests to perform a feature song as well (sometimes the band and I will join them) so I can share with the audience why I admire them so much! I think it’s going to be a whole lot of fun!
“Consequences” is your fifth full-length album. How do you feel your songwriting and style have changed over the years?
What a great question! I’ve found that collaborating really helps me develop as a writer – as there’s no “right” way to write a song, getting a wee insight in someone else’s brain is fascinating! And in the past, as well as for this project, I’ve definitely been stretched and challenged to work in new ways and to take different approaches than I would on my own, which I think is really healthy for any creative practice. Looking back over the songs I’ve written, if I notice any pattern, it’s maybe that I’m beginning to open up a bit more, and leave a bit more space – a bit like adding water to whiskey! But I’ve definitely still many more miles to travel and grow on my songwriting journey…
You’re also a member of CARA, a German-based folk band. How has Brexit affected your ability to tour with the band over the last few years?
I’ve been incredibly lucky compared to many musicians; because the rest of my CARA band-mates live in Germany, all our instruments, equipment and merchandise is already there. We also hire a German tour van – so many of the new Brexit-related challenges around touring don’t affect me when I’m playing as a member of CARA. I do pay a foreigner’s tax for income earned in Germany, as well as tax back here in the UK, but that was in place before Brexit. What’s new is I have to keep a close eye on how many days I’m in Europe (not more that 90 in any 180, for work and leisure) and passport control is not always the easy experience it used to be. Also, recently I did a small solo tour and the costs and paperwork to bring instruments and merchandise from the UK into and back out of Europe are now almost prohibitive… but I’m working on my Irish passport through my ancestry at the moment!
Who did you listen to when you were growing up and inspired you to make music?
The real inspiration for me came from real life rather than the recorded world. My singing teacher in primary school, Mrs. Park, and the leaders of my local church music group really inspired me to get involved with playing instruments and singing – they were so warm, positive and encouraging. My classical piano teacher, Mary Newlands, who also led local community choirs, was exceptionally kind and thoughtful, and a huge inspiration to me. We spent a lot of time in our lessons learning music theory, which I really enjoyed – in particular, setting words to music. I do remember a breakthrough moment when I realized that music on the radio or cassettes was made by actual people – and at that point, the cassettes I brought were Michael Jackson “Bad” and Madonna “True Blue.” My first LP was The Greatest Hits of Olivia Newton John.
What would go on your signature pizza and what would it be called?
Easy: pepperoni, chilies, pineapple, red peppers, mushrooms. “Tasty”
What do you have planned for the rest of 2023?
More time at my allotment than in the past 12 months, more time with my family and friends, and more time in my home studio, writing and recording songs (just by myself, for now).