Finding the Pulse – Mairi Campbell

Around 2012 I had a strong urge to get into a studio and put down some improvisations. I’ve always been into improvisation since losing my place in the music during a competition aged nine and having to make it up (much to the accompanists horror).  It always felt good getting let off the musical leash and I would jump at any opportunity that came my way.

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This journeying has now brought me ‘Mairi Campbell – Pulse’ which is a one woman music theatre show.  I’ve just completed a three week run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and had five star reviews, so it was all very exciting, and now I’m hoping that that’s just the start of my journey and we play it loads.  Here’s an account of how it all came about and the journey of Pulse.

Every few weeks I’d go to Dave Gray’s Sound Café studio and put down some more material. I’d say, “Dave, turn off the lights and turn on the mics. I’m going in!” Afterwards, I’d leave, and not even listen. I just wanted it on record but couldn’t figure out why.

There was an urgency and intensity about the music that came out in those sessions. I think it was connected to Scotland’s referendum. Many artists in Scotland have been going crazy needing to integrate all of that.

Anyway, I was surprised by what was coming up. It was way out left field, more exposed than anything that I’d done before.

One day, on mentioning that I had no idea what I would do with the recordings, Dave Gray suggested that he wanted to add guitar and some percussion to them. A few days later we had our first track. I was amazed by how it sounded, loved its energy and visceral drive. We just kept making tracks and it didn’t take long to have a full album: now Pulse.

Since 2011 I had also been working with Youth Music Theatre as music director and songwriter, and expanding my repertoire around movement and word through two routes: attending Kath Burlinson’s Authentic Artist retreats and doing a training in InterPlay, a cross-form arts practice.

There was also a general tone in the Scottish traditional arts community that some were looking for ways to integrate story, song and movement. I wanted to take that on. It was clear that this new music was a show, not a gig.

Watch the Pulse showreel below….

Kath Burlinson is the director.  She and I have been working together for a few years and I adore working with her. She brings out the bold in you, that’s all I’m saying.  I don’t know how she does it, well I do actually.  She is a highly intuitive and skilled director who creates magic with everyone she works with. I’m very lucky.

Pulse has brought together such a strong team, it bodes well for the future, so, Lang may our lums reek’ is all I have to say and here’s to Scotland finding her Pulse, which She is.

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To find out more about ‘Pulse’ and keep up to date with Mairi’s other projects – including gigs, workshops and music retreats – visit https://mairicampbell.scot

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