Scottish prog-folk group Lau blew my mind at Celtic Connections in Glasgow (see previous post here). Twice winners of Best Group at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (2008/2009), Lau’s second album Arc Light will be released March 30th on Navigator Records.
Lau is Kris Drever (guitar and vocals), Martin Green (piano accordian), and Aidan O’Rourke (fiddle). The lads kindly answered these questions so Fiddlefreak could publish the following exclusive interview.
FF. Where did you get the title of the new release “Arc Light?”
LAU. Aidan’s actually an industrial welder and when it came time to get the album cover done he couldn’t get the day off work so we all piled into his workshop and afterwards decided that a welding related title would be appropriate. That’s a lie, we just wanted to wear goggles on an album cover.
FF. What about the name of the band?
LAU. The band is named after an Orkney word which means light. We’d had enough fighting over what to call the band and went for the one no one totally hated. Lau in the Orkney dictionary is spelled “lowe” but that reminded us of Christmas carols.
FF. How would you describe the music of Lau?
LAU. The posters say “sublime and anarchic modern folk music” and if it’s on the posters it must be true.
FF. How do you arrive at your arrangements and your choice of tunes and songs?
LAU. We write all the tunes and they tend arrive at the rehearsals as complete tunes which the band then arrange into sets. The improvised sections and the less structured moments come out of lots of jamming in rehearsals. We all love practicing, and we tend to play as much as we can when we’re not gigging.
“If you know that your culture has value, you’re more likely to stick up for it.”
FF. Do you three have similar backgrounds, or are they different, in terms of personal musical histories?
LAU. We all have parents who play traditional or folk music of some sort. Kris (From Orkney, Northern Isles of Scotland) is from a well known musical family, his father Ivan Drever is a respected guitarist and singer, Aidan (from Oban, West Coast, Scottish Highlands) learnt to play from a number of great teachers in his local area from an early age. Martin (Cambridge, England) grew up playing Irish trad music before moving to Scotland. We’ve all developed through the same scene though, and had seen each other at festivals and sessions for years before we formed Lau.
FF. Why do we see so many talented musicians emerging from the Orkney Islands?
LAU. There have always been lots of talented musicians in Orkney. Perhaps the focus has changed in terms of what the music can offer careerwise, but I think it’s just that traveling larger distances is easier and more commonplace than in the past. Orkney isn’t ignored by the national media to quite the extent that it once was, which always gives people as a whole more confidence. If you know that your culture has value, you’re more likely to stick up for it. Or something equally worthy.
FF. What hobbies do you guys have outside music, if anything?
LAU. We like eating and skiing.
FF. What would you prefer to talk about, if not these silly questions?
LAU. Eating and skiing.
LAU. Like most bands, we talk about music a lot.
LAU. A little football, girls, and the road to enlightenment.