Lewis musician Willie Campbell talks Between Islands Project

  • Published on: 15th February 2021
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“Being involved in An Lanntair’s Between Islands Project has been a pleasure for me from the beginning, but it was a real bright spot over this last year. It’s been a truly horrible time for everyone, difficult for lots of self-employed people working in the music industry too.

I really appreciated the opportunity that Alex [project co-ordinator] gave me to mix three of the tracks on the Between Islands’ album. I love the process of writing songs, it’s not felt like a chore to me on many occasions, but the production side I’ve been a little unsure of. I’d always opt to pay somebody that’s done engineering/production for a living (and still would), but COVID forced me into the position of either self-producing or not releasing any material.

I’d recorded and mixed an album at home so by the time I mixed the Between Islands songs I’d found my feet a little bit. The track by Ado Matheson ‘Out on the Islands’ was particularly challenging, as I wanted it to have a grand sound with lots of layers. At one point I did wonder if I’d bitten off more than I could chew, and my computer didn’t like the demands being made on it either, but it all came together. 

I also co-wrote a song – ‘Leading Me Back to the Water’ – with Jenny Keldie from Shetland (we’re still to meet), our lives are pretty similar, we both love the places we live and appreciate them deeply. We started bouncing a few ideas around those themes off each other and the song came really easily. Jenny wrote and sent me some beautiful string parts that I slotted into the mix.

The technology that we’re using has been around for ages now, but it’s still slightly mind blowing that I’ve written and recorded a song with somebody I haven’t met. I’m greatly looking forward to performing it with her once we all get to share music in a space again, something I think we all took for granted but certainly won’t from now on.”

Find out more about the Between Islands Project at: www.betweenislands.com

The Between Islands Project CD (£15) is available to buy via mail order from An Lanntair’s shop – please email your order to: info@lanntair.com (include a contact phone number), or phone on 01851 708480. Payment will be taken over phone-call and postage is £1.95 per item.

The double CD features music from artists who had originally intended to perform both at the Shetland Folk Festival and the Hebridean Celtic Festival 2020; as well as collaborations by musicians from across Shetland, Orkney, and the Outer Hebrides, including Julie Fowlis, Kris Drever, and Saltfishforty amongst others.

And also available to purchase via mail order from An Lanntair’s shop is the Between Islands Project Book (£10), featuring articles written by museum curators and UHI staff involved in the Project’s lecture series.