Celebrated writer and Gaelic language advocate Marcas Mac an Tuairneir affirms his position on the vanguard of Gaelic song and song writing with this innovative new body of work.
Speactram is the exciting and innovative new album from Marcas Mac an Tuairneir. Set for release on Friday 29 July 2022, this new body of work is a watershed moment for the Gaelic music scene as it revives the Gaelic popular music tradition, bringing it back into the spotlight whilst further introducing LGBTQI+ narratives into the traditional and contemporary Gaelic song canon.
The album aims to bring back the Gaelic popular music tradition of the 1980s, that saw its advent with the likes of the 101 Band and Na Soluis Dhuibh. Both outfits mapped the Gaelic language onto musical sounds being heard on mainstream radio at the time. Marcas has successfully managed to reintroduce this concept in Speactram by encapsulating the mood of upbeat contemporary sounds into Gaelic song and introducing the genre of GaelPop - a pioneering new genre which sees Gaelic going pop.
The music within Speactram has an unmistakingly urban sound for Gaelic music and Marcas’ aim with this genre is to give an ‘in’ to those who do not comfortably fit the Gaelic paradigm or who come from non-Gaelic speaking and diverse backgrounds – primarily new speakers and young people going through Gaelic-medium Education.
While encapsulating the mood of the contemporary in Gaelic song, Marcas was also determined to address the absence of LGBTQI+ narrative within the Gaelic corpus. Speactram aims to add a gay, genderqueer voice to the language’s musical soundscape and recognise the role that queer people have always played in shaping and influencing the wider cultural scene – continually sitting at the forefront of the musical avant-garde specifically.
Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, said: “Speactram has been an exploration of what Gaelic pop could sound like in 2022, it harvests a multitude of influences across the popular music landscape bringing the neon lights of urban settings to the Gaelic milieu for the first time. I am incredibly proud of what the collaborators and I have achieved with this new body of work. My hope is that it gives rise to not only the GaelPop genre but also to other diverse voices being heard more prominently within the Gaelic corpus.”
The creative ethos of the album making process has been exploration and experimentation, building on relationships where Marcas is comfortable articulating the gay and genderqueer aspects of his identity creatively.
He has worked with some of the most celebrated Gaelic musicians on the scene today including Mary Ann Kennedy, who has also been the Executive Producer for the album, singers Rachel Walker and Gille MacKenzie and musician Pàdruig Morrison. Marcas also worked with singer-songwriter Adam Holmes and producer and instrumentalist Gary Keane. Nick Turner, of Watercolour music, has co-written a number of the tunes with Marcas alongside producing, mixing and mastering the album.
Marcas has also worked with Welsh-born, Manhattan-based Rod Thomas (Bright Light Bright Light) on the remix of ‘Bruidhinn’ which appears on this album. Having worked with the likes of Elton John and Scissor Sisters, working with Rod was a dream come true for lifelong fan Marcas and it is this collaboration that really cemented the electro-pop sound which went on to proliferate the subsequent material.
With its range of influences Speactram encapsulates the electronica vibes of the 1980s and the RnB pop of the 1990s, incorporating chart-friendly sounds from the present day. Marcas’ work with Nick Turner has been heavily influenced by the Pet Shop Boys and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Working with singer-songwriter Adam Holmes, the sounds incorporate those of the 1990s, with influences ranging from Soul II Soul to Eternal to Beverly Knight, with the song ‘Leòmhann-chridhe’ also giving a nod to the 1960s as well as contemporary RnB sounds heard more commonly today. The three songs with Gary Keane (‘Nochd’, ‘Calman’ and ‘Èirigh’) are contemporary in sound and include elements of Future Bass and EDM.