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Through the Wire: Electric String Orchestra (Fiona McLachlan and Annemarie McGahon)

Electric String Orchestra are a name that have constantly popped up over the last year for all the right reasons. I caught up with Fiona and Annemarie to let them explain a little bit more about what they do.

How did you guys all meet?

We (Fiona and Annemarie) met while busking on Buchanan Street about 8 years ago. Cairn String Quartet developed from there, and we became so busy that we had to build create another 3 quartets to keep up with demand! Made up of friends and colleagues from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, we loved playing together just for the craic so much that we put everyone together and voila! The Electric String Orchestra was born.


How long have you been making music together?

Cairn String Quartet has been making music for 8 years, but the Electric String Orchestra is a relatively new project, and made it’s debut last year.

What music genres do you tend to play?

Everything. Literally everything. We do our own arrangements of rock, pop, classical, anything we’re listening to at the time. The only thing that doesn’t work for us is The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It was a sad day when we discovered that.

What was your first ever live performance like?

Electric String Orchestra’s first performance was equally nerve-racking and also magical. We opened Glasgow’s West End Festival last year, composing string arrangements to collaborate with Twilight Sad, Rachel Sermanni and Emma Pollock. Just tuning up, and hearing the huge orchestral cacophony bounce back from front of house was something we’ll never forget.

Funniest things that’s ever happened whilst performing?

Hmmm, hard to say – calamity is never too far from us. Our violinist Cat accidently packed 2 odd shoes for a gig and had to go on barefoot. Also a huge vase of flowers once fell on top of Katie’s head. Also, poor Katie, a man tripped over a monitor and threw a pint all over her, and sprawled at her feet … and she managed to keep playing flawlessly even though we were doubled over laughing and she was dripping onto the man’s head!

Who are your musical influences?

That’s such a tough question for anyone but for us, we are classically trained so we are heavily influenced from composers we have been lucky to study – Mahler, Bruch, Bach, Shostakovich, Dvorak. Occasionally we’ll pop a Baroque section into a popular cover like Electric Light Orchestra’s Mr Blue Sky whilst also attempting to replica a vocoder. But we live for new music and listen to everything we get our greasy, stringy paws on so our influences are really juxtaposed by current Scottish Artists.

Who have you collaborated with in the past?

Professor Green and Emeli Sande at the 2011 MOBOs, Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ocean Rain UK Tour, Admiral Fallow, Camera Obscura, Rachel Sermanni, James Graham and Andy McFarlane (Twilight Sad), Emma Pollock, Francis MacDonald , Attic Lights, Pearl and the Puppets / Katie Sutherland, Roddy Hart, There will be Fireworks, Call to Mind, Dam Mantle, Malcolm Middleton, Aaron Wright, Aaron Fyfe, Sarah Slean, For Abel, The Orchids and Will Hanson……. And a few surprises will be popping up at our show in King Tuts on 27th June 2013.

What’s on the cards for the rest of 2013?

That’s a secret for now but it’s going to be an amazing Summer! We can tell you that Cairn String Quartet will release an EP in June, before being the first ever classical group to perform a headline show in King Tuts Wah Wah Hut.

And finally, any advice for upcoming bands and musicians?

Say “No Problem” to everything initially and figure out how to do it afterwards – there’s always a way! Never wait around for the phone to ring. Oh, and work your ass off. But that goes without saying.

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About the author

Kyle Alexander Wilson had written 23 articles for The Trip Magazine

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