The Celtic Connections online festival began on 15th January 2021. Across 19 days, the festival will present over 30 online performances between Friday 15th January and Tuesday 2nd February 2021. Kinnaris Quintet perform one of those performances, this coming Sunday in fact. We caught up with the band to discuss the digital model of Celtic Connections as well as what we can look forward to from their set.

TF: You are performing as part of Celtic Connections digital programme, what can we expect on Sunday? 

Expect some uplifting music that will hopefully make you smile and forget about everything else for a wee bit! We thought we’d stick our necks on the line for this gig and play some brand new music, some works in progress, as well as some old favourites…although, the old favourites were about as nerve-wracking to play after almost a year off! Served best in headphones or big speakers so you hear all the beefiness.

TF: How have you found the process in comparison to previous years?

The process this year has definitely been very different. Usually, there is such a hype and a buzz around the whole city with all your pals and musical heroes kicking about. You’re in and out of the concert hall and all the other venues and you catch up with the friendly faces you haven’t seen for a while. It’s like a big gigantic family reunion, with loads of love flying about for everyone appreciating music in its entirety. 

Playing in The Old Fruitmarket was on the bucket list, so that was very cool – it was just a shame we played to no audience!! Usually we’re buzzing from the nerves of playing to an audience, and, as much as we thought it would take the nerves away, we really did miss that aspect. Perhaps you’ve heard of ‘Red Light Syndrome’, wherein all memory of how to play an instrument goes to pot as soon as you realise someone’s recording or filming you…! It was weird giving it your all for you to finish and hear no applause whatsoever, and very unnatural to talk into a camera than have any banter at all with the audience, but all the crew were dynamite.

The entire team involved in putting this together has been nothing short of incredible. They always are, but they have stepped up this year and been unbelievably resourceful and professional. If people knew how small the Celtic Connections team was, they’d be shocked. Every aspect of the programme this year has been filmed so beautifully, and hats off to the sound engineers at Gloworm who mixed every performance – what an amazing job they’ve done on everything so far. We were so grateful to be part of Celtic Connections again this year, but seeing how quality and beautiful a job everyone has done on it has made us even more proud to be involved.

TF: Is this something that you would advocate for years to come, would you expect a hybrid element to Celtic Connections festival?

Unquestionably, it’s been really special and wonderful to see EVERY performance at Celtic Connections. However, there is a magic that happens in a live performance, and something so special about being there when it happened. As performers, seeing anyone record anything at a gig does have an impact on what comes out, so that natural element may be lost if everything is to be captured, recorded, and not in the moment. Part of the whole unique experience of Celtic Connections (because we are SO spoiled with choice!) is getting that brochure and finding out what gigs clash, working out what you can make it to and who you’ll miss but maybe catch at the festival club…it’s all part of the Celtic Connections experience isn’t it?! So, yes, definitely wonderful to watch ALL the gigs without so many late nights at the festival club that we’re completely burst couches by this stage, but sceptical that it wouldn’t take away from the beauty of being there in the moment and live audience attendance.

TF: It must be great to be able to be performing? 

It’s unbelievable. Even although we had no audience, it was so beautiful and special to play music with other people, with our band mates again. It was quite emotional to say the least. It felt a bit like a warm hug, or finally putting on a shoe that fitted perfectly after walking about for almost a year in shoes that were completely the wrong size and causing a lot of discomfort. We had this weird thing in our bodies called adrenaline. We’re so grateful to Celtic Connections and festivals that are trying to find ways for music to happen, for the opportunity to play and feel all those tingles that only playing good live music with your pals gives you!

Kinnaris Quintet will be performing with The Secret Sisters on Sunday 24th January at 7:30pm. Tickets available here