I have long been a fan of Grey Malkin, dating back to his band The Hare and the Moon, which I often listen to while I work in my little maker’s space. Since that time Grey Malkin and I have have been published together in the Rituals and Declarations zine. He is a Renaissance person: a compelling writer, photographer, musician, flaneur and observer of life. I had the pleasure of talking to him about his current projects, favourite adornments.
Ally: Can you tell us a bit about your current projects?
GM: Since the passing of The Hare & The Moon into ghosts around 3 years ago I’ve been working on a few projects that are ongoing or now coming to fruition. One of these will be the début Widow’s Weeds release, which has accumulated a great number of songs and would be, in ye olde parlance, a double album. There are original songs, instrumentals, some traditional ballads; all in a sense ‘folk music‘ but essentially ‘electronic’, although with touches of guitar, flute and violin. Some of these have already been scattered on compilations and a few were the last songs The Hare & The Moon recorded, however these now feel more like the first utterances of Widow’s Weeds rather than the dying gasps of the previous incarnation. The singer Daughters of Grief is my companion on this outing, she also sang latterly with The Hare & The Moon which adds to the sense that this is an entirely new creature indeed. The third member of Widow’s Weeds is an artist who produces work under the name Hidden Velvet and who will be taking care of the visual side of the project. I am very excited for this album to seep out into the ether; it should appear around the winter solstice.
The current Covid situation has proved to be, by turn, a hindrance and mental block to creating at times, to alternately on other occasions allowing a great deal of outpouring and channelling into various musical projects. I suspect we are all having our individual responses to the crisis, all are valid. In the last month there has been a new single with Kitchen Cynics, two ghost stories set to music that came out on 7″ via the Reverb Worship/Future Graves label, and a download album of remixes of songs from an album I released with the Belgian artist Ashtoreth last year, ‘Hermit’. This features mixes from many friends and favourite artists such as Pefkin, Trappist Afterland, Richard Quirk, Pulselovers, Sky High Diamonds, Kitchen Cynics, English Heretic and The Rowan Amber Mill.
Speaking of Trappist Afterland, we have recently recorded a new mini-album together which is due out imminently on vinyl; this was our ‘lockdown’ project and very proud I am of it too. It follows our first album together, ‘The Trappist & The Hare’ which came out in April. I was also fortunate enough to play on the forthcoming Trappist album, ‘Seaside Ghost Tales’, which I have had a sneak preview of and can reliably inform everyone that it is splendid. There should also be a third album with Ashtoreth, ‘Heretic’, on its way which will complete our trilogy of releases, following ‘Pilgrim’ and ‘Hermit’. On the reissue front the album I recorded with David Colohan and Daughters of Grief under the name Embertides (‘Between Trees & Starlike’) is available again on CD from the Cursed Monk label and the Meadowsilver album (with Gayle Brogan and Stephen Stannard) will also soon be out once more in a new edition. Finally, there have been contributions (or possibly desecrations) from myself to the brilliant series of recent EPs by United Bible Studies. Phew!
I’ve also been enjoying writing, an article on ‘The Burryman of South Queensferry’ featured in the second edition of the excellent Rituals & Declarations fanzine and I’ve been contributing reviews and features for the superb Moof Magazine, which focuses on psychedelia and folk music and is available both in print and online. This enables me to write about a lot of the music I love and interview artists whose work has meant a great deal to me, such as folk artists like Alison O’Donnell and Caedmon. Plus, it’s just great that in this day and age that you can pick up a paper copy of the magazine, all beautifully put together by Melanie Xulu.
Ally: Do you have a favourite adornment? Does it have a story?
GM: Whilst musing over my favourite adornment, I decided to choose the first two that instinctively sprung to mind. The first is a recent acquirement; a leather wrist strap from a small shop/workspace in Sleat on the Isle of Skye that sits at the end of the harbour. It is a marker of a very special summer last year, and of visiting a close friend up in the Highlands and of how much this time meant to me. It perhaps feels more poignant with the current pandemic situation and not knowing when I shall be able to travel freely again, see dear friends or revisit some of these unique places. I wear it daily, a tangible and visible connection to some important memories. The other adornment is a tattoo on my right inner arm of an old medieval woodcut of a hare with a tabor or drum. I had this done several years ago as, as well as looking very snazzy, it combined elements of folklore, music, nature and symbolism, all of which I have an interest and passion for. It also marks a period in time and has personal meaning and connotations. I have seen this particular image crop up on a few occasions recently online, it is, as they say, a corker.
Ally: Is there another artist, writer, or maker that you think we should be paying attention to now?
GM: There are many artists I’d like to mention that I would love people to investigate; I’m going to be sneaky and mention a few before expanding upon one individual in particular! In music I’d like to highlight Gayle Brogan’s work as the windswept and otherworldly Pefkin, the songwriting genius and gentleman that is Kitchen Cynics, The Rowan Amber Mill (who are a huge inspiration for me and who have a new album out imminently), Burnt Paw (writer of beautiful songs and painter of beautiful paintings), the esoteric and addictive Trappist Afterland and the intense soundscapes of Ashtoreth. Art wise, I’d like to draw people’s attention to the gorgeous and haunted handmade dolls of Pantovola, every house should have one. However, if I was to currently focus upon one musical artist it would be composer Michael Begg, who also records under the name Human Greed. From his base in East Lothian, Scotland, Michael has conjured a repository of some of the most affecting and accomplished music I have yet come across. Sometimes electronic, oft cinematic, part modern classical and part experimental, indescribable and yet many favourable adjectives apply. He also puts on events and evenings in Edinburgh under the banner ‘Liminal Nights’, a rare and much needed forum for outsider and experimental music; previous happenings have included the likes of spoken word performances by Chris Connelly (Ministry/Finitribe). Michael’s chamber collective ‘The Black Glass Ensemble’ are also an emotive force in performance, as I can personally attest to, and his recent ‘Witness’ sequence of releases during the lockdown period that utilise satellite and astronomical data as a basis for sound have to be heard to be believed. Can satellite data make you cry? Yes it can. ‘Be Mine In Patience”, his amassed and layered collection of a number of artists‘ submissions of a B Minor chord sequence (the key associated with patience) was a genuine reaching out and connective force during the pandemic and I was very fortunate to be asked to contribute. It is a veritable symphony, I urge you to listen. All Michael’s music can be found at www.omnempathy.bandcamp.com.