MÃ nran taking Scottish music around the world
It's been six years since Scottish band MÃ nran shot to fame in 2011.
The release of their debut single, Latha Math, propelled them to mainstream fame, although the traditional Scottish folk band fell just short of producing the first Gaelic song to break the UK Top 40 in the 21st century.
Since then, Mànran have released three albums – the latest, An Da La, earlier this year – and have performed on stages around the world.
When I speak to group’s accordion player, Gary Innes, the band have just completed a 25-day tour of Germany and Austria, and a quick look at their website highlights a packed schedule, with gigs and festival appearances around Europe and Scotland.
“Performing live is what it’s all about,” he says.
“Getting the chance to put your music to people who are willing to come and listen is the main aim.
“Plus, a lot of people say we’re so much better live.”
The band have achieved worldwide success, and have played across the continent, Australia, the US and more.
So, how is it a band that plays traditional Scottish music has won over fans across the world?
“I think it shouldn’t be understated just how popular Scotland is worldwide,” Gary explains.
“We’re a small country but everyone knows who we are.
“People who come to our shows tend to be well versed in Scottish history – the old songs, tunes and stories seem to resonate with them.
“I think that’s why people abroad tend to get into our music.”
Gary says the band have been well-received in every country they’ve visited, adding that the band are most popular outwith Scotland in Germany and Denmark.
Despite getting to travel the globe, a dream for many, he says the band rarely get an opportunity to take in the places they visit.
“Sometimes you get a day off but unfortunately most of the time you fly in and fly out,” Gary said.
“You get on a bus, do the show, then it’s back to the airport. It’s better to be performing. It’s not like a holiday, like people would expect.”
The band are currently touring across Scotland – with a spot at a French music festival in between – and will stop off in St Andrews on July 7 as part of Byre in the Botanics.
It won’t be Mànran’s first performance in the town.
“We’ve played at the Byre twice before, which has always been great and well attended,” Gary said.
“Last year we did a gig at the university and that was stonking. It was bouncing and great fun.”
Another act who will be gracing the festival are folk legends Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham – a duo who had an enormous impact on Gary’s career.
He ranks Phil, who also plays the accordion, as one of his inspirations, but admits it was Aly who changed the course of his fledgling career.
“When I was 21, they played at Spean Bridge, where I’m from,” he said. I got to play a wee tune with them.
“After, in the kitchen, I was speaking to them and Aly took me aside and said if I wanted to play music for a living I had to get out. He told me to go to Glasgow, and that’s what I did.
“Phil was my idol, but it was Aly who gave me the life-changing advice.”
Byre in the Botanics starts on June 29, and finishes one month later on July 29, running every Thursday to Saturday throughout the period.
Other performers featuring include Midge Ure and India Electric Co, Elkie Brooks and The Glen Miller Orchestra UK.
Tickets and more information can be found on the website – www.standrewsbyreinthebotanics.com – or by calling 01334 475000.