Progressive Pagan pop duo Pilgrims are sending out a strong message through the launch of their newly-released second album.
Tundra raises awareness about animal activism – a subject Kat McDonald and Robert Davidson are very passionate about – in a bold collection of 13 songs.
Kat says of the collection, which was released on May 21: “Tundra explores the inhospitable truth about the world we live in, touching on subjects from the circus of world politics, fake news and humans’ innate desire to kill all things beautiful.
“It also covers songs evoked by love, loss of loved ones and personal struggles to remain sane in an otherwise cruel and mad world.”
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The first single from Tundra is ‘See Me’, released on Mother’s Day, and is about a calf’s plea for its life and a mother’s love, with proceeds from the single going to Karass Animal Sanctuary and the Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice.
But for those of you who might not have heard of Pilgrims here is some information about the Fife-based two-piece.
Pilgrims were founded in 2014 by Kat McDonald from Kirkcaldy, the former lead singer with Fife band ‘Little Buddha’, and Robert Davidson from Leven, who is the former frontman of progressive rock band ‘The Paranoid Monkeys’.
Their aim was to craft songs about their “travels around the sun”, their journey into love and veganism and the animals that have been symbolic along the way.
Kat describes their sound as a ‘cinematic fusion of progressive Pagan pop, psychedelic trip-hop, spoken word and experimental folk. It is an otherwordly soundscape and delivers a transporting live experience.’
Robert said: “With the Paranoid Monkeys I shared the stage quite a few times with Kat, who was in her band Little Buddha at the time, and eventually we got together and the band stemmed from that.
“It took a while though as Kat was on a bit of a hiatus, she had kinda given up on music for a bit.”
Kat explained: “I was a singer with Little Buddha and things went a little sour with the band. It was called Bedhead first before it became Little Buddha and we toured America in 2008, but we disbanded in 2013.
“After this happened I was completely scunnered and disillusioned with the music industry and didn’t feel like I wanted to sing ever again.
“But, as Rob said, we often shared the same stage at various venues in Fife so it was inevitable that our paths would cross.
“We got together and thought about writing something. We spoke about it for a bit and then it just kind of happened. We thought along the same lines about doing something more conceptual.
“The two of us are both really environmentally-aware, aware of what’s going on in the world politically, economically and of injustices, not just to other humans but to animals.”
The couple became vegan six years ago and Kat said their mutual passion for veganism and the animal rights movement has inspired their music.
“There is always an animal theme through our music,” Robert said. “We love animals and, as activists, we are always aware of what is going on in the world with animals and we watch a lot of documentaries, so all of that inspires our music.”
Robert continued: “We watched a documentary about a pack of wolves called the druids which became one of our songs so that was an inspiration. There was one lone wolf who was trying to infiltrate this pack and it was a really touching story. While we were watching these documentaries we found they were reflecting on our own lives.”
Kat added: “It is about our journey as two people who find each other, fall in love, struggle with everyday problems but also about the animals who have been totemic in our relationship. For example we both had a similar dream about a fox and we wrote a song about it called Behold The Watcher, which is on our first album, but the strange thing is just after we finished working on it, I came home and there was a fox sitting on my doorstep! It was beautiful.”
Pilgrims’ debut album, Wilderness, came out in 2015 and was created in three different parts before it was released in its entirety as an album.
But Kat says their latest album Tundra has a different tone to Wilderness: “This one is a little bit darker and the activism in the words are stronger while the first album was a little more romantic.”
She explained where the idea for the album’s title came from: “Tundra seems dark and bare but there is actually a lot of life in the Tundra – there is a strength to survive because it is inhospitable. The title came through looking at the political arena, the state of the environment, the ridiculous struggle for power – some of it is quite anti-elite.”
Robert said the ideas for the songs came from watching documentaries as well as from events happening in their lives including personal tragedy.
“Kat’s mum passed away while we were writing Tundra so the album took a break for a while, meanwhile Kat was reflecting and writing and a lot of songs came from that.”
Kat said: “One of the songs is Mama Bear. I had this dream about three days after she passed about this golden bear which is quite rare. It came into my room and got on to the bed beside me and slept by my side. I spoke to a native American sharmain about it, who I happened to meet by chance, and he firmly believes that was a visitation from my mother just to make sure I was okay.”
Robert and Kat said feedback for their new album has been really good and positive so far with plans for a potential music showcase in the pipeline.
Pilgrim’s new album and the duo’s music is available on all mainstream download and streaming sites.