Greetings over there. First of all, I’d like to thank you very much for the opportunity to interview a musician that I highly admire. My interviews are mostly about the man behind the music, but, of course, I ask about music as well. Anyways, I deeply appreciate this. To begin this conversation, I kindly ask you to introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Andy Marshall and I am the main songwriter for Scottish Atmospheric Celtic Metal project Saor.
I believe that, like most musicians, you begun playing music as a child or as a teenager, influenced by some of your favorite bands, that’s usually what happens. I’d like to know, after getting involved with music, what was the driving force that made you create Saor? And what were/ are your main goals when you compose music?
When I was growing up there were so many bands around Europe mixing together elements of their traditional folk music and metal and I was always puzzled as to why there were no bands like this in Scotland. We have a wonderful cultural heritage, a diverse and epic history, breathtaking nature and scenery – all the perfect ingredients for a metal band to use in their lyrics and themes. I have always been interested in my countries past and growing up I was surrounded by traditional music, so creating Saor was quite a natural thing for me. My main goal is to keep on composing music and hopefully progress as a musician and songwriter with each release.
About your music creating process, how does it work? Do you prefer to work with the lyrics first and then the music or the opposite? And what are the main influences with both? I’d like you to, please, enlighten us not only what/ which are the influences, but how, in some sort of way, they influence you, if you may let us know.
I usually have a melody in my head or I write a riff on guitar and start from there. There is always a concept for the song in my head when I’m writing a song but I prefer to focus on the music first and then work on lyrics once the demos are completely finished.
I am influenced by a variety of styles such as metal, folk, post-rock, classical etc. I consider Saor’s sound to be a mix atmospheric metal with celtic/traditional Scottish and some other elements thrown in the mix. With regards to the lyrics, I am influenced by my heritage, Scottish history, Highland nature and landscapes, poetry, films, books, my imagination.
How do you feel over the feelings and thoughts of fans and critics of your music? Is it important to “please” the audience or do you, first, make music that you enjoy, that pleases you and then if lucky, others will like it as well? One more thing, are you the type of musician that believes that people have to “get your music” or that music is universal and there’s nothing “to get”, except the beauty of it?
When I receive a positive review it’s great to know that they are enjoying my music and when I receive a negative review, I don’t give a shit. People are allowed an opinion. I don’t feel like I have to “please” anyone and if I am satisfied with what I’ve composed and recorded then that’s all that matters in the end. I prefer to hear the opinions of my fans anyway, as their opinions matter most. I am a pretty down to earth guy, so I don’t try and pretend that Saor is anything more than a musical project in which I can express my emotions and be creative. It’s an escape from reality, I like to get lost in the music and I like the fact that people join me on that journey.
Still on the music subject, I was once told by a famous musician that everything in a click away and all that matters is the first thirty seconds impression because a lot of people don’t value music anymore. It’s something very elucidative in my humble opinion and I always want to know if other musicians share the same opinion, so, I’d like to ask you how do you feel over this and what can a band do detach itself from this problem as well as to distinguish itself from many others?
Real music fans will listen to a record more than once before they form an opinion on it. The problem today is that everything is so disposable. It’s so easy now to log onto the internet and download an album for free without ever thinking about the amount of time, effort and money the artist has put into creating the music. If you listen to something and don’t like it, that’s fair enough but if you have illegally obtained an album by an underground or independent artist then at least have the decency to support them by downloading from their Bandcamp page or buying some merchandise from their webstore or at a live show.
A question that I always enjoy asking musicians to get to know their opinions. In an opposite way of the previous question, for many others, the importance of music is huge. Music helps us to go on through hard times or completes us in times of joy. How do you feel when you get to know that your music has helped and still helps people to forget about their problems, to go through a tough phase or that simply makes them happy?
It’s a great feeling. My music is there for people to get lost in, to be swept on a journey to another place and leave their problems behind. This is one of the main reasons I enjoy writing music – I get to escape into my own imagination and forget everything else.
What do you think about illegal downloads? Nowadays there even isn’t that excuse that you download to get to know the material, since the labels or the bands themselves puts the album or some songs on the internet for people to listen before the release. How do you feel over this? Is it, in your opinion, harmful not only for the labels, but also for the bands?
Yes, I would say that illegal downloads are harmful for both labels and bands. If someone illegally downloads music, they are basically stealing someone’s work and it is harmful for small, independent labels that genuinely care about the music and their artists. Most true music fans are willing to spend money on downloads by paying the band directly via Bandcamp or other digital websites. It’s important to remember that a lot of musicians and bands these days don’t make a living from their music and need people to buy their music so that they can make back the money they spent on recording costs etc.
I like to ask questions about the countries/ cities that the musicians live. I know that Google is there to answer our questions, but it’s so much better to hear from the locals. And not only that, but your music shows your deep and immense love for your country. Please, let us know what are the must visit locations in your opinion, the ones that aren’t well-known among the regular tourists.
I love the epic landscapes, nature, history and cultural heritage of my country, yes. However, most of the big cities and towns in the west of Scotland are dumps and I try and avoid them at all costs. I prefer the rural open spaces of the Highlands and the small communities far away from polluted urban areas. I’m unfortunately situated just outside of Glasgow at the moment but I am planning to move further north next year.
As for the must visit locations, that’s a hard one. There are so many amazing places to visit and a lot of them have regular tourists for a reason. I would recommend places like The Cuillin, The Storr, Loch Courisk (Isle of Skye), Callanish stone circle (Isle of Lewis), the Lost Valley (Glencoe)…the list is endless but those are a few of my favourite places.
Usually, well, very often, this is when I ask you about your personal life, but, as I always point out, never to invade your privacy. I just wanted you to, please, share with us some of your main passions outside music, be it about cinema, literature, travelling, studies, some of your hobbies, if you have any, your favorite activities when not playing music.
I enjoy going camping, hill walking and being outdoors in general. I like to read in my spare time and love learning about history, folklore, traditions, religion, wars and I’m a huge J.R.R. Tolkien fan. Most of my DVD collection consists of fantasy, historical or action films – at the moment I am enjoying Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead box sets. I also like my ales and my favourite brewers are the Isle of Skye Brewing Co. and William Bros. Brewing Co.
In your opinion, what is the correct T.M.I. equation, “(L×d)+W/G)/(??(2@t)] Length times diameter plus weight over girth divided by angle of the tip squared” or “((L×G)/(?A°))÷(M/W)] Length times girth over angle of the shaft divided by mass over width”? Just a joke question, hope you get it!
(Interviewer’s note: perhaps not a South Park fan.)
Something that I’d like to share is that it’s hard, very hard to come up with interesting questions when interviewing bands for a long time (today I’ve worked many interviews, reviews and not counting my endless hours of regular work), especially when you interview only bands that you love the music (as this website is a work of love, exclusively.), like Saor, without getting too vague (like many interviews out there) or too specific (and people new to the band wouldn’t be really interested, as they don’t know the band’s music). So, I ask you one thing, what’s the question that you’ve never been asked, but, as a musician or as a human being, you’d like to answer?
That’s a hard question to answer. I guess I would like to talk more about history, Scottish independence and non-metal music. I get asked too many questions about metal bands and to be honest, I don’t really listen to that much metal anymore.
And so we’ve reached the end of this interview. I hope you have enjoyed it and so our readers. I also would like to wish you all the best in your present and future plans, both in your personal and professional life. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Thank you for the support!
December 5, 2014