Behind the Music: Man of the Minch – Circles

‘Circles’ is the latest single released by Glaswegian Galactic folk singer songwriter, Pedro Cameron better known in the music scene as Man of the Minch. With the incredible range of instruments colliding together to create dreamy celtic vibes, this is a truly unique track that will have you lost in the music at first instance. I caught up with Pedro to discuss the track in detail so readers could get a better understanding of the production and influence behind the new release alongside my analysis and evaluation which will be presented throughout…

‘Circles’ begins with a gentle drum beat easing listeners into the soft synths and the unique blend of fascinating guitar riffs. Pedro’s quaint vocals merges beautifully with the rest of the traditional music creating a peaceful yet significant aura throughout the track. When asked about the variety of different instruments in the song, Pedro introduced us to the other musicians who appear on the track: ‘There’s quite a few! Laura Wilkie is a brilliant fiddle player – she’s played with a bunch of great artists and is in Kinnaris Quintet, who are a neo-trad band. They’re doing really well at the moment and are a big inspiration musically. On harmony vocals is Emilie Boyd who is my partner in song. We have been singing together quite a while and we just know how to sing together. She’s a brilliant jazz vocalist and sings in a band called Little Acres who are a vocal harmony group – seek them out! On electric guitar is Craig Salter who I also play with in a band called Fairfollies – more indie folk rock. On synths is Andrew Black, who you can hear reading the business news on Radio Scotland, on bass Greg Mitchell (also in Woodwife), and Doug Walker on drums – he plays in a great ceilidh band called Stravaig. They are all in my live band too. On the pedal steel you hear is Conor Smith – that actually came as a result of lock down. There was something missing from the track and I saw on his instagram he was wanting to play with his recording set up on existing tracks while he was at home – so I sent him Circles and he sent it back within a couple of days. It really brought it all together.’ As you can see from the list, there is a huge mixture of instruments that feature but it’s clear each instrument plays it’s own vital part creating this incredibly captivating atmosphere throughout.

It’s the type of song that will instantly take you to that ‘happy place’ with the music and lyrics leaving listeners feeling inspired and empowered. I suppose that’s the sort of impact that folk music has on many people. For me, it’s the type of genre that has this magical, fulfilling feeling about it. Isn’t it the most amazing discovery when you find a song that you just automatically connect with? Well ‘Circles’ certainly creates that effect. When asked about the production process for the track, Pedro explained that, ‘We had played Circles live once before, and rehearsed it a few times but a lot of the arrangement came out in the recording studio, particularly the electronics and fiddle lines. The track was produced by Paul “Gal” Gallagher, who recorded the Broken Chanter album – he was really brilliant and understood what I was trying to do. I’m not very good at explaining what I want but he just gets it, and he’s so lovely and patient and up for it. I just sent him some tracks from the influences and we just went with it and played around. I try not to limit myself by genre – I just chuck everything I like at the wall and see what sticks – pop, country, folk, electronica, RnB, whatever. I think it turned out pretty good. I have no idea how to categorise it. I’ve gone with “galactic folk pop” for now. We’ll see where it goes from here.’

It’s not just the music that creates the empowering feel but the Pedro’s lyrics equally create the effect: ‘Thinking of all the guys who treated me better than you did, wish I’d opened my eyes and focused on me better than you did’. For me, Circles is about coming to terms with a recent break-up and the realisation that you deserve to be treated better. I’m sure I speak for a lot people reading this when I say we’ve all been there. Speaking to Pedro about the influence behind the track, he explains, ‘Circles is about knowing yourself, I suppose. Making the right decisions for yourself. I don’t always find it easy to resist things that are short term boosts, that I know won’t benefit me in the long term. When I did CBT a few years ago – the therapist taught me to think of a line between how bad I felt at the time and how I want to feel long term, and to decide whether the choices I made would move me along the line a little, or if they would set me back. I spent a long time going round circles of making good choices then making really bad ones which took me back to where I started. I’m much better at not doing that now and I wanted to talk about that.‘ ‘Circles’ is certainly one of those songs that you can put on after a rubbish day and instantly feel better a perfect example of the power of music.

The track is certainly a distinctive style from any that I have heard in the local Scottish scene before yet when I spoke to Pedro about his musical influences he stated that there were a few: ‘Oh man, so many. A major influence was the “Golden Hour” album by Kacey Musgraves. I love that album and I have talked about it a lot already  but its such a sunny, beautiful record. I love the colliding of pop and country styles. I think a lot of country artists do the pop crossover thing but no one has nailed it as well as that. It just sounds so effortless and breezy, and I really wanted to capture that. I wanted to include a bit of the styles of Dixie Chicks, Nickel Creek and Alison Krauss as well, particularly in the fiddle. They are all acts I love a lot – they have such magical musicality. Nickel Creek and Alison Krauss are “bluegrass” acts I guess but really not in the way most people, particularly in the UK, will think of bluegrass. They are much more delicate and harmonic. I was also listening to the new MUNA record a lot at the time. I really love when bands make synths and electronics sound emotional, and I think they do that really well. Their lyrical content is so smart too – I try to emulate in my writing. I like to twist turns of phrase – both MUNA and Kacey do that incredibly well. Another artist who does that brilliantly is Sheryl Crow, she’s one of my biggest influences.‘ It just goes to show you the variety of different styles that influence just one song but that’s the beauty of music.

I find it fascinating how songs originate from – for some musicians it comes naturally where other musicians have certain techniques. When speaking to Pedro about the creative process behind ‘Circles’ he stated that, ‘ Im not sure if it’s that interesting. Songwriting tends to hit me like lightning. I think I wrote that song in about an hour, just me and my guitar. I don’t really retreat into it and i’m not precious about it either. I don’t tend to fuss over songs once they’ve been written. It doesn’t really matter where I am, lyrics and melodies just sort of appear in my head all of a sudden. My phone is full of voice notes of me just saying a line or humming a melody.‘ Imaging writing a song like ‘Circles’ within the space of an hour, it just goes to show you the extent of Pedro’s musical talents!

Overall, ‘Circles’ truly captures the true beauty of self-worth within the single with it’s enchanting style and mesmerising lyrics… if you haven’t had a chance to check it out, what are you waiting for?

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MAN OF THE MINCH BELOW…

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Twitter: @manoftheminch

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