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Taoes Cultural Creations: The Prickly Thistle Soundtrack

Fabric is a craft that interacts with pretty much 100% of humanity. Music is the same. Two ancient foundations of culture that have stood the test of time. That’s why we were excited to work with Ainsley Hamill and Anna Macdonald, a pair of Scottish musicians who saw the value in our cause at the and wanted to create a piece of music to become the soundtrack for our company.

Taoes stands for The Association of Exiled Scots, which they set up after moving to London and meeting 5 years ago. As Scottish people living outside of the country, they bonded over a deeply engrained passion for traditional music that took on a new role in their life after moving away – connecting them back to their homeland. That’s what Taoes is all about – fostering community for exiled Scots through music, language and culture. They also elevate Scottish talent by providing opportunities through performances, exhibitions and bespoke events.

A visual identity is very important for a brand, but what about a sound identity? As weavers, it is integral in what we do… Every cloth comes from a handmade chain, each with a unique structure. This means every tartan has its own song because the loom sounds different with each chain! Rhythm has been embedded in our textile processes for centuries. Think of the tradition of walking cloth, banging it against a table provided a beat for people to sing to.

Real recordings of our looms form the skeleton and main structural element of this song, which for us means that listening to it is like spending time in our mill.

Taoes also included real recordings of our team members. Throughout you can hear their voices laughing and saying phrases regularly heard around the mill, expressing their character in an ode to good old Prickly banter. The phrase which kicks it all off is ‘Right then, let’s make some noise’ which is a tribute to the very beginning of our story… when Clare rescued our century-old looms and worked with weaver Martin to fix them up. For the longest time they were silent, but one day Martin knew they were ready to come alive, and with that he said ‘Right then, let’s make some noise’

… and they’ve been making their music ever since.

Through their creative process, Ainsley and Anna made use of a Piobrach song - a genre of Scottish Gaelic music that imitates the Highland bagpipe through a specific singing style. Gaelic is a dying language in Scotland so a very precious factor in this music too. Reviving the language aligns with our efforts to revive local weaving in the Highlands. The artists drew inspiration from a traditional song called ‘Ceann Tràigh Ghruinneart’ which narrates the trials and tribulations of cloth making and selling:

Clò dubh, clò donn, clò mo chrich
Clò dubh, clò donn, clòthlan
Gura daor a reic mi 'n clòthlan dubh
Gura daor a reic mi 'n clòthlan
Translation:
Black cloth, brown cloth, the cloth of my ruin
Black cloth, brown cloth, a lot of cloth
It was dearly that I sold the lot of black cloth
It was dearly early that I sold the lot of cloth
.

The final piece is a true embodiment of tradition intersecting with contemporary flare – like us! Moreover, in a beautiful coincidence, it came to fruition just as we began creating one of our latest cloths – the Black Thistle with brown filter…see it here and here

Thank you so much to Ainsley and Anna for this special piece, which is now the official Prickly Thistle Soundtrack. You can listen to it HERE, and we also encourage you to discover Ainsley and Anna’s own music. If you tune in to our latest Rebel Tunes Spotify playlist for October – inspired by the theme of Making – you will see that they are featured too. You can also watch our #WovenWednesday Instagram IGTV where we discussed the story behind making the track with the ladies, and did the first live listening!

If you’re interested in working with Taoes to have your essence captured in your own special soundtrack, then do get in touch with them. We can guarantee you will not be disappointed.

With musical love,

Clare and the team

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