Finn Anderson and Kirsty Findlay on ISLANDER Original Cast Recording

Image credit: Ali Wright – ISLANDER: A NEW MUSICAL – Presented by Helen Milne Productions

With a national Autumn 2020 tour postponed, the team behind ISLANDER have, instead, released the stunning original cast album, available now through Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and all major online music distributors.

The production had its first, and completely sold out, run last year in 2019 as part of our Edinburgh Fringe Festival programme in ROUNDABOUT at Summerhall before a three week season at London’s Southwark Playhouse last October. With national touring plans currently on hold, the album aims to give Islander fans a welcome opportunity to listen to the complete soundtrack anywhere and at any time.

The critically acclaimed show, performed by Kirsty Findlay (Olivier Award Nominated, OUR LADIES OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR) and Bethany Tennick (Stage Debut Award Nominated, ISLANDER at Southwark Playhouse) follows the story of Eilidh who stares out to sea and dreams of a new life beyond her lonely island. Myth and reality collide when the tide washes a mysterious stranger onto her beach, changing her life forever.

Epic storytelling intimately staged with a contemporary Scottish folk-inspired score, by award-winning composer, writer and singer-songwriter, Finn Anderson, while Kirsty and Bethany perform a whole host of characters, weaving, building and layering their voices using looping technology to create an expansive, ethereal soundscape. Exploring themes of loss, identity, migration and home, Islander was created on the Isle of Mull and is inspired by the sights, sounds and smells of the wind-beaten and wave-struck Western Isle.

To celebrate the launch of the cast album, we caught up with Finn and Kirsty, and asked them some questions about their run in ROUNDABOUT last year and what it was like to record this album instead of taking their show on tour.

What is your favourite memory from last year’s Edinburgh Fringe?
FINN: Climbing Calton Hill to watch the fireworks on the final night, feeling grateful that our story had reached so many people over the month of August.

How would you describe your experience of performing in ROUNDABOUT?
FINN: As a composer and sound designer working in ROUNDABOUT it was a joy to work with the surround sound. As a show that centres around music and sound, Islander felt really at home in the immersive in-the-round setting. Although it’s also a tent and our tech was on a hot July day… so pretty sweaty! 

KIRSTY: ROUNDABOUT is one of my absolute favourite venues so performing there was a dream. I always try and see shows there when I’m at the fringe because it gives every show such immediacy and intimacy that it always reminds me why I do theatre in the first place. You can see every nuance
which is amazing.

What have you been up to since the festival?
FINN: I released my solo album ‘Until the Light’ last year, and have been working on a bunch of theatre and circus shows. Highlights have included 5 weeks in Chicago earlier this year working on a new Scottish-Appalachian folk musical, and a new bilingual musical with Brazilian songwriter Siba and Portuguese director Tania Azevedo which we’re developing with support from National Theatre of Scotland. 

What made you decide to record this album, and what was your experience like?
FINN: Theatre is a one-off experience and it’s never the same twice. That has its own kind of magic, but it’s been exciting and challenging to take something that was made for a live audience, and transform it into an audio-only experience that people can go through in isolation. I wanted to give people a chance to revisit the show, and capture the music for those who didn’t see the live event. 

KIRSTY: It was great to come back together and record the album but it was a bit mind bending. We’re so used to recording the music live all the way through so recording it in sections without the loop station was really hard. I had to physically pretend I was pushing buttons just so I could remember what came next!

Can you describe this album in three words?
FINN: Intimate. Otherworldly. Playful. 

KIRSTY: Enchanting, Intricate, and SCOTTISH.

Why should people listen to this album?
FINN: I think the album offers a short escape from the noise that surrounds us in the media and in our heads right now. I hope it transports listeners into the mythical world of the show and offers a bit of perspective and magic – both for those who saw Islander, and those who are new to it. 

What is your favourite song on the album, and why?
FINN: Same But Different – I really enjoy the use of the loop station in this one, and I think Kirsty and Bethany’s voices really soar on it. It’s joyful, but also takes the audience on a real emotional journey with the two central characters.  

KIRSTY: I think Answerphone is my favourite song on the album (although I’ll probably have a different favourite next week!) The harmonies that Finn made for that song are just SO good that being able to hear them out of the performance setting is so satisfying. It was also one of the hardest to learn and perform so it’s nice to listen to it in a more objective way.

What would you say the best way to listen to this album is?
FINN: On a good pair of headphones, preferably near the water. Or lying on the floor after a long day.

KIRSTY: A friend of mine said she was going to download the album and listen with a pair of headphones on on the beach. THAT would definitely be the best way to listen to it. Although through a good pair of headphones would also do the trick!

ISLANDER Original Cast Recording is now Live. Here’s the streaming link to listen on Spotify:

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