An Interview with Daniel Abercrombie

THE MUMBLE : Hello Daniel, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking
DANIEL : Hello – I’m from Edinburgh! I’ve lived here for most of my life, and been working at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, for 7 years now.

THE MUMBLE : How do you find working at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in the Old Town
DANIEL : It’s a really interesting place to work, we have something different happening every day and I work with a great variety of artists, performers and organisations. We also welcome many tourists into the building due our Royal Mile location – we like to think we offer them an authentic and varied cultural experience during their visit.

THE MUMBLE : So, you are the Festival and Events Manager of the centre’s annual Tradfest, when & how did you get the job
DANIEL : The Storytelling Centre is a real mix of things, one of which is being home to TRACS (Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland), who support and promote the traditional arts networks of storytelling, music and dance. As part of my role as the Programme Manager of Storytelling Centre I manage TradFest for TRACS, which involves pulling together all the event submissions and curating the overall festival direction with various programming partners.  TradFest started as a pilot in 2013, when TRACS took on the admin and planning of it as a new trad arts festival for Edinburgh.




THE MUMBLE : You are also a singer, songwriter and music promoter in his own right. Does your personal musical taste influence your programme choices
DANIEL : Not really, because we do a wide range of different styles, catering for all sorts of interests. Having worked on the other side of the business as well as a performer gives me an understanding of what is needed to make an event succeed.  Musically my background is not in traditional music, but that makes it exciting for me to learn and discover new acts as I go.

THE MUMBLE : Tradfest is multi-arts. Aside from the music, what other arts are presented to the public.
DANIEL : Most traditional folk festivals tend to focus on music, but TradFest celebrates storytelling, dance, folk drama, folk film, crafts, walking tours and the local environment as well. We are also celebrating Edinburgh as a place and bringing out different aspects of the life and cultures of the city.

THE MUMBLE : What flavours are we to expect from this year’s festival
DANIEL : We’re pleased this year to include a strand called The People’s Heritage, which introduces key characters and locations throughout Edinburgh in a series of pop-up storytelling events. We’ve been able to partner with the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology to celebrate Edinburgh’s rich history in a lively way.  A big part of TradFest’s success is that it celebrates local cultures and activity that is happening throughout the year, and we’re pleased to give a platform to many diverse cultures and traditions that exist in Edinburgh today.  We have performances that celebrate traditions from Iraq, Norway, Ghana, Ireland and Kenya amongst others, all performed by artists who are based in Edinburgh.

3 Troubadors

THE MUMBLE : The festival is quite Edinburgh-centric, but you do look further afield to other parts of Scotland & beyond. Can you give us some examples.
DANIEL : The Storytelling Centre hosts a strand of the festival called Local Cultures, where we’ve invited performers with event projects celebrating particular areas of Scotland or further afield. For example, ‘The Wick That Was’ showcases stories and photography from Wick in Caithness, ‘Furan’ is performed by young Gaelic singers, ‘The Two Truths of Thomas the Rhymer’ stems from the Borders and ‘Lorgan Bàta Nan Salm – Traces Of The Psalmboats’ is performed by members of the Lewis community

THE MUMBLE : What are the especial qualities of Tradfest that keeps it so popular
DANIEL : As well as all the different variety of events, TradFest also celebrates the coming of summer, which is always welcome! We include the Beltane Fire Festival and May Day celebrations in the programme, both vital parts of the folk traditions in Edinburgh.  TradFest reflects the strength and variety of the traditional arts in Edinburgh, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and discover.

THE MUMBLE : With Tradfest being an annual event, do you have an eye on 2018 already
DANIEL : It’s always wise to keep looking longer term, but we need to deliver 2017 first! My hope is that we can continue to develop the international side of the festival, as we’ve found that great collaborations can be forged across differing cultures and traditions.  It would be exciting to form relationships with different traditional arts festivals across the world, so we could share and collaborate together, bringing new people to Edinburgh and sharing Edinburgh’s talent with the rest of the world.

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