Takoma Park Folk Festival Q&A with Ronn McFarlane

Q&A with Ronn McFarlane of Ayreheart

August 12, 2015

Emily Kaiser

Ayreheartcreates new music from ancient instruments. We recently had the opportunity to ask Ronn McFarlane a few questions about the song and video forTaste of Lightning. Ayreheart will be playing the World Stage at 5:00 p.m.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the song and video forTaste of Lightning?

Ronn McFarlane:The inspiration is the idea that spiritual understanding sometimes comes in an instant—like a flash of lightning inside us. I wrote the words and tune on a long coast-to-coast flight that gave me a nice uninterrupted chunk of time to think and write.

Q: Tell us about the creative and collaborative process behind taking a song likeTaste of Lightningand turning it into a video.

RM:We created our group arrangement of the piece incorporating all of our ideas and contributions. Then, we shot the video playing live in front of a green screen. The outdoor images—tall grasses swaying in the wind, overcast sky, moving clouds and lightning—were added by our videographer, James Carr.We talked over the imagery many times throughout the process, but most of what you see is from James.

Q: Ayreheart’s music sounds old and new at the same time. How do you curate this unique sound?

RM:That has been the most challenging aspect of creating Ayreheart’s sound—blending the sound of ancient acoustic instruments like the lute, komuz and colascione with a modern drum set and fretless electric bass and making it sound like a natural organic mix of sounds. We have experimented with our balance, our tone colors and the various ways that the instruments can relate to one another, and it’s an ongoing process in both acoustic and amplified settings.Through it all, I believe we have created something unique.

Q: You’ve played the folk festival a number of times. What can we expect to see from Ayreheart at this year’s Takoma Park Folk Festival?

RM:We will mix old and new pieces in our set.We have updated arrangements of some great old folk songs from the Renaissance such as John Barleycorn, Twa Corbies and Nottamun Town which we will mix with our original songs. When you hear the old music, it’s easy to hear the roots of our original music.

Visit the Takoma Park Folk Festival Website Blog here.