Gaeldom’s King of Pop, Marcas Mac returns with a new single - Bruidhinn – slated for a Burn’s Night release. The song, commissioned by Ceòl is Craic, for their Bòrd na Gàidhlig-funded December Ocaidich showcase, has been given a pan-Celtic pop remix by Welsh-born, Manhattan-based Rod Thomas, known to music fans as Bright Light Bright Light, bringing Gaelic music fully into the chart-friendly mainstream.
Released digitally across all platforms where music is bought and streamed, Marcas will donate from the revenue to CHAS – the Scottish charity supporting children and young people in hospice care – as part of the #Burns2021 fundraising campaign, giving the release a community ethos, which all of Scotland can buy into, regardless of language.
“The song itself is in response to the constant abuse and marginalisation of Gaelic and other minoritised language-speakers in the press and online,” says Marcas. Indeed, it certainly responds the present moment with the Scots Language this week coming under fire from its detractors, catching the attention of celebrity advocates like Michael Sheen and Janey Godley, in articles published this month in the mainstream Scottish press.
“This isn’t news to anyone who speaks Gaelic,” responds Marcas, though the abuse faced, particularly on Twitter, rarely makes the headlines. “What recent coverage has also demonstrated, though, is that prejudice of this kind also goes hand in hand with misogyny and other issues,” as seen recently by the targeting of poet Lennie Pennie and singer Iona Fyfe.
Marcas refuses to be beaten down, though. Whilst the song confronts the mistruths and recurrent tropes which plague Gaelic and other threatened languages in the UK and Irish press, it also serves as a call to arms to speakers across these islands to take pride in their languages and cultures and continue to speak them. “To continue being yourself and do what you love is no small thing,” continues Marcas. “That’s what lockdown has demonstrated for me. It’s been devastating in many ways, but out of the isolation and the tensions surrounding it, I don’t think I’ve ever been this busy creatively.”
The video accompanying the single, created by Marcas himself, includes cameos from some of our minoritised languages’ most steadfast advocates, activists, raconteurs and creatives, such as Dolina MacLennan, Ruairidh Graham (Niteworks) and Fiona J. MacKenzie (Gaelic), Lennie Pennie, Iona Fyfe, Billy Kay and Steve Byrne (Scots), Sam Ó Fearraigh and Riocárd Ó hOddáil (Irish), Custal y Lewin (Manx), Lowenna Hosken (Cornish) and Rod Thomas (Welsh).
“In a lot of ways the language in question doesn’t matter,” reflects Marcas. “The misguided complaints about tax-payers contributions, the common pot, road-signs... they all feature whenever any of these languages crop up in the press. The song calls it out for the ‘butarrais’ (nonsense, in Gaelic) for it is.”
The #Burns2021 campaign, of which the song’s release is part, has been figure-headed by TikTok star Locheil Cameron and Marcas is proud to have been invited to get involved, alongside a number of Scottish creatives on the platform, including Littlest Chicken and Nati Dredd.
“CHAS is an incredible charity and, more than ever, it’s imperative to support our children and young people at a time when medical support is understandably diverted towards battling Covid-19,” explains Marcas regarding his motivations for taking part. “I had this song in the vault ready to go and so it was a case of waiting for the right moment and the right reasons.” For Gaelic and Scots, the time is certainly now.