Where You’re Meant To Be Interview: Aidan Moffat talks Culture and Dodgems


No matter where you are from, it’s important!

It reminds us of the history that once walked beats with us. Though our culture changes, shifting and shaping with the countries that surround us, we still learn and evolve from our past.

But how much can you change and update it? Do we stick to our roots or adapt to new generations?

That is the question at the centre of Where You’re Meant to Be. Paul Fegan’s documentary revolves around folk singer Aidan Moffat, former lead of Arab Strap who tours Scotland recanting modern interpretations of old songs. Along the way he meets Sheila Stewart – the last line in folk singing and a balladeer who believes that what they are singing should be sacred. The sudden relationship and death of Stewart in 2014 changes Moffat’s life, career, and direction of film.

We caught up with Aidan Moffat on the week of the UK release and his brand new tour!

How are you?

“I’m OK. I am in pain and suffering. I went to Blackpool at the weekend and we went on the dodgems. There were a few bumps and I think I have a few cracked ribs, they are very dangerous. Luckily it was at the end of the day though…”

How are you feeling about the upcoming release of your very own documentary?

“It is difficult make these things and then hope they are understood. The tour (of the movie) is going well and it played to England for the first time. The issue is that it was a very English show, in Sheffield and I was slightly concerned that they wouldn’t what understand we were saying. There are some pretty obscure accents – even for me – but it went very well. They understood the message we were conveying, there was no need to translate.”

Why is folk music so important to Scotland and its heritage?

“We all have our own culture, our own place and our own ways of looking at them and we strife to preserve it. But the film is about death too and legacy. There is nothing more universal than that.”

How were you approached by Paul Fegan and what made you say yes?

“It was me who approached him. I had known him for years as he was a gig promoter Arab Strap, coming on gigs and tours with us. We’d always wanted to document it but we forgot about it for years and Fegan started filmmaking. His first short film had won a few awards. After that, it all came together. It was serendipity and I wouldn’t have made it for anyone else and wouldn’t have happened. I approached him late on the bus and it worked.”

You met the late Sheila Stewart during filming, how did she play a part in the film?

“We weren’t really sure how to document the tour and it started off like those sort of films, travelling around the place, and it was a bit more of a standard movie. When we met Sheila, it became something more. When we met her, she represented everything we talked about – the battle between the historical and the modern. Stewart embodied everything. She and I are on opposite sides so we spent more time with her and had planned to do more. She died and in that sense, it enhanced her part on screen and made it more poignant. We’ve had a greater response thanks to her presence.”

Her opposition to transforming the songs is a main source of friction in the film, how did this affect your art and have you learned from her views?

“It’s a bit more bitter sweet. We played in Perth, where she is from, and her family came to see us. We sang her version of the song we argued about. Now with performed it a few times afterwards. It’s the least I could do.”

How did you get into folk song and transforming them?

“It was a curious thing completely linked with history, spurred on with the Independence Referendum. I had a couple of children and it felt like the right point to look at folk music.”

What’s next for you?

“To be honest there is so much planned and there’s big flurry of activity with the England tour ahead. You live in a bubble when you do this sort of thing. I’m in a hotel in Sheffield then I have another interview, and then a train to London. There’s plenty to keep me occupied. But maybe I can use the train ride home for some relaxing.”


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