About Backshore Productions

Backshore Productions is a music production partnership which was set up in 2003 by Colin Blakey and Phil (Philippa) Bull. (For our individual biogs, see Orchestra Macaroon members page).

Our interest is in collaborative, community-oriented and cross-cultural projects, with particular focus on instrumental traditional and roots music. We each play a few different instruments and between us along the way we have also collected a mixed bag of composing, arranging and sound-engineering skills.

We are now based in Taynuilt, Argyll but first played music together in Edinburgh in the 1980’s, as members of Scottish punk-folk group We Free Kings. In 1988 Colin put together his first collaborative album, The Roke, recorded in Edinburgh and with musical contributions from friends (including Phil) and family, as a temporary 19-member collective named The Clan.

In 2004, as Backshore Productions, we recorded and released the album Breakfast In Balquhidder by Orchestra Macaroon. The pieces were all composed by Colin, and the ‘orchestra’ consisted of ourselves plus musician friends and family, some of whom had played together before and some who had not, and all but one of whom recorded their parts in our living room on Easdale Island, Argyll. Despite the orchestra doing some live gigs to promote the album, including performances at the Spiegel Tent at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004, it was an ephemeral group by its very nature due to its members dwelling in far-flung locations.

In 2006 we migrated to Cumbria where we lived until 2019. During that time our musical projects included The Macaroon Ceilidh Band which provided dance music for many a Lake District gathering over its eleven-year lifespan; and the Cumbria Gaita Band, a Galician bagpipe-and-percussion street band.

In 2019 we returned to live in Argyll. A new Orchestra Macaroon album, Hong Kong to Sligo, was recorded during 2020 and released in October 2021. The album is another collaborative project involving 15 musicians – including Colin and Phil. Due to the restrictions during 2020, face-to-face participation was not possible, but this made for interesting parameters. Each of the other 13 contributors recorded their parts alone and in their own spaces, so the challenge for us was to assemble the resulting recordings into pieces which would sound like the musicians had played together, or at least in the same room. We hope we’ve achieved this – have a listen and see what you think!

We suspect that with Hong Kong to Sligo we have not heard the last of Orchestra Macaroon. We hope that there will be more versions of the orchestra to come, as well as some collaborative live projects here in Argyll.

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