South African band Freshlyground performing at Lake of Stars in 2016
Poet Michael Pedersen on Malawi's Lake of Stars as the festival celebrates its birthday with showcases in Glasgow and London
The Malawian music and arts festival Lake of Stars celebrates its 15th birthday this year and to celebrate the organisers are hosting one-day events in London (10 March) and Glasgow (11 March). The Glasgow event takes place at Glasgow Art School and the lineup includes Scottish artists L-Space and Bwani Junction in company with Malawian artists like Davie Luhanga, Moyenda, and Kalima. From 7 pm onwards the event will become ticketed (£16) and Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit and poet Michael Pedersen are to perform alongside a variety of artists from Malawi, Ghana, South Africa and Zambia.
We talked to Pedersen about what to expect from the Glasgow event and about his experience as a Scottish artist at the Lake of Stars festival.
How did you get involved in Lake Of Stars? I performed at Lake of Stars in 2014 because there's a big history of Scottish artists going over for the festival in honour of the historical relationship between Scotland and Malawi. A group of us – poets, musicians, artists – went over as a big cultural gaggle to reignite a fuse between these cross-cultural collaborations.
What was the thinking behind bringing it to Glasgow? The idea behind the Glasgow and London events is to encourage people from the UK to go to the festival and see the kinship we have over there. Having a celebration in Glasgow seemed like an obvious thing to do because of the important cultural relationship our countries have. It is a love-fest for star-lusted cultural lovers of Scotland and Malawi and all the artists who have been there and all the artists to come this year. If we do a good job of helping people visualise being there the festival sells itself.
What is the Lake of Stars festival like? The festival is set on the edge of Lake Malawi and it's a pure cultural mix. It's a good size and you are constantly stumbling on different performances. There's a big hip-hop and singer-songwriter presence and spoken word really shines through. It can be both a brilliantly full-throttle experience or if you wanted it to be you could also slow it down and go for the beach holiday vibe. It seems like it's really far away but people in the UK would spend just as much money getting to Glastonbury. It's a slightly longer flight but the weather is guaranteed to be better.
How do you hope to catch the essence of the festival at the Glasgow event? Since performing at the festival of Stars with the gaggle I reflected on why we were there and the synergy we shared and I hope to reignite that – in a more ameliorated form – for the set. I'm going to have a look back at many of the poems that I wrote when I was out there. My stuff is very particular to me: capturing the day to day life of a confused Scottish human and I had to think about cutting out some of the Scots in my work so it fitted. I've ended up producing a set which I think is bespoke for the event.
Aside from the music what else can we expect? The Malawian market at the event will really show people a blueprint of what to expect, with the crafts and food element of it. Alongside the music later in the evening it will turn the event into a multi-performer, creative carnival of brilliance, and it will be a nice stamp as to what people can expect over in Malawi.
Music and arts festival Lake of Stars brings its trademark cross-genre blend of artists and musical styles from the tropical shores of Lake Malawi to the streets of Scotland, to help mark the festival's 15th anniversary year. Featuring a free daytime programme of performances including live music from Malawi’s Davie…