LONDON, Los Angeles, New York – and Westruther. These are all places musician and composer Phamie Gow currently calls home.
The well-travelled Borders multi-instrumentalist has just released her sixth album, Road of the Loving Heart, and is preparing for a UK tour to support her latest release.
It was recorded in Montpellier, and a video for one of the album’s songs – Carousel – was also produced in the southern French city, featuring a Gary Pons piano believed to be worth £172,000. It has since been used by Prince in a concert and is reputed to have been eyed up by Lady Gaga’s representatives.
Speaking to TheSouthern from London, Phamie said: “It was great to be back in the beautiful city of Montpellier where I lived in 2008.
“The whole image of the carousel revolving like the world with people of all ages and colours inspired me to write the piece. I usually perform on a Steinway but the Gary Pons is extraordinary, the sound is fabulous, the form magic. It’s a real pleasure.”
She added: “The album was very much tapered towards the experiences I had in Montpellier. Then I came to London and there was a more English-inspired sound added to the album.”
Phamie captured the attention of the UK national media three years ago when she appeared at New York’s Carnegie Hall after an invitation from renowned composer Philip Glass to take part in a benefit concert.
At the time, Phamie joked that she had already played Carnegie Hall, albeit the Dunfermline venue.
And 36 months later, Glass – whose major new work is set to debut at Carnegie Hall next year to mark his 75th birthday – has paid a glowing tribute to her new album.
He told her: “Your new recording is excellent! It is both spontaneous and well crafted – a winning combination – and full of melody and surprise.”
While an invitation to play in New York and subsequent praise from one of the world’s most influential composers would be the pinnacle of many careers, Phamie last week experienced a thrill even bigger in her eyes.
She recorded her composition The Edinburgh Suite for Classical Brit award-winners the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards at the legendary Metropolis Studios in London.
Almost any international artist you can name will have recorded at Metropolis. Michael Jackson? Check. Madonna? Check. Elton John? Check. And now Phamie Gow.
“Carnegie Hall with Philip Glass was the highlight until last week,” she said. “I had four really full-on days at the Metropolis Studio, which is just an unbelievable place.
“It has been amazing to work with lovely people at a high professional level. It has been very, very hard and a completely new process for me, directing and producing with others, but it is great to get a hug at the end of it.”
Her time in Metropolis also gave Phamie time to meet the man who helped her – indirectly – to be chosen to compose the commission.
She said: “I was approached to do the sound track for Burke and Hare but John Landis [the director] did not feel my music was appropriate for the film.
“But the music supervisor for the film loved the music I made so much that he invited me to compose The Edinburgh Suite.
“After days of hard work, I was sitting having my dinner when I saw John Landis sitting opposite me. As he got up to leave I introduced myself and thanked him very much for his decision which opened this opportunity for me. I gave him a copy of my CD so maybe I will get a phone call in the future for one of his films.”
Meeting film directors while eating your dinner in London – population 7.5million – is a long way from the quiet hamlet of Westruther – population 60 – where Phamie was brought up.
And despite having previously been inspired by her home – Phamie’s 2002 album was named Lammermuir – she admits she now uses the Borders as a holiday rather than place of work. “Because I am all over the world working, I find it peaceful and nourishing when I come home. I come back for a rest instead of being inspired.”
Road of the Loving Heart is available now.