Kevin McKidd may live in the sun-soaked city of Los Angeles now, but he's still bursting with Scottish pride.
The "Grey's Anatomy" actor, and Scotland-native, not only stars in Disney Pixar upcoming Scottish epic "Brave," but also recently released The Speyside Sessions, a collection of traditional Scottish songs that he refers to as a "love letter to Scotland."
Recorded over the course of one week, McKidd, together with diverse cast of players and vocalists, recorded over two dozen traditional Scottish folk songs. The entire "community record," as McKidd describes it, was recorded in a house in the Scottish Highlands. All profits from The Speyside Sessions will go to the charity, Save The Children.
In an interview with HuffPost Entertainment, McKidd talked about the recording process -- in which his experience on "Grey's Anatomy" came in useful -- that awkward moment when his "mum" chastised him (and all of his friends) for being slobs, and the secret behind Young MacGuffin's seemingly unintelligible accent in "Brave."
Tell me about the album. You've said that it was inspired by your grandfather.
He was the original inspiration for it. My grandfather, George Runcie, was a very colorful character. He was renowned for being a great singer of old, Scottish folk songs. He'd sing all of these songs to me when I was a boy, and I always vowed that before he passed away, I was going to record them or document what he did. He passed away before I got the chance to do that, so that was a real regret of mine.
And then you decided to record it all together in the same house.
My best friend growing up, Jamie Reid, and I thought up the idea while I was back home. I realized that while I was becoming an actor, I had all of these friends of mine who were becoming great folk musicians. Jamie and I decided to hire a house for about a week, go up there and record. We sent out emails to everybody and ask them to send us their list of their 10 favorite Scottish folk songs. From there, Jamie and I came up with a final list. That was it! We went to the house, and it was this amazing, magical week. We were all cooking food, and living together and making music together. It's a community album; it's certainly not my album. I play guitar on all of the songs, but I only sing the lead vocal on four of the songs.
Was it kind of like a frat house?
It kind of did! A lot of the time it felt like a big frat house. All of us were meant to share the cooking and the cleaning in the house, but a lot of musicians are known as being quite lazy people, so my mum storms in to the middle of the recording and stops everyone, saying that nobody was pulling their weight. She was like, "I'm not your slave!" In that moment, we all felt like 10-year-old boys being chastised by mum. But that was all a part of the fun.
Oh yeah, getting yelled at by your mom is always fun.
It wasn't just me! It was all of us!
You mention how much your grandfather's music affected you as a child, so were your children there during the recording?
They were there. It really meant a lot to me to have them there, and I think it really rubbed off on my son. The minute we got back to Los Angeles, he called his friends and they started up their own little band. They're rehearsing right now, but they're doing more, like, Green Day songs [laughs]. I feel pretty good about that.
There's still time to convince your son to play folk music.
He will one day, for sure. I understand. I was in a rock 'n' roll band when I was a teenager. It's a natural progression. That's part of the tradition of Scottish folk music. It's an oral tradition that's passed down from one generation to the next.
You're the lead singer on the last track of the album, "For These Are My Mountains," and the song seemed to mirror your life as a actor coming back to Scotland.
That song is the one song out of all the songs that isn't an old song. It was actually written by an actor in the 1950's. There's a lot of cheesy versions of that song, with bagpipes and all that, but there's a lot of soul at the heart of that song. I think we managed to succeed in doing a version that captures the spirit of what that song is about. It's the same feelings that I have about what I've done and where I've gone. Maybe what you had isn't so bad.
Did your experience singing on the "Grey's Anatomy" musical episode help you during the recording session?
I think it did actually! It taught me a lot about the discipline of recording and not being microphone shy, which we call the red light fever. It definitely helped me get over that.
I really hope that Owen comes back for Season 9 with a newfound appreciation for Scotland and folk music.
I'm sure he will. Suddenly, Owen will be wearing tartan all over the place. He'll be wearing tartan ties I'm sure.
Is it going to be hard for you to get back into character?
It probably will be. I pretty much strictly in a Scottish mode at the moment. It might take me a few takes to get back into that American accent.
I saw "Brave" recently, and it made me want to go to Scotland.
It really is a love letter to Scotland. I think the filmmakers fell in love with Scotland, and you can see that in every frame of the movie. It gives you a yearning for something. It's the same feeling that we had when we were recording the album.
The first thing I did after watching the film was call my mom. Did you have the same reaction?
Oh yeah, it's a great mother/daughter story, which I think is going to resonate with a lot of parents and kids. There's this struggle between the younger generation, thinking that they know everything and having their own passion and drive in life. They don't want to listen to the older generation, and the older generation is too stubborn to listen to the young. In the end, both sides realize that they need to give a little to find the best path. It's about both the young and the old realizing that maybe they don't know the whole picture.
You voice two characters in the film, Lord MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin. I really hope that you grow out your mustache like that.
I'm working on it right now! It's getting there.
When I saw the film, I thought that Young MacGuffin was speaking complete gibberish. I had no idea that this was a actual Scottish dialect.
Yeah, it's actually a dialect from Elgin, my hometown. My grandfather spoke it fluently. It's called the Doric. It's an old farming dialect from the North East of Scotland, and it's absolutely authentic, even though it seems completely made up. People in the North East of Scotland will be the only people on the planet who understand what Young MacGuffin is saying. I feel very proud that I've managed to get this very unusual, niche dialect that not many people know of into a Disney movie. It's the dialect of my upbringing. I feel pretty chuffed with that.
Did you have to stick to the script or did you try and sneak any secret messages into the film?
No, they gave me the lines that I needed to say. Sometimes I had to call my mum at 2 a.m. and ask, "How do you say this in Doric?," and she would translate it for me. So with a lot of help from her and her tutelage, I translated whatever sentences they wanted me to say in Doric.
So sadly, no secret messages?
No, no I wouldn't do that. That would be terrible. Of course not! Well, maybe [laughs].
The Speyside Sessions is available now on iTunes. "Brave" arrives in theaters June 22.
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