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.
PHOTOS: Summer Movie Preview 2012
Release Date: May 4 Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson Why You're Excited: Because it's The Avengers! Following five movies of set-up ("Iron Man," "Iron Man 2," "The Incredible Hulk," "Thor" and "Captain America: First Avenger"), Marvel combines its superheroes into one blockbuster. Early word on "The Avengers" has been strong, and the film is already an international hit. You should probably get your tickets now, if you haven't already. [Photo: Disney]
Release Date: May 11 Cast: Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Moretz, Helena Bonham Carter Why You're Excited: "Dark Shadows" looks like director Tim Burton's first actual "Tim Burton Movie" (and not, y'know, "Alice In Wonderland") in quite some time. The Gothic horror-comedy (based on the cult television series of the same name) stars Depp as an undead vampire living in the 1970s. Funny! Dark! Weird! Just what audiences want from their summer entertainment? [Photo: Warner Bros.]
Release Date: May 16 Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, John C. Reilly, Anna Faris, Megan Fox Why You're Excited: Cohen tries to rebound from the "Bruno" disaster with "The Dictator," a bit of scripted comedy that finds the merry prankster playing a deposed North African tyrant. The comedy is the first big laugher of the summer, but online reactions to the trailer -- and Cohen's pervasive self-promotion -- have been mixed. This feels like Cohen's make-or-break moment, for better or worse. [Photo: Paramount]
Release Date: May 18 Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgard, Liam Neeson, Rihanna Why You're Excited: With Michael Bay sitting on the sidelines this summer, Peter Berg steps into the blockbuster action arena to take his place with "Battleship." This thing looks like wall-to-wall madness, with space aliens arriving on Earth with eyes on destroying humanity by using a board game advanced weaponry. Only Tim Riggins and RiRi can save us! (Battleship pun goes here.) [Photo: Universal]
Release Date: May 25 Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jermaine Clement, Bill Hader Why You're Excited: Will Smith makes this look good, even if the last film in the "Men In Black" series came out ten years ago. "Men In Black 3" had a tumultuous production -- the $200-plus million film didn't have a finished script when it started filming -- but considering Smith's star power, here's guessing that won't matter to the bottom line. Or your enjoyment? After all, the trailer is kinda great. [Photo: Sony]
Release Date: May 25 Cast: Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Jared Gillman, Kara Hayward Why You're Excited: While it's not "The Avengers," director Wes Anderson has assembled a pretty impressive cast of stars for "Moonrise Kingdom," his first live-action film since 2007's "The Darjeeling Limited." It's a new Wes Anderson movie, so, duh: of course you're excited. [Photo: Focus]
Release Date: June 1 Cast: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth Why You're Excited: This isn't your spring's Snow White movie. Unlike "Mirror Mirror," "Snow White and the Huntsman" is an action blockbuster that envisions Snow White as a warrior. Having Bella Swan and Thor in the same movie is great, but the draw here could be Theron, doing over-the-top villainy as the evil queen. [Photo: Universal]
Release Date: June 8 Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Logan Marshall Green, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba Why You're Excited: Ridley Scott's first science-fiction film in three decades is one of the most anticipated blockbusters of the sumer -- something the ubiquitous marketing campaign won't let you soon forget. "Prometheus" -- which appears to mix scares and sci-fi action in equal measure -- is not a prequel to "Alien," but is of the same universe. All of which means, it's pretty much a prequel to "Alien." [Photo: Fox]
Release Date: June 8 Cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen Why You're Excited: The first two "Madagascar" films have pleased family audiences to the tune of over $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales. Considering the third entry is opening against "Prometheus" and its potential R-rating, expect a similar windfall to follow [Photo: Paramount]
Release Date: June 15 Cast: Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Malin Akerman Why You're Excited: The best jukebox musical ever comes to the big-screen with the help of an all-star cast, an awesome soundtrack and "Hairspray" director Adam Shankman. This year's "Mammia Mia"? For the accountants at Warner Bros., here's hoping. [Photo: Warner Bros.]
Release Date: June 15 Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, Vanilla Ice Why You're Excited: Everyone rightly piles on Adam Sandler for his lack of trying (see: "Jack and Jill," "Just Go With It"), so let's look to "That's My Boy" as progress. It's an R-rated comedy that stars Sandler as a ne'er-do-well dad trying to get back into his son's life. The trailer is riotous (not kidding), so maybe this will be the first Adam Sandler movie you've liked since "Funny People"? "50 First Dates"? When was the last time you liked an Adam Sandler movie? [Photo: Sony]
Release Date: June 22 Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson Why You're Excited: The newest Pixar feature is the first to focus on a female protagonist. And she shoots arrows! So, if you liked "The Hunger Games," this one is for you. Just remember: it's Pixar, so bring the Kleenex. [Photo: Disney]
Release Date: June 29 Cast: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki, Channing Tatum Why You're Excited: Because judging from the trailer, this sequel-cum-reboot of "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" actually has a sense of humor about itself. That's good! Also good: The Rock and Bruce Willis cracking wise and blasting massive machine guns. [Photo: Paramount]
Release Date: June 29 Cast: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Olivia Munn, Cody Horn Why You're Excited: Channing Tatum plays a male stripper who's secret desire is to make furniture. Steven Soderbergh directs. The trailer featured extensive use of "We Found Love." Yes, this is your favorite movie of the summer. [Photo: Warner Bros.]
Release Date: June 22 Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Woody Allen Why You're Excited: Last summer, Woody Allen released his most successful film yet with "Midnight In Paris." Can "To Rome With Love" be even bigger? Well, the cast is certainly bigger, thanks -- in part -- to the fact that Allen himself makes an appearance, the first time he's done so since "Scoop" in 2006. Couple him with Baldwin, Cruz and a youngster like Eisenberg, and "Rome" could be like "Marvel's The Avengers" for the parental set. [Photo: Sony Classics]
Release Date: July 3 Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary Why You're Excited: Though "Spider-Man 3" came out in 2007, Sony decided to reboot your friendly neighborhood webslinger with a fresh feel: Indie director Marc Webb ("500 Days Of Summer") and Andrew Garfield replace Sami Raimi and Tobey Maguire, and the trailers have a bit more snark than the earnest earlier Spidey films. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey, Peter Parker's lady love, is a genius bit of casting, if only because Emma Stone makes everything better. [Photo: Sony]
Release Date: July 4 Cast: Katy Perry Why You're Excited: Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? If so, see Katy Perry's concert documentary (in 3D) over the Fourth of July. Baby, you're a firework, etc. [Photo: Paramount]
Release Date: July 6 Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Uma Thurman Why You're Excited: Director Oliver Stone brings Don Winslow's violent bit of pulp fiction to the big screen with an all-star cast of people you mostly like. About a pair of SoCal drug dealers (Kitsch and Johnson) who try to save the woman they both love (Lively) from the hands of a powerful cartel, "Savages" could be the action choice of the summer. We hope Stone changed the book's mediocre ending, though. [Photo: Universal]
Release Date: July 13 Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane Why You're Excited: For his first feature film, "Family Guy" impresario Seth MacFarlane didn't bring "Family Guy" to the screen. Instead he wrote and directed "Ted," an R-rated comedy about a man (Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear (voiced by MacFarlane). Ever want to see a teddy bear rip a bong hit? Here's your movie. [Photo: Universal]
Release Date: July 20 Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Why You're Excited: If you aren't excited to see Christopher Nolan's final Batman film, you're probably dead. [Photo: Warner Bros.]
Release Date: July 27 Cast: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill Why You're Excited: Despite being surrounded by controversy in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, "The Watch" feels like a hit lying in wait. After all, it features an all-star cast and is about space aliens. With a friendly release date, don't be surprised if this is a sleeper summer hit. [Photo: Fox]
Release Date: July 25 Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas Why You're Excited: The last time Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris released a movie over the summer, it was "Little Miss Sunshine," an indie hit that earned a Best Picture nomination. No pressure on their follow-up, though! Starring "Sunshine's" Paul Dano, "Ruby Sparks" is a quirky dramedy about an author who writes a female character that comes to life (Zoe Kazan, Dano's real life girlfriend). Quirky! [Photo: Fox Searchlight]
Release Date: Aug. 3 Cast: Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Joan Allen, Albert Finney Why You're Excited: Since you probably won't have gotten your fill watching Jeremy Renner play a mindless assassin in "Marvel's The Avengers," he's picking up the "Bourne" franchise from Matt Damon. The twist? He's not playing Jason Bourne, but Aaron Cross, a new brain-washed killer. If Renner isn't a big A-list star by the time Labor Day rolls around, something really went wrong. [Photo: Universal]
Release Date: Aug. 3 Cast: Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, John Cho Why You're Excited: No Arnold, no Mars, no problem? That's the hope for director Len Wiseman, who has remade the 1990 Schwarzenegger classic ("classic") with Colin Farrell in the lead role. Because putting Farrell in a remake of a cult movie ("Fright Night") worked so well last summer... [Photo: Sony]
Release Date: Aug. 10 Cast: Meryl Streep, Steve Carell, Tommy Lee Jones Why You're Excited: If it's August, it's time for a sleeper Meryl Streep comedy. Like "Julie & Julia," "Mamma Mia!" and "The Devil Wears Prada" before it, "Hope Springs" hopes (ding!) to capitalize on summer's perpetually ignored adult audience. Steve Carell tapped into that group last year with "Crazy, Stupid, Love," so obviously he's the perfect co-star. [Photo: Sony]
Release Date: Aug. 10 Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis Why You're Excited: Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis were so funny together at the dour 2012 Academy Awards that the chance to see them pair up onscreen feels too good to pass up. "The Campaign" comes out in a crowded early August corridor, but it's timely subject matter -- political elections -- could allow it to have some substantial box-office legs. Jay Roach ("Game Change") directs. [Photo: Warner Bros.]
Release Date: Aug. 17 Cast: Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke Why You're Excited: "Sparkle" features the last ever film appearance by Whitney Houston. The curiosity factor alone will get you into the theater for this one, a remake of the 1976 film about a girl group fraying under the pressures of fame. [Photo: Sony]
Release Date: Aug. 17 Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Randy Couture, Jason Statham, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Liam Hemsworth Why You're Excited: See "the cast." [Photo: Lionsgate]
Release Date: Aug. 24 Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez Why You're Excited: Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a bike messenger who gets wrapped up in a dirty cop's shady dealings. Considering the dirty cop is played by Michael Shannon, expect much scenery-chewing. [Photo: Sony]
Release Date: Aug. 31 Cast: Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce Why You're Excited: Previously titled "The Wettest County," "Lawless" is a red-blooded Prohibition-era drama from director John Hillcoat ("The Proposition"). With a beefy cast of budding A-listers (Hardy, off "The Dark Knight Rises," in particular), expect this to be the thinking person's choice for Labor Day viewing. It's either "Lawless" or some two-bit horror movie, y'all! [Photo: TWC]