Raymond Hosie

Location: KIntyre
piping, the view from 2020

The Day the MOK Fest went Interstellar

The 2020 Mull of Kintyre Music Festival was not the usual affair due to Coronavirus, however, through an incredible feat of ingenuity and hard work it still went ahead. Based in a bespoke recording studio, created from scratch at Machrihanish Airbase (MACC) the virtual event boasted five pre-recorded concerts including a Gaelic, Young Folk, Ceilidh, West Coast Rocks and Survivors Night Concerts.

Partnering with CalMac’s media and publicity team the Festival organisers decided that they needed a unique selling point for the event and the idea to transmit a music set to the International Space Station was born.

The CalMac team who had a contact with NASA reached out to the International Space Station and an agreement was made to send the recorded tracks to the astronauts on Aug 15th as part of a live stream broadcast.

Space Oddity by David Bowie was the chosen track and it was also decided to give it a Scottish slant by adding the Highland bagpipes to the arrangement. The situation with Covid made rehearsals and recoding difficult but with determination and creativity everything came together.

Survivors Night headline band Slainte Davaar Allstars with guest Piper Lorne MacDougall of Brave and How to Train Your Dragon fame, recorded Space Oddity along with a second track, With a Little Help from My Friends at the MACC Base. This was then sent via Nasa to the astronauts in the International Space Station and broadcast to the world at 7.00pm on Aug 15th.

Previous to this, the production team had just finished recording an open air set from local band Rhuvaal on Davaar Island with the backdrop of the Lighthouse. They then moved all their equipment out to the Officers Mess at Machrihanish where they built the temporary studio to record the rest of the festival.

The media team from CalMac had also delivered on publicity as over 170 national and international media outlets covered the story and the live stream video of the broadcast has now been viewed by well over 12,000 people.

The Virtual MOK Fest was broadcast the following week and overall views for the Festival and it’s promotions was over 60,000 on Facebook alone.

At the time Iain Johnston, Virtual Event Manager said “The Mull of Kintyre Music Festival has encouraged people to visit Kintyre from all parts of the globe since its inception 27 years ago and we were naturally disappointed, like every other event organiser up and down the country, to have to cancel this year. However, what better way to turn it into a positive than to take our music interstellar!

You can view the ISS Broadcast and the concerts from the Virtual MOK Fest 2020 here

As told by Iain Johnston, Event Manager of the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival

More information on visiting the area can be found here.