PIONEERING queer bagpiper Malin Lewis is to release their debut album featuring a unique blend of West Coast piping traditions and inventive, self-made instruments.

One of the first openly trans bagpipers exploring queerness through music, Lewis was inspired by the sound of bagpipes from a young age growing up in Moidart and Skye.

The new album is called Halocline, a visible layer of water formed between saltwater and freshwater, which symbolises Lewis’s experience as a trans person inhabiting an “in-between space”.

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“At 14, swimming in an Isle of Skye estuary, I encountered my first halocline – a hazy layer between two worlds, fostering a unique ecosystem,” they said.

“As a trans person, I inhabit a similar in-between space, rich with its own vibrant and colourful culture. My gender and music have always been intertwined, music is my form of self-expression.

“From childhood, I envisioned sounds that conveyed the joy, intrigue and queerness of the world. Halocline offers a glimpse into this lifelong pursuit of expression.”

Lewis began creating their own instruments in their teens, starting with simple experiments of drilling holes in sticks and inserting chanter reeds.

Aged 15, they discovered the innovative Lindsay System Chanter, a two-octave 3D-printed smallpipe. Enthralled by the instrument’s possibilities, Lewis collaborated with its inventor Donald Lindsay to create the world’s first wooden version of the instrument.

With its distinct voice and character, this chanter became central to Lewis’s creative process, shaping their musical identity and inspiring experimentation on various instruments, as showcased throughout their album.

Since graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Lewis has performed across the globe with a range of esteemed musicians, including Ali Hutton, Ross Ainslie, Shona Mooney, Jenn Butterworth, and Finlay MacDonald at festivals including Celtic Connections, Piping Live!, Celtic Colours and Edinburgh Tradfest.

In addition to their live music career, Lewis released their first book of original music in 2021 and was a winner of the In Tune With Nature composing competition run by NatureScot and Fèis Rois.

Lewis will be touring their debut album across Scotland and England throughout spring and summer, stopping at venues from An Lanntair on the Isle of Lewis down to The Pound Arts Centre in Corsham.

Featuring a stellar lineup of musicians, including Luc McNally on bouzouki, guitar and electric guitar, Cammy Maxwell on double bass and synth, Maija Kauhanen on kantele and vocals, Matthew Herd on saxophone, Michael Owers on brass, Stuart Brown on percussion and Sally Simpson on fiddle, Halocline weaves together intricate compositions and melodies inspired by European folk traditions, human nature, queerness and the universe.

The first single from Halocline, released this weekend, is Elision, which Lewis wrote when they were just 18. The track begins with two traditional Bulgarian Kopanitsas, or line dances, and its name refers to a technique used in poetry which involves omitting sounds or syllables to enhance the flow and rhythm.

The second single from the album, The Old Inn, out on March 30, is based on Lewis’s fond memories of playing in Carbost’s cherished pub on the Isle of Skye.

The inn served as a creative hub where Malin, alongside their talented friends, explored diverse musical styles, learned new repertoire and forged lasting connections.

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In Hiraeth, the third single from the album, set for release on April 20, Lewis delves into the concepts of longing and equality, drawing inspiration from their childhood memories growing up on the secluded island of Eilean Shona.

Halocline was recorded at GloWorm Studios in Glasgow and produced by Lewis and Andy Bell.

The album will be available digitally, on CD, black LP and limited edition blue LP from May 3 HERE and is available to pre-order now.