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Thinking creatively – from studying to studio

We talk to Scottish Ethnology and English Literature student Hector Shaw about combining university with working on his debut EP.

Photo of Hector Shaw
Hector photographed by Cameron Brisbane

Recorded at An Tobar on the Isle of Mull, Hector Shaw’s new five-track EP Gravity is a collage of coming-of-age experiences and epiphanies - a record about relationships, identity and growing up.

Hector wrote the songs over a couple of years, from just before he came to the University of Edinburgh in 2018 - originally to study a single honours degree in English Literature - to the start of his third year as a joint honours student in Scottish Ethnology and English Literature.

Asked what it’s been like writing, recording and releasing an EP while at university, Hector says “in many ways, studying literature and ethnology has helped me creatively with my music. Because you're exposed to so many creative thinkers, your imagination expands, and you develop a greater confidence in your own ideas.”

“At times it was rather stressful juggling my studies with organising recording sessions and promoting the record but looking back I wouldn't have had it any other way.”

Developing your own style

Scottish Ethnology and English Literature is a joint honours programme that combines two approaches to the study of human cultural expression, past and present. Hector moved on to the programme having studied oral culture as an outside subject in his second year, and enjoyed it so much he wanted to pursue ethnology to honours level.

For Hector, a joint programme “is helpful if you have multiple interests and want to pursue them. I can choose between two subjects to write a dissertation on, and I've been able to meet a greater variety of people which is always a good thing at university.”

“I think in creative terms, studying has encouraged me to have a more open mind, to always be curious. There is no singular right way to do anything, and over time you will develop your own style of thinking and writing, just as a musician might develop their own style of music.”

I think collaboration is very important. Whether it's a band or a study group, having more than one brain to bounce ideas off can lead you in new artistic/scholarly directions you mightn't have initially considered.

Hector Shaw, Y3, Scottish Ethnology & English Literature
Cover image of a record
Gravity is available on multiple music platforms

This summer, Hector will be performing at Under Canvas, Eden Court Theatre’s outdoor summer festival co-curated with Fèis Rois. You can catch him in a Bogha-frois double-bill with Mike McKenzie on Sunday 18th July 2021, accompanied by Orla Noble on electric guitar and Liz Thomson on bass.

Find out more and book tickets for Under Canvas

Are you interested in undergraduate study in literatures and cultures?

Our international community is based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh, drawing connections between people and cultures both within and beyond our School, and thriving on our place in a global festival city. Surrounded by world-class resources and collections, we encourage flexible, interdisciplinary learning, with four-year undergraduate degrees specifically designed to enable choice and broaden minds.

Find out more about undergraduate study

Related links

Hector Shaw on Bandcamp