Scottish Harpist


Esther Swift is gracing Queenstown with her voice and an uncommon instrument — the harp.

The Scottish songbird touched down in New Zealand, for the first time ever, a few weeks back and plays The Sherwood tomorrow.

She’s promoting her two EPs, one called The Mairches and the other titled To.

Swift writes and performs her own original music, with a few traditional covers thrown in the mix.

Her “folky-influenced” music steers away from the norm intentionally.

“I write a lot about nature in general, and my family who’ve been really important to me.

“I sort of wanted to avoid stereotypes of writing about boyfriends and stuff, and write about other things.”

She also takes a lot of inspiration from her homeland — hence one of her EPs is called The Mairches, which is an old traditional term for the Scottish boarders where Swift grew up.

But Swift has already found a link between Middle Earth and her homeland.
“Being in New Zealand, it resonates quite a lot with Scotland — it’s kind of similar with the countryside.”

Swift says the harp is an unusual instrument, but it’s always well received by audiences across the globe.

“It’s quite niche, especially in this kind of context where it’s more of an intimate gig and it’s playing and singing together — I’ve had a lot of people say that it’s really nice to have me so close up.”

Swift says the sound her pedal harp — which she refers to as a “fancy car” as it has seven pedals — has to offer is “totally magical”.

Being a musician is a full-time gig for Swift.

When she’s not globetrotting with her music she’s either being paid to write music for other people or tagging along with other musicians on their tours and gigs.

Swift’s music is folk, jazz and classically influenced, so pinpointing an exact genre is a difficult task.

“It’s hard to say, ‘cos one of the things I like to do is push what people expect from the harp, and I totally love all types of music.”

To hear Esther Swift play Queenstown head to The Sherwood tomorrow night, 8pm, tickets available on Eventfinda for $20.