We chat to our Festival Favourite Ali McGregor ahead of her performance at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Do you ever miss opera?

Ali McGregor: I do sometimes miss the discipline of opera. Probably more the classical/romantic genres of Mozart, Rossini, Massenet, Puccini though. There’s something thrilling about finding ways to make a performance unique that has been done in exactly the same way by thousands of other singers. To find ways of putting your own spin on notes that must be sung ‘just so’.

You are now not just a Fringe favourite but something of an institution – is it a great responsibility?

I think it is utterly delightful to be considered  an ‘institution’. My role as Artistic Director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival over the past 3 years has meant that I’ve made it my job to see as much cabaret as possible while at the Fringe. The last three years I have seen around 40-50 shows a season. So I now feel like I am qualified in a sense. I have loved seeing performers grow into their acts, their characters, their skin while doing what can only be described as a masters degree in performance which is what a Fringe festival is, really.

Ali McGregor

What draws you to a song?

I do believe a great song is a great song, no matter what genre. Coming from opera I have always sung other people’s songs. I don’t consider them cover songs really but rather I take a song that hits me somehow and see if I can make it my own. There have been many songs that I love but I can’t bring new light to. And there have been accidental songs that I didn’t even think I liked but that took on a new form once I stripped it of all its connotations.

Is there any musical genre that can’t be given a McGregor-over?

No! I once did a hard core metal song as a jazz beat poem and it was killer! I can safely say that if I can put Aqua and Radiohead in the same setlist I have no fear of genre.


Ali McGregor: Decadence, Assembly Hall, 2-12 August (not 8), 6pm, £12

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