The band, comprising Innes Strachan (synth/keys), Allan MacDonald (pipes), Christopher Nicolson (bass) and Ruairidh Graham (drums), grew up together on the Isle of Skye, giving them an appreciation for Gaelic culture and music. Their traditional roots, paired with their experiences discovering club culture and electronic music in Glasgow, helped them create their signature folksy electronic sound.
What sets your music apart? What is unique, or at least uncommon? What is your creative process like?
The thing that sets our music apart from others is that we marry traditional forms of Scottish Gaelic and folk instrumentation and song along with electronic soundscapes and dance music. The traditional elements are inspired by an upbringing on the Isle of Skye. Growing up we were all involved in Gaelic cultural activities, including a lot of traditional music through school and the Fèisean movement. This gave us a foundational musical identity that is rooted within the Gaelic tradition. It was when we grew older coming out of school and moving to Glasgow that we experienced club culture for the first time, in clubs such as Sub Club and the Arches that opened our eyes to the possibilities that exist within dance and electronic music. It was a natural thing for us to do to try and combine these two musical worlds in some fashion.
Are you finding the isolation of the pandemic conducive to your writing or is it hindering the experiences you can write about?
We have just released our third album A’ Ghrian (The Sun, in Gaelic) which was predominantly written throughout the pandemic. To be honest, lockdown didn’t impact us as much as it may have done with other bands, due to the nature of how we make music, electronically, which allows us to exchange musical ideas online more easily. However, saying that, at times when we couldn’t be in the same room as each other, it was difficult as when you’re working remotely on anything you miss the energy that can only arise if your all there together in person.
With the pandemic, how have you found a way to get your music and your message out there?
Yea, in the early days of lockdown we decided to do a zoom cover of Theme for Great Cities by Simple Minds. It’s always funny looking back on that video, as with some other key pieces of content too that brings you back to a specific moment in time. I think we were wanting to do something creative and fun, and also in our own way give a nod to Glasgow and the key workers who at that time were having it tough.
What does your music say about you?
I think it’s fair to say that our music is a reflection of all four of us. Our interests musically, but also our values culturally. How important Gaelic is to all of us can’t really be overstated, and this comes through in the people that we choose to collaborate with as well as how we name our albums for instance. With our latest album, this is the first time that we have dabbled with Scote s songs, and even an old English folk song as well, so we’re by no means completely tied to only experimenting with our own cultural backgrounds. But it is important that we can express traditional forms of Scottish culture in new and modern ways, in particular as this increases access and engagement between more mainstream audiences and Scottish Gaelic and folk culture.
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What’s next for you?
Gigging, eventually! We have our first gigs coming up in over two years in April, and then we will be touring from May onwards. We have a really exciting gig as part of a Celtic Connections rescheduled show on the 22nd of June with the BBC Symphony Orchestra where audiences will get to hear us live with a full orchestra ensemble – still get goosebumps thinking about it.
’ Ghrian is the dramatic new album from folk-electronica powerhouse Niteworks released on Friday 14 January, features an electrifying mix of Gaelic, Scots and English folk songs infused with cinematic electronica.
The four-piece band are at the forefront of the new wave of trad music and released two previous albums to critical acclaim, the latter of which was longlisted for Scottish Album of the Year. They expertly blur the lines between Scottish traditional, folk and Gaelic music with cutting-edge electronica, creating a unique and exhilarating sound that has seen them rightfully earn a reputation for unapologetic innovation.
A’ Ghrian [Ah Ghree-un], meaning ‘the sun’ marks a new dawn for Niteworks as they incorporate English folk and Scot’s songs into their repertoire for the first time, alongside Gaelic tracks.
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