Interview: Niteworks – 'It was never a decision that we wanted to start playing electronic stuff, it sort of just happened as a natural thing.
- Kirstyn Smith
- 26 January 2017
The Isle of Skye band talk about merging the past with the present
Niteworks' sound crosses genres and boundaries, melding Gaelic vocals with electronica and dance music. Add all this to their explosive live shows and you've got a band that truly encapsulates what it means to be Scottish: imaginative, versatile, cultural and exciting.
'Folk, trad, Scottish and Gaelic music is a conduit to explore the culture of the area,' says Ruairidh Graham, drummer with the Isle of Skye band. 'The more people are aware of music that has a distinct sense of place, the more they're aware of the cultural differences and nuances that make Scotland unique. It offers an identity that is pretty healthy for young people to have, especially in a very globalised and homogenised world.'
While traditions that form the core of their musical roots come from a national perspective, Graham maintains that traditional music is far from isolated or exclusive. 'These days, it's tied up with influences from all over the world. We are seeing really creative amalgamations with other cultures and histories that form some pretty exciting mixes. I'm not knocking popular music when I say this, but it's important to have music that encapsulates something of where a country and its communities have come from.'
The move to mix trad with electronica is something Niteworks embraced early on, citing Wolfstone as an influence when the four founding members started out about eight years ago. 'It wasn't until one of us went ahead and bought a synth and a couple of us began DJing that we started introducing some electronic influences and samples,' says Graham. 'Then we moved to Glasgow and got taken in by the clubbing scene down there. It was never a decision that we wanted to start playing electronic stuff, it sort of just happened as a natural thing.'
The influence of the Scottish club scene on Niteworks' music is a potential way in for music lovers who aren't particularly au fait with trad. 'On the reverse side of that, for people who are really into trad, I hope they see that electronic music is pretty cool as well,' says Graham. 'There are pros and cons to straddling two forms of music. The con is that it is pretty difficult to find professional representation. But on the other hand, ironically enough, you have a bit of a USP, either to the trad world for mixing stuff with electronic music, or to the electronic music world that have never heard Gaelic song or the pipes being played with dance music.'
And, of course, one way of getting new ears interested in music is for more trad bands to appear at festivals throughout the year. 'We try as best as we can to play as many festivals as we can get to. We aren't a full-time band as we all have to work, so it can be a logistical challenge to get together and play. Festivals of all sizes can be fun, but I generally prefer small to medium-sized events. They tend to have the best craic.'