Formed in 2014, Tannara are Owen Sinclair (guitar/vocals), Becca Skeoch (clarsach), Cameron Ross (fiddle/vocals) and Joseph Peach (accordion). Teuchters at heart, they play traditional Scottish music, some self-penned and occasionally drawing from traditions across the globe. They’re joined at TradFest by rising Scottish folk trio The Lowground, which combines three of Scotland’s most exciting young musicians: Mohsen Amini (Talisk), Kenny Rankin and David Foley (RURA), who are ready to take the traditional music scene by storm with their heady mix of traditional and original material.
Prior to their performance, we asked the two groups about their influences and what they’re looking forward to seeing at this year’s festival.
Tell us about your upcoming album.
Tannara: We’ll be going in to the studio on the 16th May to start recording our debut album, Trig. We’re very excited to have the wonderful Rachel Newton acting as producer, and to have Mattie Foulds recording at Caribou Studios.
The album will be available from early July, launched at a gig in the Hug and Pint on Great Western Road in Glasgow on 27th July, and then at the Ceilidh Place in Ullapool on 28th July.
The Lowground: We don’t have an album coming up at the moment, but Mohsen is in the process of recording the new Talisk alAbyssbum , which will be released in April, whereas David has in the last year released the second RURA album Despite the Dark.
Which other musicians have been your main influences?
T: As we’re a band with a harp at the heart of it, we’ve been deeply influenced by Rachel Newton’s work, both as a soloist (her new album sounds totally amazing!) as well as her work with The Shee.
Other influences are pretty varied. Between us we’re massive fans of: Andrew Bird, Fiddler’s Bid, Ronald Stevenson, Lau, GoGo Penguin, Karen Tweed and Timo Alakiota, Bon Iver and Anaïs Mitchell.
L: There are far too many to even list. Basically everyone who plays music in someway or other influence us.
What inspires your songwriting?
T: Two big inspirational forces are people and our surroundings. We’re fortunate to regularly find ourselves in the wonderful surroundings of the Highlands and to have a brilliant group of friends and family – both of these have inspired many of the original tunes which much of our material is based on.
In terms of our actual process of writing music, most of it takes place in Owen and Becca’s flat on West End Park Street in Glasgow. We’re all quite prone to throwing down mental ideas which then need to be toned down a bit before they become playable, or even enjoyable to listen to!
L: When writing music we take inspiration from everywhere – it could be a trip we have taken, someone we’ve met along the way…
Which bands/artists from the contemporary Trad scene, in Scotland or elsewhere, do you rate most?
T: A tricky question! There’s so much amazing music going on at the moment, which we love for such a range of reasons!
L: RURA, Talisk and Ímar.
Have you played TradFest before? Are there any other acts on the programme you’d recommend seeing?
T: This will be our first trip to Tradfest – we’re really looking forward to it!
There is so much great stuff on the program, our highlights are: Niteworks, Moshie’s Bagel, Mike Vass- In the Wake of Neil Gunn, Nordic Fiddler’s Bloc, Martin Simpson, The Alan Kelly Gang and Mairi Campbell’s Pulse.
L: This is our first time performing at the festival! We would recommend seeing Talisk on the 8th if you enjoy The Lowground.
What does Tradition mean to you?
T: As individuals, our early experience of tradition was quite varied: Joe initially learned from a strong West Highland tradition of piping; Cameron from the East Coast fiddle tradition; much of Becca’s earlier experience is from the fèisean movement; and Owen’s from a much more song-based point of view. Our individual viewpoints on our collective music-making are quite different.
Traditions are such a vital resource: rooted in the earliest days of our nation, they allow us a glimpse of the soul of the Scottish people throughout the ages. Here and now, this remains the case – the ideas, energy and passions of Scottish artists remain firmly tied to tradition, a tradition which is developing, and forging new links with other genres and art forms from across the world.
From our point of view, the fact that we’re able to exist, playing progressive music that draws equally from other styles and genres as it does tradition, is indicative of the healthy state of affairs. Looking forward it seems impossible to imagine that Scottish traditions won’t continue to develop and innovate. It’s an exciting and simulating environment to be a part of, and long may it continue!
Tannara and The Lowground play the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Wed 4 May. Book tickets.