Published: 06/07/2018 07:00 - Updated: 05/07/2018 10:17

Tannara QnA: "There's a lot you can do with Scottish folk music"

Written byKyle Walker

Tannara come to Highlands for a string of dates.
Tannara (from left): Joseph Peach, Robbie Greig, Beth Skeoch, Owen Sinclair.

Up-and-coming trad quartet Tannara make their way north for a string of dates across the Highlands next week – taking in Ullapool, Aviemore and Lyth. Ahead of the shows, we caught up with the band's keys player Joseph Peach to learn a bit more about the band

Hallo, cheers for answering these! Whereabouts are you answering these from?

We’re all over the place at the moment! Becca and I are in sunny Glasgow, Owen is in Plockton supervising the Fèis Fhoirt ceilidh trail at Fèis Alba and Robbie is on Uist teaching at Ceolas. We’ll meet up later this week to play at the Priddy Folk Festival in Somerset on Friday.

You’re up north as part of a mini tour – with dates in Ullapool, Aviemore and Wick. How are you looking forward to bringing your folk music back to the Highlands?

We love playing in the Highlands! It’s probably our favourite bit of Scotland, and when we gig up there we get to catch up with loads of pals and family which is really nice. This will be our first visit to the Lyth Arts Centre, and our first time playing at the Old Bridge Inn – Owen used to work there, and we quite often stop for some of their amazing food, but we’re yet to gig there! Then of course the Ceilidh Place is awesome – we did our very first gig together there in the winter of 2014, and they’ve been incredibly lovely and supportive ever since. This is probably our favourite venue of them all.

So I’d love to get the history of Tannara – how did the band first kick off? What was the thing that brought you all together? How have things developed for you since you first started playing together?

We’ve known each other through different things for years, but what brought us together in a musical sense was uni. We were all studying together, some of us were living together, and from there we started making music together.

Some really amazing stuff has happened since then – we made our debut album in 2016, and have done some really lovely gigs at venues and festivals across Europe.

Tannara come to Highlands for a string of dates.

How would you describe yourselves, your music and your live shows to new audiences? How do you tie your respective folk backgrounds tie together into a cohesive Tannara “sound”?

Haha! That’s a tricky one to answer! I think the first thing is there’s always a lot of laughter- we like to have a good time, and hope that folk coming to the gigs do as well.

Musically, our individual interests cover a really broad area – I’m kind of fascinated by how they come together. I think first and foremost is honesty, in that we’re interested in making music that we like. And I think what we like to do is to keep things interesting – there’s a lot you can do with Scottish folk music.

What’s been the best bit of advice you’ve been given as a band?

I don’t think it’s really possible to pinpoint one specific thing. We’ve had a lot of encouragement, support and advice from some really amazing folk, particularly Rachel Newton, Mattie Foulds and more recently Martin Green. These guys have really fed in to how we play and think about music in so many ways.

As a young trad band, how would you define the sound of contemporary Scottish folk music yourselves? How do you believe the music that you write/compose has differed or evolved from the melodies and songs from the traditional songbooks?

I think that in the present day, Scottish folk music is one of these things which maybe escapes a succinct definition. It is such an amazingly creative and innovative scene the variety in what is going on is huge. We have such freedom in this world to cross genre lines and think in a very broad way, which in some ways seems quite unique.

I think the main difference between the music you might find in old collections and now, is the role it would’ve played in people's lives – this old stuff served quite a functional purpose in day to day life, whereas what’s happening now is largely made for the stage.

It’s been two years since the release of debut album Trig – how are plans developing for a potential follow-up release?

Yes! I’m not sure how much we can say about that at the moment, but there is some very exciting stuff in the works for 2019.

What’s been your biggest and best gig so far as a band? And what’s been your, uh, weirdest one?

Tricky. The best was possibly the Lorient festival this year. The way that we arrived at one of the stages we were playing on was such that we didn’t see the stage itself, so we had no idea of the size of it or anything. There was no soundcheck, so we just had to walk on and start the gig. When we did it was huge – definitely the biggest crowd we’d ever played to, and it turned out that the gig was being broadcast on the French telly! The energy of that was awesome. Weirdest – I’m not sure, there’s a few contenders certainly!

So after this mini tour around the north, what’s next for Tannara? What plans have you got for the rest of 2018?

We’re not doing so much on the live front for the rest of this year- the week after these gigs we’ll be doing one in the Eyemouth Hippodrome, and then heading to Sidmouth folk week at the start of August. For the rest of the year we’ll then be in the studio, which we’re very excited about! More news on that front soon...

Tannara come to the Highlands next week for the following dates: The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool on Tuesday, July 10; the Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore on Thursday, July 12; and Lyth Arts Centre, near Wick on Saturday, July 14.

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