An Interview with Skerryvore

This week, we caught up with Alec and Daniel from Scottish ‘trad rock’ band, Skerryvore for a jam-packed interview to discuss performing all over the world, collaborating with George Bowie and the release of their latest single, You and I.

  1. Skerryvore were founded on the remote island, Tiree – how did this come about and how would you describe the local music scene over there?  

Daniel – Martin and myself were raised on Tiree where there is a strong traditional music network, particularly around bagpipes and accordion. Alec and Fraser both visited Tiree from Livingston during the summer holidays and that’s how we met. Their musical background and influences (pop, rock, brass bands) was very different, however it was natural connection when were started playing music together. Tiree and the western isles were very prominent in our early years of Skerryvore and became the foundation that we developed from as we all moved to Glasgow.

2. You’ve performed all over the world, what country has stood out for you the most and how does it compare to bonnie old Scotland? 

Daniel – I always find it very hard to pick particular shows or countries as everywhere we have travelled to always has elements that are so unique or memorable. Denmark and the Tonder Festival is somewhere that always comes to mind when being asked to pick special shows and audiences – their support of music and the way musicians are appreciated is incredible. Our first visit to Australia in 2019 is also something I’ll never forget, such was the reception we received at Cobargo Festival, Port Fairy and Melbourne on our first ever visit. But of course nowhere compares to Scotland and many of our greatest memories are from shows at Tiree Music Festival and Oban Live.

3. You collaborated with George Bowie on a GBX remix of your single, Take My Hand – how did that collab come about and what’s been the general reaction to it so far? 

Alec – George had heard about us from his co-host Cassi through a mutual friend of ours. She suggested that Take My Hand would be a great track for him to remix so he did an original remix a while back, which was very much in the classic GBX style. Eventually we were put in contact with George and a new remix was suggested. This time Alan and I went into the studio and we worked on the remix together with George so that it became a collaborative project. The reaction has been fantastic! It was a stroke of luck that Scotland managed to qualify for the Euros just after we released the single, so a video to celebrate the success was made with the new remix as the soundtrack, which really helped bring the music to a wider audience.

4. You have recently announced you will be streaming a live New Years Day show – what can fans expect from this performance? 

Alec – We’re missing our fans so much so we want to give them as much of a real, live Skerryvore experience as we can remotely! We’ve taken feedback from our previous show at The Clydeside Distillery and will be bringing that same high-level of production-  and then some – to our New Year’s Day performance. The stream will also include an exclusive virtual tour of the Robert Burns Cottage & Museum which we think is a fitting experience for a New Year’s celebration.

5. Your latest release, You & I came out last month, what was it like releasing a single without being able to perform it in front of a live audience?

Alec – It was of course unusual not to get the feedback from a live audience as you normally would, but we’ve certainly had a lot of good feedback online. When I wrote the song I was thinking of how we’d be performing it live so we’re definitely excited to be back out there with a raucous audience singing along with us. 

6.  Is there a particular meaning or message you wanted the song to reflect? 

Alec – The song is about how our loved ones are really the most important thing in our lives. I think this becomes even more apparent at a time like this when we’re all missing family and friends and I just wanted to write a song which celebrated that and which listeners could relate to.  

7. What advice would you give to new musicians starting out on the scene? 

Daniel – Believe in yourself and your music. Be original and be patient. 

8. The recent Spotify Wrapped Up announced that fans streamed your music over 2.5 million times this year, how does that feel?  

Alec – Firstly, I’d say that it’s fantastic to see that so many people have taken the time to listen and enjoy our music. It’s incredible to know that our music was heard so many times by so many people across 90 different countries. What must be mentioned though is that although Spotify is an incredible resource for convenience of access and exposure of our music, the remuneration for artists is shocking and the whole model for streaming music must be changed if artists are to be able to continue. The model only currently works if you’re already hugely successful which means that bands who are starting their careers don’t stand a chance of continuing. We’re very lucky that many of our fans use Spotify but also support us in many other ways like downloading and buying albums, merchandise and tickets. 

9. A video was recently released on Facebook of a busker performing, ‘Take My Hand’ – how does it feel seeing people cover your music? 

Alec – I think it’s one of the biggest compliments you can get really. It’s one thing for someone to say they enjoy a song, but another for a musician to think it’s good enough to do a cover of. Very flattering. And he did a great job too!

10. What are your aims and ambitions for the band for 2021? 

Daniel – To perform for a live audience again! So many of our shows from 2020 have been rescheduled to 2021 so we just hope these go ahead. So many people have committed to transferring their tickets to new dates, which we so appreciate. Hopefully we can release some more new music as well… watch this space

Skerryvore’s social media pages…

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/skerryvore

Twitter: @skerryvore

Instagram: @skerryvore

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