TALISK are an award-winning, internationally renowned Scottish Band who have developed a highly original performance style, creating finely crafted folk music that is ambitious and multi-layered, with sounds ranging from explosively energetic to hypnotic and captivating.
We thought we would catch up with band members Graeme Armstrong, Hayley Keenan and Mohsen Amini about making music and other things - whiskey, beer and gin to village pantos and the Eastenders theme tune!
One of Talisk’s lockdown sessions here:
Q1. What projects are Talisk working on while Scotland is in lockdown?
Lock down is hitting us all pretty hard and we aren’t able to meet up because of the nature of COVID so we have been independently writing music and as soon as we are able to meet we will be getting straight into the studio to hopefully make a start on the 3rd album! Cannot wait!!
Q2. What is your earliest memory of music? (Please answer individually)
Honestly, it was probably the Eastenders theme tune haha!! I remember my earliest memory of trad music from going to an Irish dancing Feis and seeing my local Comhaltas group playing. It was where I was first was able to try an instrument and that was the start of it all!
My mum singing to me when I was younger, to try and get me to sleep! I used to cry.
Being at the local village panto at New Year! Think it was the red riding hood. Got a big freight when the wolf came out.
Q3. What song or tune do you wish you had written? (Please answer individually)
That’s a tough one but probably something that Ed Sheeran wrote or something along those lines. Anything that’s passed 1 billion streams I’d be happy with!
I wish I wrote ‘Road to Errogie’ by Adam Sutherland. Everyone knows that tune in the Trad. Music scene - it’s brilliant!
Wish I wrote the melody of Ae fond kiss coz I’m such a romantic.
Q4. How do you know when a track is finished? How do you know when you have finished an album?
They are two very different questions. For a track we generally make a skeleton of a set and over a few rehearsals develop it into something that can be played live. We’ll then take it to the stage and gauge the reaction of the crowd; from this we will slowly change it and mould it into something that delivers the highest impact to an audience without losing any musical integrity!
For the Album we would already know the set list and what we are going to record so it's really a case of getting into the studio, putting down our lines and then sitting for a while and working on the production. Many drafts are sent back and forward and I mean when it's done, you just know.
Q5. What is your advice to aspiring musicians?
Quite literally just go and do it! It’s quite a daunting task and you probably don’t know which direction to take in terms of sound or band. Trial and error is your best friend. Maybe look at your favourite bands and see what they do and try and incorporate it into your set if it’s something that suits what you do. By no means I am saying copy other people but use what they do as inspiration in developing your own sound. In a nutshell, get out, make music, experiment and be true to yourself. It’s a full proof system!
Q6. Could you tell us about a work of art/film/person that inspires you and your music?
We are inspired by absolutely everything, whether it is a place we have travelled to (i.e. the track Montreal) or a musician we've met. It would be unfair to point out one thing in particular because there isn’t. Our most accessible and probably bigger influences would be the friends we play with. As we've grew older our circles got bigger and soon you find you circles all include the people you end up respecting most in music. I suppose we just try and keep as open a mind as possible and hope to find that next thing that is just going to overwhelm you.
Q7. Could you tell us something we might not know about Talisk?
A certain whiskey heavily influences our name - but 2/3 don’t drink whiskey.
We had a Beer named after us and 2/3 don’t/can’t drink beer.
We’re in the Market for a good Gin. PLEASE GET IN TOUCH!
Q8. Are there any interesting stories/reasons for the titles of the music you have written? (If there are not you don’t need to answer)
In all honesty there isn’t at all, got plenty of interesting stories but they aren’t really for publication. Haha!
Q9. What is the most memorable gig you have played and why?
Apart from Banchory, it would have to be Cambridge Folk Festival. We played in 2019 and closed the main stage on Saturday night! I don’t think we will ever forget that! Cambridge was one of the first gigs we did after winning the Folk Award. It was a day time gig on Stage 2 and we remember being at the festival, standing at the main stage watching Treacherous Orchestra playing the same slot we just played thinking that never in our wildest dreams would we be up there! A dream come true for sure!
Q10. What would be your main piece of advice to keep people’s spirits up during isolation?
Keep fit, stay in, stay safe and take advantage of the time you have. Go learn something or do something you’ve always wanted to do but have always been too busy for. Also check all your favourite band’s social media accounts. We are all being massively creative to try and keep you all entertained so come and join us!!
And I would say that when this is over everyone’s going to be going all out and putting on the best gigs of their lives, we are all so excited to get out. So check out your favourite bands (and Talisk) and buy tickets for their shows so you are all ready for when the all clear is given and we can all go party like we need too!