Hearing the words Scottish folk music or traditional music automatically creates an image of sit-down recitals with bagpipes, clàrsaches and fiddles. Not that there is anything wrong with those but for a Friday or Saturday night out it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Talisk, a Scottish folk-based trio, have played a major part in reinventing the Celtic trad sound. Mohsen Amini, concertina player and co-founder of the trio, laughs: “It’s like David Guetta’s answer to folk music.”
The band launched in 2015, with a concertina (the smallest instrument of the squeeze box family), a fiddle and a guitar. While the instruments have stayed the same, the band members have changed over the years with Graeme Armstrong joining as the new guitarist in 2017 and Benedict Morris joining Talisk in 2021 with his fiddle. In fact, every single one of their three released albums has a different band line-up.
Since 2014 when the band was formed Talisk’s sound has evolved. The band started with a mainly acoustic sound and has become more and more electronic with every new album. Their newest album is called Dawn and was released in 2022. “I think a big thing that pushed us to change our sound was people telling us we couldn’t do it,” Amini says. “We always get told ‘If a drumkit is on, how do you plan on going after it, cause there’s no way you can be bigger than a drum kit’, but I say, ‘Absolute bullshit! We can go on, no problem at all’. We are three people, but we can make the sound of 20 different people on stage.”
While the band has grown well into their electro sound Amini stresses: “We don’t want to lose the acoustic elements, cause that’s what people fell in love with.”
Electronic folk music has become increasingly popular in the last decade, not only in Scotland and Celtic countries but also across the pond in North America. Which, Amini jokes, is “obviously just because of Talisk”. He explains: “the music is becoming more accessible. It’s become more like a night out. You can go and enjoy yourself and take your friends that weren’t originally into it, because it LOOKS cooler.”
Anyone that has been to a Talisk gig in the past has experienced the dynamite energy that the trio create. Because none of their songs have lyrics you automatically focus more on the music and the atmosphere around you. Everyone is dancing, cheering and just generally having a blast. That kind of energy is infectious and after a while even the people that hesitated to dance in the beginning are raving along to the music. Amini emphasises: “There’s no ambiguity of, ‘Should we clap? Should we scream? Should we dance?’, I’m just straight away like, ‘You need to dance! You need to have a really good time’.”
Talisk is kicking off 2023 with a gig at Celtic Connections that already sold out over a month ago. The world’s biggest winter folk festival is celebrating its 30th birthday this year and the Scottish trio is playing a massive show on January 20, supported by neo-trad band Project Smok. Amini claims: “It’ll be the best thing we’ve ever put on in our entire lives, it’s gonna be absolutely ridiculous!” It will be the 8th year for the band playing at the festival. They have played 6 official gigs at Celtic Connections and a spontaneous one in 2020 together with the Elephant Sessions. Amini reminisces: “On the Friday night we were like, ‘Feck it, let’s just put a gig on’, So we hired a place called the Renfrew Ferry, which is a big boat venue on Glasgow’.” The gig was announced on Friday, took place on Sunday that same weekend and sold around 500 tickets.
After playing Celtic Connections the Scottish trio is heading over to the US in February for their ‘Back to America’ tour before returning to home soil to play at various festivals in Scotland including the Hebridean Celtic Festival (HebCelt) on the Isle of Lewis.
More at www.taliskmusic.com.