Niteworks: Under the Influence

We speak to Skye's Niteworks to find out what has influenced their unique sound over the years

Feature by Tallah Brash | 17 Jul 2017
  • Niteworks

Niteworks are four childhood friends from the Isle of Skye – Innes Strachan, Allan MacDonald, Christopher Nicolson and Ruairidh Graham – who fuse the Gaelic language and elements of traditional Scottish music with electronic influences. Think Capercaillie meets Simian Mobile Disco. It shouldn’t work, but it does – Niteworks are truly original and in a league of their own.

With that in mind, we ask the four-piece what music has influenced them over the years, and after much debate they agreed that whatever made the list "all four of us agreed that it was amazing, and we all had to have actively listened to it, repeatedly." Boards of Canada, LCD Soundsystem, Craig David and Arcade Fire didn't quite make the cut and a "special mention must also go to each of the three Moderat albums," which they "were going to include but ran out of space!"

Peatbog Faeries – Welcome to Dun Vegas
[Peatbog Records, 2003]
Edinbane Festival on Skye, which ran through the mid-2000’s, was an annual jaunt for us that coincided with the start of the summer holidays, and our first taste of the festival scene (as well as our first taste of a hangover). Up until this point we were more used to ‘unplugged’ ceilidhs, so to be in a jam-packed sweaty crowd, with the Peatbogs crammed on stage, as the kick came in on Wacko King Hako was completely mind blowing. Welcome to Dun Vegas remains as one of the most influential albums to us, and the Peatbogs a firm favourite live act!

Croft No. 5 – Attention All Personnel
[Foot Stompin' Records, 2001]
We find it funny when people comment on how unique our sound is, as in our minds we are somewhat following in the path of the likes of The Peatbog Faeries and Croft No. 5, who in turn will cite their own influences. Attention All Personnel as an album however, is truly unique. We don’t think anyone has matched Croft’s ‘DIY but polished’ sound and feel since, and it’s that which gives this album so much character. Should they ever decide to gig again, we would be first in line to offer our services in support. Just sayin’…

Apparat – Walls
[Shitkatapult, 2007]
After leaving school we all moved to down to Glasgow for university. With this came the expansion of our minds, but more importantly, the expansion of our wallets thanks to student loans. This allowed Ruairidh and Innes to head straight for the shop and tear through an entire month's rent money on two pairs of studio monitors; cue a month living off Lidl noodles. It was undoubtedly worth it though just to hear Apparat’s Walls album in all its glory.

The production on this album is still some of the best on any record we've heard and as a band we frequently re-visit it for inspiration. Both sets of speakers are still going strong 10 years down the line, so the noodle month was definitely worth it, although we’re convinced it contributed to Ruairidh’s hair thinning.

Mylo – Destroy Rock & Roll
[Hussle Recordings, 2004]
It’s impossible not to mention Mylo. Skye has produced its fair share of influential acts; Runrig, Injuns and Peatbogs to name a few, but Mylo perhaps grabbed our generation more than any other. This album almost single-handedly took our musical interests in a new direction, although it didn’t completely destroy rock & roll for us; Ruairidh remains a massive fan of Guns N’ Roses and Iron Maiden (even though they’re pure shite).

WhoMadeWho – WhoMadeWho
[Gomma, 2005]
On the lead up to the 2006 Skye Music Festival (another rite of passage for us), one of the local filling stations stocked up on CDs of all the acts that would be appearing at the festival. Coinciding with the time when we were all beginning to drive, these CDs obviously ended up on repeat in the car as we bummed about the island with the ever-present crate of Tennents on the back seat. One of the stand-out albums was WhoMadeWho’s self-titled debut.

It’s one of those grower albums that is impossible not to love it after a repeat listen, and the set they played at the festival was a ripper too. Ruairidh and Allan went to Bennicassim festival just to see them. They weren’t really known by anyone but a scheduling error by the festival meant they had to switch slots with Klaxons (whom everyone was clearly looking forward to seeing). They came on stage saying “Hello! We are not Klaxons. We are from Denmark”. Then straight into “Rose is sweet, beautiful eyes”. So much confusion. Can’t make that up.

Radiohead – Amnesiac
[XL Recordings, 2001]
The best band in the world. It’s almost impossible to choose one album over the next, but Amnesiac does stand out. Pyramid Song is so so so great, and the drumming on it is particularly incredible. In fact this album is probably the reason we structure much of our music like we do, all on the build then bam, in with the pipes (or bass or vocals). Grade-A belter.

Hot Chip – The Warning
[Astralwerks, 2006]
Another favourite for a teenaged Niteworks road trip! Boy From School in particular became a bit of a car anthem and clichéd as it is, the sound of the summer. It’s definitely also a favourite for a wee bit of a nostalgia listen now and again as we hurtle towards our thirties (shite). Hot Chip are definitely one of those acts that seem to have just got better with age though, so maybe we’ve not got all that much to worry about…

The Chemical Brothers – Come With Us
[Astralwerks, 2002]
Like Radiohead, we could have chosen any of The Chemical Brothers’ earlier albums. Dig Your Own Hole deserves a special mention, and we debated plenty as to whether we should include that, or Surrender. However, in the end Come With Us won. The Chemical Brothers played at the SECC in 2005, and it was also the first non-festival gig that we went to. They opened with Come With Us. When that ridiculous drum fill came in, it kind of goes beyond description. Just listen to it.

Daft Punk – Homework
[Virgin Records and Soma Quality Recordings, 1997]
Although Daft Punk seem to have become a bit of a pastiche of themselves, there is no doubt they played a big part in our early days. Up until that point, we hadn’t heard anything at all like the sounds that are to be heard on Homework, and 20 years after its release we still think it holds traction. It was with total excitement we headed to Rockness 2007 in order to finally see Daft Punk live, but the whole thing almost ended in disaster.

Allan decided the best course of action was to get to the stage early, taking with him all the supplies he would need in order not to sacrifice his position by making trips to the bar. As Daft Punk's stage time approached, Allan was obviously fairly worse for wear, and Chris had managed to somehow get himself thrown out of the festival site completely. Thankfully, a problem with their lighting rig meant that Daft Punk started an hour late, giving Allan enough time to sober up enough to remember the gig, and Chris enough time to sneak back into the arena and to the front of the crowd. Total helmets.

Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
[Domino Records, 2004]
Hearing “it’s always better on holiday” reminds us of waking up to warm Tennents in a field. This album soundtracked our first T in the Park; we had one of those battery-powered CD players that could just about make it through a couple albums at full volume before you had to replace all the batteries. A couple of the guys we were with hated “all that doof doof music”, and would complain any time Allan stuck on one of Sven Vath’s Sound of the Season mix CDs. Thankfully Franz Ferdinand went down better than Papa Sven and was hence on repeat all weekend. Such a great album to put on to revisit ‘the good old days’ (joke) all these years later. Better on holiday indeed!

Niteworks play Skye Live, Portree, 22-23 Sept