Congratulations to Hamish Napier who has been nominated in Original Work of the Year sponsored by PRS for Music in the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2020. Vote here! Vote now!
We asked Hamish Napier the following questions.
Tell us about yourself
I am a multi-instrumentalist, folk musician, composer, music producer and music tutor from Strathspey.
The Woods is my third solo album.
“A beautifully constructed, evocative and distinctive album, The Woods is a splendid and rare treat.” SONGLiNES Magazine, Top of the World ★★★★★
“…Huge in both scale and vision…a mind-blowing creation”
Irish Music Magazine
Why are you involved in Scottish music?
I feel proud of Scotland vast and diverse musical heritage. I love Scottish music: nuance, variability, innovation, tradition, style, intimate musical connections, history, improvisation, strong sense of place, the buzz of big crescendos, technical harmonic ideas, glorious melodies, landscapes, unique voices and communication (rapid, brave and unspoken between humans).
Any particular career highlights?
SANDWOOD – Duncan Chisholm
I’ve been very fortunate to perform with Duncan Chisholm the last few years. I worked with him to create his acclaimed ‘Sandwood’ album (inspired by a remote beach near Cape Wrath). I am thrilled that the slow air Duncan closes the album with is one of my own. I also co-wrote and arranged six other tunes with Duncan for the project. ‘Sandwood’ is definitely the most beautiful album I’ve ever been involved with, with landscape and a strong sense of place at the heart of the music. Duncan is a masterful fiddler and landscape composer. He seems to possess a kind of musical sixth-sense, and has been a huge inspiration to me for as long as I can remember.
What are your plans for the future?
Since 2015 I’ve been on an epic 10-year journey to create 5 albums, a Pentalogy, of completely original folk music composed in praise of my local area, Strathspey, in the Scottish Highlands.
I’m more than half way there.
Each of these albums represents one of the five internationally recognised ‘elementals’: Water, Fire, Earth, Wind and Ether. These correspond to the albums: The River, The Railway, The Woods, The Hill and The Sky, respectively. The elementals appear across dozens of cultures, religions and societies worldwide. I want to celebrate and share with the world the natural beauty of my native land, heritage and community.
The first 3 albums are complete and I have started work on the 4th too. I started the project when I was 33, I’m 38 now and it will be complete when I’m in my early 40s.
In 2015 I released my debut solo album THE RIVER (representing the element water) about the glorious River Spey.
The Scotsman ★★★★★
“Scintillating…The River is brilliantly vivid”
Then in 2018 I released THE RAILWAY (representing fire) for the famous Speyside Whisky railway line.
FATEA Magazine ★★★★★
“Napier has the composer’s gift of painting a picture with sound, more evocative that an artist. The Railway is Superb.”
And now there’s the 3rd one THE WOODS (symbolising earth) – my biggest album yet with 21 track, 25 new tunes and a 6000 word info booklet, which premiered at Celtic Conections festival and released on the Spring equinox (20th March this year). The album was sponsored by Cairngorms Connect. Please note, due to the fact that this album has also been nominated in the ‘Album of the Year’ category of this year’s Trad Awards.
I have composed over a dozen tunes already for the 2022 album that follows that entitled THE HILL (air), that will focus on the mighty Cairngorm Mountain range.
In 2024 I’ll release the final album THE SKY (for the ether) for the vast world above our heads: clouds, the constellations and planets in the night sky, astronomical and celestial effects on Strathspey’s local wildlife and culture, in particular the changing seasons, weather and pull of the moon.
The Strathspey Pentalogy is no small task. It requires a significant amount of time and funds to research, compose, arrange, record and then transform into a live show.
I’m very excited for the future ahead. If you’d like to help me on my journey check out my Patreon page to find out more: https://www.patreon.com/hamishnapier
The MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards, Na Trads 2020, will be broadcast on BBC ALBA on 12th December 2020 at 9pm where the award winners will be announced along with specially recorded music performances. During the day on Saturday the 12th, you will be able to watch from 1pm til 9pm a day of live Scottish trad music including Kinnaris Quintet, Dallahan, Inyal, Paul McKenna Band, Ryan Young and Jenn Butterworth and many more here https://youtu.be/amByvVzxl5E. Keep up to date with all the latest information by joining the Hands Up for Trad newsletter at https://handsup.link/Newsletter or use the hashtags #natrads #HUFTonline.
If you would like to support Hands Up for Trad in their work with Scottish trad music and musicians please consider supporting our Patreon campaign. We have 3 tiers starting at $1 a month and everything helps support us in our work. Read more at www.patreon.com/handsupfortrad