How did you get involved in Scottish music?
I grew up hearing my dad playing old-timey music on the five string banjo and singing Scots songs, as well as listening to records (aye records!) of Gaelic singers like Cathy-Ann McPhee and Ishbel MacAskill. I started off learning classical music on the fiddle and was introduced trad music by my classical teacher, Elizabeth Peploe. I soon started getting a few trad lessons as well through Gregor Borland, and occassionally took part in competitions such as Newtongrange, Oban, Edinburgh Competition Festival and the Mod. I was very lucky to go to a Gaelic medium school and developed a passion for Gaelic singing through the school choir, led by Gillian McKenzie. I also got some ‘extra-curricular’ teaching through fantastic organisations like Feis Dhun Eideann, Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin’ and Feis Rois, which introduced me to the social aspects of trad music. I was also lucky enough to start going to RSAMD Junior Academy every Saturday, which became the highlight of my week thanks to some amzing tuition from Sarah-Jane Summers, Lauren MacColl and James Ross, as well as taking part in the vibrant Edinburgh session scene. Age 16 I made my way up to Uist to study traditional music at UHI Benbecula, with course leader Anna-Wendy Stevenson, who was and continues to be an inspirational teacher for countless young players.
Why did you enter BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award?
I attended some Young Trad Tour concerts when I was younger, and was always inspired by the competitors – it’s a fantastic platform for any young musician and I thought I’d enter it to see what happened, although I wasn’t even expecting to get to the semi-final, so it’s a massive privilege for me to be a part of the final.
What do you hope to gain from the experience?
The workshops on professionalism within traditional music (specifically self-promotion and how to use royalties organisations, with Duncan McCrone and Craig Corse) we had at the semi-final were invaluable, and the semi-finals were also a great way to meet other like-minded young musicians. The final will be the most high-pressure situation I’ve had to deal with and I’ll look forward to learning from the experience.
Do you have any particular musical highlights?
I am very lucky to have performed twice in the Royal Albert Hall with Feis Rois group Ceolraidh and band Room 5 respectively. Another highlight for me was getting the chance to have an intensive masterclass for a week with a long-standing hero of mine, Paul Anderson. Recently I was also delighted to be asked to step in on the fiddle for a couple of gigs with Malinky, one of my favourite bands, who I would have listened to a lot when I was younger.
What are your plans for the future?
I am currently back studying for a degree in Applied Music at UHI, and am kept busy with that at the moment, although I’m also working on developing the Gaelic-style aspects of my fiddle playing as much as possible and will be releasing a solo album in the near future. In the distant future I would love to move to Ireland for a while and develop a better understanding of Irish music.
Why not buy a ticket to hear Robbie Greig or any other of the finalists at the Grand Finals on Sunday February 1st at 5pm. The finals are part of Celtic Connections festival. If you can’t make it along the event will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland between 5 & 8pm and on the iPlayer afterwards.
Catch BBC Music at Celtic Connections http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p039tgwn
and visit their Young Trad 2016 page