The Year of Young People may be over, but the standard of contributions by young Scots to our series was so high that we’ve decided to keep the spirit of 2018 going. This month we hear from 24-year-old musician Hayley Keenan.

GROWING up listening to Scottish traditional and folk music, I was eager to start fiddle lessons, which I did at the age of 11. It quickly developed into a way of life for me, and while at school I took every opportunity available to participate in trad music groups and shows, eventually leading to me joining the Scottish music programme at the Junior Academy at the RSAMD, followed by a year at the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music in Plockton.

It was while I was studying on the BEd Music course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland that I decided I wanted to start a band. I had a very clear vision that this band had to be unique. I was asked to put together a band to play at Partick Folk Club and this was when the opportunity presented itself for me to do this, and Talisk were formed.

The band consisted of three people – Mohsen Amini on concertina, Craig Irving on guitar, and me on fiddle. I played regularly with Mohsen and Craig in the Glasgow session scene and really enjoyed playing with this combination of instruments. Craig was replaced by Graeme Armstrong in 2017, when he left to pursue other projects.

In 2015, Talisk won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, which undoubtedly opened doors for us on the touring front. We have played in Australia and toured in the US, Europe and all around the UK. In 2016, our first album, Abyss, was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2016 MG Alba Scot Trad Awards. The following year, we returned to the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards with a nomination for the Horizon Award, and later in the year were crowned Folk Band Of The Year at the MG Alba Scot Trad Music Awards.

This year, we released our second album, Beyond, which was based on our own original compositions.

We wanted to take our listeners on a journey to some of the countries and places we visited and were inspired by, on our travels. One of the tracks on Beyond, Crooked Water Valley, was influenced by our first tour of the US in March with We Banjo 3. Another track, The Cabot Trail was a tune that I composed after spending time at the amazing Celtic Colours Festival in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The festival takes place in October, and this is the best time to visit Nova Scotia as the landscape and the colours of the trees are incredible!

As a band, we are always developing our sound, and have focused on this over the last few years by experimenting with pedals and working on the arrangements of our music, layering and weaving our sound around the melody to produce a driven and contemporary sound, while still embracing our traditional origins.

In December 2018, we won the Belhaven Bursary Award for Innovation. We are absolutely delighted to have received this amazing award, and cannot wait to see what 2019 brings for the band. More adventures to come!