THE past few years have seen an upsurge in bands whose music defies definition in traditional terms. The cross-pollination between genres has been ongoing for some time but these new artists are bringing elements of funk, pop and electronic music to create new and original sounds that transcend the boundaries of what traditional music is in the 21st century.

Among this new wave of young bands are Heisk, a six-piece hailing from all corners of Scotland and whose music is firmly rooted in the dance floor. Indeed, the band came together after a night at the Celtic Connections Festival Club where founding members Becca Skeoch and Catriona Hawksworth decided they wanted to start making their own brand of funked-up folk.

“We were in the Festival Club and just felt that we weren’t seeing much female representation up there so we kind of decided there and then to pull together some of our pals and start making some big music, music that can fill that late-night slot,” says Skeoch.

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Megan MacDonald, the band’s accordion player, recalls that initial approach. “It was an exciting time when Becca and Catriona approached us all,” she says. “We had a solid idea of what we were going for straight away in terms of our style of music.”

And that music, while being disparate in terms of influence and style, is focused and driven. An almost electro-funk hybrid with driving accordion, fiddle and keys making for a big sound perfectly suited to festival tents and sweaty dancefloors.

“We started off wanting to create a trad band but with a more pop influence,” says Skeoch.

“We listen to soul and funk and so we were looking at that. It’s a collision between trad and the more funky and groovy elements of good pop music. It’s just a lot of fun really.”

MacDonald adds: “All with the aim of playing at festivals and getting people dancing.”

“We were always looking for that audience that would be up for a dance,” adds Skeoch.

It certainly works. Heisk’s debut EP VIRR bristles with energy and is an exciting foretaste of their upcoming album which they are working on just now.

The band have recently returned from the Orkney Folk Festival and are gearing up for the summer season.

“Orkney was an incredible festival,” says Skeoch. “ It was great craic. And it was a lot of fun trying to fit our band on to the smaller stages.”

She has a point. As well as Skeoch, on electro harp, MacDonald and Hawksworth, Heisk have to make room for Lauren Macdonald on drums, Rosie Munro on fiddle and Sally Simpson on fiddle and viola. It’s quite a collective.

Being an all-female group at a time when women in folk are becoming increasingly visible, Heisk are a perfect example of the type of band able to fill those late-night festival or club spots that until fairly recently would have been the preserve of male artists. It’s been an encouraging few years and as each new group of women artists appears it helps inspire several more.

“I certainly feel that there are some amazing female bands out and about now and we definitely feel solidarity with them,” says Skeoch. “But at the same time, we’re just like any other band that has come together to make some music and see what happens.

“We all play in other projects as well so there is a lot of it about being in the right place at the right time.”

As for their inspirations, the band cite contemporaries Kinnaris Quintet as musicians who they admire but their main influence is, according to Skeoch, a Swedish collective Sallyswag.

“When we first got together we made this massive playlist of all the stuff we liked to listen to and a huge part of that was Sallyswag,” she says.

“They’re a Swedish mega folk group with this massive sound and they were a big inspiration. They’re so cool but we haven’t been able to see them live. I think they’re from all over the world now so it’s probably a bit of a mission to get them all booked for a gig. Sadly.”

Although they’re not flung across the globe, Heisk themselves hail from across Scotland. Skeoch and MacDonald are both highlanders who did the same music degree at UHI, while Macdonald and Simpson studied at the Royal Conservatoire (RCS) and Munro and Hawksworth did the traditional music degree at Newcastle University. Like many of the new wave of Scottish folk musicians they were brought together in Glasgow’s thriving scene.

“We all met through the general music scene,” says MacDonald. “I did the same degree as Becca and I filled in for another accordion player for her.”

“We’re from all over Scotland,” adds Skeoch. “Myself and Megan are from the highlands, Catriona is from Kilwinning, Rosie and Sally are both from the Edinburgh area while our drummer Lauren is from Glasgow.

“I think we have to thank Glasgow and the scene that we have here that draws everyone,” she adds. “You get to know each other so well and there’s this melting pot of people from all over the place.”

The RCS course is a big reason why Glasgow has become the centre of folk music just now but that has also brought with it a vibrant session scene which continues to grow.

“I quite like to get down to some of the sessions,” says MacDonald. “And there’s loads more popping up all the time. We’re spoilt for choice.”

Skeoch agrees. “There’s such a variety now. There’s a great range of sessions – old time sessions, Scandinavian sessions and things like that. There’s so much to learn and so many influences to be exposed to. So much of that [session scene] informs what is happening in contemporary trad music.

“It’s not just tunes from Scotland or Ireland any more. There are influences coming over from all different directions and I think that’s certainly an element that feeds into what we play.”

Heisk are testament to that. Their funk-based approach is both exciting and refreshing and bodes well for the continuing evolution of Scottish folk.

Heisk play Solas Festival in Perthshire on June 23. Their debut album is expected in early 2020