SOMETIMES a change is as good as a rest. For Skye four-piece Niteworks, it is something of a necessity.

Following the success of their second album, Air Fair an La, the band embarked upon a gruelling schedule of touring and have now decided that their upcoming gigs in Inverness, Aberdeen and London will be their last until 2021.

For such festival and Celtic Connections favourites, it was not a decision they took lightly. Despite a stunning sell-out gig at the Barrowlands last January, which felt like perhaps the start of something new for the band, they have taken the decision to step back from live performing to concentrate instead on making their third album.

“So we’ve got three gigs coming up: Inverness Ironworks on November 29, Aberdeen the following day and then two later we’ve a gig in London and that will be it for at least a year,” says Innes Strachan (synthesisers and keyboards). “We’re wanting to work on some new music and with our current working situation, it’s becoming more and more difficult to both gig and work on new music so it really has to be one or the other for us.

“We’re hoping that dropping gigging for a year will really allow us to focus our energy on producing new music.

The National:

“It will also give us some time to come back in the summer of 2021 with a bigger and better live show. We’re looking to create a bespoke visual and lighting show with a guy we’ve been working with called Rob Alexander. We really want to incorporate more visuals into the show.”

The hope is that the band’s third album after debut offering NW and the subsequent Air Fair an La will be ready by Spring 2021. If it is anything like its predecessors it will be worth the wait.

Niteworks have an almost unique ability to meld traditional tunes and Gaelic song with modern electronic beats and synths in a way that never feels false. Nothing is tacked on for the sake of it. They are an important band for Scottish traditional music and one which is perhaps too often underappreciated. They represent a blueprint for the future and their growing fanbase – as evidenced by that sell-out Barrowlands gig – is in some cases being introduced to folk music for the first time in a way that is a million miles from the old cliché about traditional music being for middle-aged men in Aran sweaters drinking real ale.

The band were nominated for the Belhaven Bursary Award last year but missed out to Talisk. They are nominated again this year and the money that goes with that would go a long way to easing their path as they juggle work commitments with being in a successful band.

“That would go a long way towards giving us financial security, allowing us not to worry too much about the finances of the project but just kind of get on and do it,” says drummer Ruairidh Graham. “Every musician will understand that it can be more than half the battle – working out how you can pay for stuff. It can detract from what you want to do which is make music.

“There’s an amazing line-up of amazing acts and artists again this year but the prize money is so substantial it would make such a difference to us.” IT doesn’t help that they’re spread across the country, although technology allows them to stay in constant contact in a way that would have been impossible in the recent past.

“[Piper] Allan MacDonald is based in London but his job takes him all over the world at the moment,” says Strachan. “I’m in Glasgow, while Chris (Nicholson, bass) is in Inverness and Ruairidh is in Edinburgh.”

“We’ve a few different group chats on the go,” says Graham. “We can use it for sending gestations of new tunes or even if we hear music we like we can have a chat about it. Innes can then muck about with the synths and share it with the four of us. Trying to do that 20 years ago would have been impossible.”

In the past, Niteworks have been able to collaborate with several prominent singers and musicians and they don’t envision it being any different this time around.

The National:

From Iain Morrison to Kathleen MacInnes and Julie Fowlis, Gaelic trio Sian, Hamish Napier and Mairearad Green they have been able to attract some of the finest talent around.

“We’ve got some new songs in the pipeline which Sian have been performing at recent gigs that will likely appear in the album,” says Strachan.

“We’re beginning to piece together a list of people who we’d love to collaborate with and then we’ll see if they’re up for it and if it will be possible.”

And that extends even to the production. For Air Fair an La, they worked with techno producer Alex Smoke but, after self-producing their debut album, they feel that – with the knowledge and experience they have gained in the interim – that might once again be the route to go down this time.

“We have discussed self-producing it again and bringing in a co-producer/engineer such as Andrea Gobbi,” says Strachan. “When you get a producer in and you need an engineer then costs begin to spiral.

“We did self-produce our first album but that was a long time ago. We feel we’ve come a long way since then in terms of our skills so it would be a good exercise for ourselves to test our producing skills once again.”

Before embarking upon the new album, Niteworks have those final gigs – including what will be their final appearance at the famous Ironworks in Inverness before it moves to an as yet undecided new location. But their music will also be forming part of a new show at Edinburgh Castle which started last night.

Castle of Light is a visual experience which promises a 90-minute journey of “light, sound and wonder” as the famous castle becomes the backdrop for a multimedia extravaganza.

IT is the second such hook-up in the capital after the band’s collaboration with composer Dan Jones for the Hogmanay firework display in 2017.

“Double Take projections, who’ve done a lot of stuff with Skye Live, are behind the project and they asked us if we could put together a couple of pieces of music for it,” says Strachan.

“We’re using pre-existing Niteworks music but in a prolonged and coherent context. It was a great experience to be involved in. We had to mimic the drama of the lights and make it as big as possible at times and smaller at others. It was a great experience.”

The National:

Now, though, it is time to enjoy those final gigs before their sabbatical. Before Nitweworks embark upon the next stage of their musical journey. They will be greatly missed next year, but come summer 2021 it is likely to have all been worth it.

Niteworks play The Ironworks, Inverness on Friday November 29, Aberdeen’s The Lemon Tree on Saturday November 30 and The Grace in London on December 13.

Castle of Light runs at Edinburgh Castle until December 22. For further information go to