Griogair is a Scottish MC/DJ, Master Piper and trad. Gaelic singer who has developed a new genre of music; Gaelic Hip Hop. He is rooted in his ancestors ancient tradition of Gaelic song/poetry and piping, and sees African American traditions as being musical cousins to his own roots in the true, old Gaelic style of Scotland.
One of the most controversial performers in the Highland music scene; he is openly political as an advocate of Scottish independence and views himself as a 'counter coloniser' in the face of the cultural colonisation of his people. His rhymes and music are also deeply spiritual and based in the pre-Christian tradition of his ancestors.
He is widely considered by both fans of Scottish Gaelic music and academics alike to be the finest exponent of traditional Gaelic song of his generation and his skills/rep as an MC/DJ/Producer are growing rapidly.
Griogair has a love for Old School Hip Hop and is deeply influenced by conscious styled NY MCs like Rakim, Talib Kweli, Guru, Yasiin Bey and particularly KRS-ONE who also supports American Hip Hop fusing with other cultures throughout the world.
He has studied KRS-ONE's philosophy of true Hip Hop expression and has found that there is a lot in common between the ancient Gaelic culture of the Bàrd and modern Hip Hop MCing. KRS also believes that the knowledge of an MC/DJ/ Graffiti Artist etc. should be based in the 'collective conciousness of the people' and that the skills required to produce the art are only the tools used to express this. The same can be said for the ancient culture Griogair comes from.
Despite being influenced by many American rappers Griogair admits that his biggest influences as an MC are the traditional Gaelic poets of old; Oisin, Ailean Dall, Dòmhnall Mac Fhionnlaigh nan Dàn – hunters, warriors and philosophers of his own people who expressed the conciousness of the Gael over hundreds of years. The styles of these poets which stem back to ancient times are also very similar to the complex rhymes of his favourite Hip Hop MCs.
As a DJ his obsession with modal jazz, soul and other African American forms are the basis on which his beats are built. He has a particular interest in early modal jazz and says that hearing John Coltrane's spiritual epic 'A Love Supreme' for the first time completely changed his perspective on music and made him think of the Caoineadh tradition of the Gael. He likes to 'quote' certain styles in his production, from DJ Premier's 1990s snappy Boom Bap samples to J Dilla's more avant-garde stylings. He is hugely influenced by European 'trip-hop' DJs like Dexter and Count Bass-D, fusing this style with his own Gaelic tradition.
Afro Gaelic Music
Griogair is currently learning more about African music and is developing new material for a fusion project with the Kakatsitsi master drummers from Ghana http://www.indigenouspeople.org.uk/gaelic-fusion/ who came and performed at his solidarity gathering in the Highlands after the heartbreak of Scotland being tricked into voting against independence in 2014.
This project see's the roots of his ideas regarding the similarities between African based and Gaelic based art forms being explored on a deep level for the very first time and the musical results have already provoked much interest at a ground level in the Scottish music scene. He plans to record an album with the drummers in the near future and will be touring with them throughout Scotland this summer (2015).
He is currently the sole exponent, in the scene, of a mainland Scottish Gaelic dialect; having inherited this from a living tradition to which his roots are well and firmly tied.
As a child he was exposed to a generations old hereditary piping tradition which he chose to nurture as an adult, learning all there is to know about his own family's heritage from the last Gaelic speakers in South Lochaber/North Argyll. Griogair’s exposure to the wider traditions of both Gaelic Scotland and Ireland (having lived for several years in South Uist and in Conemara, Ireland) also built up his knowledge of his ancestral tradition and he has worked with many of its most respected performers including;
Karen Matheson (Capercaillie), Kathleen MacInnes, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and many others including his role as lead singer/front man for Gaelic ‘supergroup’ Dàimh .
The cultural decline his own family and families throughout Scotland experienced gave Griogair an awareness of an ongoing ‘cultural colonisation’ taking place throughout the country, which he chose to counter - not only through musical and linguistic efforts; but also on an academic level, undertaking a PhD which challenges the influences of cultural colonisation upon the living Gaelic tradition of Scotland.
This is all reflected in both Griogair’s traditional and contemporary music which is most certainly at a remove both musically and ideologically from anything else in Scotland.
Griogair has released two critically acclaimed trad. solo albums, Dail-rìata (2007) and Guaillibh a' Chéile (2010); a collaboration with respected Irish Gaelic singer Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhride and he appears on Gaelic supergroup, Dàimh’s album ‘Tuneship’, (2013).
In 2005 he made an appearance in the award winning feature film Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) and performed at the Cannes International film festival, celebrating alongside co-stars Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl (Inglorious Bastards) and Gary Lewis (Gangs of New York) and many more.
He has played throughout the world at various music festivals having toured America, Canada, Germany, Ireland and other countries. Appearing regularly on both Scottish and Irish radio/television, in 2014 he performed live on the BBC with Capercaillie’s Karen Matheson at the Commonwealth games in Glasgow where he also delivered one of his political Gaelic raps which subtly challenged the concept of 'the Commonwealth' and colonisation.
With a new solo album underway this year has already seen the release of 2 new singles; Cogadh no Sìth? (War or Peace?) and Alba gu Bràth, both Gaelic Hip Hop tracks commenting on the current political situation in Scotland.