Christian Gamauf caught up with Robert MacInnes, a young Gaelic singer, radio presenter, and writer from Kishorn.
Robert was brought up in Kishorn, a small village near Applecross in the West Highlands. Growing up, there has always been a lot of Gaelic music around the house, and after his family noticed him singing along and taking an interest, he was sent for lessons with Eilidh Mackenzie and later Maggie Macdonald.
Robert attended the Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealteachd in Plockton: “I auditioned for first year and got in, and I’m the only person that’s been there for the full six years, so that’s a bit of an honour.” He credits his education Plockton with helping him develop his own style and a greater appreciation for the tradition.
After graduating from the Music School in Plockton, Robert briefly entertained the idea of taking a break from formal music education, but he explained “I didn’t realize how much I was going to miss music. So I took the decision to start at Fort William, West Highland College.” He is currently studying for an HNC in Music and is being taught by Rachel Walker and Alasdair Murray.
Beside his studies, Robert keeps busy with a range of other projects in his local community. He has been running a website for Kishorn and a personal blog about events and happenings in the area.
His most recent venture is his own radio show, Friday Night Trad with Robert Macinnes, a weekly show on Cuillin FM. This has been a project he’s been thinking about for a while: “I’ve always been interested in media and radio. A couple of years ago, when I was maybe 14 or 15, I saw an advert on social media: Cuillin FM were looking for new presenters, and at that time I was just a wee bit too young, but it really got my imagination going.“
When Cuillin FM advertised for another intake of presenters, he approached them with the idea of “a traditional music show that showcased the more recent additions, the more recent albums, the newest artists as well as playing some of the tracks that you don’t hear as much on the radio,” he said. “So that was my idea, and they really liked that.”
“The show is live, which is scary the first couple of times, but I really like it now, and the more you do it the easier it becomes. You know, the first one I was only saying the basic things, just because I didn’t want to say anything wrong, but the more you do it the more you become used to it and it becomes second nature.”
Robert’s first contract with Cuillin FM runs until the end of 2016 and he is keen to continue working with the radio station. Feedback for the show has been positive: “I think it’s been a really popular show. My show is from seven until eight in the evening, and I think that’s a really good time to have it. And because I’m playing the tracks you won’t hear on the bigger radio stations, I get a lot of people saying ‘I can’t believe that hasn’t been played before’.”
Thinking about what he wants to do after his studies, Robert is determined to earn a living in the area: “I think that’s a lie when people say there’s no work here, because there is, you just have to be flexible. I’m just Highlands and Islands born and bred, and I’ll absolutely try my hardest to stay here.”
Social media links:
Friday Night Trad with Robert MacInnes: www.facebook.com
Kishorn Website: www.kishornonline.co.uk
Robert’s personal blog: www.robertinkishorn.wordpress.com