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TITLE
Phil Cunningham - Early Career
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFR_PHILCUNNINGHAM_03
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
Phil Cunningham
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1762
KEYWORDS
accordions
traditional music
audio

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Phil Cunningham MBE is one of Scotland's best known traditional musicians. Trained classically in the accordion and violin, he later joined his brother John in the highly acclaimed Scottish band 'Silly Wizard' and played with the band for ten years (1976-1986). More recently, he has become well known for his partnership with Shetland fiddler, Aly Bain. Phil is also an accomplished music director, presenter and producer. He has composed two orchestral suites for symphony orchestra and Celtic instruments. In this audio extract, originally recorded for 'Moray Firth People' in the early 1990s, Phil talks to Robina Goodfellow about his early career in the traditional music industry.

Interviewer: When you left Silly Wizard what did you go on to then?

I formed my own publishing company first of all, and started to try and get back into writing. But if you're relying on the income from publishing it - there's a long kind of turnover period; you've got to wait for a couple of years before things start to come back into you again. So the record company that Silly Wizard had been with laterally, Green Linnet, they asked if I would make an album with my brother, and with Mícháel and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill from Relativity. Well, from Bothy Band, and it was making this, making this brother, and brother and sister kind of combination and they came up with the name Relativity just for one album, supposed to be. But we ended up doing a tour after the album, and then another album, and then another three tours, so it had a life of about three and half, four years but we had to stop because it was too much fun, and we were all exhausted by the end of it.

Interviewer: The album, the album I have in front of me, Relativity, you wrote most of the songs about Skye. Did you once live there?

I was living there since 1981 until 1987. My wife ran a business there. It's the Floddigarry Hotel. It was her family home. And, well I kind of went to live there because that's where she lived, you know? It wouldn't make sense not living with your wife. But yes, Skye was a great place for me; it was a great place for writing because it was so quiet. It's kind of like where I live now, except there's no sea to look at from, from here but because I have to write to order a lot of times it's nice to be in a place that has its own atmosphere, but it's very quiet therefore you can kind of conjure up any image that you want without having an image forced on you.

Interviewer: Phil, from Skye, where did you go to then?

We moved from Skye to the Crask of Aigas. We enjoyed living on Skye but because it was a hotel business, it was very difficult to get any time to ourselves. You know, you were - Donna was working from about, you know, half-five, six in the morning right through till midnight, one o'clock, organising a staff of about twenty-five people. I would be away on tour; I would come back, she'd still be working. You know, I'd get up she'd be going to bed. We decided we wanted a bit of a normal life so we moved over here, and nothing has changed. We're still in the same situation. I'm working in Glasgow with the BBC and, and what have you

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Phil Cunningham - Early Career

1990s

accordions; traditional music; audio

Moray Firth Radio

MFR: Phil Cunningham

Phil Cunningham MBE is one of Scotland's best known traditional musicians. Trained classically in the accordion and violin, he later joined his brother John in the highly acclaimed Scottish band 'Silly Wizard' and played with the band for ten years (1976-1986). More recently, he has become well known for his partnership with Shetland fiddler, Aly Bain. Phil is also an accomplished music director, presenter and producer. He has composed two orchestral suites for symphony orchestra and Celtic instruments. In this audio extract, originally recorded for 'Moray Firth People' in the early 1990s, Phil talks to Robina Goodfellow about his early career in the traditional music industry.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: When you left Silly Wizard what did you go on to then?<br /> <br /> I formed my own publishing company first of all, and started to try and get back into writing. But if you're relying on the income from publishing it - there's a long kind of turnover period; you've got to wait for a couple of years before things start to come back into you again. So the record company that Silly Wizard had been with laterally, Green Linnet, they asked if I would make an album with my brother, and with Mícháel and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill from Relativity. Well, from Bothy Band, and it was making this, making this brother, and brother and sister kind of combination and they came up with the name Relativity just for one album, supposed to be. But we ended up doing a tour after the album, and then another album, and then another three tours, so it had a life of about three and half, four years but we had to stop because it was too much fun, and we were all exhausted by the end of it.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: The album, the album I have in front of me, Relativity, you wrote most of the songs about Skye. Did you once live there?<br /> <br /> I was living there since 1981 until 1987. My wife ran a business there. It's the Floddigarry Hotel. It was her family home. And, well I kind of went to live there because that's where she lived, you know? It wouldn't make sense not living with your wife. But yes, Skye was a great place for me; it was a great place for writing because it was so quiet. It's kind of like where I live now, except there's no sea to look at from, from here but because I have to write to order a lot of times it's nice to be in a place that has its own atmosphere, but it's very quiet therefore you can kind of conjure up any image that you want without having an image forced on you.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Phil, from Skye, where did you go to then?<br /> <br /> We moved from Skye to the Crask of Aigas. We enjoyed living on Skye but because it was a hotel business, it was very difficult to get any time to ourselves. You know, you were - Donna was working from about, you know, half-five, six in the morning right through till midnight, one o'clock, organising a staff of about twenty-five people. I would be away on tour; I would come back, she'd still be working. You know, I'd get up she'd be going to bed. We decided we wanted a bit of a normal life so we moved over here, and nothing has changed. We're still in the same situation. I'm working in Glasgow with the BBC and, and what have you