When Malcolm Crosbie formed Shooglenifty with his brother-in-law-to-be James Mackintosh in 1990, he couldn't have foreseen two and a half decades later, the Edinburgh-based six-piece would still be going strong.

"You don't really look very far ahead when you're young," says Crosbie.

"You're just looking at the gigs you're playing in the next year and that's it. We just kept going because we got on really well together and managed to keep creating new things. We enjoy doing that, so why stop?"

Now, after the release last year of its ninth album, The Untied Knot, Shooglenifty is in town to play two nights at the Auckland Arts Festival this weekend.


Dubbed 'acid croft' in reference to acid house, the band's eclectic blend of Celtic folk sounds and electronica was inspired by the dance music popular in Scottish clubs in the early 1990s, although it has since incorporated other musical styles as well.

"We've been influenced by everything really," says Crosbie. "When we're travelling around the world to play different world music and folk festivals, we get to hear a lot of different kinds of stuff and it's all sunk in one way or another. But we're trying not to copy any specific genre and by and large, we just want to do our own thing. "

Indeed Crosbie believes a comparison can be drawn between the traditional Ceilidh (a Gaelic social gathering) and modern-day raves.

"Scottish music was originally about people turning up at a social gathering to create a kind of rhythm for people to dance to," he says.

"It's exactly the same thing as people going to a club now and dancing to house music or hip-hop, as the same kind of ecstatic vibe is created when a band is playing and everyone is having a good time. People go home at the end of the night with an uplifted feeling and ready to face the world with renewed vigour. That's one of the great things about playing gigs."

While Shooglenifty's repertoire has previously been mostly instrumental, The Untied Knot saw the group which features Crosbie on guitar, Mackintosh on drums, Quee MacArthur on bass, Angus Grant on fiddle, Garry Finlayson on banjo and Ewan MacPherson on mandolin experimenting with vocals for the first time, with Kaela Rowan who joins the band on stage in Auckland - contributing to eight of the album's 11 tracks.

Auckland Arts Festival preview



Where & when: Spiegeltent, NZ Herald Festival Garden; March 18 - 19, 9.30pm

Buy tickets now!