Started in 2015 by local DJs Niall Munro and Ali MacIsaac, Skye Live Festival is the modernised successor to the original Isle of Skye Music festival, bringing together a refreshing combination of traditional artists and electronic acts.
Returning for its third year at the new setting of The Lump, a layered section of woodland overlooking the scenic Portree harbour, Skye Live creates a festival experience unlike any other.
The small scale of the festival allows for an increasingly intimate appreciation of not only the remarkable setting but the commendable lineup of acts that entertained across the weekend, from the local to the internationally recognised. With a mix of gourmet food and drinks available on site to fuel the days, there are few things missing from the programme.
In partnership with Sub Club, a Glasgow club and music venue, the festival transformed the Apothecary’s Tower at Am Meall into one of Scotland’s most compelling dance floors – located in the north-western tip of the Inner Hebrides. Friday’s lineup saw Chilean DJ, Shanti Celeste, deliver a melodic, blissed-out house set as the sun went down and Dixon Avenue Basement Jams took over.
At the main ‘Talisker’ stage, Skye-raised DJ Mylo produced a varied, electro heavy but simultaneously balanced set, which was followed by Amsterdam based Job Jobse, with his combination of rhythmic melodies and feelgood tracks, remnant of the summer past. Irish DJ Mano Le Tough closed the festival’s first night with his late night atmospheric headline.
Despite the unpredictable weather of northern Scotland, Saturday gave the talent some clear skies with Sensu and Telford kicking off the day, followed by Eclair Fifi and a live set of synth melodies by Islay born Lord of the Isles (John McDonald). This altogether articulated the connection between the open air landscape and creative sound that epitomises Skye Live.
As the night drew in, Scottish fiddle band, Blazin’ Fiddles, and Edinburgh formed ‘art rock’ band, Django Django, attracted a lively crowd at the main stage. Just up the hill at the Sub Club tower, DJ duo Keith McIvor and Jonnie Wilkes of Optimo (Espacio) played a back to back set with DJ and producer Joy Orbison (Peter O’Grady), dropping a set of both classic mixes and energetic dubstep.
Rounded off by an after party in Portree’s own community centre, it’s clear Skye Live festival is bringing the Island into the 21st century. While tensions may exist between the established communities and new generations, the blend of contemporary and traditional that Munro and McIsaac have achieved, this year in particular, has the potential to mark Skye Live as one of Scotland’s most distinctive small festivals.