Canadian singer songwriter Tristan Horncastle believes his Scottish roots contribute to the style and approach that have earned him a raft of awards since breaking onto the music scene in the last three years.
The man from New Brunswick can trace his Scots ancestry back to his great grandparents, James and Agnes Blyth, who emigrated from Cupar in Fife in 1929 with five children, including his grandmother, Patricia.
Although he has made his name in the country genre, Tristan says traditional Scottish music has also had an influence: “Scottish traditional music has influenced me in the sense of keeping it ‘traditional/downhome’, and staying true to who you are and reflecting that in my song writing”, he said.
“I actively embrace that part of it, the roots of my upbringing, although at times it can be a subconscious thing.”
His background also makes him look forward to playing the Hebridean Celtic Festival in the island of Lewis this summer with great anticipation, even adding fiddlers to his band for the occasion.
He and other New Brunswick artists are visiting the island festival as part of the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
“I’m so excited and honoured to be part of HebCelt this year”, said Tristan. “As I like to put it, I lucked out, and I am so happy I was asked to come. I can’t wait!
“I’m excited to give you some true country music, straight from the heart. The audience can expect pure country music, with a little twist, as this is the first time I will be joined by fiddlers, and have a few take part as my band.”
Tristan released his first EP in 2011, and left his full-time job in 2013 to concentrate on music. His debut album ‘A Little Bit of Alright’, was released in 2014 and the following year he was nominated in the Canadian Country Music Association Awards’ Rising Star category and the Canadian Radio Music Awards for Best New Group or Solo Artist in the Country category, and also enjoyed three wins at Prix Music NB Awards for Album of the Year, Country Artist of the Year and Fans’ Choice.
The follow up album, ‘Turnin’ Up a Sundown’, released in 2016, earned him the East Coast Music Award for Country Recording of the Year, a CCMA nomination for Recording Package of the Year and five nominations at the Prix Music NB Awards in the country artist, album, song, video and producer of the year categories.
“Awards have definitely come at me fast, and it’s been a whirlwind”, he enthuses. “But it’s a win and an honour just to be nominated. It’s been a huge help in raising my profile and advancing my career because of the social media alone. It gets to so many people now, and so quickly. It’s also a great addition to the resume.”
This year has seen him make a fresh start “back to the drawing board, with my team, new management, new music, and lots of live performances” as he capitalises on his success. Being on the road means he is away for stretches from his wife and two young children, which is influencing his song writing.
“Currently on the writing menu is family - the amazing support and love from my amazing wife and two kids. Writing is definitely a thing that can happen anytime, anywhere, so there’s no ‘best’ place. Being away and alone on the road at times can be good for writing, but I prefer being settled at home.”
This year’s HebCelt will run from 19-22 July and will be headlined by The Waterboys, Imelda May and Dougie MacLean.
Tickets for this year’s HebCelt can be booked here - www.hebceltfest.com