Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Big Interview: Iona Fyfe talks about Doric, being trolled on Twitter and returning to her musical roots

Neil Drysdale
Iona Fyfe is performing at Aberdeen's Lemon Tree on March 4.
Iona Fyfe is performing at Aberdeen's Lemon Tree on March 4.

Iona Fyfe has never taken a backward step in her life and will battle for her beliefs, no matter the venom and vitriol she receives on social media.

The Huntly-born singer-songwriter, has been a champion of traditional music and language, while winning awards and gaining a place at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Scotland when she was just 16.

And she has always been prepared to express her opinions on everything from Scottish independence – which she supports – to promoting her native Scots and cheering on the Dons.

The response has offered a reminder of how toxic any debates can be in modern Scotland. Iona, 25, has been trolled on Twitter, called out about her appearance and she has woken up to disgusting remarks on her timeline – all because she is an advocate for speaking her mind and doing so in the language her mother and her relatives spoke.

Iona Fyfe recorded a new version of The Northern Lights in association with Aberdeen FC.

It’s a reminder, as we approach International Women’s Day, that different standards still apply to males and females.

In certain circles, the former are “ambitious” whereas the latter are “pushy”, “outspoken” rather than “nippy”, “assertive” and not “bossy”. Such attitudes are rife in politics, in business and in sport, but they also rear their heads whenever a single-minded woman decides to speak her mind in the arts world.

Yet, if anybody thinks they are going to silence Iona, they should realise one of her heroines is Taylor Swift, “who stands up to bullies with decorum, as seen many years ago when Kanye West interrupted her acceptance speech at the [MTV] Awards”.

We should never get used to it

She said: “Of course, I poke the bear and give the trolls far too much oxygen, but sometimes it’s difficult to stay quiet, when some of the comments are so disgraceful.

“I acknowledge that people support different political parties and have different views about the constitution. Great. I acknowledge that we have different football teams that we support. Great. I acknowledge that we should be able to have healthy debate and discussion about current affairs.

“But I don’t believe any woman should have their appearance mocked, parodied, torn apart and criticised by nameless, faceless keyboard warriors.

Iona Fyfe is performing in Aberdeen on March 4. Pic: Euan Anderson.

“Due to my politics, I understand that many people might not like me or agree with me, but that should not give them the green light to doxx [publish] my live location, whenever they see me out in Glasgow.

“This has happened a number of times, where I have been in a coffee shop or a restaurant, and someone has seen me and not said a word, but posted my live location online. It’s terrifying and it needs to stop.

“There are men who stick up for Scottish self-determination who also promote the Scots language. But I don’t see the likes of Ally Heather or Billy Kay receiving anywhere near the amount of harassment and abuse that the likes of myself, [poet] Len Pennie or [author] Emma Grae get. And I certainly wouldn’t wish it upon them.

“I just hope these faceless accounts one day realise that, when they send a hurtful comment [she has been the subject of antisemitic comments], they are deeply bigoted and are wrong in doing such things. But I won’t be hounded off any platform.”

Iona Fyfe has won a battle to have Scots songs recognised on Spotify.

Iona campaigned for Scots on Spotify

She isn’t afraid of jousting with giants and has demonstrated tenacity and resolve in pursuing her convictions, whether with music behemoths, or at the heart of politics.

As she told me: “In 2020, I co-founded Oor Vyce, which is the official campaign for a Scots Language Act. This would encompass all the different type of Scots including Doric, Orcadian, Shetland, Glaswegian and Dundonian.

“In 2021, I successfully campaigned for Spotify to add Scots as a language on the back end of its system. Later that year, Oor Vyce successfully lobbied over 30% of the elected MSPs to sign the #ScotsPledge, which would solidify their commitment to language preservation, funding and promotion in the future.

Iona Fyfe has released a new Scots version of the classic carol.

“The manifesto, which the Government was elected on, promises a new Scottish Languages Bill, which should hopefully give legal status and recognition to the Scots language. Now, this doesn’t mean there will be street signs saying ‘Aiberdeen’.

“But it does mean more resources to things such as the Scots Language Publishing Grant, so we can have more materials for the younger generation in their own language.

“When I was growing up, there was a wealth of Scots songs and ballads and poetry from earlier centuries. But now, there are more publishers offering translations of well-known books such as Harry Potter, Paddington Bear, Animal Farm and The Gruffalo. Having resources and books in their own mother tongue will allow young people to have a greater sense of their own cultural identity which is always a good thing”.

Cultural collaboration ‘so exciting’

Iona is participating in a concert at the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen on Saturday March 4 as part of a Polish Scottish Mini Festival and will be on stage, both with her own band and the group KOSY, comprising Aleksandra Gronowska, Kasia Pakosa, Anastazja Sosnowska and Kasia Szetela-Pękosz at the Granite City venue.

She said: “It’s so exciting to have the coming together and celebration of two cultures which are seen in the composition of the population of Aberdeen. We have a large Polish population, and the ongoing cultural collaboration is so exciting – especially the Polish Scots song classes that have been running over the years. I’m excited to perform alongside KOSY, and hopefully get a song in with them too.”

The words embody her internationalist approach to music. Next month, Iona is poised to perform in Western Australia as part of the Small Halls tour. It will be the prelude to recording her second album, The Carpenter Collection; a variety of north-east ballads archived by Mississippi-born collector and folklorist James Madison Carpenter.

Iona Fyfe performing at the Scottish Crannog Centre in Perthshire. Photo: Steve MacDougall / DCT Media

Iona couldn’t resist call of traditional music

It’s a long time since her mother “scraped and scrimped” to send her to piano lessons, but between going to myriad folk clubs and festivals, learning theory and mastering songs passed down from other folksingers, Iona admits she became totally hooked.

She said: “When the Scottish Independence referendum took place, I was very interested in doing a degree in politics or international relations, so I went to the Gordon Schools in Huntly, was part of their debating society and really enjoyed it.

“However, in 2014, I also realised you could study Traditional Music, so I decided to audition for a place at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and got a place at 16. I wasn’t wanting to risk it, because you can’t defer the Conservatoire, so I finished my fifth year of school and moved from Huntly to Glasgow”.

It has been onwards and upwards ever since. Whatever the trolls may think.

Tickets for Saturday’s concert are available here.


  1. What book are you reading?
    The Scots translation of Animal Fairm, published by Luath.
  2. Who’s your hero/heroine?
    Taylor Swift. She is ever-evolving as an artist and has shown me that you don’t need to be confined to one genre, narrative or style.
  3. Do you speak any foreign languages?
    Mein Deutsch is nicht sehr gut [not very good], regardless of six years learning it at school and many German tours.
  4. What’s your favourite band or music?
    It’s Taylor Swift, of course. But Phoebe Bridgers, Maggie Rodgers and Sarah Jarosz are up there too.
  5. What’s your most treasured possession?
    My Nord piano. A wee red stage keyboard I can put on my back. Have piano, will travel.