Sutherland was a main member of Scottish post-rock band Long Fin Killie, who were active from 1993 until 1998. He then formed Bows, the band releasing three albums. Since 2000, he has been an occasional and touring member of Mogwai, playing violin and more recently guitar. He also sings on and has a writing credit for the track "Mexican Grand Prix".
Sutherland's debut novel, Jelly Roll, was nominated for the Whitbread Prize in the first novel category in 1998. His novella Venus As A Boy (2004) talks extensively about Sutherland's own childhood in Orkney, where he was the sole Scots-African.
^The Guardian – "... my parents' nationality – they are both (lowland) Scottish... "; "... he regaled us with tales of William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and the continuing wars of independence. I identified with the Scottish cause, bristled with a measure of patriotic pride."