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The best in new Welsh music

Silent Forum band photo - New Welsh Music - Underground blog

Rydym ni I ffwrdd i Gymru er mwyn edrych ar y gerddoriaeth Cymraeg newydd orau.

I am going to whisper you the words Welsh music, and it is likely the legends of the game such as Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals are going to spring to mind. Perhaps your earliest musical memory is of your mum hoovering the house on a Saturday morning, singing along to Tom Jones It’s Not Unusual? Wales has for decades, pumped out musical talent which we are all familiar with. Everyone loves to shout along to Dakota or Motorcycle Emptiness after a few too many on a Friday night but, do we know what the Welsh youth are getting up to? There is a huge rise in new musical talent that is seeping over the border and it is not to be missed.

In celebration of St. David’s Day UNDERGROUND are giving you an inside look at the new Welsh music scene. We are diving in head first and bringing you Q&As with some of the best new talent that Wales has to offer. We’re finding out who their homeland idols are, what the Welsh music scene can bring to the world and what we can expect for the future. The musicians featured are quickly becoming the hosts of this year’s must-see gigs so, with warning I tell you that you may be about to find a new favourite band or artist.

SILENT FORUM- THE FIVE-PIECE BRING A JOY DIVISION MEETS 2017 SOUND TO CARDIFF

Silent Forum hail from Wales capital, Cardiff. The five piece create catchy post punk tunes that hold the ability to raise adrenaline levels, even when you’re sitting in a quiet office with your headphones in. Listening to four songs in a row won’t give you a heart-attack however. The band create a beautiful balance within their music with dramatic drums and a harsh voice being accompanied by light indie guitar which softens the feel and makes for an interesting listen, full of complimentary sounds. Silent Forum are successful in making their influence taken from 1980s punk obvious whilst ensuring they are in no way a nostalgia band.

https://www.facebook.com/SilentForum/

https://twitter.com/silent_forum

https://silentforum.bandcamp.com

RICHARD WIGGINS- SILENT FORUM FRONTMAN

What made you want to start creating music?

When I first got into music I was jealous of musicians, in particular songwriters. I think trying to write a song that someone would be jealous of is a good ambition!

Where do you find the inspiration from to write your music?

The five of us all play what comes to us until something starts to take shape. We are all different kinds of music. I am currently drawing a lot of inspiration from The Sound’s first album Jeopardy and The Wedding Present’s Sea Monsters.

Who musically is your biggest Welsh influence?

Perhaps not a direct influence but McLusky are a seminal Welsh band that certainly capture a lot of the energy I look for in our own music. I’m a big fan of Beach Fatigue from Swansea, there is an aggressive playfulness to their songs which really struck me before we wrote our second EP.

Why/why not do you believe it to be important that emerging Welsh bands release music in Welsh, and not English?

None of us speak Welsh, but check out Ysgol Sul, Alun Gaffey and Gwenno, any of these should be reason enough to support Welsh language music.

Silent Forum band photo - New Welsh Music - Underground blog

Which is your favourite of your songs to play live, and why?

Hosanna because it has so many peaks over its eight and a half minutes wherever we are in the song I am always looking forward to the next bit.

What is your favourite venue that you have played?

Clwb Ifor Bach is by anyone’s standards an amazing venue and is probably the best in Cardiff. I do feel a special affinity for Gwdihw though I always feel comfortable and at home on that stage.

Over the years, the U.K has lost hundreds of its grassroots music venues and Wales has been hit hard. Have you lost a venue that was special to you?

We were booked to play The Moon Club just before it closed down, so it was sad to not get to wave that one off. Seeing Protomartyr play The Abacus at Swn 2015 was an incredible experience – it’s a shame it got turned into a Boots.

What do you think the Welsh music scene has to offer the world?

The broadest range of music you could possibly imagine.

What are your plans for the future as a band/artist?

We’re playing the amazing Blissfields Festival this year, which excitingly includes Pumarosa and Metronomy. We have just released a music video for our song River and have two completely different singles coming out in late April.

UNDERGROUND inspires and is inspired by British Subculture, both past and present. Which Subculture has had the most influence on you?

We are a Post-Punk band so we owe a lot to Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Sound, Joy Division who first forged that sound in the late 80s early 70s.

 

FFUG- THE PEMBROKESHIRE BAND USE BOTH WELSH AND ENGLISH LYRICS TO CREATE INFECTIOUS INDIE ROCK TUNES

The bilingual four piece that is Ffug hail from the Welsh County of Pembrokeshire. Ffug have supported the legends, Super Furry Animals and their debut full-length album was produced by Dafydd Leuan himself (SFA)- This would suggest they’re someone to keep an ear on. Ffug offer a fresh indie rock sound which slips into post-punk when they’ve got something to shout about. The band flitters between both the Welsh and the English language- this gives their English speaking listeners a chance to relate to the lyrics.

https://www.facebook.com/YFfug/

https://twitter.com/bandyffug

http://www.ffug.co.uk

LOLO SELYF – FRONTMAN OF FFUG

What made you want to start creating music?

I remember hearing Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss for the first time when I was around 14, which unsurprisingly had a profound effect on me. Friends at school were getting into Slipknot and My Chemical Romance, I didn’t really understand the appeal, none of it seemed real to me. Songs about Satanism, the occult and feeling so out of place that you want to tear your skin off were much more in tune with my sentiments at the time.

Never before had I heard anger so furiously condensed such as in Slayer, I’m pretty sure it’s what enabled me to find and hold on to mine.

Where do you find the inspiration from to write your music?

When I’m writing I’ll either draw from previous social interactions or just put my thoughts down as I consciously become aware of them. I don’t think people realise the value of their own words, which is why I take notes. I’m fascinated by the way people use and abuse language, even more so by the individuality of each of us poses. It seems illogical to me that so much great material is lost to conversations had in passing, you just can’t write that stuff.

Who musically is your biggest Welsh influence?

Despite the fact that they don’t sing in my mother tongue, The Manics (Manic Street Preachers) are without a doubt our biggest influence. Their songs don’t just hold meaning, but better yet apathy, alienation and despair. Their screaming self determination to exist and perform without care for reviews, fashion or taboo; cemented my own viewpoint and shoved me onto stage.

That, and their penchant for writing unforgettable rock and roll.

“Sterile like a line of piss, motherfucker

Review with Avant Garde lips, you’re just a motherfucker

There’s nothing I want to see

There’s nowhere I want to go” – (Condemned to Rock and Roll, Generation Terrorists)

Seriously, who’d get away with that now and still look cool?

Why/why not do you believe it to be important that emerging Welsh bands release music in Welsh, and not English?

In the case of language I think bands will write in whichever they are most comfortable in. Thankfully the option to be confidently bilingual is available in Wales, and I am sure that content in both languages will crop up from budding national talent of all backgrounds.

I do however think that attempting to influence this language conundrum externally is laughable. If you want more young people writing songs in Welsh, you first need to make the culture relevant to them. For some native second language Welsh speakers, singing in Cymraeg is as alien as German Opera. For the most part I believe this is a perception problem, not an indicator of cultural divide. I’d hate for people to think that Welsh music is just harps and endless folk, a clique for only the Welshest of Welsh.

To answer the question however, I think it’s important for artists to release their offerings in whichever language they bloody well feel like. Music is an international language, and if you’re good, people will come.

FFug band photo - Underground England

Which is your favourite of your songs to play live, and why?

My favourite tune to play live currently is the last track on our album, Time Takes Lives. Mainly because it’s the heaviest thing we play, I get to shout cunt around fifty times by the end of it. It’s also pretty physically demanding for all of us on stage, and I like sweating.

What is your favourite venue that you have played?

I’d have to say that supporting the Super Furry Animals at the Roundhouse in Camden was definitely my favourite venue from an historic perspective, that and the sheer scale of it almost had me in a catatonic state during sound checks.

Over the years, the U.K has lost hundreds of its grassroots music venues and Wales has been hit hard. Have you lost a venue that was special to you?

Dempseys, an Irish pub and venue on Womanby St, Cardiff recently shut up shop for good. I think we played our first Cardiff gig there, it’s also where we’d end up after most gigs we played in the city. It’s painful to see a place that held so many blurred memories and encounters disappear from the high street, especially since I still own a loyalty card.

What do you think the Welsh music scene has to offer the world?

I’m probably biased since I live here and am also part of the scene, but I think we’ve got a pretty good track record when it comes to exporting our artists; SFA, Catatonia, Man, Gorkys, Budgie, Cate Le Bon, Goldie Lookin Chain, Future of the Left, MSP, Badfinger, and of course Bonnie Tyler!

Honestly though, just come visit and see for yourselves. Definitely check out: Castles, HMS Morris, Cpt. Smith, Gwenno, Mellt and us!

What are your plans for the future as a band/artist?

Our debut album came out on Strangetown Records last September, and we’ve been touring it across the UK for the past couple months. We’re going to release another two singles off the album over the coming months: ARE U WITH US and LAMP (TO MAKE ME MISS U). From then on we’re going back to Strangetown to record an EP, with Dafydd Ieuan of SFA behind the controls. At the moment we just want to play as much as our jobs and degrees and girlfriends will allow.

UNDERGROUND inspires and is inspired by British Subculture, both past and present. Which Subculture has had the most influence on you?

Everything about Siouxsie Sioux.

CANDELAS- BALAS INDIE-ROCK FIVE-PIECE GRACE US WITH ELECTRIC TUNES TO GET YOU MOVING

Candelas band photo - Underground England

If you’ve never before listened to a band whose lyrics are purely in Welsh, Candelas are a very good place to start your Welsh language musical education. From Bala in the North of Wales, Candelas grace us with songs captivating the sound of indie rock in the Welsh language. Choppy guitar carries then pierces the lyrics to create an exciting and catchy indie-rock feel which can heat up as a song kicks off. The five piece features three guitarists. This enables Candelas to produce a very full sound which will whip around your head and reach your soul.

https://www.facebook.com/Candelasband/

https://twitter.com/candelasband

http://www.ikaching.co.uk

What made you want to start creating music?

Were lucky enough in North Wales to have live music all around us, all the time. Going to gigs and festivals made me want to be on the stage too. I played in a school band, and then we formed Candelas.

Where do you find the inspiration from to write your music?

Everyday situations, and personal experiences the usual! But it’s a magical feeling when ‘the spark’ hits you.

Who musically is your biggest Welsh influence?

My biggest Welsh musical influence would have to be Big Leaves a band that was touring Britain around the year 2000. They were able to make a living out of singing in Welsh which is fantastic. Also, like everyone else in Wales, Gruff Rhys and the Super Furry Animals are heroes! They’ve smashed down the door to set Welsh music free to reach all corners of the world.

Why/why not do you believe it to be important that emerging Welsh bands release music in Welsh, and not English?

Bands should release music in which ever language they want. My first language is Welsh like all the bands on our label; Ikaching, so it’s only natural that I compose songs through the medium of Welsh. There’s no issue about it. Sometimes, I’ll write songs through the medium of English and again, there’s no issues about that either.

Which is your favourite of your songs to play live, and why?

Llwytha’r Gwn especially if Alys Williams joins me on stage to sing. The crowd loves her!

What is your favourite venue that you have played?

Neuad Buddug, Y Bala (our home town)

Over the years, the U.K has lost hundreds of its grassroots music venues and Wales has been hit hard. Have you lost a venue that was special to you?

At the moment, our local community are fighting hard to keep our local venue, Neuadd Buddug, open but the council wants it shut. It’s an absolute gem of a venue, both to play at and to go and watch bands.

What do you think the Welsh music scene has to offer the world?

We have everything to offer from quirky psyche folk, to full on rock bands!

What are your plans for the future as a band/artist?

We are in and out of the studio at the moment, working on a bilingual album.

UNDERGROUND inspires and is inspired by British Subculture, both past and present. Which Subculture has had the most influence on you?

I think being a teenager when bands such as Gorkys Zygotic Mynci, Catatonia and Super Furry Animals started to be more visible was very exciting. It felt as if our subculture here in Wales was starting to get noticed, instead of pushed to one side on accounts of a different language.

 

CPT SMITH- THE CARMARTHEN BOYS ARE READY TO PROVE THAT PUNK ISN’T DEAD

CPT SMITH band photo - Underground England

Cpt Smith are the punk band that everyone wanted to start instead of sitting their GCSEs. The young bilingual punk-rockers have marched onto the scene armed with good music. Much like Ffug, they produce lyrics in both Welsh and English- Often within the same song. The lads from Carmarthen are ready to make a name for themselves. Their music radiates attitude and teenage rebellion. They play the type of music that whilst listening through your headphones, you feel like you are right there in the pit listening to Cpt. Smith play a small dark pub. Their music is raw and full of youthful energy.

https://www.facebook.com/CptSmith6/

https://twitter.com/cptsmith6

What made you want to start creating music?

We were inspired largely by the artist that we listen to and also the exciting movement that’s coming from west wales at the moment. It was something we wanted to be part of.

Where do you find the inspiration from to write your music?

We feed off each other a lot, I think enthusiasm is contagious, so if one of us is buzzed with an idea, we all kind of jump on board.

Who musically is your biggest Welsh influence?

Ffug are a great welsh band, on a larger scale however, bands like Super Furry Animals and Manics (Manic Street Preachers) are a huge influence.

Why/why not do you believe it to be important that emerging Welsh bands release music in Welsh, and not English?

We believe that the language you use should be a free choice. It’s a difficult balance to maintain in wales. We like to combine the two, English and Welsh, it gives welsh music a larger audience whilst making the songs relatable to more people.

Which is your favourite of your songs to play live, and why?

Merched, it gets everyone going!

What is your favourite venue that you have played?

The Social in London was a great gig for us.

Over the years, the U.K has lost hundreds of its grassroots music venues and Wales has been hit hard. Have you lost a venue that was special to you?

We nearly lost a local venue called The Parrot but community funding brought it back, that was great.

What do you think the Welsh music scene has to offer the world?

The Welsh music scene has so many exciting and talented acts to offer the world, it’s just a matter of whether they branch out to the wider audience.

UNDERGROUND inspires and is inspired by British Subculture, both past and present. Which Subculture has had the most influence on you?

We couldn’t choose a specific subculture but I think the bravery of being able to do your own thing, that whole attitude is a big thing for us. Without it nothing would ever change.

ALLEN HARDING- A SWANSEA BORN SOLOIST, BRINGING BLUES INTO 2017

Allen Harding - Artist photo - Underground England blog

Multi- Instrumentalist, Allen Harding is a man on a solo mission to bring his music to the world. The Swansea born musician brings us a taste of new blues, funk and soul with impressive guitar plucking and bouncy basslines, often accompanied by the harmonica. Allen is currently away from the homeland, gigging in London but is not short of Welsh musical influence.

https://www.facebook.com/AllenHardingMusic/

What made you want to start creating music? 

Most definitely reverse psychology on my father’s part, he never used to let me play his guitars growing up until one day he finally said yes. I was hooked instantly and couldn’t put them down.

Where do you find the inspiration from to write your music?

Musically I’d have to say blues and jazz, big inspirations are T Bone Walker and Ten Years After. Lyrically, I’m a big fan of Billy Bragg, Beans on Toast, and Ian Dury.

Who musically is your biggest Welsh influence?

I’d have to say Man and Badfinger from the South Wales area I grew up in, they are legends in my town of Swansea. Also got a lot of love for John Cale from the Velvet Underground.

Why/why not do you believe it to be important that emerging Welsh bands release music in Welsh, and not English?

I’m a strong believer in the preservation of the Welsh language and culture, I think it’s an important thing to reflect your origins. That being said my Welsh is incredibly basic so I’d have to learn a lot before writing like Catatonia.

Which is your favourite of your songs to play live, and why?

The jazz standard, Summertime. I could give a million reasons but it generally makes me feel very empowered to feel my emotive output while I play it.

Allen Harding - Artist photo - Underground England blog

What is your favourite venue that you have played?

Nothing particularly glamorous but the first venue I played: a now sadly defunct real ale bar in Swansea called The Gravity Station, rare to find a venue that supported grassroots acts and had such an amazing venue.

Over the years, the U.K has lost hundreds of its grassroots music venues and Wales has been hit hard. Have you lost a venue that was special to you?

See question 6, viva la Grav.

What do you think the Welsh music scene has to offer the world?

Poetry and choral singing are our nation’s strong points. This can be reflected in the deep reflective lyrics of the Manic Street Preachers and the fantastic voice of a Mr Tom Jones.

What are your plans for the future as a band/artist?

Fake it till I make it

Underground inspires and is inspired by British Subculture, both past and present. Which Subculture has had the most influence on you? 

Most likely the skin head Ska culture of the 80’s.. Good music originating in desolate circumstances, the latter is something that can be found all over Wales but the former is something that’s even more relevant.

ESTRONS- THE CARDIFF’S FOUR-PIECE ARMED WITH POWERFUL GUITARS AND NEW-INDIE SOUNDS

It may be safe to say that Estrons spent more time in 2016 playing live than they did breathing. The band hailing from Cardiff exploded onto the indie scene kicking and screaming last year. When they weren’t festival hopping they were supporting the likes of Slaves, the Amazons and Circa Waves. Whispers of the American punk sound twisted within a forest of raw indie music has given the Estrons the ability to bring something new to the U.K indie table.

https://www.facebook.com/Estrons/

https://twitter.com/estrons_music

http://www.estrons.com

What made you want to start creating music?

I think it was definitely emotionally motivated. All of us have been musicians since a young age and have all been very influenced by our surroundings. There’s a very strong music scene in Cardiff which got me singing and doing covers from the age of 3. It wasn’t until all my emotions exploded as a teenager that I really started wanting to express my own feelings.

Where do you find the inspiration from to write your music?

Again, personal experience! The minute something big or small happens there’ll be a song to follow. Either Rhodri will send me a demo or I’ll have two pages of ranted lyrics. That’s certainly how a lot of it starts.

Who musically is your biggest Welsh influence?

You could name all the legends, Super Furries, Euros Childs, Catatonia. I’ve always been a huge fan of The Velvet Underground and have listened to John Cale’s music from a very young age…apparently his mother lives down the road from me.

Why/why not do you believe it to be important that emerging Welsh bands release music in Welsh, and not English?

I think English has now become somewhat of a universal language so people turn to it in the hopes of gaining some mutual understanding. It was inevitable that with how connected the world is online now that we would all need to have some common ground to understand each other in, and that happens to be English. However, I think that music is its own universal language and I resent that there is a lot of beautiful and genius stuff out there that may not get the exposure it needs because not everyone “understands” it. You can enjoy music like you enjoy a colour – the language part is just subjective.

Which is your favourite of your songs to play live, and why?

I still love playing Drop. It’s a chance to get lost in a wall of sound and the crowd always gets lost with you no matter what the atmosphere of the gig has been like. It’s intense.

What is your favourite venue that you have played?

There are so many across the world, I can’t choose. But the one thing they all have in common is usually that they’re home-run and the people hosting you are really hospitable and grateful to have you. We’re still in touch with some of them!

Over the years, the U.K has lost hundreds of its grassroots music venues and Wales has been hit hard. Have you lost a venue that was special to you?

The Point in Cardiff Bay was an absolute beauty. A big converted church which kept its stained glass windows. My dad got married there and I saw my favourite band Deerhoof there when I was a kid. Usual story – new flats, noise complaints. And so on…really sad.

What do you think the Welsh music scene has to offer the world?

A lot of character and a lot of attitude. None of this mediocre derivative rubbish. Some of my favourite emerging acts are from Wales.

What are your plans for the future as a band/artist?

More touring, more singles. Then when we’ve spent all our money we’re going to record an album so we can do it all again.

Underground inspires and is inspired by British Subculture, both past and present. Which Subculture has had the most influence on you?

It’s difficult. I did get a lot of new romantic and punk stuff thrown at me from my parents. But I’d say that’s more of an attitude thing than a movement thing and I certainly can’t identify with a single one, especially when it comes to Estrons. I think we take hints from them all. I’m sorry if that’s a lazy answer, but it’s true.

JUNIOR BILL THE CARDIFF BOYS WHO ARE BRINGING US A LITTLE BIT OF THE WORLD

Junior Bill band photo - Underground England blog

They give Cardiff a reason to Skank. Junior Bill best fit the genre of Ska but manage to bring a little bit of everything to their tunes and, let me tell you it works! The five piece successfully merge a traditional Ska sound with Portuguese rap, and rock and roll riffs to create something entirely new. They mix the sound of different cultures. You won’t come across two Junior Bill songs that sound alike and I think that is what makes them so intriguing.

https://www.facebook.com/juniorbillmusic/

https://twitter.com/juniorbillmusic

What made you want to start creating music?

Because I wanted to imitate my favourite artists.

Where do you find the inspiration from to write your music?

Often in overheard conversations, mishearing music or words from passing cars and people, news articles.

Who musically is your biggest Welsh influence?

Well I guess by default it would be my dad’s band.

Why/why not do you believe it to be important that emerging Welsh bands release music in Welsh?

As a non-Welsh speaker I don’t believe it important because I’m yet to be truly taken by any Welsh language music for the mere sound of the words alone. It’s out there but I don’t seek it out. They can do a bit of both English and Welsh if they like

Which is your favourite of your songs to play live?

It’s always whatever the newest song in the set is.

What is your favourite venue that you have played?

I like many of them for different reasons. I like the Cluny in Newcastle because of its size over the years.
Yeah we actually lost the upstairs part of a venue called the Moon Club

What do you think the Welsh music scene has to offer the world?

Metal. Always so overlooked by the industry but it’s always really been the most popular genre in South Wales

There’s a good D.I.Y ethic amongst promoters and bands in Cardiff because there is such little money going around. A scene that’s not driven by profit too much is usually a good one I reckon. So the wider world should take note of what’s going on there. It centers around the incredible HUB Festival

What are your plans for the future as a band/artist?

We are making a concert film this Summer called Above Your Station

Underground inspires and is inspired by British Subculture – Which subculture has had the most influence on you?

I would have to say Mods just pip it for us because they helped establish the cultural exchange between British and Jamaican youths which continues to this day when they began sharing the Blue Beat records in London in the ’60s.

 

YSGOL SUL- SOUTH WALES KEY TO MAKING EVEN THE GREYEST DAYS FEEL FULL OF SUNSHINE

Ysgol Sul band photo - Underground England

The trio from Llandeilo in southern Wales are a band who we can almost guarantee will put you in a good mood. Their floaty guitar sound is one that makes you want to drift away on a cloud on a spring afternoon. They combine light guitar with dramatic bass lines and neat drum work to produce excellent effortless sounding

https://www.facebook.com/ysgolsulband/

https://twitter.com/ysgolsul3

What made you want to start creating music?

The desire to write music arose naturally. If I wasn’t writing music I’d pursue some other creative venture.

Where do you find the inspiration from to write your music?

Being idle is usually conducive for creativity.

Why/why not do you believe it to be important that emerging Welsh bands release music in Welsh?

It’s a matter of what comes naturally. If writing music through the Welsh language comes naturally to you it would be wrong to go against that instinct.

Which is your favourite of your songs to play live?

A new song called Solitude.

What is your favourite venue that you have played?

The Parrot in Carmarthen. The Parrot is still alive but it is vital that people continue to support it to ensure that it lives on.

What are your plans for the future as a band/artist?

To take it easy for the foreseeable future.

UNDERGROUND inspires and is inspired by British Subculture – Which subculture has had the most influence on you?

There was a vibrant Welsh language post punk scene in the 80s. A lot of hidden gems.

Underground Soundwave presents an ongoing series of reports on emerging and established bands with close-up Q&As, new release reviews and gig reports with a special emphasis on supporting diversity in music, women in music, independent labels and venues and the local music scene.

Brought to you by Underground – the brand of the Original Allgender Creeper shoe and other British subculture styles.

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