WELCOME Our weekend at Swn changed our lives and our livers. The core ideas that Huw and John thought up back in 2007 for the founding festival were clearer than ever at Swn 2015. Never mind the acts that have played in the past. You shouldn’t care who has played, when the best thing about Swn - and the reason we wanted to make this entire multiplatform magazine in 3 hardgraft days - is the collective effort to find new music that demands to be heard. It worked. Each venue was organised by different promoters, and each act was entirely different from the one onstage before them. Nobody apart from maybe the font of all knowledge, John Rostron, could have possibly heard of every act, and that’s the beauty of Swn. Some music should be heard simply because you’ve walked past a venue and a sound has got you hooked, and you had to stay and listen. It’s a natural reaction to good music, and Swn this year managed to create an excitement of discovery in every venue by not having too many crowd-grabbing headliners overshadowing smaller bands that are still under-the-radar. In this publication, we want you to be listening to an interview with John Rostron, founding father of the festival and our hangovers, at the same time as reading a review of Plastic Mermaids set, before you watch a session with The Orielles. That’s why we’ve worked together across print (Quench) radio (Xpress) and video (CUTV) to make the magazine. Look out for the play button to access our exclusive live content. Some of the acts featured were agreed on together and organised before the weekend because we knew we had to have them, and others were opportunistic begging, because we knew we’d just discovered something special and important. In all honesty we have not covered every act or every corner of every venue of Swn in this issue. Anyone who says they saw everything this festival had to offer is simply lying. It was more important to us to cover the bands we personally found changed our ears than to cover all of the acts in vague detail. We hope you enjoy what we have created - we’d also like to apologise for the lack of circumflexes throughout due to the limitations of our design software. Best wishes, CSM x
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SWN ORGANISER JOHN ROSTRON
MEET HUGH BEEVENS*
*This is the part of the magazine where we were going to print Swn founder and Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens’predictions for bands to watch out for in the future. However, fulfilling our student cliche, we were late to the launch party and missed Huw’s appearance completely. Ever resourceful, we found a lovely swn-goer who looks a little like the man himself and even gave us his own predictions. Hugh Beevens (not his real name) thinks you should watch out for Vant, Du Blonde and the Orielles.
opening night: The Abacus The Friday night before Swn Festival kicked off involved a small opening party within Cardiff’s newest venue involved with the weekend, The Abacus. A small exhibition space near Cardiff Central train station, The Abacus is an eccentric two-floor locale that includes an ever-changing gallery, with art and photography from previous Sŵn festivals providing an ideal space to socialize in, a downstairs music cave that was tightly-packed, along with an upstairs lounge that also hosted live music but catered to those who wanted to sit down or grab something to drink without having to fight through the crowds.
Look out for the play button throughout the magazine - you can click it to access exclusive live sessions and interviews
five acts kicked off proceedings, each having half hour sets except for the crowning hour long gig from local favourites Houdini Dax. First act Dan Bettridge, playing his first of two sets over the weekend, provided the early arrivers with his smooth classic rock sound, followed by Amber Arcades, a Dutch pop band who contributed to the chilled atmosphere of the early evening. Funny guys My Name Is Ian upped the ante a little as the night progressed, before Wylderness took up the mantle to really crank up the volume. Many Red Stripes and tequila shots later, we enjoyed Houdini Dax as they delivered a tight performance to round out a great night for the Cardiff Student Media attendees and others alike. JB
We spoke to Evie, the keyboardist from Clean Cut Kid, the hungover Monday after Sŵn. The Liverpool band played on Saturday after Honey Moon, and bloody smashed it. Mike Halls is the songwriting genius behind the short bites of indie-pop euphoria that made the sweaty basement crowd go off, with the bass player Saul even having a bit of a jump-off with two excitable fellas at one point. The set of course included the acclaimed singles Vitamin C and Runaway, loved by Annie Mac and Lauren Laverne the, delivered with every ounce of raw edge that went into making it. It felt like the crowd loved the music as much as the band evidently loved playing it, and Halls quieter ones caught your soul off guard, like you’re not meant to be thoughtful in amongst all the dancing... How was Swn? It was simply amazing. As soon as we got there we were like, ‘Oh my god, Cardiff is the friendliest place in the world’ and it just kind of had this Liverpool vibe to it with how friendly everyone was. We’d trekked from Brighton to get there and we were so tired, but it was like our arrival was scripted; the guy who showed us where to park was just so lovely, then Huw Stephens turns up and gives us a mini tour around a few streets of the festival and the castle and stuff, and we just thought - “yeah; Cardiff’s class”. It is indeed a lovely city, what did you think of the venue? It feels like those little grungy gigs you used to do a couple of years back when you had barely any working gear, but it was still really fun because everyone was just kind of having a laugh. Yeah, we’ll definitely want to go back and play Swn again. Did you get to see any other bands around at all? We got to catch Honey Moon who were on before us. They were lovely and really good on stage, but they were the only ones we had time to properly see, which was annoying.
Obviously there’s been a huge storm around the band since the shit-hot Vitamin C single release earlier this year, what’s it like to be in the middle of all the attention or do you not hear that much of it? It’s really weird - I guess you only see a small percentage of the attention before you go out and gig. We were saying to each other the other day that we see all the stuff on Twitter, the amazing blog reviews and people talking online which is so exciting, but it’s on tour when you see the full extent of it. The past week has been so cool - people know who we are, they’re singing our songs back at us and are actually planning to come and see us, and not just by chance! You go to little towns and people even know who you are a there, and you start to think; “yeah that’s because people actually listen to Radio 1 and pay attention to us”. It’s really cool and really surprising. Yeah it must be well nice to see the hard graft pay off and see it coming to life, you seem to really enjoy playing live, if Saturday was anything to go by. Yeah we just love it, absolutely love it, it’s so much fun and like you said - you can see it better than me - but when I look round from the stage everyone seems like they’re having such a boss time which just makes me feel so good. Looking at Saul jumping up and down on the spot playing with this massive grin on his face the whole time is well cool. That’s so lovely, the whole thing with getting mainstream exposure must be pretty cool, personally I like the a-bitindie-pop sound but with the deeper emotional root to it. Totally, Mike writes all the songs in, I suppose, a verse-chorus-verse pop format but then the lyrics are really well written and the arrangements are really particular. I think he finds a lot of joy in doing that as it’ll catch people out, on the third listen the lyrics start seeping in and people realise, “oh wow they’re actually saying something here”, so it’s sweet that you say that because it’s kind of how we want to be perceived. EG
Saturday at Swn saw Clwb Ifor Bach’s bottom floor transformed into a gig-space and gallery for BBC Horizons’ collaboration with The Atrium at USW. Horizons/Gorwelion is a scheme organised by BBC Cymru Wales and Arts Council Wales that invests in musical talent emerging across Wales. The year long scheme, running in 2015 and 2016, gives twelve artists the chance to get greater exposure through targeted funding, broadcasting on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru, and a series of events and festivals. The scheme partnered up with USW’s photography department, where students did a project following the artists throughout gigs and events. The launch for Horizons at Swn included free champagne so naturally we hot-footed it to Clwb as fast as we could to make the most of that, and the fantastic musical talent (of course!). If you’re based in Cardiff, you may have come across Horizons at X Music Fest, where their stage was one of the most popular over the weekend. This year’s twelve includes singersongwriter Dan Bettridge, who opened the show and stopped for a chat with us about what Horizons means for him (interview opposite), as well as many other awesome musicians from across Wales. We also chatted to BBC Radio Cymru’s Bethan Elfyn (interview below) about the scheme and its importance for Welsh music. In fact we are so into it we’ve dedicated a whole two pages to Horizons and their show at Swn. Enjoy!
We caught up with Bethan Elfyn , presenter on BBC Radio Cymru and project manager on the Horizons scheme. How do you find the reaction to the Horizons bands has been? It started a few years ago and has grown into this big thing, how do the bands react to it? We work really hard to promote them throughout the year, and its so nice to finish it at SWN where everyone is so supportive of new music, so it feels like a real celebration to come here but during the year it can be quite hard to promote new bands. We take them out of Wales a lot as well, so they might be playing English festivals for the first time ever. I saw Sound City at the Horizon stage I was really impressed. For a lot of them it was the first time they played an English festival and the nice thing about that is we’re creating these opportunities, getting these bands out of Wales. In terms of where it’s going I think its nice we’ve got this year to work with them, its really nice to get to know them, they’re so different all of them and we keep in touch with the bands from last year and I think its something that will grow year after year. SWN is one of the best places to come and finish off the year. This year obviously SWN seems to be a lot more focused on the smaller bands than in previous years. Do you think that’s a good thing for the smaller bands that you’re putting on? I think its brilliant, I mean I saw loads of bands I’d never seen before last night and it’s about discovery and that’s what festivals are about. It’s great to see venues still busy even though the big boys aren’t playing, there’s still enough names to interest the audience and one of the things I’ve noticed over the years with SWN it’s a really young audience as well. SWN is very student, its very young and I think that’s the secret it keeps it small. You can run around the whole city and the city feels transformed and I love it.
So, what does being with Horizons provide for a band? So when you take a band on what are the aims? Professional photo shoot is the first thing, they become part of this gang, of twelve artists which is a really valuable learning thing for some people, They get videos of all the festivals, they get broadcast on local radio and national radio and we film everything so this festival in particular will be part of BBC world TV programme. So the media partnerships, the international partnerships through the arts council, we’ve got a band going to India next month, we’ve got a band going to Holland. Dan Bettridge has just been to New York. There are so many different aspects, but in short; festival stages, radio platforms and personal mentoring. How do you see Horizons evolving in the future? How do you want it to grow but still stay quite intimate? What are your plans for that? I think what we will see in the future hopefully are a few success stories breaking through. I would like to see them artists then nurture others. Generally that studios are busy, that video makers are busy that PR companies are busy and that’s something we do with the launch pad fund. 32 artists have just been announced for funding, and they can go off and do videos or get PR companies to help them. It amazes me that every time we put the call out there, there are brand new artists that I have never heard of. What would be your top 3 to look out for after SWN? It’s a hard choice I know. It’s really hard. There’s a real star quality about everybody that’s been picked. The fact that they’ve had to apply against 400 other bands in Wales, they’ve gone through a rigorous process to be part of it. There are loads of things like that that, people won’t know about yet but will be hot names in the future. That’s honestly my heartfelt wish for all of them, that’s why we are that push to go further. I haven’t given you any names, the Horizon website really is a window of music anyway, so just go there and have a look.
Good set! You played yesterday at the Swn Opening - how was that? Yeah it was good, I was the first person to play so it was really great to open Swn 2015. It’s quite a cool little place, Abacus - it’s a gallery so it was quite cramped but I enjoyed it. What’s it like being championed by the BBC? You’ve been played by Jo Whiley and now Horizons are behind you. I don’t really think about it to be honest, when it happens I’m seriously gobsmacked and so so thankful. It’s great to be played by these massive names. There’s been a lot of progression from your first EP Hunters Heart, which was more acoustic based, to your two latest singles, which sound a lot more like Van Morrison. Is that the sort of music you’ve been listening to? Yeah, definitely. I listen to a lot of Van Morrison. My Mum and I used to listen to a lot of Van Morrison - we used to sing a long in the car to ‘Real Real Gone’. I can’t find that song online,
only on CD. When I wrote ‘Third Eye Blind’, which I guess is quite Van Morrison-y, I was listening to quite a lot of soul, and that kind of stuff - not just Van Morrison. It’s quite different for a young guy like yourself to be into stuff from that time period. I think that’s when the best music was written. Artists like Van Morrison, they’re the most accessible for me. When I think of music, they’re the first thing that pops into my head, my first port of call. What was it like working with Stephen Black, better known as Sweet Baboo, on Third Eye Blind? I was really lucky because my producer and bass player Charlie Francis, knows a lot of people. Stephen was on tour at the time, and Charlie just gave him a call at the time and said ‘If you’re ever swinging through Cardiff, can you just come into the studio’. Stephen came in with like two or three saxophones, and just smashed out the part in one take.
You’ve never really used any brass in your music, so it must have been exciting to have Stephen put a different take on your music. Is that something you would want to go to again? Oh yeah, I love what the brass section brings to the music. It just gives it a whole other dimension. You were talking about Charlie Francis, what was it like working with a producer who’s done work with great artists like R.E.M and Karl Hyde? I didn’t really think about it, I just thought that I’m working with one hell of a professional. Charlie’s never one to mention what he’s done in the past - he’s a really modest guy, lovely guy. We’ve become great friends since we’ve been working together. It’s just like working with an impeccable musician. Same with the rest of the band - they just make it so easy for me.
Despite being a last minute affair, Afro Cluster brought the energy that the Cardiff music scene is well versed in to a new crowd. Their signature The Roots-esque afro-beat instrumentals banged behind front man MC Skunkadelic’s fluid lyrics. The crowd could barely fit in the room due to the space required to dance when under the influence of this band’s groove. How do you create such an energy on stage? Obviously there’s quite a lot of you which helps. You must have been a bit hung-over from the single launch party but you still smashed it, how do you get yourselves geared up before you go on? It’s probably because of the fact that we enjoy playing it so much. When we write, we spend a lot of time going over and over certain bits to make sure they’re right for a crowd. Like, making sure everyone gets the little trills right and can communicate with the audience in doing so. Everyone’s pushing each other to play the best that they can. It is very collaborative, isn’t it? So is the songwriting collaborative? Obviously with there being so many of you it must be hard, do you just sit down together and think ‘let’s write a song’ or does one person have an idea and it gets jammed about? Well we’re very fortunate to be able to practice in a studio now and that’s massively helped us. It sort of happens quite naturally, then. We follow a strict routine of practicing for a bit, having a break, then messing around a bit more - if someone has a mess around that sounds good we roll with it and see if it is pliable. It’s the jam style of writing, isn’t it? When someone comes up with a good idea and everyone get’s involved, you might have a track you can put structure to and make performable, but it’s a well considered process. You play live a lot in Cardiff, do the shows influence the writing at all? Sort of, our influences do come from everywhere, but because we get to play live a lot it’s good for testing, you know what I mean? You can go with a new idea, and say oh we’ll try this bit here and it either works or it doesn’t, you get instant feedback from the audience and that’s great. So you’ve just been chosen for the horizons launch scheme, how did that come about? We filled in a massive application form, basically. We’ve got someone sort of helping us who’s got industry contacts and she’s been sorting us out a bit. Getting us focussed. We had to put together an instruction plan of why we need the funding and what our plans for it are, to prove we’re sustainable. That the extra bit of funding will help us take the next step and then we can carry on without it, like a boost up. And what has it enabled, or what will it when it arrives? Basically it’ll enable a video that we really want to do, and we’ll get to press the final version of the EP when it’s released. We would’ve had to cut corners and play loads of gigs to get the money to do a lot of little things that we wanted. We can get the little things done quicker now, and plan the timings of it all properly. It’s so superb, you know, feels like we’ve really gone up a gear. So when did faffing about with a trumpet become forming a boss band? It started at a jam session they (a few members of the band) used to do, called Starving Artists
somewhere on City Road. That’s how the core members came about. It started off being like a live fronted hip hop band, but then we started consciously bringing Afrobeat influences into it, which you can hear on some of the early stuff like Afrolion. They’ were based on sprawling Afrobeat but only five minutes long rather than 17 minute proper long jams. Because everyone in the band are such incredible players it’s more than just sampling tropes of Afrofunk and Afrobeat. What do you think of Horizons as a whole set up, with the launchpad fund and whole scheme? Pretty simply, it’s brilliant. It’s necessary. It’s so good that it’s happening. I mean look at the amount of brilliant live music there is in South Wales. There’s a lot of small scenes dotted about with inbuilt ceilings because of the sizes of the cities, like Swansea, so something that gets the music about is great. Obviously we think Cardiff’s music scene with Swn and everything else going on is amazing, what do you guys think of it? It’s incredibly social I think. Collectively as Afrocluster we know everyone, all of the Cardiff musicians. laughs. Everyone knows someone and everyone’s always trying to help each other, no one shuts anyone out. That’s probably something you might not get in places like London or Bristol, where I guess it’s slightly more competitive. EG
HOOTON TENNIS CLUB
So how was touring Europe? It was surprising actually, we had a lot more of a crowd than we expected, and they were great. The food was amazing - especially in Italy! Then you come home and go to KFC and you come back down to earth. Speaking of fast food, you must know about Chippy Lane if you all went to Cardiff Uni? Yeah I never really went there, we used to go to one by Sengenydd Halls, but I think it’s closed down now because of food hygiene! How are you finding Cardiff? Have you ever played a show here before? No we haven’t, it’s a great place - we really love Welsh Club as well, it’s a great venue. How is gigging after the hype over the new album? You’ve blown up since then. We haven’t really noticed it to be honest, you can tell there are more people at the shows and people are singing along to album tracks. Those are the little things that you pick up on I think. The shows have been a lot of fun since, people are more into it and that makes you go for it a little bit more. We are a lot more consistent now we have a recording to stick to. Do you think you have changed since you’ve become more well known? No, we are still the same guys, it’s great to have your own songs to play. It’s a dangerous territory to get too comfortable with being a well known act. People’s perceptions have changed since we have gained recognition. Before, we used to hit bum notes and everyone just thought we were shit, but now we hit bum notes and they’re on the album so people think it’s on purpose and that we are really clever. You toured with H Hawkline last year, how was that? He was going to do a Welsh version of one of our songs, but that didn’t end up happening. He taught us about self-confidence and he was funny and caring - he had good shoes and nice hair. What’s it like being on Heavenly? Do they have much influence on your sound? Not really, they are great people - it’s like an extended family. The one thing that they did on the sound was that we did a different version of ‘Kathleen’ and they said that it was too good - it was too clean, so we went and recorded in a smaller studio. They were quite keen for us to sound a little bit rougher.
Hooton Tennis Club are a four piece from The Wirral who sing about the minute mundanity of life to a backing of lo-fi glossy pop. On Saturday we caught up with them before their set.
Bill Ryder-Jones produced your last album, did he influence the sound of it at all? Nah he just slept all the time and stole our sound for his new record :L He’s ace, I don’t know how much he influenced the sound but he definitely knew how to get our sound right. He’s really easy to work with and a really enthusiastic guy. How have you found the reaction to the new album? My mum likes it. There are lots of 38 year old men that like it. It’s really mixed group of people that enjoy our music, there’s a huge age gap. On the tour, what’s been your favourite date? New York was amazing - Nottingham and London were also great. There were a lot of sold out shows in the middle, with stage invasions and stuff. The venue in Nottingham is called The Chameleon, it’s above a Clinton’s card shop and the floor feels really thin - our gig there was pretty mad so we were a bit scared that the floor would cave in. It’s a great venue even though it looks like someone’s front room.We also enjoyed playing in Manchester. Clean Cut Kid are also playing at Swn, are you going to catch them or any other bands that are playing today? We haven’t really got time because we are going straight back to Liverpool after the gig. We have just had a really busy time recently. We saw Clean Cut Kid in the airport in New York, but we were in such a bad mood because of a delayed flight that we probably gave them a bad impression. How has the Liverpool music scene helped you get where you are? We weren’t really ever in the centre of the action. I always feel like we kind of didn’t gig on the circuit that much and then we were away from Liverpool. We haven’t really played there that much so we feel like we’ve skipped that step. We were signed to a label after about three shows so then we had an agent and they told us to try not to get too sucked in to the scene in Liverpool.
You mentioned Jeff Barratt, did you work with him directly or was it mainly other people on the label? It was a bit of a mix really. When we were getting going he was really helpful but nowadays it is much less business-like and there are loads of people who help us out with stuff like artwork. The whole team are great. Did you ever think you would be as big as you are? Selling out shows etc. We haven’t sold out a show yet but we hope to. We never saw this getting as big as it did. It started out as a bit of a joke or a fuck-around. We just did it because we had a bit of free time really. Have you got any recommendations for bands we should be checking out? The Parrots, Beach Baby - they supported us for the last part of our tour. Big Moon are great too. Was it Heavenly who sent you out to New York? How did that come about? It was our manager, Dan - Heavenly we really impressed with how much he did to get us to New York. The day before we went, we didn’t have passports or visas! He’d been trying to get them months in advance and it all fell through so he panicked and sent us to the embassy to do loads of paperwork and re-do it. It was pretty stressful but it was so worth it. We got straight off the plane and went straight to the show. That must have been tiring, can you always muster up the energy to give it your best? People have said sometimes that we look a bit tired onstage but generally we do alright. The crowd seem really up for it today so it should be good.
Misty Miller Misty Miller dropped by our pop-up session space on Sunday and impressed us with a soulful performance of her latest track ‘Happy’. Check it out below (left), and our Xpress radio interview with her (right)!
Sam Russo Ten Minutes into his Swn Sunday set at Moon Club and it was clear that anti-Folk, singer songwriter Sam Russo was the epitome of what constitutes a grafting musician, stating that he had to hop on train to play another two gigs after Swn. Russo started his set playing what was essentially a private gig for me and the sound man, however as the heartfelt sincerity of his every word oozed through the venue the crowd began to grow. His music seemed to scream the influence of Springsteen as he provided narrative tales of dating, make ups, break-ups and adventures away. Before playing the song ‘Forever West’ from his latest album he talks of some shows he played in America. When he says some shows he means 54 gigs without a day off, elaborating his punk rock ethos. Although Russo keeps a sense of grit and punk about elements of his performance,
his penultimate song was a polar opposite. Before playing the song ‘Storms’ he states that is possibly the saddest song he has ever written, and apologises if he cries during his rendition highlighting the honesty of this singer songwriter which makes him so instantly relatable. The audience, that by the end of the set had grown considerably stood in profound silence as Russo lay his heart on his sleeve. However Russo is anything but a one trick pony scattered in amongst his more sombre numbers were a collection of foot stampers, highlighting his punk origins. His humble nature and authenticity as a musician restores faith in the music industry proving that there are some people in the industry that still make music for the right reasons. J.I
Plastic Mermaids After we were lucky enough to see Plastic Mermaids give a truly spellbinding acoustic session comprised of ukuleles, acoustic guitars and a glockenspiel at Urban Taphouse, we presumed that the acoustic, calming vibe of this Isle of Wight band would continue for their headline slot at Moon Club, how wrong were we! The five piece were scattered in amongst a sea of various synthesizers, keyboards, guitars, and microphones, it was hard to recognize that this was the same band we saw previously. Yet both variations of the Plastic Mermaids were flawless, the array of musical instruments on show at their latter show created electronic, psychedelic pop songs. The fragile falsetto vocals of brothers Doug and Jamie Richards provided the perfect accompaniment to lyrics assorted with imagery. Throughout their set the audience watched in amazement as each of the five members, shuffled around the tiniest nooks and crannies of what was by far the most over crowded stage of the whole festival, in order to get to the necessary instrument for that song. As the set drew to a close, the Mermaids recruited the help of singer Rhain Man, who started the penultimate song with an operatic solo. Looking around the room the jaws of the sunday night audience began to drop like flies, people simply could not comprehend the voice they were hearing. Whilst the operatic beauty continued the rest of the band provided a stellar electro, dance background, the amalgamation of genre seemed completely revolutionary, providing the perfect end to the weekend. JI
The four piece delivered their alternative blues-rock fusion to a packed crowd of Swn punters, who were all too happy to revel in their reverberated guitar majesty. With hype for Palace growing as they sell out show after show, they were certainly one of most promising acts to play at Swn, proving that this festival is the perfect place to discover fresh new musical talent. How did you guys meet? School basically, we have known each other since we were pretty young. All been into music and all been very good friends. There were no awkward auditions or anything like that. Will (bassist) was the last to join and he was the last piece of the puzzle. He is also a great producer so he produced our second EP. He’s got mad skills, great dancer as well. Tap dance is my speciality. As soon as you are finished at Swn you are heading on tour in Europe, will this be your first time out there? No, we’ve done a few gigs out there, and one proper tour out there supporting Jamie T. We’ve also flown
known in Cardiff for it’s infamous ‘Bump n’Grind’ Monday club night, Buffalo played host to some of our favourite acts from this year’s festival. We spoke to Palace, Fickle Friends and Du Blonde about their experience of the festival and plans for the future.
out a few times for gigs, like little festivals and stuff like that. So how did the Jamie T support come about? You must have been made up as that was off the back of only one EP I believe he requested us to be his support band on tour so we we’re pretty pleased with that. I don’t think the second one was even out. We played his first big comeback show in London and he asked us to go out for two weeks, it was crazy. It was the best time of our lives really. On you latest tour in October you sold out on a good number of dates including Scala in London how does the success feel for you guys? It was pretty crazy, you have no idea when you go around the country or the UK if there is gunna be anyone there and we saw so many people like in Scotland. Bassist: we were quite overwhelmed, place you weren’t necessarily expecting to be that many people. It all capped off at Scala which was a venue we had been going to all our lives as punters and then suddenly to be on
the other side of the fence, playing to 950 people, everyone singing along and stuff, it was a pretty big high point. How do you find the recording process? It is pretty wearing as you listen to the same song a hundred times or more, but you know when we record the album this year after our European tour that will be the most intense, so we’ll tell you after that how it goes. That will be the longest we would have been in a studio together, recording in a studio is the most stressful thing in the world but it can also be the most satisfying thing. You have released two EPs, when can we expect to hear the new album? Spring or possibly early summer as soon as we can really. We are recording it at the end of November and we are just raring to go. We are confident we’ve got great songs and we just want to get it out there and spread palace to the masses. That’s what you want really; people to show up at the shows. It’s crazy, seeing that many people come to the show is really nice.
FICKLE FRIENDS You played buffalo in may, how does it feel to be back in cardiff? It’s lovely to be back. It’s a really cool festival and they treat us like kingswe’ve just been looking at the schedule and there’s loads of new bands that we’ve never heard of. We’ve got some friends here as well, like Violet Skies.
One of your first big breaks was winning the chance to perform at Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival - what has been your favourite festival performance as a band? That was our first festival performance and one of our first gigs as a band - it was really nerve-wracking and we were all pacing back and forward. We went in at the deep end with that gig, there was a crowd of 20,000. We’ve definitely had bigger shows, like Best Kept Secret in Holland. You just don’t know what to expect when you walk out on stage. Before that, we’d never been to Holland either, so we were confused about how they’d even heard about us. You mentioned Best Kept Secret, how has the reception of your music outside the UK been? The reception of the band abroad has
been amazing actually. We’ve done so well in Europe, maybe just because they promote the shows so well out there. Europe has been really good for us. One of our favourite places is The Netherlands. It’s the power of the internet and social media. They love British bands over there - they really appreciate us coming a long way to play for them. Your single SWIM has been played 1.5 Million times on Spotify, were you expecting it to take off like it did? Yeah it was definitely a surprise - we had no idea it was going to be that big. It was a self-release that we just put online.You are always a little bit nervous releasing something and wondering how it will be received, but it’s a great feeling to have that affirmation behind you. You write your songs as a collective - Do you find this leads to a lot of arguments? Is there someone that always gets their way? Every band has arguments - we’d be lying if we said we never argued, but the lyrics are something we never
really argue about. It happens very smoothly - we are quite lucky that we all share the same creative vision for the band - none of us shy away from speaking up, but if you think something is wrong, you come up with something better. It’s never personal, everyone is trying to create a really good song, so the criticism we give each other is always constructive. You have to serve the song *everyone chants SERVE THE SONG in unison*. The rule we generally go by is that if it feels good and it is fun to play then it’s right. Your debut EP Velvet came out earlier this year - how did the process differ from releasing singles in the past? It was similar, but it gave us a chance to do something different - we put out ‘Paris’ on the EP which is a lot more mellow than our singles have been so far. All of our singles up to this point had been big bangers, so this gave us the opportunity to show that we are not a one trick pony. It’s always different because it is a collection of work everything has to make sense together. A bit more thought has to go into it. EG
DU BLONDE A medical emergency forced a line-up change, but Du Blonde came out fighting with a sharp set that avoided too many hiccups despite the switch around. The vocalist, formerly known as solo artist Beth Jeans Houghton, put on a jubilant performance - delivering hard-hitting lyrics one moment and then playfully holding a growling contest with members of the audience the next. We caught up with Beth after her set.
I guess loads of people ask you about, before you became Du Blonde, you were kind of more into folk and stuff like that. The F word! Well, I wouldn’t have called it folk – I think that was my issue with it when I was asked about it. My definition of folk is probably different to a lot of people’s definition. How would you define your music of that time period? I don’t know – I understand that there were a few folky elements. But to me, I was really into classical and jazz and psych and garage, and all of those things were the things that I listened to. Probably the folkiest I ever listened to was Bob Dylan and Neil Young. So in that sense, I can understand that. I grew up with my Mum playing in folk clubs and playing traditional folk, and I never thought it was that. So I think it was more the semantics of it. Do you care about being put in a genre? You could say your music is more punk-orientated these days. I did listen to a lot of punk in the time leading up to making the record. I always liked that stuff. I think genres are important in the sense of saying “I’m going to see a garage band tonight” or whatever. But, there are also bands that have a lot of different elements. I think I don’t have a problem with genres unless I don’t agree that the music is that genre. Do you have more fun at these shows now, as Du Blonde? I do. I’ve had the most fun this year, musically, than I think I have my whole life. When I started out I was still trying to figure out what I was doing because I was 18 when I recorded my first record, where I was felt I was still on a journey trying to figure
out what direction I was going. Not that I don’t like the first record – I do, but I’m not there anymore. Have you enjoyed Swn Festival so far? I guess you haven’t seen many bands. We only just got here, pretty much, just before the show. I played Swn a few years ago with The Hooves. I forgot I had been here before until I walked into the venue and it was just as much fun as last time – something happened with a banana last time. Did David Bowie have a part in you becoming Du Blonde? Yeah. I think people get confused about it being his music, but it wasn’t that. I went to a V&A show, which was a retrospective of his life. I think at that point I was confused as to which direction I was going in and it was just interesting to see him do so many things and be so many versions of himself, whilst still retaining the essence that is “him”. He probably made many terrible creative decisions but he stuck to his guns and I think I appreciate that more in someone than someone who will try and veer themselves in a direction to please the masses. You did a lot of growling on stage, which I thought was pretty cool. Thank you! Even in terms of the singing, I’m finding it easier. When I first came to recording the album I had only been singing like that for a very short amount of time. I kind of wish I could re-record all the vocals now as I’m so much more confident at singing that way, my voice has gotten stronger. I never used to project that much. I’m having so much fun doing it this way now, I feel I’ve gotten rid of something on stage now. JB
We interviewed LIFE ahead of their heavy Undertone set (which incidentally Clean Cut Kid caught and recommended to us). They’re so busy being weird that they don’t have time to buy a washing machine. (No, seriously, listen if you don’t believe us).
VANT played Clwb on Saturday night. Xpress interviewed them before their show, where they necked straight Jack Daniels on stage, and there were fellas clapping with shoes at the front in the middle of a mosh pit, before the whirlwind set obviously culminated in a stage invasion. They’ve been getting a lot of Radio 1 love from Huw Stephens and Annie Mac including a recent session at Maida Vale, and definitely proved themselves worthy live.
Seafret made us fall head over heals with their session and interview. The North Eastern duo spoke to us about how Harry’s dad is the reason they met.
Lusts came in to chat to Louis in our Urban Taphouse space on Sunday morning. We had to try really hard not to reflect the camera in Andy’s sunglasses which were indeed kept on for the entirety.
KESTON COBBLERS CLUB Quintessential feel good folkers, Keston Cobblers Club were the first live band to occupy the intimate Gwdihw stage on Saturday. Littered with every type of instrument, from tubas to ukuleles, enthralling harmonies and a distinct lack of shoes, the five piece captured the wideeyed early afternoon listeners from the get go. Each song of the bands 45 minute set provided instantly loveable sing-alongs yet still managed to capture the lyrically honest beauty of a quality folk song. As well as playing songs from their two albums One For, Words and Wildfire The Cobblers Club effortless threw in a stellar rendition of Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ which was arguably on par with the version by The Tallest Man on Earth. Keston Cobblers Club are a band to watch out for, they were ideally placed at this years Swn to provide a much needed sunny disposition to a bleak Welsh Saturday in November. JI
DANIELLE LEWIS We grabbed Danielle right before her set in Four Bars on Saturday daytime, during which she filled out the room with her mesmerising Welsh voice.
INTO THE ARK Into the ark played the YPN stage on Saturday and swung by our place afterwards to record a super-chilled session.
THE ORIELLES Cooler than we could ever wish to be at 16, 17 and 19 respectively, this adorable threesome seem to have gone straight from embryos to super-cool bypassing the awkward teen phase that the CSM team are all too familiar with.. After calming our frazzled nerves when they came in to our session space to perform a fantastic mellow set, they rocked Buffalo with some incredible headbanging from lead guitarist Henry. Listen to their session and interview on sound cloud by clicking the button above.
EKKAH Ekkah are deliverers of pop/girl electro funk with a big glossy sound, reminiscent of early 90s urban styles. We headed to Buffalo to catch up with them before their set.
With the emergence of bands such as Daughter and London Grammar, more and more young singer songwriters have begun to take their songs beyond the realm of simply an acoustic guitar. Nineteen year old Rebecca Clements is a prime example of such a transition. Taking to the Dempsey’s Four bars stage on Sunday night armed with a clean toned, heavily reverberated electric guitar, a drum pad, synth and a handful of soul-bearing songs made her performance quite the spectacle. Yet the most profound element of Rebecca Clements seemed to be the sophistication of her writing, effortlessly taking pop songs to new levels through the use of a witty, anecdotal play on words. A slight Bristolian accent snuck into a set which revealed tales of heartache and all too relatable adolescent experience moreover her cover of The Cure’s ‘Boys Dont Cry’ brought a revitalising take on an Indie Classic. With a Swn celebrity audience of Dan Bettridge who opened the Horizons stage at Clwb iFor Bach and BBC Radio’s Huw Stevens it seemed apparent that Rebecca Clements was on everyone’s list of rising talent to look out for. JI
You’ve just come back from LA - how was that and what did you get up to there? It was an experience definitely, I was working with producers out there with some new material. I came over with a few new songs we wrote out there. I did a few interviews with press out there it was more of a writing trip but we incorporated stuff because these guys, who I worked with before took us out there and wanted to film to promote, to get three upcoming UK artists and take them out to LA. So the first week we spent doing that and the second week I was in sessions every day, it was really cool and totally different to London work. Everybody in London was completely different, it’s a completely different music scene. You had a fair few festival dates over the summer, which one was your favourite? I saw you played Somersault and other festivals like that. My favourite was probably the Harbour festival in Bristol, because it was my hometown and I headlined it. It was just this really cool stage, there were a lot of recognisable faces - and the boys I play with in my band are from Bristol too, it was really nice for them as well. It was just a really nice atmosphere. They knew of me in Bristol -it was nice because they actually knew the songs, instead of me having to sell myself the whole time. How did you meet your band? We met in London and didn’t realise that we all lived in Bristol. We had a few sessions together - because they are a production duo called Brunell as well - and we just got in the studio together, worked on some stuff. Eventually it was time to get a band, and they wanted to do the live scene again. They were up for it and I was up for using them, because they’re friends before anything else. When would you say was your big break? When did it feel like music was going to be your career? Probably when I signed my publishing deal back in the June of 2014 - I got told to quit my job and that my music was the full time thing now. That’s when I thought, “shit! This is actually my life now.” I’ve always felt like it’s what I wanted, but because I used to play on my own it was never how I wanted it to be. I didn’t want people to think I was just a singer-songwriter with an electric guitar. I didn’t have a band because I couldn’t afford one or it wasn’t the time for one - but that’s how I envisaged it from the start. I always knew that’s how I’d want it, but the only other person who I think would know what I was trying for was my Dad. Was there a pinnacle gig where it all changed for you? Yeah, I did a gig at Birthdays in Dalston a few weeks ago with my band. It was the first time my publisher, manager and everyone else had seen it all and they seemed surprised - like it was better than they thought it was going to be. It felt like it was exactly where we all needed to be. I was always thinking, “shit, I know that I like it”, but, how does everyone else feel about it? I thought if anyone who had seen it like myself would know would be my Dad. For them to see it like that was great. What’s the dream? Where do you hopefully see yourself in the future? The dream is to be successful enough that I can tour all the time. Really, just to keep music as my job. It’s just an emotional rollercoaster all the time, but I always think to myself, “You’re 20 and you’ve got your dream job. Just don’t whinge.” You’ve also been getting a lot of press coverage lately, how does it feel to see your fanbase growing? When I was trying to get management, I thought that I would kill to be in a publication like The Line Of Best Fit. So have them write about me and actually know who I am is amazing. How’s the Bristol music scene? It’s such a tight community. I used to gig a lot around Bristol so I knew the circuit. As I’ve gotten slightly bigger I’ve stopped gigging so much in Bristol - so when I come back now, a lot more people know who I am. You’ll see regular faces and people you don’t know. It’s always nice when people come out to gigs as well as listening to your stuff online. About your new EP, are the songs on it singles from the past or new stuff? It’s all entirely new music. At the moment, I have three new songs with the lead single off it being called “Bad TV”. I hope to get it out by January. I’m recording a music video soon, which will be my first music video. Hopefully we can tie a load of gigs in with it. EG
THE YOUNG PROMOTER’S NETWORK What is the young promoters network? The YPN is a group of young volunteer promoters aged 14-25 based across South Wales, we are involved with WalesOnline as well as other local organisations and venues. We work to teach young people the skills they need to put on great gigs in Wales. What sounds do YPN try and get to play gigs? Or do you just try and get anyone that you can? Basically it is music for young people by young people so we try and get anyone who is really part of that scene. Young bands, we just decide who we want to put on and we make it happen. We’ve had a lot of people from the rock scene and post-hardcore scene happening in the valleys and over in Merthyr, bands like Pretty Vicious and Upbeat Sneakers. There is so much going on up there so it’s great we can promote it. The person who runs it (Mike Griffiths), has loads of experience that he passes directly to us so we can learn the process properly.
The Young Promoters Network took over the stage at Moon Club on Saturday, headlining with Pretty Vicious. We spoke to Rich Samuel about what the network does for young people in South Wales
that’s mainly due to funding. Saying that, we are not adversed to bands from further afield - Swansea, Newport etc. We put on a mini festival earlier this year and had a great time showcasing up-and-coming talent like Blitz Kids and Neck Deep. What bands have you been involved with recently - what has been your favourite gig? The Blackout is up there, but my favourite was probably David Owens - we decided to create his playlist in a live setting and then it took a year to sort out and then it just happened. I have so many favourite gigs and they usually come together at the very last minute - we sorted out The Blackout in 3 weeks.
In terms of Swn Festival, how has it been for you as a group - has it been much different where different promoters have organised each stage? We started working with Swn in 2013, we were the only people to curate a stage then. So are the bands that you promote mainly The first year, we had Gabrielle Murphy unsigned? do you have guidelines that who is now signed to the same label as you stick to? Emeli Sande and is working with Lana Del The guidelines that we try and stick to are Ray’s songwriters. It is really exciting to see bands from the five boroughs that we cover - someone like that who has come through us
“JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIVE IN CARDIFF OR LONDON, IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN’T DREAM BIG”
and found success. If you give these bands opportunities early on then you can raise their hopes and aspirations. Just because you don’t live in Cardiff or London, it doesn’t mean you can’t dream big. In terms of organising YPN this year, back in April after dim swn, we put a list of our favourite bands together like 1958, Luke, and Pretty Vicious. What’s it like being a young promoter in Wales? It’s amazing. It presents so many opportunities like being an artist liaison at Green Man. It’s such a generic cliche but what you put in, you get out. I just wanted to get into marketing, but I have ended up quitting my part time job and doing this full time. Do you often collaborate together? Yeah we often put on gigs together. If we all like a band we will get them on a line-up and give them the chances that they deserve. What would your advice be to people wanting to get involved in the Cardiff music scene? Join YPN! Take as many opportunities as you can, like I said, you get as much out of life as you put in so just go for it.
OVER TOO SWN Time flies when you’re having fun, and this year’s festival went by in a flash. Here is our pick of the best tweets post #SWN15
swn has ended. we’re all gutted. and drunk. WE LOVE U @swnfestival
Ayy @swnfestival you were tight, cheers for the hangover
@thelostagencypr Shout to all who played at @swnfestival on the weekend, saw some amazing sets! The HorizonsCymru showcase was really great!
@ChrisPJMartin Just woke up from my post-@swnfestival slumber.What a magical weekend! Incredible job @john_rostron, @huwstephens & all the @SwnVols.
@swnfestival was awesome! Loads of amazing music but @wearevant have to be the highlight, can’t wait to see them again
@kdariodordi @swnfestival was great. Seeing that many good bands is surely too enjoyable to be legal
@swnfestival That was good wasn’t it! Thank you all. Our #dimswn onedayer will be coming on Sat April 9th 2016. X
@jckboyce I can’t believe I split my lip in the friendliest mosh pit ever at Dingus Khan. People were hugging, for christ sake.
@SwnVols Thank you for all the love; we had a blast as ever. For now, we’ll celebrate #swn2015, but we can’t wait for 2016! #dimswn @swnfestival
@red365 Arrives home from @swnfestival.. *face plants hallway floor *
This magazine was produced by the student media team at Cardiff University (thatâ€™s us enjoying ourselves a little too much at the Swn after Party)
Editorial: Erin Gillespie, Jack Boyce, James Ivory, Emily Giblett Photography: Jasper Wilkins, Louis Browne Online Content: Jess Campbell, James McNeil, Jory Dunworth-Warby, Ian Ikeda Charlie Minnett, Josh Edwards, Matthew Jenner, Charlie Knights Design: Jasper Wilkins, Emily Giblett Contributors: Tilly McCrystal, Hannah Hopkins, Tajel Patel, Eleanor Parkyn
Weâ€™d like to thank Owain Glyndwr and Urban Taphouse for housing our awesome live sessions, all the bands we featured and their long-suffering PR teams/managers, John Rostron for being a fucking legend and a massive inspiration to us, all the organisers and volunteers of Swn for making it a fantastic weekend, and Jess Campbell and Erin Gillespie for having the idea to produce this mag.