Tag Archives: Swn

The need to support music in Wales

Thought-provoking post by John Rostron from Plug 2 and co-promoter with Huw Stephens of Swn Festival.

Events like Swn don’t just fall into your lap, they’re dragged up from the pits of creativity, passion and courage. It’s a shame that an event that raises the profile of Cardiff/Wales and encourages much positive exposure for the cultural arts here – not to mention the global links it forges by bringing over international acts – is still struggling to source funding.

It makes you wonder if there wasn’t a ‘name’ like Huw Stephens behind it if Swn would have existed at all….

Read the post and bear it in mind if you’re ever in the circles of the people of influence.

Read the full post here

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The 12 Days of Swn-fest: Part 7 – Sons of Noel and Adrian

Sons of Adrian and Noel

Sons of Adrian and Noel

Drawing members from Brighton’s Willkommen Collective, Sons of Noel and Adrian‘s quivering, floating stories of dusk, love and loneliness straddle the unspoken area between Mumford and Sons’ haunting folk and Rachel’s chamber-led crescendos.

Don’t just trust me, listen to this and watch this

Hype Machine

Sons of Noel and Adrian play Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach on 24 October before supporting Efterklang and Jaga Jazzist at London Barbican on 28 October.

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Swn feature for Virtual Festivals

Beth Jeans Houghton

Beth Jeans Houghton

Virtual Festivals, October 2009

The big one: Swn Festival 2009 — We look ahead to the weekend’s biggest festival, Swn in Cardiff, curated by Radio 1’s Huw Stephens…

What is it?
The brainchild of Radio 1’s Huw Stephens Swn (‘sound’ in Welsh) is an inner-city festival in the image of Camden Crawl and Great Escape, with a bias towards the finest emerging new music – the packed three-day schedule has over 150 acts playing across 12 different venues.

Huw started Swn in 2007 to give the Welsh capital its own version of Austin’s SXSW. Over the packed three-day schedule you can catch music industry seminars, play communal Scrabble, dance at Wales’ biggest ever silent disco and watch the best new music from Wales to New York. Cardiff hosts the world’s oldest record shop, the amazing Spillers, and has given birth to fine musical exports from Super Furry Animals and Los Campesinos to new kids Islet – Swn is the perfect opportunity to get dirty in Welsh culture while exposing yourself to some incredible new music. Acts playing this weekend include Girls, Wild Beasts, Gaggle, the Twilight Sad, Fanfarlo, Tubelord, Los Campesinos, the Pipettes, Cate le Bon, Pulled Apart by Horses and Dananananackroyd.

When and where?
The three day event runs from 22-24 October and takes in most of Cardiff’s venues – from the legendary Clwb Ifor Bach (the ‘Welsh Club’) to the Gate, an idyllic converted church. Swn centres around the cobbles of Womanby Street (where you’ll find Clwb, Dempseys, the Toucan, Model Inn, City Arms and Y Fuwch Goch) while Cardiff’s compact size allows for a short walk between most venues. Two venues – the Gate and Chapter Arts Centre are just a short bus or taxi ride away. Things kick off in the National Museum Cardiff on Thursday at 3.30pm with a performance from the delicious Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club.

Six to watch

Islet (Dempseys, Thursday)
Frenetic, multi-drummer explosion of skewed guitars, structured dissonance and compelling unpredictability, Islet are less than a handful of gigs old but have already landed an impressive NME Radar feature – even though they shun all manner of web promotion (at last, the anti Artic Monkeys!). Musically they’re like the Bordeoms inviting Steve Reich, Fugazi, Kurt Weill and John Zorn for dinner. Then eating them.

The Drums (Dempseys, Saturday)
Dreamy, intoxicating surf-pop and Factory Records urban basslines: never the twain shall meet? Only in Brooklyn’s contagious awesome foursome – the Drums have hooks to hang your coat on and the potential for Swn-stealing glory. Check out the awesome whistling/bass-led surf-pop of ‘I Wanna Go Surfing’ for proof.

Marina and the Diamonds (Chapter Arts Centre, Thursday)
Nicely side-stepping the 80s-girl revival that has seen Pip, Boots and Roux parcelled-up into one comfortably-marketed package for journalists’ pigeon holes, Marina and the Diamonds’ eclectic hymns draw more on the new wave vibrancy of Lena Lovich and Kate Bush. Marina herself puts her roots down to Brody Dalle, Britney, Dolly Parton and a birthplace in “ancient Greece” via Wales. The Joni Mitchell-flavoured ”I’m Not A Robot” and aching, lifting ”Obsessions” show a rich songwriting and storytelling ability that should soon have ‘Marina and the Diamonds’ roll off the tongue with the same eminence as Bat for Lashes.

Taxi Taxi! (Y Fuwch Goch, Saturday)
From Stockholm and brought to us by excellent Danish label Rumraket – which has already delivered Efterklang, Cacoy and Kama Aina – Taxi Taxi! are Swedish twin sisters Miriam and Johanna Berhan. Hearing their minimalist compositions – all stirring vocal harmonies and delicate, finger-picked guitars – leaves your nervous system confused; melting your heart while delivering ice-cold shivers down your spine.

Son Capson (Chapter Arts Centre, Thursday)
Like a marching band of gurning elves bulldozing the entire contents of an Aberystwyth drugstore down their gobs, Son Capson throw-up a relentless mix of early Gorky’s Zygotic Mynchi, the contents of Tom Waits’ garage and Magical Trevor’s indelible pop sorcery.

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (Clwb Ifor Bach, Thursday)
Granite-heavy basslines, messed-up, prehistoric dubplates and a sense of style not seen since Fred Flinstone’s pet Dino got stuck in Wilma’s closet, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs straddle filthy, scraping analogue and wonky beats and go “RAAAARRRRR!!!”

Playing a rare festival date
Devil Man (Model Inn, Thursday)
Devil Man is DJ Scotch Egg’s side project with Gorgonn from Dokkebi Q. Getting the doom-gabba-chiptune legend Egg and electro-dub-punk producer Gorgonn together in the Model Inn’s tiny upstairs bar is an incredibly salacious treat from Lesson No#1, one of Cardiff’s finest promoters; expect Scotch to bring the 8-bit Brighton glare and Gorgonn to slide-up with the infectious Dalston sleaze.  

Insider tips
Cardiff University hosts Wales’ largest ever Silent Disco on Saturday evening, with Radio 1 Evening Session legend Steve Lamacq the star attraction. Silent discos are a genius amount of fun. There isn’t a PA  – you just receive a set of wireless headphones so you can go crazy to the music, then take them off and laugh at hundreds of people throwing ridiculous shapes in the dense quietness.

St Mary St – avoid it. On Friday and Saturday nights Cardiff’s main thoroughfare turns into a Jason Statham movie; without the irony.

Worst clash
3.30pm Thursday until 4.00am Sunday morning! There’s no avoiding it, with so much great new music and so much happening Swn is one massive clash-a-roo – it’s like Huw Stephens has put the programme together purely for the opportunity to watch Swn-sters pull themselves into contorted dilemmas while choosing between a dozen must-see events. For the best solution see ‘Festival Tactics’ below.

Be at Swn if you like
Running from bar to bar, catching 20 minutes of sparklingly-genius new music, downing a pint then scampering to the next. Swn is a riot of gigs so if your idea of bliss is 72 hours of being blasted by cutting-edge leftfield noise, soothed by nu-folk and scared by intense dubstep then you’ll be in gig heaven.

Avoid if you like
Red Dragon Radio, fighting in Yate’s Wine Lodges and watching your ‘favourite new band’ Keane support U2 at the Millennium Stadium at the seventh concert of your life; then buying the fifty quid t-shirt and telling the geeky-kid in your office that listens to weird music on the morning after how you “went to a proper concert last night”. You can stay at home and watch Heartbeat.

Festival tactics
Get to the Toucan Club on Womaby St early on Thursday, pick up your wristband and devour the programme. Highlight everything you must see in red, everything you might see in green. Then throw the programme away, get drunk on Brains and stagger from venue to venue meeting amazing Welsh kids and falling in love with bands that will change your life, before moving to Cardiff and starting a band yourself.

Fashionista or folky?
Fashionista. It’s not Shoreditch yet, but Cardiff has a little-known portal that whizzes fashion and music between the two. Asymmetrical haircuts, neon dressage and sullen pouts will be out in force, but you can laugh at them as your wristband guarantees you entry while they sell their souls and haggle their way onto the guest list.

Alcohol of choice
Being Cardiff it’s got to be the infamous local brew, Brains bitter. There’s an S.A. version (strong alcohol) for the brave, which most Cardiffians refer to as skull attack.

Take your mum score – 4/10
Sadly, Tom Jones is in LA, Charlotte Church is in Hello and Stereophonics are in the middle of the road. Swn is partly about showing that Welsh culture is less daffodils and boyo’s and more DIY gigs and innovative music. There’s poetry at the Vulcan Pub and rapturous, chilling folk from Beth Jeans Houghton but unless your mam caves in to the post-rock noise of The Death Of Her Money, it’s best to leave her at home with the X Factor.

Can I still get tickets?
Yes. three day (£45) and one day wristbands (£17) are on sale from Spillers Records, Cardiff (029) 20224905, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff (029) 20311050, Diverse Records, Newport (01633) 259661 and Ticketline (029) 20230130. Most gigs have a walk-up ticket cost but it’s way cheaper to get hold of a weekend wristband – and as some of the bigger gigs like Wild Beats and Marina and the Diamonds are likely to be busy, your wristband will guarantee you entry.

More information and a full-line-up is available at http://www.swnfest.co.uk/

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The 12 Days of Swn-fest: Part 5 – Taxi Taxi!

Taxi Taxi!

Taxi Taxi!

Scientists have pinpointed the exact hair that stands up on the back of your neck, attentive and cold, when exposed to such exquisite dessert blues as Sweden’s Taxi Taxi Music!

From Stockholm and brought to us by excellent Danish label Rumraket – which has already delivered Efterklang, Cacoy and Kama Aina – Taxi Taxi! are Swedish twin sisters Miriam and Johanna Berhan. Hearing them leaves your nervous system all confused; the delicate, sparse tunes and floating vocals have the ability to both melt your heart while delivering ice-cold shivers down your spine.

The minimalist compositions, stirring vocal harmonies and finger-picked guitars bring to mind fellow Swedish sonmgwriter Stina Nordenstam, while the sometimes mournful, sometimes brooding deliverance is as striking as hearing the individual voices of Joanna Newsom or Hope Sandoval for the first time.

Fresh from opening for Kings of Convenience at the London Barbican Taxi Taxi! have just released their debut record, Still Standing At Your Back Door, after two beautiful EPs, this year’s Step Out Into the Light and 2007’s Taxi Taxi! EP.

Taxi Taxi! play the Fierce Panda evening at Y Fuwch Goch during Swn on 24 October, alongside Cate Le Bon, the Molotovs and Goldheart Assembly.

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The 12 Days of Swn-fest: Part 4 – Son Capson, Marina & the Diamonds, Martin Carr, Science Bastard

Marina and the DiamondsLike a marching band of gurning elves bulldozing the entire contents of an Aberystwyth drugstore down their gobs before throwing up a mix of early Gorky’s and Tom Waits’ garage.

Have you heard Magical Trevor? He’s the deliciously annoying viral cartoon that was mutated into an advert for 118-247 earlier this year. Son Capson appear to be his magical Welsh cousin, nestling in the Cambrian Mountains and gouging on Tom Waits’ Swordfish Trombones and Hungarian coming-of-age ceremonies. He conjures past images of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynchi donning wizard outfits and singing about Peanut Dispensers while sounding like Eugene Hutz’s marvellous moustache. He’s got a song about a Sniper on the Roof of Tesco. He’s pretty awesome.

Nicely side-stepping the 80s-girl revival that has seen Pip, Boots and Roux parcelled-up into one comfortably-marketed package for journalists’ pigeon holes, Marina and the Diamonds’ eclectic hymns draw more on the new wave vibrancy of Lena Lovich and Kate Bush. Marina herself puts her roots down to Brody Dalle, Britney, Dolly Parton and a birthplace in “ancient Greece” via Wales. The Joni Mitchell-flavoured “I’m Not a Robot” and aching, lifting “Obsessions” show a rich songwriting and storytelling ability that should soon have ‘Marina and the Diamonds’ roll off the tongue with the same eminence as Bat for Lashes.

Martin Carr‘s biog should read like the A-Team’s: ‘he gave up the charts and a life in pop for the rich-storytelling of life in the Welsh capital’. Ah, so naive! He should have known that his beautiful craftmanship would be constantly called on and his six Brave Captain albums have tied together the enduring sense of pop that he carved out with the Boo Radleys’s with some captivating lo-fi country and psych. New album ‘Ye Gods (And Little Fishes)‘ is the first he has released under his own name and is his most engaging solo outing yet; warm, brooding laments and that stay with you as the last few notes fizzle out.

Grabbing their name from a low-budget flick film that has been described as “pure heroin for pop-culture junkies” seems an appropriate choice for Science Bastard; they have that wreck-all-the-instruments-then-piece-them-back-together-and-throw-some-pop-bubbles-on-the-mess approach – all fuzzy, amphetamine drumming, short-sharp-shock guitars and gurning vocals . Wonderfully, they have no attention span either – throwing delicious hooks about with abandon they sound like a scratch running after an itch.

Son Capson, Marina and the Diamonds, Martin Carr and Science Bastard play Chapter Arts Centre on 22 October as part of the BBC Wales Adam Walton and BBC Radio 1 Introducing in Wales with Bethan Elfyn evening.

Also appearing are: Post War YearsRace HorsesBright Light Bright Light and Zimmermans. The show will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio 1 Introducing In Wales with Bethan Elfyn

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The 12 Days of Swn-fest: Part 2 – Lesson No#1 presents And They Will Riot!, Devil Man, Team Brick, the Death of Her Money

DJ Scotch Egg

DJ Scotch Egg

So monolithic is Lesson No#1’s gig at the Model Inn during Swn’s opening night that you anticipate the erecting of cranes outside the venue – to enable the brutal frames of these slab-heavy pillars of wondrous noise to be lowered inside.

And it’s not like they’ve given us an easy start either.  Kicking things off at 7.30pm with some fine cage-rattling dynamic dissonance is NP9’s Death of Her Money. All spanking , Godzilla-sized riffs slapped against a scream that marvellously evokes the angry ghost of Napalm Death’s Lee Dorian, Death of Her Money aren’t afraid to slip out of the battered-grind every now for some quaint melodies; which is quite special.

Portishead faves Team Brick profess their influences as “Chlorine of swimming pool 1992” and the Cardiacs. Sometimes they sound like Christo and Jeanne-Claude muzzling Merzbow with acres of strings, horns and Steve Reich’s drums. Sometimes they scrape apart the murky, uncompromising waters to reveal haunting, harmonised a cappella. Deliciously refusing to occupy one solid genre, Team Brick isn’t even a ‘they’ they’re a ‘he’ – and you can never sure who he’ll bring with him; whether it be a full-laden orchestra or a one man soundtrack of trance-like cacophony.

Devil Man is DJ Scotch Egg’s side project with Gorgonn from Dokkebi Q. Getting the doom-gabba-chiptune legend Egg and electro-dub-punk producer Gorgonn together in the Model Inn’s tiny upstairs bar is an incredibly salacious treat from Lesson No#1; expect Scotch to bring the 8-bit Brighton glare and Gorgonn to slide-up with the infectious Dalston sleaze.

The task of topping this lot off is left to And They Will Riot!, who far from convulsing at the task are more likely to stagger violently across the stage with concrete brutalism and slab-heavy riffs that trickle down into escaping instrumentalism. Yeah, it’s all ‘Loud-quiet-loud’ -light/dark dynamics but with Fuck Buttons-style layered screams and a bass player that sounds like the son of Dan Lilker.

Lesson No#1 presents And They Will Riot, Devil Man, Team Brick, the Death of Her Money – the Model Inn, Cardiff, Thursday 22 October

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The 12 Days of Swn-fest: Part 1 – The Drums

Drummmmmmssss

Drummmmmmssss

Dreamy, intoxicating surf-pop and Factory Records urban basslines: never the twain shall meet? Only in Brooklyn’s contagious awesome foursome. Hooks to hang your coat on with the potential for Swn-stealing glory – sshh!

It starts with whistling that feels like ice cubes trickling down your back. The bass teases in, like the Shins, but if the Shins grew up on a diet of Factory 12 inches. Vocals, pure surf-lovely vocals: “Oh mama, I wanna go surfing / Oh mama, I don’t care about nothing”. Yeah baby, “Let’s Go Surfing” is fucking awesome.

The Drums play the Moshi Moshi night at Cardiff Dempsey’s on 24 October

You’ll be dreaming about them by Christmas.

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