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Hi! I'm Helia. Blog boss at We Are Cardiff, I mostly love culture, travel, reading, writing, and riding my bike. Cardiff, Wales, and the world!

Introducing – the Welsh Music Podcast!

Happy New January! This post is dedicated to a new podcast you NEED to be listening to. This is the Welsh Music Podcast, hosted by James Cuff (We Are Cardiff fans may remember James for helping out on the We Are Cardiff documentary that we made a few years back) and Neil Collins, both avid music fans.

They set the podcast up in 2019 to celebrate Welsh music and culture, past and present, and the people who helped shape it.

Welsh Music Podcast logo

Here’s more about them: “From Anhrefn to Zabrinski we’ll cover it all, including obscure, emerging and established artists, across the Welsh and English language spectrum.

“Each episode will feature a music obsessive guest who has, in some way, helped shape Welsh music and culture. They’ll be talking about their careers and giving an in-depth analysis of their favourite Welsh album.”

Their most recent episode of the podcast features me! (Helia Phoenix, helllooooo). I chat about various things on my musical journey through life in Cardiff, including Catapult Records, Kruger Magazine, Lady Gaga, club nights in Cardiff through the 1990s and 2000s. SO much to chat about. Thanks so much to the Welsh Music Podcast for inviting me on, it was such a lovely chance to reminisce and celebrate!

My nomination for best Welsh album of all time is High Contrast‘s True Colours. I don’t think the electronic scene in Wales gets anywhere near enough coverage or kudos for how diverse and wonderful it is, so this is my attempt to correct that. Also if you think about global impact, Lincoln (High Contrast) is a producer who is leading his field. He worked on the music for the Olympics opening ceremony, he’s a Grammy nominee. This will date this piece, but check the High Contrast Spotify profile and you’ll see his top 10 tracks have had 47 MILLION LISTENS. That’s big time.

Anyway, that’s today. Back to True Colours. It’s a wonderful album, and I mention in the podcast that I did a pre-interview with Lincoln to refresh my memory. We ended up chatting for nearly an hour and there was a lot of interesting stuff in that, so look forward to a post about that in the future.

Listen below:

Here’s the beef:

We talk to music journalist and Cardiff Music Board member Lalovely Phoenix about DJing, working on Kruger Magazine and writing Lady Gaga’s biography.

She also chose the Grammy-nominated High Contrast’s debut as her favourite Welsh album.

Earlier episodes of the podcast so far feature discussions with Dave Owens, Patrick Jones, Huw Stephens, John Rostron, Matt Durbridge, Keri Collins, and they’ve got a lot more guests to come (more about Welsh Music Podcast guests).

Two other Welsh electronic artists I wanted to give a special shout out to:

LINKS TO MORE STUFF:

Follow the Welsh Music Podcast…

LINKS TO EVEN MORE STUFF:

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Bite! Cardiff – Food Festival returns to Insole Court, 27 July 2019

Last year’s Bite! food festival was one of the highlights of our calendar. This year they’re returning, but with a new aim – sharing great food while reducing single-use plastics. Specially designed reusable cups will be available to buy at the bar (or order in advance)!

And now THIRTY incredible chefs are returning – bringing pop-up food at a street food price to the beautiful surroundings of Insole Court. They’ll all be creating a single dish each for just THREE POUNDS! Which means you can sweep the site and try loads of different dishes without busting the bank or your belt.

BITE! FOOD FESTIVAL – INSOLE COURT, CARDIFF – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

SATURDAY 27 JULY, 11AM – 9PM

BITE FESTIVAL – FACEBOOK EVENT

FOLLOW @BITECARDIFF

WHO’S GONNA BE COOKING …

  • Simon Wright, Wrights Food Emporium
  • Tommy Heaney, Heaneys & Uisce
  • Darren Lewis, Joyful Jar Company
  • Michelle Evans, Paternoster Farm
  • Jamie O’ Leary, JOLS
  • Ceri Johnston Bower, The Early Bird Bakery
  • Deri Reed, The Warren
  • Matt Waldron, Stackpole Inn
  • John Cook, EMBER
  • Tom O Sullivan, Spit & Sawdust
  • Tom Furlong & Gwyn Myring, Milkwood
  • Derw Robertson, Tan A Mwg
  • Andrew Gwynne, Gwynne’s Ice Cream
  • Jon White & Rosie Eastwood, The Two Anchors
  • Abi Dymmock, Jack & Amelie
  • Krish Pankaj, Keralan Karavan
  • Gareth Daw, Henry Webb’s Restaurant at St Mellon’s Hotel
  • Laurian Veaudour, Cocorico Patisserie
  • Vicky Crabtree, Shawarmarama
  • Stephen Terry, The Hardwick
  • Montserrat Prat, La Cuina
  • Antonio Simone, The Humble Onion
  • Nick Spann, Bao Selecta
  • Leyli Homayoonfar, Leyli Joon & Co.
  • Rob Haswell, Ceridwen Centre
  • Simmie Vedi, The Warden’s House
  • Sam Speller, Lazy Leek
  • Rhodri Evans, Pieporium
  • Lali Suto, Hoof
  • Debs Lewis, Dusty Knuckle

AND WHAT WILL BE AVAILABLE TO DRINK?

The 30 chefs and producers are joined by five great drinks providers. This year, Bite Cardiff has partnered with Freedom Brewery, a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA).

Wrights Wines will also be serving a range of natural wines, and Skyborry will be offering a selection of Cider and Perry.

Both Little Man Coffee Co and The Handlebar Barista will be serving coffee – so don’t forget your re-usable mugs / flasks!

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THE REUSABLE CUPS?

In an effort to cut down on waste this year and also avoid single use plastics, Bite are selling reusable cups for use at the bar. These will be on sale on the day for £3.50, or you can buy one in advance, for £3, by clicking here.

Buying a cup helps Bite to cover the costs of putting on the event, ensuring that it can be kept *free entry* for years to come. Purchasing one in advance will help speed up and lessen the queues at the bar on the day and mean you can fast track your way into the event. The cups can also be taken away as a memento and are dishwasher safe on the top shelf.

 CAN I BRING BLANKETS ETC? 

People are encouraged to take picnic blankets, and also, their own picnic crockery and cutlery if possible, as well as refillable water bottles.

IS THE EVENT CASH-ONLY? 

Yes – you will need cash to buy tokens (stickers) which can be exchanged for food. £3 = one token = one dish. This is to prevent chefs from having to handle cash on the day. The bars will run as normal (you won’t need tokens) but the whole event will be cash only.

WHERE CAN I BUY THE FOOD TOKENS? 

These can be bought from token stalls dotted throughout the festival. You can also pre-purchase these, on any day in the week before the festival, at the Insole Court visitor centre.

ARE DOGS ALLOWED? 

Yes, well behaved dogs on a lead.

  IS THERE PARKING ON SITE? 

Parking at Insole Court is reserved for festival staff and disabled drivers only. There will be a limited amount of Bite festival parking available at Rookwood Hospital, at Fairwater Road Llandaff Cardiff CF5 2YN.

Though some parking is available at Rookwood, we are encouraging people to use public transport to access the festival as much as possible. The nearest buses that operate between Cardiff city centre and Insole Court are the 66, 25, 62 or 63 (operated by Cardiff Bus) and the 122 or 124 (operated by Stagecoach).

Insole Court is approximately a 25-minute bus ride from Cardiff city centre, and a 10-minute walk from Victoria Park.

Alternatively, the nearest train station is Fairwater. Insole Court is 500m from the Fairwater Road exit.

The main cycle routes to Insole Court are:

·      From Cardiff Bay via the Ely Trail.

·      From Cardiff city centre via the Taff Trail.

Bike parking is located near the Visitors’ Centre / in the car park.

For more information, visit: https://www.insolecourt.org/visit

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Support the Creative Republic of Cardiff – become a patron of The Moon!

Creative Republic of Cardiff is a non-profit organisation that plans to rejuvenate Cardiff’s live music and creative culture. It was been set up by former staff & friends of The Full Moon, which closed in April 2017.

The Full Moon doorway, Cardiff

They set up an Indiegogo campaign which raised £14,000 in two weeks, which helped them to take on the building’s lease and open at the end of April 2017 as a new community-led, non-profit venue & arts space called THE MOON.

THEY ARE NOW SEEKING YOUR ONGOING SUPPORT! They’ve been busy getting the venue ready, which includes all sorts of things:

eg – securing the lease; licenses; insurance; tills; stock; accounting; legal; security; design & signage; plumbing & electrics; continuing refurbishment – painting, carpentry, tiling, loads of odd jobs and fixing stuff, lights replaced, little cloakroom/space for band gear; & everything else associated with maintaining a fully functioning venue!

Additional funds will allow us to improve the venue, carry out maintenance and provide them with basic working capital.

Creative Republic of Cardiff will use the venue to establish an environment of collaboration, networking and knowledge sharing. It will nurture, develop, organise and showcase talent from Cardiff and beyond.

The Moon has been an powerhouse for supporting grassroots artists, and supporting them is support for our independent music scene!

They’re currently offering two levels of support: £7.50 per month, or £20 per month. Here’s how they break down:

$10 (£7.50) or more per month:
  • Moon ‘Saviour’ T-Shirt
  • 10% discount at the bar FOR LIFE any time you come in wearing your Saviour t-shirt
  • Your name will also be placed on the wall plaque of saviours
$25 (£20) or more per month:
  • Saviour t-shirt
  • 10% off at the bar for life when wearing Saviour t-shirt
  • 1 free gig per month at The Moon of your choice (subject to ticket availability)

Crazy good options! Head over to the Creative Republic of Cardiff’s Patreon page and get supporting.

Creative Republic of Cardiff Facebook

Creative Republic of Cardiff Instagram

Creative Republic of Cardiff Twitter

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Looking for a fun, inclusive choir? Join Technicolour!

In today’s interview, we meet Patrick Steed, the Musical Director for Technicolour – a new, inclusive choir that practises every week in Chapter Arts Centre. And they have a concert on Friday 28 June! If you’re into musicals and pop mashups, get along to their concert this Friday!

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Q. Hello Patrick! So tell us – what’s your story?

A. Cardiff has been my home since 2005 when I came here for Uni. I live here with my amazing fiancé – Matt – and after being in Wales for 14 years now, I feel I’m a Welshman! I’m a musician with a massive passion for musical theatre and choirs. I’ve been leading choirs here for 11 years. I’ve worked as a composer and lyricist for musicals such as Stalking John Barrowman, Blink! and I’ve been composer in residence for Hello Cabaret for the past three years! Musical theatre songs have the capacity for such emotional depth and invite the audience to step into a moment with a character. That’s why I love what I do!

Q. What’s your favourite musical?

A. It changes on a fairly regular basis – there are so many fantastic musicals to choose from! I absolutely love ‘Hamilton’ and it’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda is an absolute genius. Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Legally Blonde, The Last Five Years, Wicked and anything Disney also hold a special place in my heart.

Q. Why did you create Technicolour?

A. I love musicals. I love epic harmonies. I love festivals. I love clubbing. I love glitter. And I thought, wouldn’t it amazing if I could turn everything I love into a choir? Our tagline is #musicalsremixed – and we love putting a twist on conventional ideas. That’s why we mix up Chicago with Dua Lipa and Wicked with Ella Eyre. And that’s why our gigs feel more like club nights that concerts! We’ve got 90 members in less than a year and more joining next season – which makes me think I’m not the only person to love musicals, epic harmonies, festivals, clubbing and glitter!!!

Q. What’s next for Technicolour?

A. ‘Life in Technicolour’ – our summer gig – is fast approaching! It’s all inspired by The Wizard of Oz and uses music from an eclectic range of musicals – everything from West Side Story, to RENT to The Lion King to reimagine the classic tale. We’re taking over Tramshed and turning it into an Oz inspired wonderland! And the amazing Disco Motel will be getting us dancing until the early hours! It’s all happening on Friday 28th June from 8pm at Tramshed – there’s still some tickets available @ www.tramshedcardiff.com

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Invitation to the FCI 2 listening party!

USW’s School of Music and Sound have a listening launch party for this year’s Create Sampler, FCI 2 on 14th May from 3.30pm, and they want you to go along! 

Following steep competition and over 40 entries, a staff panel selected the final tracks to represent the School and release on vinyl, complete with cover artwork from The Wild Midnight. 

FCI 2 contains 13 eclectic tracks ranging from rock to folk to electro house, collaborations and an exclusive track recorded at Rockfield Studios. The creative standard this year is exceptional and they can’t wait to share the finished product with you. Finished copies will be available on the day and also on the shelves of Spillers Records.

Join us in the Theatre to listen to the album and hear the stories behind the tracks from the artists themselves TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE HERE

Theatre listening party 3.30pm-5pm

Zen Bar Social, DJ & Buffet 5pm – 7pm

Get yourself along and support tomorrow’s musical stars!

Side A

“Y Diweddaraf” – Adwaith

“Zen Me Kan Dao Zi” – Min & Hui

“Curves and Lines” – Suleiman Atta

“Nowhere’s Ark” – Jacob Haslam & 3rd Year BMus Contemporary Music Performance

“Platform 10” – Ste Powell

“Flying Kites” – Chloe Ferguson

Side B

“Advantages” – Bloom!

“Venn Diagram” – Carlen Williams

“Everything is Happening” – Jacob Haslam

“Work Hard” – Dan Ham

“Love International” – Girl International

“My Dear and Me” – Alan’s Bank

“Matulu Moja” – Klementyna Wasiewska & Alastair Evans

Last year’s Sampler, FCI 1 gained critical acclaim in the industry receiving radio airplay and was championed by BBC Producers Huw Stephens, Adam Walton and Bethan Elfyn. It is also stocked in Spillers Records and will be available for this year’s Record Store Day. Featured bands MelltThe Kelly Line and Naomi Rae have continued to gain attention in the business and we anticipate big things for this year’s artist rostra.

Join us in the Atrium theatre to listen to the album and hear the stories behind the tracks from the artists themselves.

Theatre listening party 3.30pm-5pm

Zen Bar Social from 5pm

Bought to you by the School of Music and Sound this event is free, open to students & the wider music community, please tell your friends. If you are looking to get into the industry or advance your business within it these talks are for you.

Instagram usw_music

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Introducing the Ladies of Rage

Today we welcome Hannah Weiss to introduce the Ladies of Rage, a new Cardiff musical collective. All images here by Aiyush Pachnanda. Enjoy!

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The Cardiff collective Ladies of Rage (LOR) was established by radio DJ Ffion Wyn Morris, to unite women in the Welsh music scene. The group is 80 members strong, the group welcomes anyone interested in learning to mix tracks or take their turn on the mic. Whether you’re into D’n’B or old-skool hip hop, writing lyrics or beatboxing, there’s a place for you here.

There’s a LOR showcase for International Women’s Day in March – it will be held on 9 March at The Moon, and we’d love to see you there!

The LOR had a showcase at The Moon in December, which was a real success. The ladies had honed their skills through a series of monthly jam sessions and workshops, ready to take the stage for the first showcase.

The Moon is Cardiff’s prime space for up-and-coming indie acts and the perfect place for the Ladies of Rage to make their debut: large enough to pack a solid audience, small enough to allow each performer to connect with the crowd. There was a mix of men and women; a healthy cross-section of supporters in the scene, people looking for a good show and a handful who wander in throughout the night, drawn by the music to find out more.

Stella Marie and Trishna Jaikara Shan kick-start the showcase. Both DJs are here to demonstrate their skill on the decks, and each brings her own flair to the hip hop mixes they’ve come to play. People drift from the bar to the stage, as the hype builds for the first emcee.

First on the mic is Becky Cee, a new rapper who found performing through poetry. This is evidenced by the compelling lyricism of her words, as she explores anger and anxiety. At times her delivery is backed by music, at others she lets the timbre of her voice fill the space. Each of the trio of tracks is deeply personal, a timely reminder of the purpose of the night: enabling women in music to make their voices heard.

Following her is Judy Price, the leading lady on tech for the night, who blends her words with a self-composed mix that gives her set a smooth, bluesy vibe. There’s a steady confidence in her delivery that matches the evocative self-awareness of her lyrics.

Amelia Unity is up next, an OG in Cardiff’s hip hop scene. The spoken word poet, graffiti artist and B-girl takes the stage to give The Moon a taste of the talent that won her first place at the Swansea Poetry Slam last year. She’s ready with an arsenal of talking points, from the personal to the political.  Quoting the ‘colour war on the high street’ and ‘a gambler who couldn’t play her game’, Unity flips from uncovering cracks in Cardiff’s hip hop community to smoking public discourse on beauty standards and aging, taking her audience on a vivid ride through her experiences of life and art.

Lyrical depth is a clear strength these women share. Leah Hutchinson shifts into a more introspective tone with her mix of singing and spoken word, showcasing her flair for flow and a unique vocal tone. She welcomes the audience into her world through four tracks that unfold in a gorgeous string of metaphors referencing nature, poetry and religion. Framing both her fellow performers and the audience in the statement ‘we are all an expression of infinite art’, she encapsulates the purpose of the night in one beautiful turn of phrase.

Building on Leah’s tentative step through the divide between poetry and music, singer-songwriter Asha Jane dives into a soaring R&B set of self-penned tracks. ‘If you fall in love with a storyteller, you might be in love with the stories’, is the haunting refrain of stand-out track ‘Oyster’. Asha spins a soulful tale of love and loss, while the hype of the audience around her stills to rapt attention.

Asha stays on stage to collab with battle rapper Shawgz, who transforms the crowd’s focus into a flare of energy with a rapid-fire salvo of tracks from her new BLK Tape EP. The pair play off each other’s strengths, letting the tempo rise and fall as they shift flow in perfect sync. Shawgz owns the stage with flair, demonstrating her freestyle chops as she ribs with the audience.

The vibe stays at a simmering high as Lady SP hits the stage with a flow so fast it ricochets around the venue like gunfire. If the first half of this showcase drew the audience in through the ladies’ lyricism and exchange of shared experiences, the latter sets are a performance of sheer power.

The strength of the collective really hits home when Tasha, better known by her moniker TT, rallies for her first time on stage. The other women gather, ready at her back, while the crowd before her chants their collective support to welcome her onto the scene.

The full roster of emcees, singers and DJs share the stage to swap verses in a friendly-fire cypher that rounds out the night with a display of unity and mutual respect. Every women takes her turn on the mic, the hype of the others around her never letting up.

Lubi J and Stella shift the showcase from performance to party, taking turns on the decks to play some D’n’B, with emcee Missy G stepping up to the mic to freestyle over the mix. Before the night comes to a close, the ladies present founder Ffion with a birthday present as she thanks the audience for their support, giving a shout out to each performer’s tenacity and talent, and a nod to Amy Farrah’s photo exhibition. Headshots of the performers line the walls, accompanied by words, as each gives her voice to the need for this new era in music.

The Ladies of Rage showcase is a clear demonstration of the treasure-trove of talent among women emcees, DJs and musicians in Wales. It’s not just a performance, but a call to arms. This is the first time several performers stepped from the edges of the underground scene to go onstage. How many women in the audience, you wonder, might be inspired to pen lyrics and experiment with mixes after watching the skill on show that night?

It’s those women in the crowd the Ladies of Rage came for. The ones who haven’t yet dared to test their skills. Now when they do, there’s a full collective of women ready to share their experiences and stand alongside them.

This is just the first step.

JOIN THE LADIES OF RAGE!

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A new comedy night – underneath Cardiff Castle

We were VERY excited about this brand new comedy night in Cardiff, put on by Little Wander, the learned folks who run the Machynlleth Comedy festival. And the venue is a brand new one for comedy in the city! Read on to find out more.

Comedy at the castle

You can catch Comedy at the Castle in Cardiff Castle’s historic Undercroft! Previous acts include Jonny and the Baptists, Evelyn Monk, Frank Foucault, and Stuart Laws. Find out about the latest Comedy at the Castle gig and buy your tickets now!).

We spoke to Little Wander to get some more info on Comedy at the Castle. 

We’re almost certainly best known as the people that founded and run Machynlleth Comedy Festival which has its tenth birthday this May. But we do loads more than Machynlleth, including we run monthly comedy clubs for arts venues across Wales and the UK, we bring touring comedians to Cardiff, mainly at Chapter and Clwb Ifor Bach, we book and manage national tours for some of the UK’s best comedians, including James Acaster, Kiri Pritchard-Mclean, Jen Brister and Gein’s Family Giftshop. Last year we made our first TV show, Stand Up at BBC Wales which went out on BBC 1 and BBC 2 in October, and also started a second comedy festival in Aberystwyth last October, which will be an annual event. Alongside this we work for other festivals, so we booked and managed the comedy at Green Man Festival since 2008, and worked with Manchester International Festival in 2017 to deliver comedy programming. We’ve worked with NTW on numerous projects including NHS70, and delivering a specific element of the Roald Dahl City of the Unexpected celebrations. We do loads of stuff, almost exclusively in comedy.

Camping at Machynlleth Comedy Festival
Gareth and Lauren, Machynlleth_Comedy_Fest
Two of Sparkles Hoop Troop enjoying the festivities at Machynlleth Comedy Festival

We always said that we’d only ever run a regular comedy night in Cardiff if we felt that it could be perfect. I knew of the Undercroft, a medieval vaulted cellar underneath Cardiff Castle, from our work on Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected, and always felt it would be perfect for a comedy gig. So when Lloyd Glanville from Cardiff Castle approached us I kind of knew straight away we’d say yes. It’s a perfect space for it right in the centre of the city, but couldn’t feel further from the city when you’re down there. Lloyd had been to a lot of our shows in Clwb and Chapter so had a good idea of what we offer and so we’ve got the basis of a really strong partnership. It’s going to be monthly, and there will be four acts on each month. We plan to  showcase our favourite acts from the live comedy scene, and we can’t wait to share them with the city.

Aside from our monthly night at the Castle we’ve got a fair bit on the way in Cardiff in the coming months. Keep an eye on the Little Wander Facebook page to see what’s coming.

Keep up with all the Little Wander news …

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We also recommend you take note of Machynlleth Comedy Festival is the biggie, held on the May bank holiday weekend, and the new Aberystwyth Comedy Festival held in October. Get them in your diaries, and come enjoy some world class alternative comedy in fabulous surroundings.

Celebrating Independent Venue Week with Rainbow Maniac – Q&A and album recording photo essay

So there’s nothing we like more on We Are Cardiff than supporting and celebrating local talent. So we dropped in to speak to good time rock and rollers Rainbow Maniac, who have just recorded their debut album, and will be playing on Tuesday 29 January at The Moon. Read on for a photo essay of the recording, and a Q&A!

And don’t forget to catch them Tuesday 29 January: Independent Venue Week – Rainbow Maniac / The Rotanas / Carolines / WYNT (all ages, The Moon).

So you guys have just recorded your album! Tell us all about it.

With Charlie Francis as our producer, we recorded most of it over two days cause we’re hipsters and we wanna be like the Beatles in the early days. It was pretty easy and relaxed because we’d thought about it for a while and we’re pretty well rehearsed.

Some of the songs have been around for two or three years, and some of the songs were finished in the last few months so it feels like we’re releasing a mini greatest hits album as our debut!

When is the album due to be released?

We want to find a label to release with first so a release date is very much TBC. We intend to put out some singles in the meantime though so don’t worry! We are going to promote our new single ‘Snowball’ and take it from there.

Can people see you live any time soon?

Yeah for sho. To promote ‘Snowball’ we booked a mini tour this month – you can catch us at the last show in Cardiff at the Moon, on the 29th January. The single is also being released on 29th so it should be a fun night getting boozy with our support acts Al Moses and Rotanas!

Many thanks to Aiyush Pachnanda of Yo SNAPS for the photos.

See the full photoshoot at the We Are Cardiff Facebook page

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Meet Irina and Silviu – documenting local creatives

A couple of months ago I got an email from Irina and Silviu, asking if I would be free to answer some questions and be featured on their website. I do get asked relatively frequently to do things like this, but I’ve only got limited time available to me so I usually turn the offers down.

However, I had a look at the website for this project that they are running – Together and Sunspell – and got back in touch with them to say yes. Have a look at it and you’ll see why. The photography is just wonderful, and they’ve got an interesting mixture of interviews with people doing creative jobs or creative work across different industries, and also across their local area – they live in Usk, so their project spans Cardiff, Bristol and Bath. I asked them a few questions about Together and Sunspell. Enjoy!

Please introduce yourselves.

We are Irina & Silviu and we do everything together. We met at Uni in Transylvania where we were both studying Philosophy and a few years down the line we’ve decided to call Wales home.

Tell us a little bit about your project ‒ where did the idea come from? Why did you decide to do it?

Together & Sunspell was born out of our innate curiosity and inquisitive openness towards the Other and the way they interact with their environment. As foreigners we found this to be a good way of getting to know people and feeling less isolated. We also felt that by creating an online collection of these encounters we would support and promote local and regional talent and raise awareness of the creative richness surrounding us.

What has your experience been of meeting people and taking the photos? Have you enjoyed it?

T&S started without us really knowing it and this randomness helped us ease into what the project was going to become. We went from almost zero interaction to having covered over 120 stories in the span of two years; the whole process has been exhilarating, draining at times and paired with our innate need to permanently question and analyse everything, the journey has been anything but boring. Have we enjoyed it? We’ve absolutely loved it. It taught us things about ourselves that we might have never learned otherwise and it offered us a plethora of firsthand insights into so many different stories topped up with being able to share all this richness with everyone.

Are there any memorable photoshoots you have done?

They are all unique, thus all memorable. They all taught us something different, things you can only perceive in the company of people who open their hearts and homes and share their inspiring stories with us. At the end of the day, our project is not about photography as such, but about meaningful connections, genuine interactions, openness and inclusiveness.

What’s been your favourite location to take pictures so far?

The favourite location is always the one we are in at the time of conversing and being with the other. We can’t separate the person from the location or vice versa, they both complement each other creating a meaningful story.

And finally, what are your hopes and dreams for 2019?

We’d love to continue doing what we are doing: making more handmade collages, documenting more stories, collaborating with other creatives, developing more personal projects and enjoying our being together.

You can find Helia’s Together and Sunspell interview here:

Other lovely Cardiff people they have featured:

Find the full archive of Cardiff stories here: Together and Sunspell – Cardiff

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We Are Cardiff needs you!

HNY kids!

Have you ever fancied contributing to We Are Cardiff? Well, luckily, we’re always looking for fresh talentz to join the crew. AND WE HAVE FUNDING TO HELP DEVELOP SOME TRAINEES!

You may have been reading and enjoying We Are Cardiff for some time now. Maybe you also follow us on Twitter (where @hana_j87 curates the hell out of the Cardiff internet), or are a fan of ours on Facebook (where you can see a specially curated selection of Cardiff events that we recommend on our page). You might also follow us on Instagram, where the USW photojournalists document what’s happening around the city for you.

You’re almost definitely reading the website (otherwise how would you be reading this, other than osmosis, perhaps?) – and it’s the website we’re after some help for!

There are two ways you can get involved:

1 – as a volunteer writer / photographer / film maker. This is perfect for people interested in doing some documentary-type stuff about the city across multiple formats. You might be a student, or graduate, or just interested in contributing to our mission of covering alternative culture and life in the city.

2 – WE ARE LOOKING FOR TRAINEES! With big thanks to UnLtd, we have some funding to train and develop people who are interested in entering the fields of media, film, journalism, communications (any type of creative content-making industry) but who might not have had the chance to do any training. If you want to gain expertise or experience but have faced barriers (maybe the cost of training or education), this scheme is here to help you. Also this training is PAID, as you’ll be learning “on the job”. You’ll be creating content for the website, and learning as you go.

This trainee scheme is designed to help minorities. And by that, we’re talking about people who don’t see themselves represented in the media. You might be from a lower income household and be done with narratives or news stories that never address your issues. You might have mental health problems and feel like you never see or read things that really get get to the heart of the issue. You might be a Middle Eastern woman who never sees any other Middle Eastern people on TV unless they’re playing terrorists in films. You might be LGBTQ+, you might be over 60, or under 18. And on, and on, and on.

If you’re interested in applying for the trainee scheme, please email wearecardiff@gmail.com with “Trainee scheme” as the subject header, and give us a couple of paragraphs on why we should give you a go.

As mentioned above, this trainee scheme is limited to people from minority communities who feel their stories aren’t represented adequately in the media. We want to try and address this imbalance by developing skills and experience.

But we’re not limiting what we mean by “minority community”, by the way – the idea is for you to tell us how you don’t feel your community is represented, and to let us know about the sort of stories you want to tell.

Word to your bad selves. Please share this far and wide, we’d like as many people as possible to nominate themselves!

Peas and love and HNY once again!

The We Are Cardiff monkeys
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Music, poetry, and metropolitan life – interview with Agiris

Are you a fan of trip-hop? Dense lyricism? Modern gothic aesthetics? Have you spun Mezzanine by Massive Attack a bit too many times? Then check out Agiris, the musical project of poet turned musician and Cardiff resident Ryan Draper. His sound skirts the border between poetry and trip-hop, delivering a sound that pushes electronic music to catharsis. Ben Newman sat down with the  songwriter to discuss all things music, poetry, lyrics and metropolitan life.

Agiris is a collaborative project, correct? How did this collaboration with Sunbane come about?
You’re partially right. Agiris is the solo manifestation of my artistry as a writer and performer. You could say it’s a sort of character for me to explore my creativity, but it also allows me to exhibit an artform that I wouldn’t necessarily express as just Ryan. As Agiris I’ve been working towards the completion of my first mixtape, ‘Anima’ and a lot of the work produced for this project has been a collaborative effort. I’ve worked with a range of producers including Sunbane, Jonatan Bäckelie and Bexxo, composer/pianist Ezra Nixon, photographer/videographer Seanen Middleton, make-up artist Lauren Labram and iron-cast melder Ashleigh Harrold. Sunbane has contributed a significant amount to my work and we’ve got a pretty co-operative partnership going on. As well as helping me to enhance some demos and producing some of the tracks for my mixtape, I’ve performed alongside him at this year’s HUB fest and supplied vocals for a track on his upcoming Alchemist EP (out Dec 14th), which will be my very first release to hit all the streaming platforms. Synergistic vibes all round.

Q. Do you tend to write lyrics after listening to his production or does lyric writing come first?

My mixtape has been written for a long time now. I revealed Agiris back in May of this year and the time since has been about finding the right music to dissolve the words in. There was one production that I received from Jonatan where I wrote a completely original track over it, but everything else has been lyrics first.

Q. You’ve defined your music as “poetrip” which indicates a fusion between trip-hop’s aesthetics and poetic lyrics. Aside from this genre-lyric relationship, what else does poetrip stand for?

It’s mainly that the focus is on the words. As mentioned before, most of the tracks were written and performed as poems or spoken word pieces before having the music to accompany them. The mixtape itself flows between very structured and rhythmic verses and fluid, soft spoken interludes with a more poetic delivery. I’d like to think that the reader could delve into the lyricism of any of my tracks and extract the messages or the emotions of what I’m trying to say from just reading or listening to the words alone. I suppose the music is there to enhance the experience but also act as a gateway to the lyrics. I’ve also found it uncomfortable to express what I do as rap. Rap brings to mind very specific connotations which I feel I don’t quite fit into. Poetrip, to me, suggests a more image invoking or story-telling genre and one that allows for a bit more flexibility.

Q. Considering your background in writing poetry, how have you found the transition to writing lyrics? Do you tend to follow a similar writing style/method or is it a totally different thought process?

It’s odd. I’ve always written with the rhyme in mind so that hasn’t changed. With spoken word you can sort of take the structure any where but with music I’m very aware that I need to ride the instrumentation just right and allow for more constriction. I’m discovering the art of flow!

Q. Both lyrically and sonically, Agiris tends to delve into dark sounds and textures. Who are your major inspirations for this sound? Are there any lyric-writers/vocalists you tend to look to for inspiration?

For the past few years my favourite music to listen to has been dark electronic pop and alternative R&B (FKA twigs, Banks, Abra, James Blake, Sevdaliza, Kill J). My mixtape has been massively influenced by the likes of Portishead and Tricky, but particularly Massive Attack and their Mezzanine album. I’ve always wanted to re-create its deliciously atmospheric soundscape. Lyric wise- I love the way Bjork writes. She writes without any sort of conditioning. The freedom in her lyricism is tangible to me. Lorde is also a terrific writer. I could just read her album and feel the music in the words.

Q. Out of these inspirations, who would be your dream collaborator?

I’ve actually thought hard about this because I wouldn’t want to feel too intimidated if I were to work with someone I look up to. I’d get too nervous and make a t*t of myself. So bearing that in mind, I’d have to say NAO. Some of her darker tunes are my favourite songs and I LOVE her unusual, honey-sweet voice. Her lyrics are so poetic too: “You’re a holiday, a glass of ocean slipping down my throat and landed on my hopes”. I’ve actually met her and she was incredibly humble- it was like talking to an old friend, so I think we would actually write something great together.

Q. Do you view and evaluate music a little differently now that you’re making it?

Yeah, sadly it has sort of diminished its impact ever so slightly. Before, I would be mesmerised by music and wonder how the hell the artist could come up with something in bewilderment. I still get that! But now I’m working on the software and recording for hours at a time, I’ve started to view the whole concept of music in more technical terms. Sometimes I just need to be found in the right moment and the magic comes flooding back.

Q. Your last track, Monstratum, was sonically your most challenging song yet, nodding to genres such as drone and industrial. Where do you see your sound going in the long-term? Was this more left-field and confrontational sound an indication of your future work?

Monstratum’s concept is about the universal capacity for evil and so I wanted music that was aggressive and haunting to convey its idea. It’s probably the heaviest moment on the Anima track listing. Anima is a very conceptual project and my aim was always to tie it together with a cohesive sound. Before Anima and Agiris, I was making music as part of a duo that was very sarcastic and humorous with simple pop/hip-hop beats. Anima was born out of a need to want to be taken more seriously and to use Agiris as a vessel in which to challenge myself and my insecurities. I was sort of hiding behind the humour before because I was afraid to be sincere and declare myself as someone with true, artistic intentions. Now that I’m getting more comfortable with it, I’m excited to continue to use eclectic sounds and maintain an alternative aesthetic.

Q. Before releasing Monstratum, you released a quote from Carl Jung’s essay ‘On the Psychology of the Unconscious’ regarding the nature of evil. Do you derive a lot of intertextual inspiration from psychology and literature?

It’s funny, it’s kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy for me. I was trying to find a stage name for myself and I kept coming back to the colour silver, the moon and the soul. Eventually I decided upon “Agiris Anima” as a sort of indirect translation for “Silver eyes to the soul”. I cut it short with Agiris but I realised that most of what I was writing about fit with the Anima title. I knew it translated from Italian to ‘soul’ before I knew of the Jungian archetype. I’d also written the basis for Monstratum before I knew of Carl Jung and then I researched some of his quotes and particularly his concept of integrating the shadow. I noticed my poetry aligning with his philosophies and the notion of the Anima became the catalyst that sort of made everything slot into place as a project. I’ve also used a snippet of a philosophical conversation between Dr. Jordan Peterson and Russell Brand. I found the dichotomy of these two individuals, who are both viewed as radicals of the left/right paradigm, just calmly talking about philosophy together to be a notable anomaly in today’s divisive political climate. I took a snippet of where they mention Jung’s alchemical axiom ‘Insterquilnies invinetur” (that which you need will be found where you least want to look) and I used it to introduce a track called “Truth Is…Vacant” which talks about how, in my opinion, the ignorance of truth has been elevated in our culture.

Q. How was HUB Festival? You’ve got lots of experience performing poetry, but I imagine performing music live for the first time was nerve-wracking. Got any live dates planned soon?

For a first-time performance, I think it went well. But it’s that thing where you know you can give it so much more. It’s going to be a challenge to deliver on stage exactly what I have envisioned in my head, but I’m determined to get there. I’m hoping to secure a Mixtape Launch gig next year.

Q. For lack of a better term, your aesthetic is underpinned by something that’s distinctly urban. How does living in a city like Cardiff affect your writing and artistic approach?

I write a lot about mundanity, pessimism and feeling stagnated. I thought this derived from the isolation of the valleys, but I seemed to write more about those concepts living in Manchester and Cardiff. I lived right in the centre of both cities and could still feel intense isolation amongst the metropolitan buzz, perhaps more so than Tredegar. Despite that, I still get motivated living in the city to want to share my work and meet other creators. I like to use Cardiff’s locations for a lot of the scenes in my music videos too.

Q. Cheeky question: when is the mixtape dropping?

If all goes to plan, it’ll be an initial free download release on the 1st of March 2019. Hopefully with a full-platform distribution to follow.

If Agiris seems to hit the right note with you, then keep your ears primed for a new single that drops December 14. For more, check out his music and keep up with him on:

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Immersed! music and media festival extravaganza! – 13th Dec at Tramshed

If you’re out and about this week, we strongly recommend you head to Tramshed on Thursday on 13 December for Immersed! – a music & media festival in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust.

The day long celebration will take over the cities iconic venue; the Tramshed Cardiff. The Cinema Room, Waiting Room, Courtyard and Cocktail bar will showcase the best upcoming talent from Cardiff’s music scene.

 

There will also be VR to play with and gaming tournaments (with chances to win prizes), glorious artwork, a photo booth, live guitar pedal demos (including an exclusive 40 per cent discount) plus delicious street food – all of this for £5 – a lot of bang for your buck!

There are £5 tickets available on the door, or get your tickets in advance here: Immersed Festival tickets

After Party The Brass Bat with special guests Luke Priestley and The Rotanas!!
Immersed Afterparty // The Rotanas DJ Set 10.30pm-3am, £2 ENTRY WITH FESTIVAL TICKET, £3 WITHOUT (all proceeds go to Teenage Cancer Trust).

*******LINEUP ********
BANG BANG ROMEO
Kyle Falconer
Aleighcia Scott
HANA2K
Eädyth
The Pitchforks
The Rotanas
The Apple Tree Theory
JayCee
Sienna UK
HVNTER
Christian Punter
Elliot Oakley Music
Lead Coloured River
Beatriz Fernandes
Matt Evans
Jed Robertson
Deneon
Klementyna Wąsiewska
Zoe Xusana Ping
Moc Isaac
Lead by Lies

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Dusty Knuckle PizzaBibs Nacho Hut and Scarrott’s Amusements are providing our delicious street food!

Entertainment for the day, alongside the music, comes from Daisy’s Dressing Up BoxWebster’s Face & Body Art SuppliesSet Up Entertainment Photobooth hire, Paul Flattley Pedals (with an exclusive discount for one day only on his bespoke pedals) and gaming tournaments in the Cinema Room (see programme for details)!

This is an unmissable opportunity to witness new and upcoming artists from South Wales, some of the UK’s best music makers and help to support the fantastic work that Teenage Cancer Trust do.

Immersed! is supported by the University of South Wales Horizons / Gorwelion & Forté Project / Prosiect Forté.

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