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

***********************
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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Cardiff Christmas gifts that Do Good Things – with Heads Above The Waves

We recently published our Guide to Local Christmas Shopping in Cardiff – with a comprehensive list of all the markets and indies we’d love you to consider when doing your Christmas shopping. But if you’re still feeling stuck, how about picking up some dope threads from Heads Above The Waves? They’ve had some new items just arrive in store, and if you’re looking for Merch with a Message, look no further!

Heads Above The Waves shop in Castle Emporium
Heads Above The Waves shop in Castle Emporium

Heads Above The Waves is a not-for-profit organisation that raises awareness of depression and self-harm in young people. They promote creative ways of dealing with the bad days, and run workshops with hands-on techniques. And they also selling really wonderful merch! So let’s have a look at the new bits…

HATW Embroidered fleece (perfect for chilly days)

 

Pastel lemon HATW beanie …

 

When All Other Lights Go Out tee

They’ve also got bags, enamel mugs, hoodies – loads of great gear! Go check out the HATW online store or stop into Castle Emporium.

We also like the ‘Things to try’ page on their website, full of tips for if you’re just feeling down or if you’re looking to stop self-harming – there are plenty of ways to distract yourself or replace the need to hurt yourself. They’ve put together a list from other people’s experiences. If something doesn’t work for you, try something else until you find some that do.

In the immortal words of Jerry Springer, take care of yourselves and each other.

Heads Above The Waves – website

Heads Above The Waves – Facebook

Heads Above The Waves – Instagram

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Doctor Who filming locations in Cardiff

Beth Girdler-Maslen takes a tour around some locations in Cardiff that you can see on the small screen! Fans of Doctor Who and Torchwood, take note! 

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Doctor Who is a cult classic television programme that is out of this world, in storylines and in Daleks. Exploring outer space is something that not many of us normal people (who aren’t timelords) get a chance to do, which makes Cardiff the perfect place to take a walk down memory lane and discover the amazing filming locations of the iconic BBC show. The Doctor Who Experience sadly closed down a year ago, but there are many walking guides and other places to indulge in your ‘Who’ obsession. Here’s a Cardiff based guide for Doctor Who locations to follow and maybe find some aliens along the way.

Cardiff Bay

Big wheel and Pierhead building, Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay is the perfect place to go for all BBC filming sets, with Sherlock, Torchwood and Doctor Who all being filmed there. Roald Dahl Plass is the home to The Hub, Torchwood’s headquarters, a spin-off to Doctor Who. On the Space-Time Rift, the TARDIS can also use this spot to re-fuel. The Millennium Centre has been used for scenes in Doctor Who and appears in the background for Torchwood. The lobby has been used for hospital scenes, like the Cat Hospital in the 2006 ‘New Earth’ episode and another hospital for the 2011 episode, ‘The Girl Who Waited’. A little bit further down the bay, you can find The Shrine to Ianto Jones, a permanent memorial celebrating the life of the Torchwood character who ‘died’ in 2009. I had a look at it not too long ago, wondering who he was and was surprised and confused to see so many tributes from people all over the world, from Spain, France and Finland, to name a few. A weird and whacky find for those who would like to pay tribute and for others to have a bit of a giggle. Eddie’s Diner is used in two episodes and is a disguise for the TARDIS. Clara goes through a toilet door to a console room in the series 9 finale and Matt Smith later enters through that door. The American diner is now a regular tourist spot.

Cardiff Castle

Photo by johnpeterfarrell on Instagram

Cardiff Castle has been used for multiple episodes in Torchwood, the Sarah-Jane Adventures and Doctor Who as well as Sherlock (it’s the castle where Moriarty stole the crown jewels). It was used for the series 6 two-part episode ‘The Rebel Flesh’ and ‘Almost People’ as well as ‘The Snowmen’, the Christmas special episode.

National Museum of Wales

Photo by bmpdenyc on Instagram

Again, the National Museum is in lots of episodes of Doctor Who, like ‘Dalek’, ‘The Lazarus Experiment’ and ‘The Big Bang’. Its probably most memorable for ‘The Day of the Doctor’ 50th anniversary special with previous doctors, David Tennant, Matt Smith and John Hurt. An alien exhibition was held there, Vincent Van Gough visited, and it has been used as a base for different museums seen in the show.

St Fagans National History Museum

Photo by lizzie.eats.explores on Instagram

As an open-air museum documenting Welsh life from decades ago, St Fagans was the perfect setting for the two-part episode ‘Human Nature/The Family of Blood’, set in 1913. ‘The Woman Who Lived’ was also filmed there for series 9, starring Maisie Williams.

Queen Street

Photo by Nzachar on Instagram

Best known for shopping and a very popular place in the city of Cardiff, filming Doctor Who was a public affair with tons of fans pouring in to catch a glimpse of Peter Capaldi. Who can blame them, when the Doctor, the TARDIS and Cybermen were in the centre of Cardiff?

Cardiff University

Cardiff University, by mrbachmeier on Instagram

The Main Building of Cardiff University is consistently used as the fictional Bristol-based St Luke’s University for the Doctor’s companion studies. Alexandra Gardens, a beautiful garden behind the main building and near the Bute building is the location for the series 3 finale ‘Last of the Time Lords’. The angels in the gardens also look like the angels from ‘Don’t Blink’, which is something to keep in mind as you walk through!

Westgate Street

Champions League Final, Cardiff 2017

Take a walk along Westgate Street and you’ll find a hidden alleyway, that the Doctor and Clara found in ‘Face the Raven’ and where Clara meets her death. A sad visit but an exciting one, where you can disappear down a secret street.

Southerndown Beach

A bit outside of Cardiff but worth the journey, Southerndown Beach has been used for numerous episodes but the most memorable and heart-breaking one has to be Rose’s exit from the show. Dead in her own universe and stuck in another, Rose and the Doctor meet on the beach to say their final goodbye. A tear-jerker episode and a beautiful place to visit for all the Whovians to re-enact the emotional moment.

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This piece was by Beth Girdler-Maslen – Beth is an English Literature and Journalism graduate, with a love of books, running and pugs. An aspiring author and journalist, you’ll mostly find her compulsively writing or with her nose in a book. Follow Beth’s Instagram: @bethgirdlerm / Follow Beth’s Blog – Reading On The Treadmill

The Emporium nightclub: a Cardiff institution

Geriatric club kid Helia Phoenix reminisces about the Emporium, a Cardiff night life institution from the 90s-00s. She has a little chat with the club’s old manager, Tim Corrigan, plus a cast of thousands (well, tens) who remember the club in all its glory. Also, you might wanna bookmark this page to come back to if you get reading fatigue – it is officially the longest thing we have ever published. Possibly. #Fakenews.

I don’t feel like me and the Emporium ever spent enough time together before it was time to say goodbye. I spent hours and hours and hours – weekend after weekend – cocooned in her hot, sweaty darkness: having philosophical breakthroughs in the toilets with strangers; cementing friendships with my gang – we became pals for LIFE, yeah; experiencing spiritual awakenings on the dancefloor; and whirling around and around and around to the music. Every night in the Emporium was an endless explosion of possibilities. You know like in Human Traffic, when Jip says ‘this could be the best night of my life?’. That was how it felt. ALL the time.

I do realise how cliche that sounds. Human Traffic was one of the DVDs on heavy rotation during my early 20s. I know how rose-tinted my glasses are. But I miss those days. I loved dancing. And especially, more than anything, I miss the Emporium. Speaking of Human Traffic, you can see the club in some external scenes of the film …

My main memories cluster around 2000-2001 – back in a time when clubs could easily charge you £15 on the door, and you’d queue around the block, even with a ticket, desperately waiting out the Welsh rain, hoping you were just the right side of drunk that they’d let you in and you could put your stuff in the cloakroom without missing too much dancing.

You slipped through this discreet doorway next to the trendy student clothing shop – possibly it was called Westworld, but I forget – then you walked up those deadly stairs – no grip, wet with sweat from the hot gurners inside. It was like a slippery doorway into Narnia. I don’t even remember if there was a sign, but when doing my research to write this, I spend a bit of time Googling it, and there’s a story that comes up on the BBC about clubbers collapsing in there from dodgy drugs. I don’t remember that, but the photo does remind me of the very classy astroturf sign …

Back then, you could still drive up and down St Mary Street. I even remember one time the weather was so bad we drove there (from Roath  … I know … we were lazy!). I loved dancing so much I would regularly go clubbing sober (who needs drink when the beats are good?), so I was always the designated driver – and I managed to get a parking space right outside the club, waited in the car until the queue was small and then we joined it at the back, holding plastic bags above our heads, trying to keep our spandex bodysuits / fluffy boots / massively flared trousers (delete as appropriate) dry. We were soaking when we got inside – but then once inside, the beat started beating, I ordered a Red Bull – and then … the music took over.

By some weird quirk of fate, David Owens of WalesOnline was in the club exploring it the week this piece was being finalised for publication, so there are a couple of brand spanking new photos of the flyer wall inside for you to enjoy …

Emporium_wall1
The flyer wall in the Emporium, still intact to this day – photo by David Owens on Twitter
Emporium flyer – Fridays and Saturdays in July 1998

One of my favourite things about Cardiff is how small it is. That hasn’t changed. It’s really too small to have scenes big enough to sustain their own discrete followings – where as in Bristol, you might have liked psytrance, there would be enough nights on that you’d never go to anything else. But in Cardiff, if you liked going out, chances are you’d try a techno night, you’d maybe try a drum and bass night. You might even go to the reggae parties down the bay, or a garage night (before everyone got stabbed and the parties got banned). And you’d see the same people – people who also loved going out, and were listening to all sorts of different music. The Emporium was a place where lots of these nights were held. Lots of friends made. Lots of hours danced well away. People I still see out and about to this day.

Memories

Tim Corrigan is better known these days as the boss of the Milk and Sugar chain. He used to run the Emporium and was kind enough to answer some of my questions about the club, when I told him I was writing an article about it. The office in Human Traffic was filmed on set, but was actually based on Tim’s office in the club.

Pablo Hassan’s office in Human Traffic
ptangyang posters in Pablo Hassan’s office in Human Traffic

“In the beginning, the club struggled. But when Lucy and the Catapult crew started a house music night there, it slowly started to pick up pace with people like LTJ Bukem doing nights there, along with huge residencies from every genre of music like Time Flies, Bulletproof, LAMERICA which started there, as well as as the infamous p’tangyangkipperbang…yeah with Jon Rostron, Neil Hinchley and Matt Jarvis.

“To this day, one of my biggest regrets is moving that from its original Saturday to Fridays to make room for more house orientated nights, I think that night could have gone on to huge things as it was the most innovative, random night we had and people loved it! The music was incredibly eclectic. Then there was Funkin Marvellous, National Anthems, Bionic and far too many others to name. There was a time where nearly every big promoter in Cardiff was under one roof. It was a great club to be in as well as giving people the chance to launch nights and try out random things, it was a club that really could cope with most things and it gained a great reputation for it.”

One of the reasons I guess I am so melancholic for the Emporium is because of the time it existed: straddling the 1990s – 2000s, pre-digital cameras, pre-mobiles (well, they were around, but definitely not as pervasive as they are now). Photos from nights went up on clubbing websites at the time – all of which have disappeared.

Because we tended to spend the nights in there fuelled on a deadly vodka-Red Bull mixture, my memories of the place are ambiguous and pixelated. I remember a deadly slippery flight of stairs, a cloakroom, the leathery sofas that some of my friends got sucked into one night when they thought a fistful of mushrooms would be a great enhancement to a house night (it wasn’t – I spent about half an hour trying to get them to stand up then just abandoned them to go and dance instead), the main room – long and thin, with raised stages on either side and the pit in the middle, a bar at the back, and a toilet where I met a girl who had spent an hour in there just staring at a film poster after taking some pills that were laced with acid.

Then there was the second flight of stairs – deadly and slippy, again – and then the upstairs room, which was hot and sweaty and always rammed. The upstairs ladies toilets had very harsh and unforgiving strip lighting and an aggressive ambience – always better to go to the loo downstairs, if you were female. I remember drum and bass and breaks upstairs, everyone crammed in, jumping up and down as one amalgamated lump of squashy humanity.

Time Flies, Emporium
Time Flies, Emporium

It was the Emporium that brought Tim Corrigan to Cardiff in the first place (where he’s stayed ever since). “I was running the Emporium in Kingly St in London and the owners bought a club in Cardiff and during the refurbishment of the London club, I was sent to Cardiff to help get it up and running and somehow managed to stay here!” he says. “It was a struggle at first as the Emporium was a very luxurious club when it first opened, it struggled to find its feet really until Catapult Records did a night there called 110%. Lucy and her team brought in people like Fruity Antics from Bristol (amongst others) and introduced the Emporium to house music.”

These very grainy photos give you an idea of the sort of japes that went on in those nights …

Nostalgic raver N told me about those nights:

“The Emporium in the ’90s – always a beautiful bunch! Catapult, Fruity Antics – the big-eyed, smiley people danced like their lives depended on it. Who needed Ibiza when we had our own kind of sunshine like this every weekend in Cardiff? Deep house, funky house and strictly for groovers. Moving up, getting down and letting that backbone slide! Elastic legs and hands in the air at the end of the night singing our hearts out with grins like Cheshire cats and eyes like saucers. One night a guy approached a group of us and said he’d never seen people genuinely having so much fun. He was serious! So were we – we loved it! Living for the weekend, butterflies in our tummies in anticipation of the night ahead, throwing shapes on the dance floor without a care in the world apart from the tunes of course! Absolutely Loved It!! Fond memories forever.”

It wasn’t just the punters who loved it. Henry Blunt of Time Flies moved his night there in 1997. “It was a fantastic venue to promote in,” he says. “The perfect blend of an underground party vibe with a touch of class, alongside professional management and staff plus a strong door team, Emporium soon became the central focus for Cardiff’s thriving dance music scene. Time Flies events there were some of the best we have ever done, and will live long in the memory.”

Emporium – image from Craig Bartlett

Emporium – image from Craig Bartlett

Another of Cardiff’s longest enduring house nights was actually birthed in the Emporium (does that sound gross? I don’t mean it in a gross way). Although LAMERICA has held parties in nearly every other venue in Cardiff now, Craig Bartlett still has fond memories of the Emporium. “It was the beginning – the place where we started LAMERICA. We put on some of the world’s best DJs there. It was the best and the worst club, for lots of reasons! I would love to do another party in there – Louie Vega’s first ever appearance in 2000 was one of the best nights ever. Also Dimitri from Paris and Danny Krivit playing back to back, and the Todd Terry / CJ Mackintosh Woody Records party in ’94 were big highlights.”

Photo courtesy of James Drop

Not everyone loved the place so much. R used to work behind the bar there, and has less fond memories. “Always thought it was overrated as a punter,” he says. “Shit layout, shit soundsystem, not the best vibe. I worked there when it was The Loop. Was shit to work for.”

In its previous incarnations, the unit was The Loop, and before that, it was Tom Toms (the legendary rave club they actually reminisce about in Human Traffic). David tells me “Tom Toms was the heart of the Cardiff rave scene for a couple of years. I think it closed in December 1991, and reopened as The Loop, which was more a normal drinking club. It was that for a few years, then became the Emporium. I loved that club – the last tune every Friday after a night of hardcore was Zoe “Sunshine on a rainy day” – and then the lights would come on! Good times!”

Although David has fond memories of the Emporium, for him, nothing will beat Tom Toms. “There was a real lack of venues mid/late 90s in Cardiff. I had some good nights in the Emporium, but nowhere near as good as when it was Tom Toms! There was something missing I can’t put my finger on it, think it was the vibe as it wasn’t as underground as the Hippo, and not as cool as the City Hall but had some decent nights in there!”

Reality

Back to reality. The here and now. You might be wondering – why now? What’s the point of writing about a Cardiff club that’s been and gone, for so long? There have been so many others. The Hippo has Facebook group dedicated to it, while the Emporium has nothing like that.

I walk past the club’s boarded up front and wonder about it sometimes. Recently a note has been painted on the entrance, saying planning has been granted for flats.

It’s difficult to do that with other clubs. They’ve been taken over or knocked down, and new layers of memories have plastered on over the old ones. I can barely remember exactly where the Hippo was anymore, and I’ve forgotten the layout of Vision 2k. I remember that the Toucan was on Womanby Street – where the Bootlegger is now – but it’s really hard for me to visualise it. The city has appropriated all those spaces, absorbed them, and turned them into other things.

Not the Emporium. It’s stuck in this weird, in-between state. I actually started writing this piece back in 2011 (!), which was the first time I saw an image like this posted by someone who had been inside the building on Facebook …

That is an empty shell of a club. A shock when compared to the technicolour, fuzzy blur of memories I have of the place. It’s not quite an abandoned building in the traditional sense: the roof is still on, and it’s has neither humans nor pigeons squatting in it. But it’s also not a club anymore, that’s for sure.

There’s a psychological term that’s used in literature sometimes to describe characters (or situations) that are at an in-between point in a story. It’s usually the space in between key things happening right in the middle of a narrative journey (it’s the bit between when Bruce Wayne’s parents are killed and then when he decides to be Batman). You get the idea. It’s called liminality.

But a liminal space can also exist in the physical sense. It’s a place that has no fixed purpose. If the club was abandoned, it would have transformed into something else. But it’s not. So it’s waiting, empty, with no stamping feet to keep the floor down, and no heat from the wriggling, joyful bodies to give it life.

Without the people, what is this place now?

One of the most shocking things about seeing the photos for me – once I got over the emptiness of the place – was that the main dance floor had a glass ceiling?! Yep – there was a period of a year where I was probably in that club every other weekend at least. Who knows how many hours spent in there. And yet I had no idea about the glass roof until I saw these photos. I consulted with friends I used to go to the club with – they were all just as shocked as me.

Some of Tim’s favourite memories of the club revolve around that glass ceiling (even though I can’t remember it at all). “One of my most memorable nights was watching Louie Vega play a huge set. What a lot of people didn’t know was that the ceiling above the dance floor was glass, so when the sun came up it would suddenly be daylight. We had Louie Vega playing the most amazing deep house set and it was sunrise and he turned to me and said: ‘I fucking love this club’ … I mean, it was 6am, the club was rammed, everyone was really appreciating everything he was playing for them. That was pretty memorable!”

I asked Tim about whether he felt like clubbing had changed much since the days that the Emporium was open. “I don’t think there are any clubs that could ever conjure the same affection that the Emporium did for its clientele,” says Tim. “I don’t see the same response to nights out that people put on now as there used to be in the past. People just don’t seem that bothered about big nights out anymore, it always feels a little too edgy as well, the change in the licensing laws in Wales pretty much killed off the special nights in clubs as people were happy to stay in the bars later and later. Bars can now compete with clubs on a whole new level with regards to sound, design, and music.”

We chat about Cardiff’s current club scene. For me, Clwb is still a place that I feel guaranteed of a good night, and Tim agrees.

“I think the Welsh Club has stuck to its roots – it seems to have survived anything that being thrown at it. It’s such an institution. Hopefully that will never face the day when it needs to close its doors as I imagine that will be a loss to a lot of people. The world’s too clean a place with its health and safety and all its laws to ever let a club like the Emporium through the net again! The Hippo is another one I don’t think either would survive very long these days in the environment that the law makers have created for us. Ha, is that subtle enough!?!”

I wonder if Cardiff is missing an Emporium, or another Hippo. I guess the Full Moon is somewhere in the anything-goes vibe of the club, though obviously world’s apart in execution.

“I don’t think Cardiff is missing a place like the Emporium. I just don’t think it would happen again,” says Tim. “The original Sodabar that I owned was an upmarket version of it, and the new one was when it opened. But it’s a standard, run-of-the-mill place now. I wasn’t there when the Emporium closed, as I had opened Sodabar by then but I just think perhaps it had just had its day. The management had changed and perhaps they didn’t enjoy the music as much as I did. I also think it was just too run down at that point. Newer, cleaner clubs were popping up. Maybe people were starting to expect more for their money!? It was a shame that it closed but the capacity would have always been an issue for that venue, as we could never get it extended to let more people in.”

Even to this day, capacity or not, no one seems to have found a use for the venue, which is still an empty unit, albeit with planning permission for flats now.

I found this interview with Human Traffic’s Justin Kerrigan the other day and it reminded me of this quote.

“This could be the best night of my life. I’ve got 73 quid in my back burner – I’m gonna wax the lot, man! The Milky Bars are on me! Yeh!”

That’s how we all felt about going out clubbing in the 1990s, right?

(I always thought that quote was hilarious. I was lucky if I had £20 in my pocket when I went out clubbing then.)

Some things never change.

Tim Corrigan came to Cardiff just for a bit and never left. He now runs the Milk and Sugar chain.

Helia Phoenix is a geriatric raver who has long since exchanged her glo sticks for knitting needles. Just kidding. She’s still well up for a dance, if anyone wants to put on a rave that would finish a little earlier …? She lives in Butetown and her current most favourite place to go in the evenings these days is the Blue Honey Night Cafe. She also started writing this article in 2011 … in the future, she wants to be better at wrapping things up a little quicker.

Big thanks to all the geriatric ravers who contributed to this article. In no order, because we like to mix things up: Tim Corrigan, Neil Cocker, Matt Jarvis who provided the flyers, Henry Blunt, James Drop for many fun nights dancing downstairs in Las Iguanas, Rick Latham for all those hours listening to funky house in Catapult, Tyrone Rose, Lucy Thomas, Simon Thomas, Doug Nicholls, Carl Morris, Twm Owen, Lubi J, Dean Thomas, Matthew Miles, Gareth Coates, Craig Bartlett, Tony Davidson, David Tumulty, Jon Rostron, Rhys Thompson, Tony Davidson, Nadia, Lawrence, Stig, Luke, Nat, Gav, Eleri, Pam, Kaptin, plus all those I met on the way, whose names I can’t remember, but who shared warm embraces, warm beers, and a warm dancefloor with me over all those late nights, all that time ago. Also anyone else who talked to me about the Emporium, who I’ve forgotten to mention.

It’s hard to find photos of the place (maybe mercifully so), although some questions to a nostalgic Facebook group surfaced a lot more pictures than I was anticipating – and it’s their photos you can see throughout this piece. Big thanks to all of them for helping bring my ramblings to life.

Also RIP Ian Dundgey, who played many sets in the Emporium, and passed away 10 years ago.

Need more nostalgia?

***

A guide to local Christmas shopping in Cardiff

Cardiff is a hot bed of creative craft folks and entrepreneurs who are making their hobbies their day job. Why not keep it local year and get your Christmas shopping from local friendly makers and creators. The lovely Twin Made have created a handy guide and list of local markets to help you Sleigh your Christmas Shopping!

Here are some upcoming Christmas craft markets happening in and around Cardiff:

The Christmas Makers Market at The Paget Room, Penarth – Sunday 11th November

Ichi Artisan Winter Market 2018 –  St Catherine’s Church Hall, King’s Road, Pontcanna – Saturday 17th November

Snapped Up at The Printhaus, Canton – Saturday 17th November, Saturday 8th – Sunday 9th December

Little Otter at The Paget Rooms, Penarth – Sunday 18th November

The Bone Yard, Canton Cardiff – Saturday 17th November, Saturday 8th – Sunday 9th December

WOW Women of the World Festival at Chapter Arts Saturday 24th November to Sunday 25th November

Rhiwbina’s Handmade Market – Rhiwbina Memorial Hall – Sunday 25th November

Xmas Market at The Sustainable Studio – Saturday 1st December

Etsy Made Local at The Tramshed – Sunday 2nd December

Oh So Festive at Chapter, Canton – Saturday 8th December

The Christmas Makers Market – Saturday 8th December at St Catherine’s Church Hall, King’s Road, Pontcanna

 For those that have everything

Gah, those tricky people who give you no hints and appear to have everything they need:

How about a gift voucher from Twin Made, this will also be perfect for anyone who is asking for a sewing machine, get them a gift voucher to attend a workshop and get crafty in the new year.

Twin Made are at The Bone Yard, in Canton, Cardiff.They host creative workshops, sell craft supplies and equipment hire and much, much more.

Follow @Twin_Made twitter, and Twin Made Instagram and Twin Made Cardiff Facebook.

Stitch City is run by Alex Hughes in Penarth. Stitch City makes a variety of recycled and stitched products including vintage map notebooks and badges, recycled fabric earrings and embroidered cushions.

Find them online: www.stitchcity.etsy.com or at the following markets this Winter: Ichi Artisan Market in St Catherine’s Church Hall, Rhiwbina’s Handmade Market in Rhiwbina Memorial Hall & Etsy Made Local in Tramshed

Go follow Stitch City- @Alex_stitchcity Twitter and @Alex_stitchcity Instagram

A perfect stocking filler from Stitch City

Alice Hawthorne located in Cardiff city centre is a designer and signwriter

Alice designs and creates: from gold leaf glass signs to posters to branding and graphic design.

Pieces are created in her Cardiff based studio and each of the signs painted and gold guided pieces and created from scratch and made to order. As a graphic designer her skills of type/layout/colour work perfectly in creating bespoke and unique items. The items in the store are a perfect reflection of her style and character from quirky posters for your home to hand crafted gold signs that are something completely different.

Online: www.aliceartwork.co.uk/shop or https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/aliceartworkdesign

Or in real life at Snapped up Market on Saturday 17th November and the Little Otter events in Penarth in November.

Go follow on Facebook aliceartworkdesign & Instagram:@aliceartwork

Stocking filler: A hand crafted gold leaf letter.

Free Range Frames is a one woman show with Kath making bespoke picture frames. The frames are made from bare wood with an added finish. This can be painted, wood stained, gilded and customisable to the client’s specifications.

Shop online and find out more about Free Range Frames – www.freerangeframes.co.uk, Stocking filler: A gift voucher, pop in to see Kath to get yourself one.

What a 2018! Why not treat the stressed out person in your life to a relaxing massage! Yurt in the City is a calm oasis run by Marcos Martin-Suarez. Yurt in the City offer a range of holistic therapies including: massage and Reiki from their beautiful yurt in the heart of the city. They also provide all manner of interesting workshops including yoga, meditation classes, mother and baby massage and gong baths to name some.

Find Yurt in the City at the The Bone Yard, Cardiff

Online at: www.yurtinthecity.co.uk and www.wildwoodtherapies.com

Go follow Yurt in the City on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/yurtinthecity/

https://www.facebook.com/WildWoodTherapies/

Instagram yurt_in_the_city

A perfect stocking filler would be – A gift voucher available from: http://yurtinthecity.co.uk/marcos-suarez/

We all could do with being a little fitter, right? RIGHT? Why not head to Accomplish Fitness Studio – Wellbeing and fitness studios. Run by Natt Summers, the multi hyphenated:

Author, Mindset Coach and Founder of Accomplish Fitness Studio

Find Accomplish Fitness at The Bone Yard and online at www.accomplish-fitness.co.uk

Go follow: @accomplishfitness_cardiff and @natt_summers

Stocking filler: Millie and Pink hairbands.

All that glitters and shines is probably made by these excellent folk:

 Lesley Peate of Lesley Jane Jewellery is based at The Bone Yard, Canton, Cardiff.

Lesley make and sell copper, silver & enamel jewellery and small copperware items. She also run beginners enamelling and metal jewellery workshops in her shipping container studio.

Find Lesley online: folksy.com/shops/LesleyJaneJewellery or at her studio at The Bone Yard, on first Saturday of the month and at the Bone Yard Christmas.

Follow Lesley Jane jewellery: www.facebook.com/LesleyJaneJewellery

Stocking filler: Cherry Red Enamel Heart Earrings: https://folksy.com/items/5954181-Cherry-Red-Enamelled-Heart-Earrings

Lydia Niziblian is a resident at The Printhaus in Canton, where she deisgns and makes bespoke and one of a kind pieces of jewellery in gold and silver.

You can find her online at: www.niziblian.com or in real life at the Snapped Up Market at The Printhaus and the Rhiwbina Handmade Market. Or visit her studio by appointment – email lydia@niziblian.com to arrange.

Follow Lydia and her jaw dropping work on: www.facebook.com/niziblian or @lydianiziblian on instagram

A perfect stocking filler – Gift voucher; can be used against ready-made and bespoke items and start at £10

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/577541867/lydia-niziblian-jewellery-gift-voucher

Rhian Kate Makes works in the centre of Cardiff, designing and making handmade contemporary Jewellery, using a range of different materials to make unique jewellery inspired by the moon the solar system and geometric shapes.

Find Rhian Kate Makes online: https://www.rhiankate.co.uk

Or at the following markets: The Makers Market, Penarth Paget Rooms, Penarth’s Handmade Market, The Paget Rooms, Penarth, Rhwbina’s Handmade Market, the memorial Hall, Etsy Made Local, The Tramshed, The Local Artisan Pop Up, High Street Arcade, Cardiff.

The Makers Market, Pontcanna, St Catherine’s Church Hall.

Stocking filler; Tinymoon earrings £15: https://www.rhiankate.co.uk/product-page/tinymoon-earrings

Fizz Goes Pop works from The Printhaus in Canton creating the most beautiful laser cut and resin cast jewellery.

Go shop the Fizz Goes Pop collection at: www.etsy.com/fizzgoespop,

Or go visit Fizz Goes Pop at Frome Independent Market, The Makers Market in Penarth, Paper Dolls in Birmingham, Sustainable Studio Market, The Printhaus Snapped Up Markets and Native Makers Plymouth.

Go give Fizz Goes Pop a follow on Instagram: instagram.com/fizzgoespop, facebook.com/fizzgoespop

A great stocking filler would be these beautiful stud earrings: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/640659517/geometric-earrings-stud-earring?ref=shop_home_active_25

Baked By Lou makes beautiful handmade small batch jewellery and ceramics in Cardiff.

Go shop online at Etsy.com/Bakedbylou notonthehighstreet.com/Bakedbylou Or go say Hi to Lou at Snapped Up Market and Oh Sew Festive at Chapter..

To keep up with all these beautiful creations go Follow BBL on: Instagram is @baked.by.lou and Twitter is @bakedbylou

Stocking filler: Lucky dip dangles for £15! https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/560227130/lucky-dip-dangles-statement-baked-by-lou

For the bearded one in your life:

Old Faithful run by Gareth Daniels in Merthyr/Penylan, make and sell Unisex & Men’s Organic, Natural Skincare. Gareth is qualified aromatherapist and his products are made from organic oils, butters, essential oils & herbal extracts. The Old Faithful brand is developing in a masculine unisex direction and this gentle masculinity matches the natural scents to their products.

Find Old Faithful on line: www.oldfaithful.co

Twitter and Go follow Old Faithful on Instagram – @oldfaithfulco

Facebook www.facebook/oldfaithfulco

Purchase a perfect stocking filler right here :

Old Faithful Gift Boxes – https://oldfaithful.co/collections/all/products/gift-boxes

Shopping for Kids

Having Children around at Christmas really does make it more magical and fun, so why treat them this year to some beautiful and unique gifts:

Hayley McGhan is creator of the brand Zac & Bella, Handmade Children’s clothing and accessories. They also have a full family range of Christmas pjs on sale (includes the dog!)

Shop online at www.zacandbella.com use code FSP17 for free collection from Barry.

Or Shop at: Annie & Lolo, High Street, Barry. The Local Artisan Pop Up, High Street Arcade, Cardiff.

Find them at these local markets: The Makers Market in Pontcanna and Penarth.

Rhwbina’s Handmade Market and Etsy Made Local at The Tramshed

Follow Zac and Bella:

Https://instagram.com/zac_and_bella

Https://facebook.com/zacandbella

Stocking filler

Personalised hair bows, 2 pack £5.75.

https://www.zacandbella.com/product-page/christmas-bow-clip-set

You can find Little People Store in Rhiwbina Village they stock clothing, toys & gifts for 0-4 year olds, most of which are organic and fair trade.

Shop online at: www.littlepeoplestore.co.uk

Or pop to the shop: 14a Beulah Road, Rhiwbina Village CF14 6LX 10-4pm, Thursday to Saturday or The Makers Market in Penarth

Go follow them on Instagram: @littlepeoplestoreuk, Facebook facebook.com/littlepeoplestoreuk, twitter @little_peopleuk

A perfect Stocking filler from Little People Store is:

Santa Claus is coming to Cardiff £3.99

https://littlepeoplestore.co.uk/collections/christmas/products/santa-claus-is-coming-to-cardiff

In Rainbows is the colourful creations on Becci Booker, created in her home studio in Barry, Wales

In Rainbows designs and makes kids home decor and other quirky pieces for the home, from: faux animal heads, cushions, banners and plant pot holders. All inspired by animals, colour and 80s patterns.

You can go shop at: Etsy Bristol, Made in Bristol and The Cardiff Artisian pop up shop

Pick from these grat Stocking Fillers from In Rainbows:

Narwal: https://www.etsy.com/listing/592187399/felt-narwhal-narwhal-head-animal-mount?ref=shop_home_active_33

Mountain Garland https://www.etsy.com/listing/593573487/mountain-garland-bunting-wall-art?ref=shop_home_active_22

Shop online: https://etsy.me/2DWFFoPKathy Clark makes Hand Made Costumes in Rhiwbina. They are beautiful costumes designed for kids, made for parents.

Christmas market: Etsy Made Local Cardiff, at Tramshed.

Follow us: @handmadecostumeshop

A great stocking filler – Personalised Kids Rhino Costume https://etsy.me/2L2QkAi

Helen Smith aka Nellys Treasures is a colourful resident of The Printhaus in Canton. Making, and designing interior decor and gifts for children

Go shop online: www.nellystreasuresuk.etsy.com,

Ot head to the following markets to check out her beautiful work: Snapped Up and Etsy Made Local

After purchasing all these great stocking fillers, we need to get a stocking to put it all in and Nellys Treasures make the most beautiful and fun animal faces and character stockings that children will cherish. Get them here:

https://etsy.me/2NOXQQE

Barney & Beau in Pontcanna is a kids lifestyle boutique.

They stock design led modern products for kids and the home. Stocking majority female/women indie brands, sustainable products, the greenest toy companies and children’s book offering promotes female empowerment, kindness and diversity.

Visit their shop in Pontcanna or at these markets: The Makers Markets in Pontcanna & Penarth.

Online at www.barneyandbeau.com

Follow them: @barney_and_beau

A perfect stocking filler would be this a Little Light Company Little Light Cloud.

https://www.barneyandbeau.com/product/a-little-lovely-company-little-light-cloud/

Spotted Peach is Katie Wilcox located in Cardiff Bay. Katie creates baby clothing, hair bows, felt ball garlands, Christmas wreaths and frames.

Shop online: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SpottedPeach

Go give Spotted Peach a follow here:

www.facebook.com/Spotted-Peach

www.instagram.com/spottedpeach

A perfect stocking filler from Spotted Peach: Christmas Hair Bows

 

For the homebody:

GeetLush is actually based outside of Cardiff, nestled in the Valleys… but travels well.

A fledgling small business, GeetLush creates Art, Interiors and Wearables. Expect handpainted delights, plenty of colour and something for everyone.

GeetLush joins her fellow crafty buddies at markets such as the monthly one at The Bone Yard, Canton.

Follow  www.etsy.com/uk/shop/GeetLush, www.instagram.com/geetlush/, www.facebook.com/geetlushshop/

A perfect GeetLush Stocking Filler: Cute little kawaii Christmas pots. https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/651306083/teeny-tiny-kawaii-cute-face-santa-father?ref=shop_home_active_2 or join GeetLush to create your own at The Etsy Made Local Christmas Market at The Tramshed.

Blasus Succulent Emporium is a Plant Shop and soon to be coffee shop, which you can find at The Bone Yard  Cardiff.

Blasus:grows and sells plants of all varieties and plant related gifts and homeware

Go find them on Instagram @blasus_succulent_emporium

A perfect stocking filler from Blasus would be a – Potted mini succulent or cactus

Kathy Clark makes handmade costumes in Rhiwbina. They are beautiful costumes designed for kids, made for parents.

Shop online: https://etsy.me/2DWFFoP

Christmas market: Etsy Made Local Cardiff, at Tramshed.

Follow you: @handmadecostumeshop on Facebook or Instagram

A great stocking filler – Personalised Kids Rhino Costume https://etsy.me/2L2QkAi

How about some wearable art?

Then go take a look at Jodie Johns’ work, hailing from Bridgend, creating body positive artwork with hand painted clothing and accessories. Jodie Johns regularly collaborates with other artists to create t-shirts.

Go shop online at: jodiejohns.com or in real life at The Bone Yard monthly market on Saturday the 3rd November.

Or go give them a follow on Instagram: @jodiejohn_s

Stocking Filler: Anything from their accessories page would make a cute little stocking filler, but what would really be a winner is the hand painted tote bags.

***

Cardiff Boy – 90s nostalgia for the modern day

We’ve posted before about The Other Room (Cardiff’s only pub theatre, attached to Porter’s), and it’s nice to have an excuse to post about them again! There’s a great show on right now in The Other Room called Cardiff Boy, which has made us Very Nostalgic for growing up in Cardiff (and loving tunes!) in the 1990s.

It’s 1996 in the capital.

A seventeen old from Llanedeyrn estate, is our guide, as he and his school mates head into town and negotiate their way through the ever changing streets of Cardiff. This is a study of male friendship, the love and the violence, the codes, the loyalties and rituals, all set to a 90s mixtape. It’s just them and the music.

Cardiff Boy is a dynamic one-man show that explore’s the 1990s in Cardiff. It follows a group of young lads, desperate to make an impression in an ever-changing city. Set to a mix of 90’s music, Cardiff Boy explores the effect music can have on our lives in both times of joy and sadness. Read a review of the show over at The Stage if you still need convincing … “Jack Hammett imbues the role with the right combination of pent-up teenage energy and vulnerability, bouncing around the audience as he describes meeting the girl of his dreams in a club, then rooted to the spot and looking us straight in the eye in the moments of pathos that will go on to define his future.”

CARDIFF BOY IS SHOWING IN THE OTHER ROOM AT PORTER’S : 4/11 – 11/11

BUY TICKETS FOR CARDIFF BOY

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Sŵn Festival 2018 review

Sŵn Festival 2018: a return to form

After a couple of years in the wilderness, the crazy energy of the first Sŵns returned this year – with some new venues, and a slightly different format. And we had a great time! Our highlights included: cheeky cocktails in between shows at Blue Honey, gigs in a secret room out the back of Kongs (who knew Kongs was so big???), not getting into loads of gigs but just dancing in the street outside (sorry Estrons! We really wanted to see you, although we heard you caused structural damage to the venue?!), wonderful Gaz Coombes and wonderful Boy Azooga slotting in perfectly between Gaz and The Go! Team, a sweaty set from Hana 2K in the Moon, Al Moses, Griff Lynch, and Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard.

A return to the multi-venue, multi-day vibe all in Cardiff was brilliant. Vive la Sŵn!

We sent photojournalist Mehek Seth out into the madness, and here’s her photo essay.

In case you missed it, here’s the Spotify playlist from this year:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/swnfestival/playlist/5ikHsoiQ9NykJabg7kbIqn

CONGRATS TO EVERYONE INVOLVED THIS YEAR, YOU PULLED A BLINDER!

We can’t wait for next year …

Sŵn Festival website

Sŵn Festival Twitter

Sŵn Festival Instagram

***

Mehek Seth is a second year BA Photojournalism student at University of South Wales. Follow her on Instagram emm.ess.

The Refugee Mobile Kitchen pop up at Oasis Cardiff – Friday 2 November 2018

Lia from Lia’s Kitchen is bending our ear about a new monthly Cardiff food pop up – with a difference. It’s truly international!

Something really tasty is going on in Splott on Friday 2 November, and on the first Friday of every month from now on! The Oasis Cardiff Refugee Mobile Kitchen is popping-up in the charity’s car park on 69b Splott Road to offer us authentic street food options from around the globe. All the food will be served from a beautiful food trailer and (mostly) by the same people whose recipes have been turned into the street food dishes you will be tasting.

For me the Oasis Refugee Mobile Kitchen helps redefine authentic, world food at our Cardiff doorstep. Its menus to date have showcased Korean, middle-eastern, Albanian and Iranian dishes (to name a few). Dishes on offer include the popular filo pastry pies with crunchy slaw, inspired by two characterful Albanian ladies often volunteering in the Oasis Kitchen, will be on the menu. Kookoo Sabzi, an Iranian frittata bursting with aromatic herbs, made its debut last month and was a great success. It is the favourite dish of one of the key members of the Oasis Cardiff kitchen team, Mohammed. Falafel wraps, inspired by the many cultures sharing their culinary identity, are delivered by Matt Davenport in a delicious recipe with homemade flat breads. Huda’s Sudanese meatballs, one of the most popular dishes of the kitchen so far, always made a return to my delight. And my Hibiscus lemonade, inspired by Reynette Roberts’ (Charity Director) love of hibiscus, is a staple you can always enjoy during those nights.

Kookoo Sabzi – one of many dishes offered on the changing menu

The menu of the Refugee Mobile Kitchen is inspired by the people, who work, volunteer and are supported by Oasis Cardiff.  It comes from its own kitchen, the heart of the charity and where a lot of the people supported by it, find solace, a warm welcome, hope, encouragement and appetite for their new life. I know this well as during the months of April and May 2018, I worked with some of these amazing people to record their recipes and create a menu for the Refugee Mobile Kitchen’s first outing at the Festival of Voice. The first trial event, which inspired the monthly Refugee Kitchen Pop-ups, took place back in May 2018 at the charity’s carpark and it was such a success it had to be follow up on a monthly basis. The process of identifying and showcasing foods of the wonderful team of refugees, asylum seekers and Oasis staff was life-affirming. We weighed, chatted, tasted and wrote everything down. But our work is much more than creating a catering menu. We are taking a snapshot of Cardiff’s existing and emerging culinary heritage.

One of the things that makes me happy about the Oasis Cardiff Refugee Mobile Kitchen is that it has consciously chosen to start its culinary adventure at home in Splott. Splott, unlike other areas of Cardiff, has not had a regular street food event for years. The reception of the pop-ups within the local community is heart-warming – in fact it was local community members who asked for it to be repeated. I am really proud of the legacy of my collaboration with Oasis Cardiff through the Festival of Voice – it is ethical to its core. I am proud that Oasis Cardiff is not just running immediately where the crowds already are, even though it will soon have to venture out to let even more people taste its delights and support its food venture. But most importantly, I am proud it is starting a new food event in an area of Cardiff often overlooked.  And in doing so it provides an engagement for many of the people it supports on a daily basis.

The Oasis Food Trailer Team at First Trial Event (C) Dan Green.jpg

So, as our beautiful city of Cardiff is compact and accessible, why not take a walk, jump on your bikes, share a lift and get your friends and family over to Oasis Cardiff’s car park. Join me to taste some amazing food, hang-out with great people, and speak to the people whose food you are eating and lives are helping change. The track will be at 69B Splott Road, CF24 2BW from 6.30 till 10pm. And if the weather turns bad there is shelter inside the charity so you really have no excuses! See you there.

Lia Moutselou runs Lia’s Kitchen, an ethical food venture inspired by sustainability, Greek cuisine and world flavours.  Her pop-ups, cooking classes and recipes have gained traction in Cardiff Wales since 2013. Lia’s recipes and food focus on seasonal, ethical and nutritional food, whilst the projects she works on showcase world flavours and global food cultures spreading a message of integration. Lia helped set up and deliver their first Oasis Cardiff Refugee Mobile Kitchen at Festival of Voice 2018.  Follow Lia’s Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for recipes, pop-ups and food stories.

Oasis Cardiff is an organisation that aims to help Refugees and Asylum Seekers to integrate into their local community in Cardiff. The charity provides daily lunches for refugees and asylum seekers, women only sessions, craft sessions and language classes as well as a range of other activities. It celebrated its 10th birthday on 2 October 2018. Follow Oasis Cardiff on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular update of all their food and other ventures.

Find out more about Oasis Cardiff Refugee Mobile Kitchen and the charity’s other food ventures, including how to book catering by Oasis by contacting Matt Davenport, matt@oasiscardiff.org, 07814090614.

Volunteer at the Oasis Cardiff Kitchen to help the team deliver their daily kitchen lunches which feed approximate 150 people every day. To express your interested contact Matt, matt@oasiscardiff.org, 07814090614.

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We love Cathays! Our favourite spots for food, drink, art, fitness and shopping!

Today, we’re taking a tour of Cathays, aka student-land – with local Beth Girdler-Maslen. So for today – We Love Cathays – our favourite spots for food, drink, art, fitness and shopping!

Cathays is right in the centre of Cardiff and full of vibrant and exciting places to eat, drink, shop and workout. However, being known as ‘Student Central’, it is overlooked due to its drunk and stressed inhabitants. Having lived in Cathays for the best three years of student hood, I’ve compiled a list of the best spots in Cathays that you may not know about.

Cardiff University’s Student Union, 45 Park Place

Besides being a place for lectures and where students escape to after a busy day, Cardiff University’s Student Union has so many events over the year. Club nights aside, it has live music and concerts with the likes of George Ezra and Youmeatsix having performed there. The Great Hall also hosts many sales, like posters, plants and clothes. Events like these are open to everyone and a great spot to find bargains.

Rose Street Flea Market, 37 Rose Street

Nearer Roath but still close to Cathays, this market is a hidden in what looks like a garage but is filled with classic and vintage treasures. Rose Street Flea Market is full of antiques, pictures, instruments, books and much more. Virtually unadvertised, the market is known about through word of mouth and only open on weekends. It may look like a junk shop from the outside, but the two-storey house is full of collections and great bargains.

The Early Bird, 38 Woodville Rd, @theearlybird_uk

Right in the middle of Cathays, The Early Bird has everyone flocking to its yellow bakery/café. Open in 2015, The Early Bird has become a staple for brunch with amazing food and homely and rustic furniture. It uses local suppliers and businesses for their produce and makes fresh bread and sweet treats everyday as well as roasting their own coffee.

Stag Coffee, 83 Crwys Rd, @StagCoffee

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Stag Coffee is a unique independent restaurant, offering coffee, brunch, burgers and cakes. Their menu is full of comfort food as well as new and exciting vegetarian and vegan options. To try to keep things exciting and different from other restaurants, Stag hits at the Instagram obsessed side of people, by serving their meals in creative ways. Jam jars/mason jars full of milkshakes and coffees, chopping boards for burgers and cups for chips are served to keep with Stag’s effort to keep your visit memorable.

Gassy’s, 39-41 Salisbury Rd, @Gassy’s

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Gassy Jacks or ‘Gassy’s’ as it is lovingly called is a brilliant bar full of food and drink as well as great activities all year round. It has a sporty vibe to it, with football and pingpong tables as well as TVs and projectors for the big games. They have weekly events, like Monday Quiz nights, open mic nights, cocktail nights on Fridays and karaoke on Thursdays.

The Hellenic Eatery, 100 Crwys Rd, @TheHellenicEatery

The Hellenic Eatery is a family-run Greek restaurant with ingredients imported from Greece with traditional dishes and music. On most Sundays, they invite you to come try Greek dancing.

The Woodville, 1-5 Woodville Rd, @TheWoodvillePub

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The Woody is right in the heart of Cathays and its student area. It’s a good old-fashioned pub with two makeshift beer gardens which are jampacked during the warmer months. It’s a famous spot for students and a pub crawl destination. It has an upstairs and a downstairs as well as a pool table. Their cocktails are definitely something to shout about with a classics cocktails as well as ‘hardshakes’ and summery cocktails served in cans with sweets on the side. Also, it’s dog friendly!

Locos, 7-9 Miskin Street

Similar to and overlooking Gassy Jack’s, Locos is another very busy pub with great food and cheap drinks. It’s very spacious and at night shifts to a darker scene with great music.

The Vulcan Lounge, 2 Wyverne Rd, @TheVulcanCdf

Another great pub with a friendly atmosphere and affordable food and drink. It’s mainly known for the pizza and is very wallet-friendly.

Sherman Theatre, Senghennydd Road, @ShermanTheatre

Right in the middle of Cathays, the Sherman Theatre develops work from Welsh writers and artists for its audience. This year it won an Olivier Award for its production of Killology, as well as the award of Regional Theatre of the Year, the first Welsh theatre to win. It hosts a range of comedy stand-ups, plays and musicals.

National Museum, Cathays Park, @Museum_Cardiff

The National Museum is right in the heart of Cathays and inside it is full of exciting exhibitions. It has a big section on natural history with dinosaur bones and animals, art work and ancient Wales. It regularly has special exhibitions, including The First World War collections, specific artists collections and most recently, women in photography and a Remembrance Day exhibition.

Adventure Rooms, 47 Newport Rd

For those who like to be more active and adventurous, Adventure Rooms is the place to go. It’s a live escape room, where you and your team are locked in a room and you must solve the clues to escape the room. There is a 60-minute time limit and different themed rooms ranging in difficulty, like The Mad Scientist, The Black Queen and Mafia. Prices depend on the size of teams but range from £15-25.

TeamSport Go Karting, 11 Dominion Way, Newport Rd

TeamSport is a multilevel go kart track that is a regular attraction for people of all ages. Upon entry, you are given a motocross suit, helmet, gloves and all the right clothes for go karting. After 20 minutes of being taught how to work the car and the track, you can race around the track as fast as you like, trying to beat the record for the day that has been set by others. You’re also given your statistics of how you did in the race to take home.

Stretchy Suzie’s, 99 Woodville Road, @StretchySuzies

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Along Woodville Road, Stretchy Suzie’s is a yoga studio and therapy room. It offers massages and retreats as well as fitness classes. It also hosts workshops and events.

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This piece was by Beth Girdler-Maslen – Beth is an English Literature and Journalism graduate, with a love of books, running and pugs. An aspiring author and journalist, you’ll mostly find her compulsively writing or with her nose in a book. Follow Beth’s Instagram: @bethgirdlerm / Follow Beth’s Blog – Reading On The Treadmill

Sŵn Festival 2018 – full line up announced!

With the news earlier this year than Sŵn Festival had changed hands, we were excited to hear about the line up announcement … and it’s finally here!

The final wave of Sŵn bands have been announced for this iconic Cardiff city festival, taking place Wednesday 17 – 20 October 2018. WHOOP!

Previous announcements already brought you Gaz Coombes, Boy Azooga, Drenge, Gwenno, 77:78 and Queen Zee – and now there are 30 more awesome acts …

Heavenly’s The Orielles will open Thursday’s mammoth gig at The Great Hall alongside grunge rock brothers Drenge and Melbourne’s tough surf pop outfit, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.

Jacob’s Market on Friday will be a massive night, with Cardiff homegrown Darkhouse Family curating a night of hypnotic, jazz and dance tunes with Bugz in the Attic performing live, alongside Esther and Andromeda Jones.

Cardiff-based Estrons are one of our favourites (they’ve just released their debut album You Say I’m Too Much , get yours now!) have a reputation for their bold, electrifying gigs, which means they’re certainly not one to miss this year – they’re playing on the Saturday. Joining them is Canadian artist Boniface, who unites 80s synth-pop with contemporary 21st century indie-pop to create a rare and electrifying performance.

Sŵn Festival takes place over four days (17-20 October) and 17 venues: Buffalo Bar, Clwb Ifor Bach, Fuel, Gwdihw Café Bar, Kongs, Nos Da, O’Neills, Off Track Café, The Big Top, The Blue Night Café, The Great Hall, The Moon, The Old Market Tavern, Tiny Rebel, Tramshed and Undertone.

Adam Williams, Live Manager at Clwb Ifor Bach (who are now managing the festival) said: “We’re over the moon to announce the final wave of artists for Swn Festival 2019. It’s been six months since we were asked to take on running and booking the festival and we’re super happy with what we’ve produced. Now all we have left is to deliver it!

“Sŵn Festival has been a vital part of the Cardiff music calendar for the last 12 years and it’s been really exciting for us at Clwb to build on that success – we hope we’ve created something special and that people continue to enjoy this festival for many more years to come.”

Wristbands for Sŵn are on sale now. For more information and to get your tickets, go to swnfest.com. Follow @swnissound on Twitter. or join the party with Sŵn on Facebook or Sŵn Instagram.

GET HYPED FOR THE FESTIVAL WITH THE PLAYLIST:

TICKET INFO:

Wednesday, Tramshed, £15

Thursday, The Great Hall, £16

Friday, various city centre venues, £20 (general release)

Saturday, various city centre venues, £25 (general release)

Weekend, across the city, £35 (2nd release)

4 Day Golden Ticket, £60 (second release)

Full line-up (we’ve highlighted out picks in bold, in case you give a fork …)

77:78; ACCÜ; Adwaith; Al Moses; Andromeda Jones; Annabel Allum; Another Sky; Argrph; Bandicoot; Bitw; Bo Ningen; Boniface; Boy Azooga; Breichiau Hir; Bugz In The Attic; Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard; Carolines; Carw; Cassia; Castorp; Chartreuse; Christian Punter; Cosmo Sheldrake; Cousin Kula; Cowtown; Cpt. Smith; CVC; Dead Method; Dream Wife; Drenge; Drunk Yoga DJs; Ed The Dog; Esther; Estrons; Farm Hand; Fling; Frown Upon; Gaz Coombes; Giant Party; Goat Girl; Great News; Greta Isaac; Grey Hairs; Griff Lynch; GRLTLK; Gwenno; Halo Maud; Hana2k; Heavy Rapids; HMS Morris; Ivan Moult; I See Rivers; Keeva; Keir; Knowbetter; L.A. Salami; Lewys; Los Blancos; Low Island; Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard; Marged; Martha; Mellow Gang; Mellt; MRPHY; My Name Is Ian; Night Flight; Oh Peas!; Perfect Body; Pizzagirl; Private World; Queen Zee; Quiet Marauder; Rascalton; Red Telephone; RedFaces; Right Hand Left Hand; Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever; RYD; Sam Evian; Scott Xylo; Silent Forum; Snapped Ankles; Sock; Spinning Coin; Suuns; Talkshow; Tamu Massif; Teddy Hunter; The Blinders; The Death of Money; The Effect; The Gentle Good; The Go! Team; The Mysterines; The Orielles; The Pitchforks; The Witching Hour; Tigress; Tracy Island; Vive La Void; Wasuremono; Wild Cat Strike; XY&O; Y Sybs; Ya Yonder; Yassassin; Yves; Zabrinski; Zac White

Have a scroll through We Are Cardiff’s previous Sŵn content

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‘Just a card’ can help keep Cardiff’s creative businesses alive

Running a business as a designer, maker, independent gallery or shop is really hard in any economic climate, but especially this one. The Just A Card campaign encourages people to support these creative enterprises by buying anything, however small- even ‘just a card’. The wonderful Charlotte from our favourite creative business Twin Made has written a quick round-up of Cardiff’s local creatives and their ‘Just a Card’ items.

Twin Made

Twin Made is a creative workshop that and sells crafts, supplies, clothing homeware and lots more.

Just A Card item: We have a range of postcards, which are scans of our original embroideries. These are just £1 each or 5 for £3. We do a happy dance everytime we sell something, however small!

Where to buy: The Bone Yard, Canton, Cardiff & www.twinmade.etsy.com

Home by Kirsty

Home by Kirsty is in a small but perfectly formed coach house in Roath. The shop brings you homeware by leading British and Welsh designer-makers who share a clean, contemporary aesthetic. From Tom Pigeon prints too Buddy & Bear’s amazing kids tableware.

I opened in 2014 in Cardiff City Centre, last summer I shock the businesses up due to massive over heads + changing shopping habits in Cardiff City Centre and relocating to the coach house in Roath. I run the business on my own being the shop assistant, visual merchandiser, Social Media the list is endless…. BUT I love it!! Shop in store (Thurs- Sat 10-6) + online.

Just A Card item: This Together Forever card (£3), and this beautiful magazine (£10).

Where to buy: 64a Glenroy St Roath  CF37 1SU OPEN Thurs- Sat 10-6 or homebykirsty.com 24/7

KA Graphic Design

Kirsty is a freelance designer that sells cards and prints. She also creates custom goodies, from wedding invites to season brochures.

Just a Card Item: You’re How Old?’ birthday card (£2.60).

Where to buy: www.kagraphicdesign.co.uk or in Not Socks again (Penarth) / Quirkey HQ (Pontypool)

PIPES Beer

PIPES makes and sells awesome craft beer. They specialise in their unique take on classic and contemporary styles from around the globe.

Just A Card item: Bottles of beer for take away (£3-£3.80 each. 5% discount on 6 bottles. 10% discount on 12 beers). Or £4 pints to drink in!

Where to buy: 183A Kings Road, Pontcanna and pipesbeers.co.uk

Not Socks Again

We sell quirky gifts, bespoke gift hampers and locally made gifts and cards.

Just A Card item: Cwtch/Bear Hug greeting cards by Folio (a Cardiff based company). £2.99 each.

Where to buy: 1 Windsor Terrace, Penarth or  www.notsocksagain.com

Baked by Lou

Lou designs and makes handmade jewellery and accessories

Just A Card item: I have a colourful range of A5 Giclée Art Prints from £6.

Where to buy: www.bakedbylou.etsy.com

Flamingos Vintage

We are a weigh and pay kilo store with branded concessions and also a functioning gallery and workshop space that we use for hosting events. Our goal is to offer accessible, sustainable and stylish clothing and accessories that we have carefully selected from all over the world.

Just A Card item: Any of our lightweight items… a blouse, t-shirt, hat or belt! They’re around £3 each!

Where to buy: Capitol Shopping Centre, Cardiff

Nelly’s Treasures

I design and make interior items for children’s rooms. I’m a textile designer/illustrator/ printmaker – lots of different things! I love creating illustrations I can make into cushions and art prints alike. All a bit cute and a bit quirky generally with lots of colour!

Just A Card item: I make cards with some of my favourite illustrations including this ‘go get em tiger’ design(£9), which is one of my favourites.

Where to buy:  www.nellystreasures.com

GeetLush

I paint anything I can get my hands on… canvases, plant pots and items I make from air drying clay. I make art, interiors and wearables.

Just A Card item: These A6 abstract prints – just £1.50!

Where to buy: geetlush.com

Fizz Goes Pop

I make colourful and fun jewellery out of laser cut plastic and plywood. I base my designs around floral and folk patterns but take a lot of inspiration from geometry.

Just A Card item: These geometric earrings (£11).

Where to buy: Fizz Goes Pop The PrintHaus, 70a Llandaff Road, Canton, Cardiff, CF11 9NL, instagram.com/fizzgoespopwww.fizzgoespop.etsy.com

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A blog about Cardiff, its people, and the alternative arts and cultural scene!

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