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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!


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


Art Car Bootique, Chapter 25 May 2014 – review by Jodie Ashdown

We sent writer Jodie Ashdown along to Chapter’s Art Car Bootique to brave the rain and enjoy the arts on offer this year. Were you there?

Art Car Bootique by Jodie Ashdown

On Sunday, 25 May, was held the visual, olfactory, gustatory and auditory feast that is the Art Car Bootique. Held in the car park of Chapter Arts Centre in Canton, the bootique is a day for the entertainers, musicians, food stall holders, artists, trinket creators, jewellery makers and illustrious illustrators of Cardiff to show us their mettle.

art car bootique by jodie ashdown art car bootique by jodie ashdown art car bootique by jodie ashdown

Described as a ‘psychedelic village fete’, the event is perfect for the whole family – children’s entertainers absorb and delight the little ones, along with kid’s tables and activities, while the slightly older folk can sneak off for a meander into the selection of German beer and other such sparkle-inducing beverages.

Art Car Bootique by Jodie Ashdown Art Car Bootique by Jodie Ashdown Art Car Bootique by Jodie Ashdown Art Car Bootique by Jodie Ashdown Art Car Bootique by Jodie Ashdown

You can make your perfect partner through the medium of sock puppet, sing your heart out in the ‘car-e-oke’, make bubbles on a bike, create music with a flyer, knock Putin off his shy, pick up a lovely illustration of boobies, have a song sung about you, tuck into tapas, snag yourself a vintage bargain and become a photo booth star – all in an afternoon’s work.

Art Car Bootique by Jodie Ashdown Art Car Bootique by Jodie Ashdown Art Car Bootique by Jodie Ashdown Art Car Bootique by Jodie Ashdown

With food, music and drinks into the evening, the bootique did its very best to stand in the face of the downpours and cloudy skies and say, ‘Screw you rain, we’re Welsh, we don’t need sunshine to have a good time’ and laughed raucously. Manically, perhaps.

It’s a bloody good day out and highly recommended. Get yourself there next year!



Thanks Jodie! Were you at Chapter on Sunday? Did we see you there?? Until next time…


First Thursday – new poetry and fiction at Chapter Arts Centre – by Jodie Ashdown

Writer Jodie Ashdown went along to Chapter’s First Thursday to see what goes down there.

First Thursday by Jodie Ashdown

Now in its eighth year, First Thursday is a chance for aspiring and professional writers to share their work, as well as listen to readings by published authors and poets. In association with Seren Books, Literature Wales and Inpress books, the monthly event is fronted by Amy Wack who has been in the publishing industry for many years but is now Poetry Editor at Seren.

The evening starts off with an introduction, and perhaps short reading, by Amy and then moves onto a few guest speakers who will read extracts from their novel or poetry book. Now you don’t have to be a literary aficionado to appreciate their work, the authors and poets are engaging and explain their drive or message behind a particular story or poem. The styles and themes are varied and interesting and it’s definitely not pretentious or stuck-up – sometimes the swear-iest poems are the best!

And if you enjoyed a particular writer’s work, their books (among others) are on sale at the event; an easy way to support publishers and independent bookshops over the big online companies  – you know who I mean.

Next comes the open mic session, cause of my sweaty palms and thudding heart (and the reason why the photos are so appallingly blurry). I don’t know why it is so nerve wracking, everyone is super appreciative to hear each other’s work, but it still makes me very, very nervous. There’s something about standing in the spotlight and trying to stop your paper from shaking as you try not to mumble as you read your work, that is both terrifying and exhilarating. But you’re always glad you’ve done it afterwards, even more so when someone you don’t know approaches you afterwards to say they enjoyed your reading but you ran off stage like ‘you’d done something wrong’.

The standard is usually pretty high but complete amateurs are welcomed alongside the poetry stalwarts, and everyone is encouraged. You don’t have to read if you don’t want to, some people like to just go along and listen and that’s ok too.

It’s a creative and accessible environment and a chance to get out there and listen to interesting and often evocative writing. Even if you’re only a little bit interested in contemporary poetry and fiction, I’d advise going along to try it out – you never know how it could inspire you.

First Thursday is on (shockingly) the first Thursday of each month (the event is not on during July and August).

Price: £2.50

Location: Upstairs at Chapter Arts Centre


“Cardiff has a heart and a bruised beauty which makes it a wonderful place to be” – Richard


I guess Cardiff has always felt like a city that I always knew through association. Kind of a like a friend of a friend. I come from Cornwall and have always felt a bond and a close affinity with my group of friends. We aren’t a big bunch, but we are a tight bunch, friends for life, that kind of thing. When I left Cornwall in 2002 to go to university, I chose to study Fine Art at Bristol. Far away enough to be far away but close enough to be close. Painting and photographing things from my home and creating work which revolved around displacement and memory. Cornwall was always my muse.

I was lucky though that my best friend Jon had moved just over the Severn, a 40 minute train ride away. Cardiff, a city in Wales; a city in another country! Memories of the times visiting Jon in Cardiff revolve around the studenty side of things. His house in Cathays, Chippy-alley, endless queues waiting to get into the CIA, St. Mary’s Street and the big cinemas, the tunnel under the Severn. The usual sort of things. But I remember it well and always thought that it seemed like a great place.

After uni, Bristol stayed as my base and I stayed on after I finished university. Jon moved to Bristol and other friends (Dave, Alan, Becky, Lauren and Ruth) all ended up in the city at some time or another. It was like a little Cornish ex-pat community! This didn’t last forever, as the call of the motherland, home, took hold and most of them moved back down to Cornwall.

Now, I fast forward a few years to Feb 2011 and my next liaison with Cardiff takes place. I had grown up, I had got a job, and I had got a girlfriend! A sort of serious one. I was still in Bristol, but said girlfriend was working in Cardiff at a new museum (The Cardiff Story) that had just opened. Both of us working away from the city that we lived in led to lots of money being spent, lots of arguments and tiredness and meant that really, only one thing had to happen. We had to move to Cardiff. Something I never thought would happen. This place that I kind of remember from drunken shenanigans and fun years before had never had ‘home’ written on it for me, but the things you do for love eh?

But moving to Cardiff still didn’t mean that it would become more than an acquaintance. It was still nothing more than something which I knew, but only a little bit. I was driving out of the city every morning to go to my job in Weston-super-Mare, and driving back in the evening, knackered and not wanting or feeling like exploring this city that has so much to do. I felt, again, that I was in Cardiff for somebody else, not for myself. Not for my own reasons.

I felt isolated, lost and a little demoralised. I didn’t really like it here (if I am honest, I cried the first night I was here. But keep that to yourself!). We moved to Adamsdown; to a sweet little two bedroomed house with a little garden and a toilet beyond the kitchen! We had paper-thin walls and everything that went on either side of the house was heard with excruciating honesty and intimacy! It was a kind of baptism of fire. I missed my peaceful existence in Cornwall. The sea and the light. All I thought Cardiff existed of was seagulls and bin bags. And neighbours who made too much noise and didn’t walk their dogs. Their dogs liked to bark!

But through this, friendship came from unlikely places and my horrendous commute found other poor souls who were doing the same thing. We ended up lift sharing and my soul began to settle. Home is where the heart is? Home began to become Cardiff.

I am a photography lecturer and jobs are always a little hard to come by so the commute existed for nearly 18 months. It was intense and insane. 550 miles a week and £450 a month. This couldn’t go on. I prayed for (not religious!), wished for (pennies in wishing wells) and trawled the job sites for new jobs in Wales. There must be something. Eventually, there was something. I got a job. And another bonus, it was on the right side of the bridge. A job and a sort of promotion! I am half way through my second year teaching at this college and life is looking up. Friendship has been a constant fuel for me, and in my new college I am blessed with a multitude of friends. Barmy, warm, generous, wickedly funny, kind and lovely!

Cardiff has become my home. Said girlfriend and I were engaged, but have parted ways. We had bought a house. In Roath. Near the park. I ran around it and tried to get fit. We went to galleries, gigs, exhibitions and we took in the beautiful country around us. Garth Mountain was a particular favourite. Things change and life moves on. We are now friends, but Cardiff remains a constant. I am still here and I am still enjoying it. The future hints at excitement and intrigue, and things to be happy about, but also lots of things to think about and work out.

Canton is now ‘home’ and Chapter has become a favourite haunt. Makes me feel involved and connected. Instead of running around the park, I have joined a gym and am getting fitter!

Home is supposed to be where the heart is, but my heart will always remain in Cornwall. For me, now, home is where the soul is. And my soul is happy here. Cardiff has the city element which is important for all of the things that it brings, but it is also always near to the country. I make my artwork here and feel confident and inspired. Wales, and in particular Cardiff, has a heart and a bruised beauty which makes it a wonderful place to be. Perhaps I have found my new muse.

Richard Shaffner is a lecturer in photography. He was born in Maidenhead, grew up in St. Ives, and currently lives in Canton.

Richard was photographed in Chapter Arts Centre by Joe Singh.



From Now On Festival – review and interview with Shape Records

So, at the weekend I went along to From Now On Festival, a two day event held over in Chapter Arts Centre and curated by Mark Thomas from Shape Records.

Mark is one of those people who I’ve known for years, and has fingers in pretty much all local musical pies. He runs a label, his band Islet are Pitchfork approved, and this weekend he picked out a load of crazy noisemakers for people to listen to. Mark has been playing in bands since he was a teenager, though his main one is Islet, and his old one with his two brothers was called Attack + Defend. They set up Shape Records together back in 2007, and have released a fair bit since then, mainly limited edition vinyl pressings. With Islet, Mark has been lucky enough to play festivals and gigs all over the world – “it’s a very fun thing to be a part of”, as he tells me.

This is Mark (or Sparky, as I like to call him. I’m unsure as to whether he likes it, but there you go). This was taken at Swn Festival. Doesn’t he cut a dashing figure?

mark thomas shape records by adam chard

Anyway. I had a spiffing time at From Now On. Friday night was a total mess of weird noises made with harps, guitars, synths and god knows what else, bookended with the superbly crafted tunes of Gwenno (at the start) and Richard Dawson (at the end).

Gwenno (you know her, she was in the Pipettes, right?)


(apologies for the crap pic, you can blame my camera phone)

Then there was Rhodri Davies. I walked in and saw a man with a harp. Ah, this will be nice and mellow, I thought. NOT SO. Never thought the musical boundaries of distorted drone would be pushed – by a harp.

Rhodri Davies by Adam Chard

Trwbador (this pair are from Carmarthenshire, and they played right lovely twinkly electro-pop)

Trwbador by Adam Chard

Bridget Hayden – slow paced distorted guitar and vocals – reminiscent of early PJ Harvey (though I would have liked to have heard more of her voice)

Bridget Hayden

Lucky Dragons got everyone to put their hands together to make music, beautiful music!

Lucky Dragons by Adam Chard

Lucky Dragons by Adam Chard

Lucky Dragons by Adam Chard

Richard Dawson closed off the first night. He sings traditional-style English ballads with a massive voice and his tiny guitar – interspersed by breaking into Abba, Journey, and various other pop hits. Brilliant.

Richard Dawson by Adam Chard

Day Two consisted of more excellent music, ales, cups of tea, and sweet potato fries. Which is why Chapter is such a great venue for watching bands!

First up was Tender Prey, aka Laura Bryon, featuring two members of Islet on drums and bass, yeah?

Tender Prey by Adam Chard

Tender Prey by Helia Phoenix

After that was Hail! The Planes. I don’t have much luck with their gigs. I’ve seen them three times before – once my friend’s bag got stolen, the other time we had been out drinking the night before and got there in time for the last song, and then a few years back at Swn Festival, they were on on the Sunday after a very long weekend of boozing and not sleeping, me and two friends sat at the back of their set in Undertone on a sofa, then got the giggles so badly that we were massively shushed by everyone at the back of the room and in the end had to leave. Anyway, I managed to see the whole set, and it was great!

Hail! The Planes by Adam Chard

Hail! The Planes by Adam Chard

Hail! The Planes by Adam Chard

Hail! The Planes by Adam Chard

After that I went to listen to Aidan Richard Taylor and Kim Da Costa weave together some music and visuals – bended by lights …

Aiden Richard Taylor by Adam Chard

Aiden Richard Taylor 03

Then it was time for some melodic, dreamy stoner rock from R. Seiliog. It was HEAVY and it was GREAT.

R. Seiliog by Adam Chard

R. Seiliog by Adam Chard

Then came my undoubted highlight of the night – which was the Peski Records Silent Disco – by far the weirdest silent disco I’ve ever been to. One channel had a DJ playing some deadly beats, another was soundtracking the screen in the middle of the room (playing old disco records and various other random things), and then another – well, I’ve no idea how to describe it, other than it sounded like a man doing the shipping forecast over members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop trying out sounds for a new sci-fi programme. It was brilliant!

DSC_0144 DSC_0147 Micro Peski Nacht by Adam Chard

The festival was closed off by Euros Childs! Isn’t it a lovely day, eh?

Euros Childs by Adam Chard

Other shots, from around the festival over the weekend…



Kidder with noise blockers

I had a great time at the festival. One of my favourite things about things like this in Cardiff is the likelihood of bumping into everyone you know there, as I did. Lovely to catch up with people! In fact, there were so many ‘Cardiff band-scene’ people there that one of my companions wondered how many new bands were being formed right there, in the miasma of knitwear, beards and sparkly jumpers, outside the Theatre in Chapter, before our very eyes…

I guess we can look forward to seeing them all perform next year, eh!

from now on banner

Mark was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about the festival. Overall, it was a great couple of days. Roll on the second one!

Have you ever run a festival before?

Mark: No, I’ve been putting on live events in Cardiff for years and always wanted to put on something more ambitious. When the opportunity came to work in collaboration with Chapter and the PRS For music Foundation it gave the platform to realise that.

How did you pick the line up?

Mark: Each of the acts has been chosen for their leftfield approach and individuality. There is a strong independent spirit to many of the acts in the sense that many operate without a record label or music industry representation. It’s music that challenges the boundaries and operates outside of the mainstream.

What local bands will be ruling the world soon?

Mark: On a world level Cate Le Bon is going from strength to strength at the moment and it’s brilliant to see her getting the recognition she deserves.

What bands generally are you excited by at the moment?

Mark: Well, we’re releasing a record by a band called from Wrexham called Mowbird so I’ve been listening to that almost constantly. I’m very excited about them!

How would you describe the music scene in Cardiff generally?

Mark: I love it, I’ve been involved with music in Cardiff for over 10 years now and people come and go (still miss Kruger) but there is a very supportive and strong backbone to the whole scene with places like Clwb Ifor Bach, Spillers Records and Music Box being particularly vital and good to know. It’s big enough that you can never know everyone involved but it’s small enough that you can feel comfortable & reasonably worthy!

If you had some friends visiting Cardiff for the weekend, what would you tell them they HAD to do to fully enjoy the city?

Mark: I’m pretty partial to a Frankies, which is a takeaway pizzeria on Mackintosh Place! Also a wander round Cardiff indoor market is a good way of getting a true Cardiffy flavour.

Thanks Mark! All photographs in this post were taken by Adam Chard and me, Helia Phoenix.

Speakers by Helia Phoenix


From Now On Festival, 14 – 15 February 2014, Chapter Arts Centre

from now on banner

Gah! Is it just me or is this week dragging ON forever? Anyway, for those music lovers who are looking for something to do this weekend, the We Are Cardiff flag will be flying (and by that I mean I’ll be drunk and draped over the speakers) at Chapter Arts Centre on Friday and Saturday for From Now On festival. It’s been put together by Mark of Shape Records, and is a new festival of adventurous and experimental music.

Friday 14th Feb 7pm – 11pm: Lucky Dragons, Rhodri Davies, Bridget Hayden, Richard Dawson, Trwbador, Gwenno and more

Saturday 15th Feb 3pm – 11pm: Euros Childs, Serafina Steer, Davies & Dawson: Hen Ogledd, Laura J Martin, Dan Haywood, Thought Forms, Trust Fund, R Seiliog, The Jelas, Tender Prey, Hail! The Planes + Micro Peski Nacht

Tickets: £25 two day Festival ticket (no booking fee) here
£12 Friday only ticket (no booking fee) here
£15 Saturday only ticket (no booking fee) here
(You can also buy tickets in person at the Chapter box office or from Spillers Records)

Check out the From Now On website for background info and to hear snippets of the artists who’ll be performing …

I’ve been trying to get Mark to do a We Are Cardiff for about four years now (unsuccessfully, he keeps running away from me every time I mention it), but I’ve managed to squeeze a mini interview out of him, which you’ll be treated to next week, along with photos from the event.

See you there, yeah?

Helia x

“Dancing in Cardiff” – Jo


Cardiff has treated me well. I’ve been here for nearly seven years, and the doorway here was through dance, of all things.

It’s what I do, perform, teach, choreograph and since running away from London in 2006, I’ve been settling in. People have been so welcoming and right now I’m delighted, as having presenting my own work here at the Sherman Theatre, we’re currently on the road.

After arriving in Cardiff, I became Rehearsal Director and Artist Development for National Dance Company Wales. I taught, nurtured, and supported the dancers as we toured the UK and abroad. You could say this was my first proper job, as 20 years of choreographing and dancing on a stage, just never seemed like work.

In the last three years I have returned to choreographing and directing and met the many independent artists that Cardiff have to offer. Everyone from dance folk, visual artists, musicians, theatre people and those digital artists that spend a lot of time on their own. It’s interesting, a whole community thriving, creating and working together in multiple configurations.

There’s something here about enthusiasm and support. Without the people pooling resources and ideas many of these projects would not get off the ground and would still be inside the heads of the artists.

I’ve felt welcome and with support from the Cardiff dance scene, the theatres and Arts Council Wales I was able to rehearse, film and stage Witness – Portraits of Women Who Dance. The choreographic portraits are about three dancers, and what dancing means to them, about their bodies and what it is like to be be a performer or put on display. It’s staged on three large screens and the presentation lies somewhere between a documentary and a performance. The dancers are phenomenal, Ino Riga, Eeva-Maria Mutka and Annabeth Berkeley speak in depth and are so generous in their stories. For the most filming took place in Cardiff, we also shot Eeva’s portrait in the glorious West Wales countryside.

Witness has been a privilege to make, as a whole it tells another story about women, the ordinary and extraordinary, their strengths, flaws and being seen.

If you’re interested in actually doing dancing, whatever your age or ability, you might want to check out Rubicon Dance or National Dance Company Wales who have regular programmes to get involved.

If you’d rather watch someone else dance, there’s Chapter Art Centre, Wales Millennium Centre, Sherman Theatre or The Dance House at the Bay.

Jo Fong is a director, choreographer and performer working in dance, film, theatre and the visual arts. Visit jofong.com or  see Cardiff Dance on Facebook.

Jo’s show Witness – Portraits of Women Who Dance – is currently touring. Catch it at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 21 February 2014, or at Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon on 13 March 2014

Jo was photographed at Chapter Arts Centre by Janire Najera