Tag Archives: interview

Meet Irina and Silviu – documenting local creatives

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

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

Please introduce yourselves.

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

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

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

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

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

Are there any memorable photoshoots you have done?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other lovely Cardiff people they have featured:

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


Paper Aeroplanes – luminescent folk, guaranteed to bring you joy: review and interview

Paper Aeroplanes
Paper Aeroplanes

Cwtching snugly between the sounds of Laura Marling, Feist and Marika Hackman, Paper Aeroplanes are easily one of the best alternative folk bands in Wales at the moment. Their fourth album, Joy, is released on 8 April, which was written and recorded in Cardiff with the help of producer Mason Neely (Cerys Matthews, Sufjan Stevens). The band are gearing up for a 30 date European tour to promote the album, which heads to France, Switzerland and Germany before returning to the UK with a date at Clwb Ifor Bach on 16 May.

Joy is a, ahem, joy. I have to admit that their comparison to Lykkie Li didn’t enthuse me about the sound of this band. But this album is not unrelentingly mournful- quite the opposite. It sweeps you up in a breeze through rolling 80s beats (Good Love Lives On) to sparkling folk (Race You Home), and from cute, dreamy pop (Books and Joy) to haunting pianos (Caravan). It soars from being shimmeringly upbeat to powerfully atmospheric, all with a surprising depth. The flourishes of synths, strings and pianos are a welcome addition to Sarah Howells’ delicate (but never weak) voice. Richard Llewellyn’s masterful guitar shines through on tracks like Race You Home with echoes of John Martyn and Bert Jansch.

This album is a joyful celebration of unconditional love, making stories and finding warmth from the cold. Steeped in the salt-tinged air of West Wales, but with the unmistakeable influence of Cardiff’s diverse music scene, Joy is guaranteed to a be a hit.


We caught up with the band’s Cardiff-based guitarist Rich Llewellyn for a quick Q&A.

Q. What was the last book you read?

A.  Intermission by Owen Martell. A contemplative, fictional shortish story which takes a little-documented part of the life of jazz pianist Bill Evans as its starting point. I’ve also been reading The Rough Guide to Germany so I can appear knowledgeable during our forthcoming tour.

Q. Tell us a secret.

A. I have a crush on posh BBC4 historian, Lucy Worsley.

Q. What’s your favourite place for breakfast in Cardiff?

A. For an old-fashioned hearty fry up, Café Fresco in Canton.

Q. What’s your local pub?

A. The Lansdowne – great beers, lovely staff and 2 minutes from my front door.

Q. Tell us about a hidden part of Cardiff that you love. 

A. There’s a place I like to escape to when I need to clear my head, which is a very short drivefrom Canton. Countryside walk, feels like you’re miles away from the city. I can’t tell you where it is though, because then you’d go there too.

Q. If you had some friends coming to visit for the weekend, where would you take them?

A. Lilo’s Grill on city road. Great juices, tasty meze and a platter of grilled meats and rice for everyone to share.

Q. What’s the next gig that you’ll be going to in Cardiff?

A. We’re away touring a lot over the next couple of months but I’ve just seen that Chris Wood is playing in St David’s Hall in June, so I’ll definitely be getting tickets for that.


Joy is released on 8 April on Diverse records. Photo from Paper Aeroplanes.

New sister site: Love Letters to Tucson

Recently we received a lovely email from a site in Tucson Arizona called Love Letters to Tucson, asking to be added to our list of sister sites. We investigated a little more and discovered that Rachel who runs the site has Welsh roots! We always said all roads lead back to Cardiff. We asked Rachel a few questions about her lovely site. Read on!

1 – What’s your name, where do you come from, how did you end up in Arizona when you have British roots?

My name is Rachel Hughes Miller. I’m from Prescot, just outside of Liverpool. My grandparents lived in Llanblethian, so we spent a lot of time there, my aunt and uncle live in Pent-wyn,  and my cousin Nikki in Cardiff.Let’s see, how did I end up in Tucson, Arizona? My dad moved out here about 25 years ago for work, and I followed him a couple years later to go to university at the University of Arizona. I didn’t expect to stay more than a few years, before heading back across the pond, but it didn’t happen. Somewhere along the way I started putting down roots in Tucson. You know the usual thing, friends, boyfriends (sequential, not consecutive), dogs, a house, and of course Tucson, herself, winding her way into my heart.

2 – what inspired you to start LLtT?

Julie Michelle of I live here: SF and I were both involved in a group called Help A Mother Out, which started in 2009, using social media for diaper(nappy) drives. I followed her personal blog Tango Baby and the I live here: sf blog. I loved the idea of sharing people’s stories as a way to see a city or place through new eyes, finding out new quirky things about a place you have lived in for years through other’s stories, and maybe it’s a bit grandiose to think that such a site can have an impact on community, but I hope that if we see this place we love through another’s eyes we might feel more connected to one another, and might enjoy this place we live in a little more.

3 – what has been the best thing about running the site?

Well, while I’ve had the site for a couple of years, I only got my act together this July. So far, it’s been lovely to see how receptive people are. This weekend LLtT got a shout out in our local alternative weekly newspaper online. Tickled me pink to see that. Right now, the response has been really positive to LLtT, but the demographic represented pretty narrow and I really hope in time it will come to represent Tucson better.

4 – what’s it like living in Tucson?

You’re asking this at the tail end of one very hot summer. Think an average of  43 degrees Celsius. Oh, and don’t let anyone kid you when they say, “but it’s a dry heat”. We have monsoons in July, August, and into September. Hot AND humid. And stunning, stark, rich and beautiful. These big, thunderous clouds roll across the sky in the afternoon and in about 30 minutes dump crazy amounts of rain, that then stream down the streets, because there isn’t a road drainage system.

Seriously, Tucson is complex. It’s a big university town, but it’s downtown is small, still growing and vital. It’s about 60 miles from the border with Mexico, and it wasn’t that long ago that it was part of Mexico.  Between October and May there seems to be one festival or another  every other weekend, Cyclovia, All Souls Procession, Tucson Meet Yourself, Festival en el Barrio, Festival of Books, Parade of Lights  etc.  It has, quite a rich cultural life, although that isn’t always apparent to an outsider or inhabitant. It is a clothing thrift store delight. It has a vibrant music and art scene. It is more liberal that the rest of the state (that doesn’t take much though). It’s a city in size, but a town in nature.

I wrote the following on my personal blog following the January 8, 2011 mass shooting at a Meet your Congresswoman.


Tucson is a beautiful place. Sunrises and sunsets that make you swoon. Mountains that rise majestically from a fabulous bizarre desert landscape. In summer, thunder and lightning roll in from the East and provide us with both relief from humidity and spectacular evening entertainment. For most of the year, the high altitude, dry air, clear and dark skies allow us sweet glimpses into the celestial heavens that this transplant, from a country known for its constant cloud, still gets goosebumps from.

There is something else too. Something that can’t always be seen. The city has a population of over a million now, more than twice what it was 22 years ago when I arrived. Yet, despite its size this is a small place. A place where typically it isn’t six degrees of separation but one, or maybe two, degrees of separation. And so here Green and I sit this evening talking of the lovely Ashleigh Burroughs who I only know through her writing, and Tom & Mary who we know IRL, hoping they’re okay and that their path to healing is swift. We know we’re not alone in that hope. Across this big-little town we’re all trying to process what has happened. These people are our friends, our colleagues, our family.

5 – what do you do besides run the website?

Most of my day, now our five year old daughter is in school, is spent with our 1 year old son, or developing content for and supporting our local community hospital’s social media ( a couple of blogs and facebook pages).

6 – how did you come across We Are Cardiff and what do you like about it?

I found We Are Cardiff through i live here: sf. It makes me a little homesick. I identify with the delight in a city that isn’t appreciated by those outside as much as it should be. I like the frankness of many of your subjects and the humor. I love that your mission is to show people just how flipping brilliant Cardiff is.

I know Cardiff through the eyes of a child. Meeting my Gran and Granddad at the station (that’s where I’d go for a photo session if I was on WAC), going to the Arcades, have a nice lunch with Gran before heading out toward Cowbridge and Llanblethian.  Revisiting it through We Are Cardiff is lovely.

Some photos from the Love Letters to Tucson site:

Visit Love Letters to Tucson

Love Letters to Tucson on Facebook