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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Welsh artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

By on Friday, 4th March 2016 at 1:00 pm

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2016 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Wales may feel like a whole ‘nother country away from the rest of the UK. And indeed, beyond the fact that there are still around a quarter of the population who speak Welsh, there are many a Welsh man and woman who will tell you Wales is its own place. This year at SXSW, Horizons Gorwelion, a music scheme by BBC Wales in partnership with Arts Council of Wales to develop new independent contemporary music in Wales, will be bringing two acts over, each with their own fiery independent spirit to match the one of their homeland and the red dragon (Y Ddraig Doch) of the Welsh national flag. (We’re also including both ESTRONS and Gwenno in this roundup here, too. ESTRONS have been given a great slot on the BBC Introducing night to be compered by Steve Lamacq on the Wednesday night, and Gwenno is as she’s the true epitome of Welsh national identity in music right now, as you will read below too. Here’s a taste of each of them, in alphabetical order:

ESTRONS – I introduced you all to this Cardiff-based foursome in the preview of the BBC Introducing / PRS for Music Foundation night scheduled for the 16th of March at Latitude 30, the home of the British Music Embassy. Their name translates to the word ‘aliens’ or ‘foreign’, which makes a sense from where they came from: they met, randomly, on a local beach, deciding to put a band together made up of misfits and outsiders who didn’t feel like they fit anywhere else. Music, as we know, is the great uniting force, and ESTRONS are a great example of this.

Have a listen to their radio-friendly pop track ‘Make a Man’ below. ESTRONS are scheduled to perform at 1 AM Wednesday night, the 16th of March, at British Music Embassy at Latitude 30.

Gwenno – Gwenno Saunders is no stranger to fame. For nearly a decade, she was a member of the hugely popular girl group the Pipettes. Post-Pipettes, Gwenno decided to do something different: start a solo career, writing and recording songs entirely in Welsh. Her second album ‘Y Dydd Olaf’, which was released by Peski Records in October 2014, got an entirely new lease on life when it was re-released by Heavenly Recordings in 2015. She’ll be bringing her kraut-rock inspired funk with her to Austin, on this first visit for her since going solo. Have a listen to track ‘Patriarchaeth’ below.

Gwenno is scheduled to perform Wednesday night, the 16th of March, at Barracuda, and Friday afternoon, the 18th of March, at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30. For all past coverage of Gwenno on TGTF, including David’s introduction to her solo career that posted last summer here, head this way.

The People The Poet – The South Wales indie rock band are no strangers to SXSW; in fact, they made their debut at the big dance in Texas last year. Their engaging sound caught the eyes and ears of BBC Radio 2’s Dermot O’Leary, who invited them for a live session on his radio programme. They made waves last year the first time around, so I have no doubt they’ll be adding fans handily every time they play in Austin next month.

Have a watch of the promo video for recent single ‘Matchday’ in this previous Video of the Moment. To read more on The People The Poet on TGTF, go here. They’re scheduled to perform Wednesday afternoon, the 16th of March, at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, and Saturday night, the 19th of March, at Lucille, among other places.

Violet Skies (pictured at top) – Are you tired of wimpy sounding pop princesses? I sure am. Hailing from the southeast corner of her part of the world, Welsh gal Violet (surname unknown for the moment) goes by the breezy stage name Violet Skies. The moniker doesn’t do her voice justice; more piercingly beautiful than those of who’s considered hot these days (Lorde, Elle King, excuse me while I groan). Have a listen to ‘One Day, Three Autumns’ below.

Violet Skies is scheduled to perform Monday night, the 14th of March, at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30; Wednesday night, the 16th of March, at Lucky Lounge; and again at Latitude 30 the afternoon of Friday, the 18th of March.



(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #101: Violet Skies

By on Tuesday, 1st March 2016 at 11:00 am

Ahead of SXSW in Austin in mid-March, just as we have in the past 2 years of our preview coverage of the big dance, we’ll be bringing you showcasing artists’ answers to a special SXSW 2016 flavoured set of Quickfire Questions. Today we’ve got for you the responses of Wales singer/songwriter Violet Skies, who’s got an arresting voice and is bound to be one of the female artists to watch coming out of this year’s SXSW. I can tell she worships a particular female classic American singer/songwriter, which is pretty cool. Read on… Stay tuned, too, for a Welsh showcasing artist roundup here on TGTF soon.

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Electronic, cinematic soul.

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
Singing/eating, maybe at the same time. Who knows.

Of the bands who have already been announced, do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
Fickle Friends are playing the BME showcase with me on the Friday, come and see them too – they’re like bottled palm trees and lovely people. I’m also keen to see JP Cooper, an incredible, incredible vocalist playing on Friday evening, I saw him in a tiny London venue last year and he’s gone on to great things. Also be sure check out Sykes, Transviolet, Gwenno and The People the Poet.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
I’ll be bringing a couple of boxes of ginger tea and Cajun pepper. I mix the two with honey and hot water and it keeps away any vocal issues. It makes your eyes water but actually tastes really good!

If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
I’ll have a spiced rum and ginger beer with two wedges of lime and some crushed ice please. Or we can do vodka shots, your call.

What have you heard about the festival? Are you excited / anxious / scared / etc. and why?
First time in the US of A for lil’ old me. The band have all been before, and my drummer has toured there lots, so he’s excited for U..S audiences again. I’ve heard good things, I’ve heard scary things about the size of SXSW, but I cannot wait to get out and just sing for people.

Now, let’s get into our usual list of Quickfire Questions…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
I’ve got an awful memory, even recalling yesterday is a bit of struggle, but my earliest musical ones are probably singing with my little sister and our parents to their vinyls and CD collection in our front room.

What was your favourite song as a child?
‘I’m Just A Girl Who Can’t Say No’ from Showboat. My parents have said that aged 3, I disappeared at dinner at some local pub, and I had climbed up onto a makeshift stage and was singing it to the whole place. Classy gal. I actually sang it years later in shows.


What song makes you laugh?
Barenaked Ladies, ‘One Week’. See below for reasons:

“Chickity China the Chinese chicken
You have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin’
Watchin’ X-Files with no lights on
We’re dans la maison
I hope the Smoking Man’s in this one
Like Harrison Ford I’m getting frantic
Like Sting I’m tantric
Like Snickers, guaranteed to satisfy”

[I thought I was the only one who remembered the words to this, ha! – Ed.]


What song makes you cry?
‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ by Bonnie Raitt, or ‘Goodnight My Angel’ by Billy Joel, -OR- the theme tune to Forrest Gump. Put all three on one after the other, and I’d probably be in bed all week, sobbing.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
OOOH good question guys! Gavin Degraw, ‘Belief’. I was late to the Degraw party, but I listened to him a lot when I was 17/18.

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
There’s not really a song that carries bad memories for me actually, music has the opposite effect. If I’m ever feeling down, I whack on some Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ or ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
‘A Case of You’ – Joni Mitchell. Art of the highest form.


Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Joni Mitchell. Her lyrics and melodies transcend music and she doesn’t abide by rules: her honesty is sometimes so raw, it’s breathtaking.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I used to go round saying I was going to be a ‘business lady’, and I carried a little Disney briefcase and some highlighters. I don’t know what business I was going to do, but I think people’s jobs would be much better if we all carried Disney briefcases.

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
Joni Mitchell, ‘Blue’ or the Spice Girls, ‘Spice World’. Make of that what you will.

Many thanks to the lovely Violet for answering our questions!


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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