Interview by Jo Whitby
Sometimes it pays to listen to late night radio shows. Not the dodgy ones with low voiced DJs talking about late night lurve, no, the good shows that play new, exciting and at times downright weird music. BBC Radio Wales has one of those shows which highlights the best new music from across Wales and certainly has a Peel-esque feel about it thanks to the wonderful ramblings of presenter Adam Walton and his eclectic taste. This is how I was introduced to Trwbador, a duo hailing from Camarthenshire who sing in Welsh, English and sometimes gibberish. The track that made my ears pick up was the brilliant folk-tinted trip-hop title track of their new EP ‘Sun In The Winter’ – a bit Lemon Jelly meets Sneaker Pimps. All good. I immediately got in touch with the band who kindly agreed to an interview….
Cat On The Wall: Hello Trwbador! How are you both today? For those of our readers who have yet to discover your rather awesome music can you introduce yourselves? How did Trwbador come about?
Trwbador: Hiya, we’re good thanks. I’ve (Owain) just come back from work.
We are Trwbador and we make music – started out intending to be folktronica but have got a bit lost and sort of floated around that idea since early 2010 (when we formed). We came about by Owain needing a UNI project, we’d been talking about doing some sort of collaboration for years.
COTW: What or who first inspired you to begin making music?
Angharad: I really, really couldn’t tell you. It’s a secret…. just joking! I started playing guitar when I was about 15 listening to grunge, trip hop and listening to a lot of ma’s music and my uncle micks music collection (who now today selects all music for the venue Milgi in Cardiff).
Owain: I think it’s just something I’ve always done anyway. When I was 4 I used to walk around singing songs about things I saw like cups of tea and television and that’s basically all I do now too…
COTW: Some of your instrumentation and Angharad’s vocals remind me of CocoRosie in an odd but great kind of way! What is your song writing process? Do you have set roles?
Owain: Most of the time one of us will have an idea, like a riff or a section and then we’ll come together and make it a full song. Sometimes we write songs completely alone and I think two songs we’ve sat down together and written them on the spot…. actually 3 I think.
Angharad: Yeah the roles are different every time.
COTW: The ‘Sun In The Winter EP’ is coming out in August and there’s a second EP set for release not long after. Why did you decide to release two EP’s rather than an album? Can you tell us a bit about the tracks on each EP? Are there any stories behind them? Do you have a favourite track?
Owain: I feel like these EPs are a bit of a transition. The songs (although we like them) are a bit throwaway. I feel more comfortable with EPs at the moment. I think a first album is a bit of a statement, we’d be saying ‘this is what we do’ and I don’t want that yet….we’re getting there but still very much finding our feet.
Angharad: The song ‘Red Handkerchiefs’ is about the naive/childlike view of bull fighting, comments like ‘ no one wants to be your friend’ and ‘people only want you to play games with’ highlight the childlike worries of someone oblivious to the worse thing that is going to happen.
COTW: You’ve covered a classic Kate Bush track ‘Army Dreamers’ which has had a great response. Why did you choose that particular song? Have you covered other tracks, any planned? You’re also available for remix commissions. How do you approach remixing a track? Who would you like to remix if you had the chance?
Owain: We chose it because we thought the riff would sound nice on glockenspiel and it’s a lovely song. I was listening to Never For Ever a Lot in 2010, Harry’d had it for quite a while by that point I think. We also do a cover version of a song by the Welsh artist, MC Mabon in our live set…..and sometimes Miss Trudy by Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.
With re-mixes we tend to just go for it and see what happens, what we’re feeling – just make a huge mess and try to tidy it up at the end….I’d like to re-mix Hail The Plains! and we’re just about to, so that’s cool
Angharad: Chose ‘Army Dreamer’ because I had been listening a lot to that album , my mum’s a big fan of Kate Bush and Army Dreamers stood out to me so much from that album, I really enjoy singing it and its vocal range. Plus the time signature is nice too.
When I remix I like to listen to the track and get ideas with how it would sound if I structured it. So I’ll put it into my software and attempt to lay out what’s in my head I guess.
COTW: Do you enjoy performing live? What’s your live set up? Any memorable experiences so far?
Angharad: Yes I do enjoy performing, but I get very nervous before i go and perform.
Our acoustic set up is Owain on the guitar and Vox and me on glock, tamb and Vox. Our new digital setup is a couple of vintage synths, our acoustic instruments with loopers and effects.
Owain: I still get really nervous before gigs. Less so now but it’s still holding me back I think. Our new set will be cool. I think we might be playing live as a four piece…..only for live shows though.
COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?
Owain: We’re going to release 2 EPs in the next couple of months then hopefully take some time out to write an album….hopefully build up enough of a following to get it released with some help from a better/bigger label/company.
Angharad: Carrying on writing music and carrying on with my producing with a possible release of my solo project ‘Avan Rijs’. My hopes for the future is to get the Trwbador digital set nailed and really have fun live.