Horizons 2015: AfterDark Talks With Dan Bettridge – ‘My parents’ record collection was the primary influence on my musical upbringing’

Published on AfterDark (23 June 2015)

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge speaks to Dan Bettridge, one of this year’s Horizons 2015 artists.

Dan Bettridge

The power of music partly lies in the pure, unabashed escapism it can offer and its ability to transport you to another time and place, regardless of where you are and when. It’s a philosophy that Welsh warbler Dan Bettridge fully embraces.

His husky, bourbon-soaked vocal and raw delivery instantly – the voice of an old soul placed upon young shoulders – sounds like more something born out of a smoky jazz or blues bar in late 60’s or early 70’s deep south America than like anything else today. You can almost feel the warm glow of sunset and the scent of smoke when you listen to his irresistible brand of Americana-infused Celtic soul, delivered with a voice which echoes the spirit of Van Morrison and Otis Redding but refines it within a Welsh lilt. Continue reading

Horizons 2015: AfterDark Talks With Cold Committee – ‘To be asked by Liam Gallagher and Miles Kane to play for them is just living the dream’

Published on AfterDark (23 June 2015)

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge speaks to James Cairns from Cold Committee, one of this year’s Horizons 2015 artists.

Cold Committee

As the old saying goes, ‘rock ‘n’ roll will never die’. While the rock genre is quite far from dead, it lately seems to be in a prolonged state of hibernation, lurking in the shadows as a wind of soulless, manufactured-pop blandness sweeps across the musical plain.

Where there is a gust of third-rate Ed Sheeran wannabes or mediocre Arctic Monkeys offshoots, there is always a wave of frustrated young men with guitars to counterbalance it. But while there are plenty new bands making a big noise, it doesn’t seem to be getting heard by the masses.  Rock itself is in a current state of deep freeze, slowly being preserved for when the time arises for it to reignite in the mist.

One of its torch bearers may have just arrived in the form of four North Walian lads who together form Cold Committee. Possessing a love for back-to-basics rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form along with a disdain with the bland scene around them, they have decided to do something about it by picking up instruments, learning a few chords and writing great tunes. Continue reading

Horizons 2015: AfterDark Talks With Hannah Grace – ‘Horizons has opened up new doors for me that not many people get to walk through’

Published on Cardiff AfterDark (6 May 2015)

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge speaks to Hannah Grace – one of this year’s nominated artists for Horizons 2015.

Hannah Grace (Copyright by Horizons)

Sometimes the best words that can be said are no words at all, and silence can be the loudest of all. It’s a philosophy of thinking which springs into mind when trying to sum up the music of the aptly named Hannah Grace. Because one listen of her benign, breathtaking voice, instantly takes the words out of your mouth.

It would be a waste of valuable energy to even try to articulate the power of the force that hits you right from the first few notes. You simply just have to feel every ounce of her volcanic vocal and the simmering soulful edge in her sound, exactly what a true ‘soul’ artist should do.

Only someone with as much emotive authenticity as Hannah Grace could write a song about a person calling off a relationship and somehow make you empathise with them as much as the one whose heart is broken. Yet somehow the 21-year-old Bridgend songbird manages to achieve exactly that on the title track of her debut EP Meant To Be Kind – a raw yet refined four-track cut which sounds remarkably accomplished for a debut yet still tinged with a raw, intense energy. Continue reading

Inside Cardiff: AfterDark Talks with John Rostron – ‘The Welsh scene has an independent, self-driven aesthetic that needs to be nurtured’

Published on Cardiff AfterDark (10 Apr 2015)

Dean Hodge talks to John Rostron ahead of the return of DimSwn to Cardiff this weekend.

One of the living symbols of independent Welsh music, John Rostron has played an instrumental role behind the scenes in shaping a musical culture that has helped put Wales firmly on the musical map, and arguably embodies the maverick ‘indie’ spirit that has come to define the scene.

Along with BBC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens, both men co-founded what is arguably one of the biggest indie festivals nationally Swn Festival, and the first National Music Prize for Wales, the Welsh Music Prize.

Like many shining lights in the music landscape, the Swn Festival found itself in a temporary moment of darkness as it was forced to scale down to an one-day event last year as opposed to the usual four-day marathon due to costs. Rather than bury its head in the sand, the festival rebranded itself as the aptly named DimSwn and responded with a colossal line-up of rising acts in their ascendancy, all condensed into one October day of musical majesty that proved Swn was far from being a sunken ship.

This weekend as the sunshine reappears, DimSwn recommences again in a new spring timeslot. Continue reading

Horizons/Gorwelion 2015 – New class of Welsh up-and-coming artists announced

Published on Cardiff AfterDark (7 April 2015)

A year ago, the Horizons Cymru project was launched for the very first time, with twelve homegrown acts chosen for the scheme by a panel of music industry experts.

Horizons/ Gorwelion is a scheme developed by BBC Cymru Wales, in partnership with Arts Council Wales, to promote new, independent contemporary music in Wales, with the main aim of supporting and endorsing emerging Welsh music talent to wider audiences. Last year, a dozen acts – Baby Queens, Candelas, Casi Wyn, Chris Jones, Climbing Trees, Gabrielle Murphy, Houdini Dax, Kizzy Crawford, The People The Poet, Plu, Seazoo and Swnami – were chosen to represent the scheme in its inaugural year, and have seen themselves elevated to new heights of attention and accolades over the eventful eight months since the project began.

As BBC Radio Wales host and Horizons project manager Bethan Elfyn said in her previous interview for AfterDark, “What I hope Horizons has achieved is giving all these artists the extra ambition to carry on and go even further then they would’ve, and in terms of success think more on an international level rather than nationally.”

The scheme has arguably shined a light on the Welsh music scene which has largely been overlooked, and flown the flag for the high quality of Welsh acts. With its mission to promote up-and-coming homegrown artists achieved to a highly respectable degree, Horizons now returns for its second instalment.

The lucky dozen chosen for Horzions 2015 has been announced this week – Aled Rheon, Cold Committee, Cut Ribbons, Dan Bettridge, Delyth McLean, Hannah Grace, HMS Morris, Mellt, Peasant’s King, Violet Skies, Y Reu and Yr Eira all make up the new, highly diverse batch of home-produced talent. AfterDark’s Dean Hodge guides you through the Horizons class of 2015 which you can expect to hear a lot more from over the next twelve months. Continue reading