Horizons/Gorwelion 2015: The BBC Maida Vale sessions – Interview with Huw Stephens

Published on AfterDark (28 January 2016)

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge spoke to BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio Cymru presenter Huw Stephens during the Horizons/Gorwelion 2015 sessions at BBC Maida Vale.

Huw Stephens (Copyright BBC Radio Cymru)

Last month saw the new wave of acts from the Horizons/Gorwelion scheme descend on the iconic BBC Maida Vale studios over the course of two days. There to preside over these sessions was BBC Radio 1/BBC Radio Cymru/C2 presenter – and new music connoisseur – Huw Stephens. As a member of the Horizons panel for the previous two years, Huw has lent his support for new original music to helping uncover the most exciting new talent in Wales. Here, Huw speaks to Dean Hodge about why a scheme such as Horizons is so important for Welsh music, his thoughts on the class of acts this year, and how he thinks the Welsh music scene can get bigger. Continue reading

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Horizons/Gorwelion 2015: The BBC Maida Vale sessions

Published on AfterDark (13 January 2016)

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge gains exclusive access to the Horizons 2015 sessions at BBC Maida Vale and talks to some of this year’s Horizons acts about the past year.

Horizons - Violet Skies w/band (Copyright by Horizons)

For two days over last December, the iconic BBC Maida Vale Studio in London transformed into a glowing musical furnace of Welsh talent as the acts from this year’s Horizons/Gorwelion scheme waltzed through the doors of the building.

For those not familiar with the Horizons scheme, here is a bite-size synopsis – Horizons is a scheme delivered each year in partnership between BBC Cymru Wales and Arts Council of Wales, with the sole intention of developing and nurturing independent music in Wales. As part of the scheme, twelve Welsh artists are picked each year by a panel of producers, and offered a number of opportunities throughout the year.

Just some of these opportunities include more exposure across Welsh radio, slots at a number of national/international festivals, career mentoring carried out through numerous music industry workshops, and at the end of the year a recording session at the illustrious BBC Maida Vale studio itself.

Some of the chosen artists to pass through the star-adorned walls of the building this year include Aled Rheon, Cut Ribbons, Dan Bettridge, Delyth McLean, Hannah Grace, HMS Morris, MELLT, Peasants King, Violet Skies and Yr Eira (with Y Reu absent due to other commitments).

What ensues is two days imbued with plenty of musical blood, sweat and tears. Two days of each artist pouring all their musical blood into three specially chosen tracks. Two days that bring plenty of sweat courtesy of the team of producers, filmmakers and project managers working hard to capture the sweet sounds being made. Two days that result in the occasional tear cried over what is an emotional moment for all involved after such an eventful year.

What emerges from these two days is a catalogue of tracks imbued with the heavenly melodies and the fiery soul that the music of Wales excels in creating. Gaining a front row seat to these two fruitful days in Maida Vale is AfterDark’s Dean Hodge, who talks to a few of the artists – Cut Ribbons, HMS Morris, Violet Skies and Aled Rheon as well as BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens – about the sessions and their year-long journey with Horizons. Note: the term ‘musical rollercoaster’ is used with a heavy degree of regularity here. Continue reading

Forté Project 10: AfterDark’s Dean Hodge Interviews Spike Griffiths

Published on AfterDark (4 Dec 2015)

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge interviews Spike Griffiths, the project manager behind new Welsh music scheme Forté Project.

With precociously talented young artists and brilliant bands seemingly falling like leaves off trees from within the Welsh valleys, it is only going to be due time before the rest of the nation has to sit up and take firm notice. Just one of the people clearly recognising the growing force of young Welsh talent is Spike Griffiths – project manager of the Young Promoters Network scheme and now co-ordinator behind the latest Welsh music initiative Forté Project.

Brought to you by the minds behind the Young Promoters Network, in co-ordination with SONIG Youth Music, Arts Connect and Arts Council of Wales; the Forté Project aims to take ten emerging artists from regions which span across the areas of Rhondda Cynon Taff, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan, collectively known as Arts Connect. 

Just some of the benefits the Forte Project 10 artists will enjoy include working with assigned industry mentors, songwriting workshops, industry-related seminars, recording sessions and a range of opportunities which will be gradually revealed over the next year.

Teenage modern soulstress Kaycee (a recent highlight at this year’s Sŵn Festival) and the enigmatic electronica of HVNTER make up some of the artists (Rhondda Cynon Taf), as do the pedal-powered pop of Alex Stacey and roots-folk outit Ofelia (Caerphilly). The eclectic line of artists continues through country songbird Bryony Sier to alternative hip-hop duo Luk to socially-conscious ska collective Upbeat Sneakers (Merthyr Tydfil). Completing the cast are Bridgend indie rock bands Young Calypso and Fire Fences, alongside the soul-soaked folk of Thomas Seddon (Vale of Glamorgan).

To find out more about the project and the artists involved, AfterDark’s Dean Hodge chatted to Spike Griffiths about the origins of the scheme and plans for the year ahead. Continue reading

Horizons 2015: AfterDark’s Dean Hodge Talks With Delyth McLean – ‘I already feel I’ve progressed so much in a short space of time’

DELYTH

Published on AfterDark (31 July 2015)

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

Readers of AfterDark may already be familiar with the name and the syrupy tones of Delyth McLean – an artist we have been openly lauding since we were first introduced to her at Swn Festival (in its DimSwn incarnation) last year. Remarkably, the same performance marked her first with her regular band (including sister Bethan McLean on backing vocal duties) – yet the impact they left on every spectator in the room was nothing short of instant.

It is testament to Delyth’s unbridled talent that her rise to wider recognition since has treaded a similarly rapid path. Following her ethereal debut single Lost in Sound released last year, her pounding new track River Bed was premiered on Huw Stephens’ show on BBC Radio 1.

Earlier this year, Delyth found herself one of the chosen acts for this year’s Horizons initiative – a scheme delivered by BBC Cymru Wales and Arts Council Wales to develop new, independent, contemporary music – and has seen her ascent step up a couple more gears, with a string of regular performances and festival sets under her belt since. AfterDark’s Dean Hodge recently spoke to Delyth about her journey with Horizons so far, her work with Young Promoters’ Network, sharing touring duties with her sister, and coping with the newfound press attention. Continue reading

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge Talks With Amy Wadge

Amy Wadge & Pete Riley

Published on AfterDark (28 July 2015)

Prior to sensational songwriting duo Amy Wadge & Pete Riley‘s recent performance at St David’s Hall (26 June), AfterDark’s Dean Hodge managed to grab a quick interview with Amy Wadge – herself one of the most prolific songwriters in the music industry today as well as an established solo artist in her own right.

She has famously co-written with Ed Sheeran including their global smash Thinking Out Loud which reached number one in the UK Official Chart last year has now spent a full consecutive year in the UK Top 40 chart alone. But Amy can boasts working with a stellar amount of names from her impressive repertoire – including the likes of LeAnn Rimes, Janelle Monae and Birdy to name just a few.

However, the Bristol-born artist has always called Wales her home and her involvement in the Welsh music scene is just as profuse. In the last few years she has co-written for, produced and mentored numerous up-and-coming artists including Gabrielle Murphy, Kizzy Crawford, Delyth McLean, Maddie Jones, Remembering August and countless others. However, it is with fellow songwriter and touring partner Pete Riley that she has enjoyed a particularly fruitful collaboration.

Amy and Pete first came together in 2010 and immediately clicked after many years performing in various bands. Since then they have written together, toured and released a pair of highly acclaimed albums – Rivers Apart and Afterglow.

Read the full interview here in which Amy discusses how her partnership with Pete first came about, how Thinking Out Loud was born, balancing her currently hectic workload with family life, and why Wales will always be home to her. Continue reading