Bands to Watch #354: Gwenno

By on Tuesday, 18th August 2015 at 1:00 pm

Following the release of her debut solo EP ‘Môr Hud’ in 2002, Cardiff-born singer Gwenno Saunders went on to represent Cornwall in the 2003 Alternative Eurovision Song Contest, where she won the People’s Choice Award for her performance of ‘Vodya’. The track featured on her 2004 EP of the same name.

In 2005, Gwenno joined the Brighton-based indie pop group The Pipettes as a singer and keyboardist, replacing the founding member, Julia Clarke-Lowes. The band went on to score two UK Top 40 singles with ‘Pull Shapes’ and ‘Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me’. After five years in the band, Gwenno pursued solo projects, which led to her touring as a synth player in 2012 with Australian duo Pnau (Empire of the Sun) and Elton John. In the same year, Gwenno released ‘Ymbelydredd’ – a 15-song EP that was sung entirely in Welsh – on Peski Records.

In October 2014, Gwenno launched her first solo album, ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ (“The Last Day”) – a political concept electropop album, which was sung entirely in Welsh, with the exception of one song in Cornish. The record, which Gwenno produced free of industry expectations, sales targets and commercial shackles, draws inspiration from Owain Owain’s 1976 novel of the same name, and covers themes of patriarchal society, government-funded media propaganda, cultural control, technology, isolation and the importance of minority languages. Produced by Rhys Edwards, ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ was first released with Peski Records, where a limited edition pressing sold out within weeks. The record was just re-released in July 2015, to coincide with Gwenno signing to Heavenly Recordings.

Having recently supported Super Furry Animal singer Gruff Rhys on his ‘American Interior’ tour, Gwenno looks set to embark on a co-headline tour with fellow label-mate H.Hawkline in September. The tour begins at the Leeds Brudenell Games Room on the 17th of September and concludes at Birmingham Rainbow Club on Saturday the 26th of September.

Gwenno’s first solo album ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ is out now on Heavenly Recordings.

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