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SXSW 2015: Cerdd Cymru : Music Wales showcase at Latitude 30 (Part 1) – 17th March 2015

 
By on Thursday, 26th March 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

This year, we saw a shift in showcase programming at Latitude 30 on San Jacinto Boulevard, the home of the British Music Embassy during SXSW. The conspicuous absence of a fully coordinated Showcasing Scotland night that had been put on for many years in the past and seemed to always be a given meant that there was a void ready for the taking, and at SXSW 2015, Cerdd Cymru : Music Wales and with the kind auspices of Welsh BBC radio presenters Huw Stephens and Bethan Elfyn stepped in to take over Latitude 30 on Tuesday night, lining up an eclectic bill to usher in this year’s festival with a bang.

Traditionally, there are much fewer showcases on offer on the Tuesday night of SXSW, which basically means that wherever you go Tuesday night, you should expect to queue and expect part of your evening will be spent groaning and swearing, stood outside your preferred venue of choice, unable to get inside. I am quick to point out this phenomenon happens not just to mere mortals such as ourselves, but even the man and friend of mine Steve Lamacq had trouble getting into Latitude 30 to see one of the Welsh acts he himself championed on BBC Radio. So now you know…

Before you ask, “just how many Welsh bands were there at SXSW 2015?”, I also should note that only half of the acts (three out of the six; four out of seven if you include the act who played the invite-only reception party) who played on the Cerdd Cymru : Music Wales bill are actually Welsh, though the choices of Welsh acts for this evening were perfect in my book, either for their potential or having already made it in the States. In my interview with Will Doyle, aka East India Youth, the day after the show, he explained despite his non-Welshness, his addition to the bill had more to do with Huw Stephens’ support of his music, and I suspect the inclusion of Londoner Kate Tempest and her sociopolitical rhetoric and Manchester electropop musician and producer Shura had similar backstories.

Paper Aeroplanes at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

During the drinks reception, Richard Llewellyn and Sarah Howells of Paper Aeroplanes from West Wales provided a gentle easing into the evening with their brand of alt-folk. As many of you know, the singer/songwriter genre isn’t my favourite, so I really couldn’t tell you if they sound unique or not, but they were pleasant enough as background music to the inevitable industry conversations that take place in venues at SXSW.

Things, however, were about to go up to 11 with the next band. The People The Poet, introduced by Huw Stephens as being from the same town as Tom Jones (Pontypridd, in South Wales), were about to give anyone who the previous band might have put into a near stupor (sorry, that would be me) a swift kick up the arse. The prior impression I had that The People The Poet might be and sound like a precious folk band was quickly dismissed as the group barrelled ahead with their set. (Read my Bands to Watch ahead of SXSW 2015 here.)

The People the Poet at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

If frontman Leon Stanford had any anxiety playing to a crowd of strangers in America, he didn’t show it. He was dressed like probably what most people think is typical Texan, with a large, wide-brimmed hat and a cowboy-style shirt that I’m sure he purchased on their travels here. His voice sounds like the youth of a young, yet still satisfyingly husky Caleb Followill (‘Molly Drove Me Away’) crossed with the wisdom of classic Joe Cocker (‘People’), with the band’s loud yet richly detailed instrumentation channeling the anthemic, feel good spunk of Bruce Springsteen (‘Heart of a Lion’) and even the blues / hard rock variant patented by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Considering that all the band are in their early 20s and weren’t actually alive when most of those people were in their heyday, creating such a sound is no mean feat. To play SXSW at such a young age and to make such an impression on people who had never heard of you and who leave and go around Austin telling everyone about you is a pretty big deal indeed. Mark my words, keep an eye on this band, or you’ll be left behind.

East India Youth provided a much needed injection of electronica early on in the proceedings. While Will Doyle’s appearance early in the night may have seemed a strange choice to those who aren’t into electronic music, my interview with him and indeed, the reveal of ‘Carousel’ in early February from upcoming album ‘Culture of Volume’ out the 6th of April on XL Recordings indicates him shifting towards a more pop-orientated sound that agreed with many of the artists on this bill. As an electronic fan myself, I personally didn’t need proof of his musical talent, but Doyle also played bass on stage, which he played with the same perspiration-inducing freneticism as when he attacked the synth, sequencers and drum pads assembled as part of his complicated rig onstage.

East India Youth at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

The compelling ‘Hearts That Never’, which premiered on stateside on American public radio system NPR the week before SXSW, also demonstrates his conscious decision to head in a dance direction, which I reckon will make his new material even more accessible to the masses. ‘Looking for Someone’, a sweeping cut from Doyle’s 2014 Mercury Prize-nominated debut album on Stolen Recordings, ‘Total Strife Forever’, has a slower tempo but serves a nice reminder how human electronic music can be, in the right person’s hands. I’m really looking forward to hearing his new album.

East India Youth at SXSW 2015, Music Wales

 

(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) MP3 of the Day #874: The People the Poet

 
By on Tuesday, 17th March 2015 at 10:00 am
 

South Wales band The People The Poet will be making their Austin live debut tonight as the opening band at Music Wales’ showcase at 8 PM at Latitude 30, the British Music Embassy’s home at SXSW 2015. To celebrate the momentous occasion, why not treat yourself to a free download to the band’s acoustic cover of fellow Welshmen and current indie rock darlings of the moment Catfish and the Bottlemen‘s ‘Hourglass’? Listen to the track and grab it for your very own below. (Incidentally, Catfish and the Bottlemen are also on tonight at 12 AM at the same venue, and it’s so nice when everything comes round full circle, isn’t it?)

My SXSW preview / Bands to Watch on the band is right this way, with their frontman Leon answering the SXSW 2015 flavoured Quickfire Questions here.

 

(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #87: Leon Stanford of The People the Poet

 
By on Monday, 2nd March 2015 at 1:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: I posted Leon’s surname as Spansword in the initial posting of this article, using the name on his Twitter account for direction. Whoops. Be forewarned, rock stars: if you want people to know who you are, use your real name!

Not long now before SXSW 2015! But just as we did for SXSW 2014 last year, we’ll be running a special version of the TGTF Quickfire Questions, served up SXSW style with an extra couple of questions to get inside bands’ and artists’ heads so they’ll tell us what they really think of the event. We’re at the eighth installment ahead of the big event happening in just 2 weeks, and today we’re chatting with Leon Stanford, lead singer of South Wales band The People The Poet this morning who on physical appearance alone looks to give Huw Stephens a run for his money in the cuddliness stakes. What anthemic song in the last 10 years does Leon wish he’d written? Have a read for that, why we probably shouldn’t ply him (too much anyway) with drinks in Texas and much more below.

Keen on learning more about The People the Poet ahead of their appearance at Latitude 30 at the Music Wales showcase Tuesday night in Austin? Read my band profile on them that posted here on TGTF last week through this link.

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
Being a band who are not really about looks, we mainly get excited about the same thing wherever we go and that’s getting fat and enjoying the local food and drink.

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?
I’d have to say Catfish and the Bottlemen who we’re lucky to be playing the same showcase as! They’re an exciting young Welsh band who are quickly becoming future headliners for all the big festivals.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
Like every other diabetic rockstar I shall be carrying some insulin pens (the hard drugs) to keep me alive throughout the week of drinking, food and music.

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 do like a milkshake being a bit of a shit diabetic so a white Russian or Baileys will do fine.

Also a surprise is always nice, as long as your idea of a surprise drink is not spiking it.

And now on to our usual list of Quickfire Questions:

What song is your earliest musical memory?
Probably something like singing Joe Cocker’s version of ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ in primary school assembly. Oasis – ‘Wonderwall’, The Beatles – ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘Praise Hosanna’ were my school’s idea of a good selection of morning hymns.

What was your favourite song as a child?
I always liked a bit of Tom Jones – ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’. Those 8-year old birthday parties would go mental when a bit of Tom came on, clothes would be flying everywhere but not a single party hat in sight.

What song makes you laugh? / What song makes you cry?
‘Short People’ by Randy Newman. He has a way of making you laugh and then the next minute he writes a song like ‘Losing You’ and that’s all you do is cry.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NvgLkuEtkA

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
I wish I’d written ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay ever since watching him (Chris Martin) throw a light around the stage to it whilst headlining Glastonbury. It’s such a beautifully written song.

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Adam Duritz from Counting Crows is probably my all time favourite writer. His melodies and lyrics are incredible. [Read Carrie’s interview with Duritz from last year here. – Ed.]

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
It seems quite easy to get a job as a manger for Cardiff City Football Club, so I would love the opportunity to show up Russel Slade (current manager) with my managing skills that I learnt from Club Manager 2007 (PC game). I had them promoted 2 years in a row to get them to the Premier League.

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.)
AC/DC – ‘Highway to Hell’.

Many thanks Leon for answering our questions and thank you also to Tyla for facilitating.

 

(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #344: The People the Poet

 
By on Friday, 27th February 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

SXSW 2015 will be a special time, as Music Wales will be presenting a nighttime showcase on the first night of the official SXSW Music festivities, on Tuesday the 17th of March. It’s just the beginning of an amazing week of evening (and afternoon) programming on tap for festival punters at the British Music Embassy, back at its usual home of Latitude 30 on San Jacinto Boulevard. The People the Poet from South Wales will open the Music Wales night and definitely start the UK contingent’s programming off with a bang. The band were bestowed the honour of being just one of 12 acts chosen out of over 450 who applied for Horizons, the BBC Cymru Wales and Arts Council of Wales project committed to supporting the independent music being made in Wales and helping them with their careers.

Formerly known under the moniker Tiger Please, the little bit folk, little bit pop, little bit rock band released 2009’s ‘They Don’t Change Under Moonlight’ and 2010’s ‘Seasons’ EP, both critically acclaimed. At the end of 2013, they released their long awaited debut album ‘The Narrator’, under their new name The People the Poet. The hard graft of the five-piece over the last 7 years plus paid off, with the self-released LP reaching #38 on the iTunes Rock Albums chart on release day without management or major label backing and it receiving a nomination for the Welsh Music Prize. Tyla Campbell of the band told me they had previously applied for a SXSW shout twice and without success, so third time’s absolutely a charm for them this year, as they make their maiden voyage to Austin next month.

We’re not sure where the band’s current name came from, but the juxtaposition of the two images their name conjures up – the passionate proletariat masses represented by “The People” contrasting with the calm, brooding and introspective “Poet” – describes their sound quite well. ‘Nobody Else Like You’, inspired by the loss of a parent, features guest vocals from legendary ex-It Bites frontman Francis Dunnery, his voice lending a bit more heft to The People half of their enterprise. In its sweeping grandeur whilst describing the life-changing event of fatherhood, track ‘Stabilisers (I Will Be)’ from ‘The Narrator’ will remind you of Coldplay and Keane at their most anthemic.

Lyrical content for the tunes on their debut album was all crowd sourced, with The People The Poet humbly asking their fans to send in true stories about their lives. This allowed the band to engage their fans in an incredibly personal way that I don’t think had ever been done before, so I have no reason to believe they won’t be able to get the crowd at Latitude 30 eating out of their hand and backing them in quick order either. Get in to see them in reasonably sized venues while you still can.

 
 
 

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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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