Meeting musician Meilir in the heart of Cardiff on a Autumnal day in early September is a warming treat and a chance to highlight his exciting future music related activities. A wiry North Walian with a beard, and a modest speaking tone Meilir’s earnestly crafted sound and distinctive vocal tone might not be what some consider ‘fashionable’ or worthy of ‘buzz’ these days but it certainly deserves your attention. Not only is he one of the most under appreciated local artists currently playing his trade in Cardiff, he’s now branching out into the world of all day music events this October. Building upon the success of his work with his native North Wales promotional arm ‘Akashic Sounds’ he now brings the inaugural SWIGEN (which stands for South Wales Independent Gigs, Events & Networking) to the Welsh Capital. An all dayer taking place in a wonderfully different venue in the heart of Cardiff in aid of Shelter Cymru and Oxjam Cardiff. Meilir sees it as a chance to showcase Welsh acts who for one reason or another are sometimes over looked by local media and promotions, to create an event that isn’t about scenes or cliques but about genuine talent and passion, oh and doing your bit for charity (thus all acts are donating their time). Meilir sees SWIGEN simply as “a musical event for everyone. A day of music, food, craft stalls & more. A show and place for everyone, whether that’s just a passing punter, hardened gig goer or genuine music lovers. But to also provide a good platform for musicians to showcase their talent and ability to an audience interested in listening and perhaps discovering their music for the first time.”

But why the need for SWIGEN? Surely there’s lots of great musical happenings in Cardiff already? What with the recession, the decline in some local venues and the control increasingly in the hands of a few promoters, there is a feeling that some people get rather passed by not, just in the capital, but in the whole of Wales: “There is a lot of talent in Wales that seems to be ignored for some reason or another,” explains Meilir, continuing “there is always room for more good things to happen in Wales & in a City like Cardiff.  There just so happens to be a spot light on Cardiff during this time/weekend and, in my opinion, the acts performing at SWIGEN deserve this and any opportunity to perform too.”

SWIGEN takes place in a unique setting, Capel Ebeneezer in Charles street, which it isn’t your usual local dive or even one of the more well trodden contemporary local venues; with wonderful acoustics and an ornate setting it’s certainly going to to be a different experience. “I have been putting on events in Chapels and churches for some time now and have had a great response from the good folk who attended each. Taking music out of the traditional venues is something that appeals to me and I think it works well.  It is a stunning building and music sounds great in there.”

Taking place during the Saturday of this year’s fifth Swn festival, Meilir is quite adamant that SWIGEN isn’t setting itself up as competition, or even an alternative: “If it has to be pigeon holed at all”, he concedes, “then it is probably more a fringe event.” Is he concerned about the inevitable naysayers?  “At the end of the day it’s a charity event offering bands a platform and audience members some new music. But, more than that, since when has choice been a bad thing?”

Swn is often bulked up by out of town bands that you may or may not read about in the NME in a year’s time and doesn’t always reflect every part of the local or Welsh music environment, or tastes, as a whole. That’s not to say Swn is perceived by Meilir or SWIGEN as the enemy here, indeed Meilir is a fan of acts like the Fall, The Gentle Good, and Aidan Moffat, all of whom ply their trade at this year’s Swn. However, he does question the way its organised and the prevailing attitude that if your face doesn’t fit you aren’t on the bill: “The individual shows they’re putting on are really good but it doesn’t come together as an event” he points out before expanding more broadly on the Welsh music ‘scene’, which sometimes seems like it is a case of all the same faces congratulating each other: “It is cliquey for me, the music scene in Wales, it’s scattered into different places; you’ve got a scene going on in Gwyneth, and a scene in Wrexham, there’s stuff going on in Cardiff, and stuff going going on in Swansea. Wales is such a small place and all anyone should be trying to do are good things. There should be more camaraderie and less guarded communication between everyone. I don’t put half as many gigs on as I’d like to, but when they do happen I make sure they’re special things.”

Meilir released his last mini album ‘Cellar Songs’ earlier in the year, since then he’s been playing shows up and down the country, recently appearing three times at the legendary Green Man Festival. “Green man was fantastic. My favourite festival. It’s a wonderful festival its the perfect size with lots of interesting music going on.”  Meilir was so busy he didn’t even have time to check out some of the range of eclectic acts on show at this year’s event in the Brecon beacons, but he did manage to find time for a couple of choice sets on the Weekend “It’s hard to relax when you’re playing twice and once on the Sunday. But I saw one band I’d been in contact with before going Chaolo Sim from Pembrokeshire. The best thing I saw over the weekend was Polar Bear because the drummer reminded me of Can, it was quite Jazzy….”

Meilir plans to release the as yet untitled final part in his trilogy of records, recorded in his basement studio in his Cardiff home and produced by Charlie Francis, early next year. The first came in the form of the folksy ‘Bydd Wych Ep’ and the dark landscapes of its follow up ‘Cellar Songs’ that’s affecting mix of melancholic sighs, interesting percussive and instrumental ideas, brought to mind everyone from Thom Yorke to Scott Walker.But Meilir’s work still retains a deep sense of Welshness, the folk and Welsh gospel sounds filter through his work, even Damo Suski once told Meilir his songs “reminded him of Wales”. His interesting use of pebble percussion on one of his stand out tunes the mournful ‘Fingertips’ got me thinking does always like to use found sounds or unconventional instrumentation? “Yeah I love it it makes it interesting for me. I like the mix of something organic along with built or made instruments. whether they be piano or guitar or more electronic stuff.” Meilir enthuses.
Fingertips by Meilir
But what inspires Meilir’s music, is it the hilly landscapes of his North Walian home? Or just the events that surround him and the emotions that inspire him? “I come from North Wales and I tend to go for Walks i’m quite active with music coz I got the studio set up at home, I don’t get up very early and go to bed very late so its usually at night that I write.I’m definitely influenced by this country and things that are going on here, I’m quite inquisitive.” Then Meilir reveals how the sessions are going for his as yet untitled third EP  “I want the third EP to be a bit more instant, a bit more upbeat. Its going to be a little bit different. The last song on the new record is called ‘Anghyfiawnder’ which means injustice in Welsh. It’s about three people in North America who were wrongly convicted of murder and were actually released this week.” Meilir points out, before describing his release plan for the next period “the plan is to release the third one early next year, you get a wooden box for all three records in the triology. Then have a album out later this year. And a couple of other projects that isn’t just Meilir.”

Meilir plans don’t stop at more recordings either, he’s playing shows outside of the principality this Winter, we suggest you experience his beguiling live show: “I did the launch shows (for Cellar Songs) and got a few festivals out of the way. So I’m going to be touring in October and November, shows in Wales and the UK. I’ve managed to get a couple of shows together in Cardiff, The first one is obviously SWIGEN festival on the 22nd of October and another one will be a totally different show at the Millennium Centre where I get to use a grand piano. Then I’m playing in Wrexham at St Giles’ church Liverpool, Chester and London….”!/pages/Meilir/49623598883
Meilir appears alongside a range of other Welsh acts on Saturday 22nd October 2011 at Gŵyl SWIGEN Festival, in aid of Shelter Cymru & Oxjam Cardiff. It will take place in the beautiful Grade II listed Ebenezer Chapel, situated on Charles Street in the heart of Cardiff.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.