IN CONVERSATION: Ash Cooke (Recordiau Prin) on 'Iechyd Da: The Music of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci'

IN CONVERSATION: Ash Cooke (Recordiau Prin) on ‘Iechyd Da: The Music of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’

North Wales label Recordiau Prin recently released Iechyd Da – a 31-song compilation of covers of ‘The Music of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’.
“Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci were formed in Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Carmarthen in 1991.  Unusually for such a young band they drew upon a diverse and eclectic range of musical influences that put them noticeably at odds with other contemporary Welsh language bands of the time.  An early association with the legendary label Ankst yielded three albums and a number of EP’s before the group made the step up to release a string of classic albums through Mercury and Mantra.”
We caught up with Recordiau Prin’s head honcho Ashley Cooke (aka Pulco) to find out a little more about the album, the artists involved and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.

Why did you decide to put together a Gorky’s covers album?
It’s 10 years since the band split and I thought it would be a great idea to celebrate that fact and attempt to do something that would present the band’s music to a new generation.

What do you think it is about Gorky’s work/records and specifically the song writing of Euros Childs/Richard James that inspires such affection?
Gorkys’ music is born out of a quirky rural coastal environment mixed with eclectic musical tastes; it’s certainly not avant-garde ‘city’ rock, over sophisticated or street wise.  Instead, it is more organic than that.  They were a band that never sold out or made themselves out to be above their audience.  They kept themselves just out of reach – almost avoiding the spotlight on purpose.

Is it fair to say that Gorky’s were at odds with much of the Welsh language music of the time when they emerged in 1991?
I don’t imagine there would have been many mainstream bands playing local gigs when they were growing up.  I guess between them all their parents must have has some brilliantly eclectic albums.  Without asking the band I’m not sure quite how they took the path they did.

Gorky’s constantly shifted styles and sounds.  Do you think this is part of their enduring appeal and influence?
Maybe, but I think their enduring appeal is part of what I mentioned earlier about where their song writing was born from and the influences they had.  It just clicked with a lot of people.  They had specialist tastes/influences, but their songs were accessible to everyone.

What are your favourite Gorky’s albums?
Barafundle because it is where I first came to the band. I loved the cover too.

Favourite Gorky’s songs?
Queen of Georgia.  That’s why I covered it

How did you gather artists/bands for the Gorky’s project?  And how did you decide which songs you wanted covered? Or was that more driven by the acts themselves?
I had the idea to do the project last August whilst on holiday and asked a few friends to be involved.  Once I mentioned the project on social media I began to get messages from bands asking if they could record songs.  I wanted the bands to choose their own songs.

There are covers from a good mix of emerging Welsh acts (Baby Brave, Sweet Benfica, Oh Peas! et al) alongside versions from more established welsh music acts like Gulp, Gentle Good, Alun Tan Lan et al.  Was it important when compiling the tracklist to get a mix of acts to reflect Gorky’s touched many different artists and genres within the Welsh music scene?
Like I say, a lot of the bands approached me and I didn’t want to turn anyone away.  I did, however, make a point of contacting people like Gorwel Owen & Alan Homes as they had been directly involved with the band themselves so it felt right that they should have a chance to be on the album.

I note you have acts from across the pond too including Nick Cullen’s heartily affectionate version of Iechyd Da, did you want to open it up?
Nick was one of the artists that approached me.  He recorded Iechyd Da even though he can’t speak a work of Welsh!  There is a certain amount of commitment in that and it was the kind of approach that I was looking for.

Putting you on the spot here, but what are your favourite covers on the album?
I love ‘Let Those Blue Skies’ by Robert Downie – Rob had confidence issues when it came to record, but he created such a beautiful version of the song.  I know that he got a lot from it in the end and his personal journey and achievement makes me proud of the album.

Do you hope Gorky’s may one day reform?
Yes and no.  It would be great to see them play again but sometimes things are often best left as they are.  I wouldn’t want it to spoil the memory.

Are there any plans for a Gorky’s tribute show alongside this album?
Not at the moment but quite a few people have asked the same question!  I’m not against the idea!

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.