Top Tunes with Kully Thiarai Artistic Director, National Theatre Wales

Portrait photographs by Jon Pountney

Top Tunes is a new feature for Get the Chance in collaboration with Outpost Coffee and Vinyl

The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently got the chance to chat to Kully Thiarai, Artistic Director, National Theatre Wales.

Hi Kully great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

“Hi I’m currently Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales and based in Cardiff. I grew up in Smethwick, near Birmingham and got into theatre quite by accident. I have over the years worked independently as a Theatre Director and also run organisations large and small –some with theatre buildings and others like National Theatre Wales whose work can happen anywhere.”

This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to? 

“I’ve not listened to much recently. I’ve just bought the new XX album and looking forward to seeing them in Cardiff very soon. I’ve mostly been listening to Bowie recently– his greatest hits and Black Star. I was lucky enough to see Lazarus in London– the new work he made before he died and it made me want to listen to some of his older music as well as Black Star.”

Have you had the chance to catch up with any Welsh or Wales based singers or bands?

“I’ve always enjoyed Super Furry Animals and Catatonia and would obsessively play the Manics albums but I have a lot to catch up on the more recent Welsh scene. Swn Festival is of course a great event and it certainly helped me hook into some Welsh musical talent that I wasn’t aware of.”

We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, so we want to ask you to list 5 records/albums which have personal resonance to you and why. 

“I’m struggling to list only 5 – but here are few that come to mind for very different reasons.”

“U2 – lots of albums that I love but ‘War’ which featured ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ was my introduction to the band and I still think it’s a wonderful anthem and rebel song. There are loads of other U2 songs that I play a lot but I could be here for hours naming them.”

“I can’t name one single album as such but I loved the Jam and then The Style Council and now all things Paul Weller. ‘A Town called Malice’ is one of my favourite songs – it somehow captured the times I grew up in. ‘Brand New Start’ is heartbreaking but I always hear it as a song to help pick yourself up when your down and ‘Why Walk When You Can Run’ just celebrates the joy of being young and full of life.”

“Tina Turner because I had to include a great woman singer who was feisty, extraordinary and such an entertainer, but I can’t name an album – she’s simply the best!”

 “Parallel Lines Blondie – I remember one of my Maths teacher at school being completely obsessed with Blondie and he used to try and sing her songs. She was such an iconic figure and the music felt so different from other things I was hearing at the time.”

“Monsoon Wedding soundtrack – I really enjoyed the film and the diversity of music from classical Indian tunes to contemporary compositions was really fun. It has a joyful quality and hooks into my Indian culture I suppose.”

Just to put you on the spot could you choose one track from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this?

“It’s really difficult to choose one but…..There is a beautiful song on the Monsoon Wedding Soundtrack called Aaj Mausam Bada Beimann Hai (Today the Weather Plays Tricks on Me) by Mohammed Rafi which always makes me smile. It’s playing as a young wedding planner is creating a heart of marigolds on the lawn as the rain is falling to show the maid of the house his feelings for her.”






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