Hi Jeannie, so what got you interested in the arts?
I have been drawing and painting ever since I was a child – and I went to a Grammar school where the only subject I excelled in was Art – so it was inevitable that I would go on to try to make a career in the Arts somehow!!
You are fairly new to drawing and painting contemporary dance, can you tell us more about your work in this area?
For a time my professional work was centred around racehorses – As a child I was obsessed with drawing and painting them and especially the way they moved. I have always been interested in the human figure too – not particularly portraiture but the figure itself, especially in movement.
Only a year ago I was invited to a National Dance Company Wales, Open Rehearsal in London where the company were rehearsing for a show that night – that was my introduction into seeing dancers at work and I have been trying to capture my response ever since!
How has your relationship with National Dance Company Wales developed?
Well, I think I am hooked! Since that first encounter with the dancers I have worked almost exclusively on studying the way they “work”, whether they are resting or rehearsing and have been fortunate to be able to come to Cardiff and spend some days with them in the studio sketching and photographing and in particular I am building up a body of work depicting their production of “Rygbi” which I hope to exhibit next year, fingers crossed…The dancers themselves are hugely enthusiastic and supportive of what I do and are genuinely intrigued to see what I produce. As for me, I am completely in awe of what they do – obviously!!
Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for artists?
Hm… for artists? I haven’t personally hit any barriers in that sphere. I was a teacher in mainstream education many years ago before I left to pursue a career in commercial art. but I am sure that my own involvement with the art world has placed me in a bubble which has shielded me from exposure to barriers and I am sure they DO exist.
If you were able to fund an area of the arts what would this be and why?
For some years after I left mainstream art teaching, I worked with children and young adults who had special needs and varying disabilities (as they were then called)… Our art and creativity sessions were a joy! Hugely beneficial but hugely underfunded and undervalued and certainly would get money!!
What excites you about the arts ?
Wow, where to start!……how much space have I got?….Lets put creativity, in whatever form, back into peoples lives! … Its transformative and life enriching…..
What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?
You mean apart from watching the dancers from National Dance Company Wales almost flying across the stage so beautifully and bringing me to tears……it don’t get much better than that!
National Dance Company Wales are touring Roots to venues across Wales this autumn.
Mold Theatr Clwyd Thursday 7 November 2019, 19:45 BOOK
What would you do, what CAN you do when you can only hear
your surroundings but lack the power to help?
Coma by Darkfield, one of their many shipping container
immersive experiences, engulfs us in an idea of medically induced coma states,
while other frightening and disturbing things happen around us, completely out
of our control.
Darkfield are very good at creating experiences that mainly
function on the power of persuasion, listening to a narrative and following our
own imagination. But equally, what happens in our heads, can be just as disturbing.
In a clinical yet odd style ‘hostel’, we are asked to lie
down on 3 tier bunkbeds, encouraged to make ourselves comfortable and to take a
little pill – though this is our choice, as we are told taking it or not taking
it makes little difference either way.
Plunged into darkness, with our headphones on, we are
influenced by commentary, by sounds that sound very near us and at times further
way, adding to our imagination of what we already know the room looks like.
Like all of Darkfield, there are moments of fear, of climaxes, but to tell you
these only destroys what you experience.
My only problem with Coma, is more dependent on the audience
member. To really throw yourself into this piece, to feel in a ‘coma’ you need
to really engage in a meditative state and give yourself fully to the relaxation
in your body to get the full extent of what they are trying to achieve.
Unfortunately, for me, while used to meditation, it just didn’t come easily for
me this one night and perhaps lead to me missing out on being more immersive
that I would be another day.
Coma is equally intriguing, exciting, and scary – go on, be brave, and engage in something you have never experienced before – but fully commit, to come away with something fantastic!
As someone who is scared of flying and therefore takes
sleeping pills to get through, this is probably not the best production to see.
Rightfully nervous, with knowledge of Darkfield, experiencing ‘Séance’ at the beginning of the year, my flight fear has gotten better after travelling, but the nerves are still there for this next experience.
I particularly liked how the Steward was very much into the
process of Flight – before entering the container, his language was all
reminiscent of a host on a flight, stating ‘We are a full flight today so please
sit in your allocated seating’
Like any flight, the inside is highly reminiscent of modern
planes, but with a hint of the past – small flip down screens above, which are
little know these days, playing a video of a hostess, which seems dated. From
the beginning, with out headphones on, things are already going wrong – the video
flickers, saying chopped and changed, and frightening phrases – we hear the
pilot and his conversation we should not hear.
Into the darkness, we hear through our headphones, cleverly
positioned to give the sense of encroaching hostess up the aisle. We give into our
imagination, and this unordinary flight feels calming, yet we anticipate what
As any Darkfield show, there are moments of shock, of fear,
elements of the set change, even now, with me thinking whether I dreamed seeing
that or not. They play on our minds; the experience feeling like a dream state,
when something disastrous happens, everything becomes normal again – did that
If you have a fear of flying like me, you are in safe hands with Darkfield, and will come away having such a unique and unordinary experience. If you don’t, well… needless to say you will have equally an interesting and unusual immersive experience. These containers are for all.
What happens when three thieves break into a gallery, the
same night, to steal the same painting? A hilarious series of events full of
comedy, gasps of close calls and complete chaos.
Art Heist by the company Poltergeist, in partnership with
Underbelly and New Diorama Theatre, bring us a high energised and full of
calamity production featuring three thieves and a gallery guard. All have
different motives, different personalities and bring their own humour and likeability.
At some point the characters are all bound to bump into each other, but there
is a sense of a tense atmosphere while waiting for this, along with near
misses. Once they do, the interaction is surprising, well thought out and full
There’s hardly a break in this production for anyone – reminiscent
of Monty Python, come Mischief Theatre’s ‘Comedy about a Bank Robbery’ with a
hint of alternative reality/game culture, the narrative and actions are both
fast paced and with quick thinking, yet perfectly accomplished with every
comical intent hit.
Each character narrates their actions, sometimes with
interaction from the guard who throws spanners in the works. This reminds me of
watching a video game, with planned out thoughts that not always come to
The staging and lighting is simple – characters are always
on stage but always engaged. We get different levels away from the main action,
without a single person breaking character.
Multimedia is used with cameras, sound effects, lights e.t.c. to give
the emphasis of a gallery but also to layer the action.
The performers themselves are hysterical – fully involved in
their characters, there is freedom to ad lib and go with the chaos, especially
when the audience are encouraged to interact. The simple ‘guard training’ that
the audience undertake is hilarious in itself; again, it is simple but well put
Art Heist will steal your heart and rob your laughter – coming away, there is admiration of the energy of these performers and great smiles at how much fun we have in just an hour.
‘If I Can Shoot Rabbits, I Can Shoot Fascists,’ is the strapline of the first play by PowderHouse in association with the Sherman Theatre and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. It comes from the Manic Street Preachers’ song ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next,’
This in turn is inspired by the involvement of Welsh volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. The play Shooting Rabbits seeks to evoke the experience of a young Welshman travelling to Spain to fight against fascism in the 1930s while seemingly hinting at a similarity between fighting the authoritarian oppressor in Spain and the strife of Irish, Welsh, and Basque nationalism, given a new life by Brexit. Such an unwieldy subject matter could only fail on stage, especially when it is conveyed through a stream of consciousness dramaturgy that leaves the audience confused. Nonetheless the play succeeds in capturing the ambiguity of any proclamation in the name of ‘the people.’
Shooting Rabbits co-directed by Jac Ifan Moore and Chelsey Gillard begins with a Northern Irish actor auditioning for a role in Wales. The casting director asks him to do a ‘more Irish’ accent, meaning one that is from the Republic of Ireland. The director expresses sympathy with the Irish, ‘Solidarity with you,’‘Wales stands with you,’ ‘Your people.’ The ‘solidarity’ is borne of the alleged ‘shared struggle’ against the ‘neighbours across the borders.’ The actor, played by Neil McWilliams, launches into a tirade questioning the very premise of ‘the people.’ Who are his people? Republicans, Nationalists, the IRA, Unionists, the DUP? The reduction of the heterogeneous reality of a country to one group betrays not just an ignorant and condescending attitude, but one that delegitimises whoever does not fit the image of the country, a country that is always an ideal, never a complex reality. This is nowhere more evident than in the impassioned and seductive speech of Francisco Franco performed by Alejandra Barcelar Pereira in Spanish. It appeals to the defence of the country and faith in the country, but it is a country that repudiates all those who do not abide by the script.
The appeal to ‘the people’ is a dangerous weapon that is wielded against the very people it professes to protect. ‘The people’ erases people as a heterogeneous empirical reality, disregards and delegitimises theirs diversity, their different perspectives, lifestyles, values, customs, and, above all, their overlapping identities. This is what the European Union aims to promote: unity in diversity. That is why Catalan, Basque, Scottish, and Welsh nationalist movements, to name a few, are often supportive of the EU. Thus, the EU does indeed undermine the nation state, conceived as a unitary and homogeneous entity, by giving voice to communities inside nations and across them. Today, the EU is embattled, but the crisis is not a battle between fascism and liberal democracy; rather it is more the result of established structures and politics being out of step with contemporary society and economics. That is why it is risky to draw any comparisons between today’s crises and the 1930s, as Shooting Rabbits seeks to do.
Shooting Rabbits is at its best when it exposes the naivete of the romantic ideal of fighting against fascism and of claiming to represent a ‘people.’ The young Welshman in 1930s Spain does not know what to do and begs to be told what to do. In front of the horror of the civil war, the volunteers of the International Brigade repeat that it was not meant to be this way. The play makes fun of political divisions and polarisations that create enemies. It is evocative and exhilarating. It is acted beautifully in Spanish, Basque, Welsh, and English by Alejandra Barcelar Pereira, Gwenllian Higginson, and Neil McWilliams, and it is supported by the music performed live by Sam Humphreys. It is also a missed opportunity. Shooting Rabbits flounders due to a superficial historical analysis and a stream of consciousness structure that disorients the spectator instead of bringing clarity.
Laika likes to be grand, go ambitious and portray the unconventional. They latch onto stories about characters that don’t quite fit in and meet other such outsides and plots that take them to unique places. They also are not content with doing what they know they can do, each time they want to be challenged with their craft and artistry in some way. So here is their next feature, Missing Link, a story about an odd pairing if ever there was one and all the other trails and characters they meet along to way for them to reach their goal.
opening, we get a firm understanding of who the main character is and
what kind of adventure we are in for. We open on a footprint of a large
creature, then it wipes to a skinny boot print then the camera glides
above the water of a lake to a little boat, it rises up to a fancy tea
set being poured and then up to the man having it, he complains that
it’s gotten a bit cold. His assistant apologizes but sets things up for
capturing evidence of the Loch Ness Monster. The creature does appear,
with the encouragement of bagpipes, and proceeds to eat the assistant
and dive down, but through some bold adventuring by the gentleman, he
saves his assistant, however, the camera which would have captured proof
of the monster gets smashed.
This gentleman is Sir
Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman), an explorer of the strange, unique and
often dangerous. Which leads to his latest assistant quitting. While
browsing through his pile of mail he finds one crudely written letter
saying that if they follow their directions then he will find proof of
the legendary Sasquatch.
He goes to the Gentlemen
Explorers Club that is filled with stuffy, pompous, thickly mustached,
or bearded or sideburned old men in black and white suits that gather
around a fireplace and a reminisce about how they shot an animal or
killed some foreign people. They have no interest in granting Frist
membership because he is unconventional and he always failed to bring
back proof of his oddities. So a wager is made, if he can bring back
proof this time then he will be granted membership,
this scene, you can see Laikas talent for not just animation but
comedy. This scene serves as pure exposition, needed to spell out his
motivation and what will be the goals going forward. These scenes are
usually the dullest and slowest parts of any movie unless they are done
right. While these men are standing around talking they really on unique
character movement, visuals and fun inserts of comedy that keep us
looking and listening. This is something essential yet you’d be
surprised at how many movies have these scenes and put nothing unique or
even fun in it to keep you interested.
When he arrives
at the specified location and does indeed find the Sasquatch (Zach
Galifianakis), however, he is most surprised to find out that he is able
to speak, English! Rather well and also that he was the one who wrote
him the letter. The Sasquatch is all alone in the forest, which is being
diminished by trees being cut down, and believes that he has relatives
in the snowy mountains, the yetis! Frost agrees to help him reach his
relatives if he gives him proof of his existence so he can join the
Gentelmens Explorers Club. However the sasquatch needs a name, Frost
suggests Mr. Link which is also humorous because it’s like missing link, the sasquatch doesn’t get it.
Link has very little experience with people or interactions of any
kind. He takes things at face value and is very literal so he needs
tuirns of frazes explained to him and if asked to do something he
literally does it. Take one scene when he is passes a rope and a
grappling hook and asked to “Throw this over the wall” he does, all of
it in one go. This is the main type of jokes we get from him and you
eventually get wise to it and they become the weakenst part of the
While traveling they realize they’ll need a map
of the Himalayas, luckily Frost knows where to find one. Adelina
Fortnight (Zoe Saldana) has it, her and Frost were a couple years ago
but he was more interested in his adventures and so she married his best
friend. As you would expect his just showing up after not being in
contact after years and only doing so to get a map that her late husband
died for does not go over well. But they desperately need it so they
come back in the night to steal it, she isn’t happy of course but she
also realizes she hasn’t been living her life, so this duo becomes a
It seems like they went for sheer impressive spectacle with Kubo of the Two Strings and here they want to try out some more subtle things. Not to say that this movie is devoiud of a grand ambition or has scope,
far from it, but they want to get smaller details down. Take one scene
that takes place on a boat, theres a conversation between Frost and
Adelina, it’s goining through some harsh waves so it rocks, while the
conversation unfolds the room itsef is swaying ever so gracefully, so
the characters have to adjust their footing to balance and furniture
slides around, sometimes very slowly others abrubtly. Other times when
they have a camera that moves along with the character and shifts angles
when they change direction. All of this must be discussed, planned,
built, painted and then finally animated, one frame at a time. Or other
times when Mr. Link is standing with the wind hitting him and every
chunk of his fur blows in the wind.
Laika operates as Disney did in the old days. Art challenges the technology, technology informs the art. They constantly embrace and seek out the odd and fascinating. Like Mr. Link himself there is nothing else like this movie, flaws yes, but why be safe if you can be bold and beautiful.
Up the ramps of steep metal stairs, in a room in the Loft, outside of the main building of Chaptert Arts Centre, the theatrical company August012 are rehearsing for their unique take on Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. The music begins. It’s a military tune. It’s 1815, the battle of Waterloo. The fighting, the casualties, the hollow victory. Then, at a stroke, it’s 2016, in Cardiff, the night of the EU Referendum. The battle of Waterloo and the battle of Brexit come together through a meeting and clashing of sounds, words, music, and dance making for an immersive sensory experience.
The tragedy and horror of Waterloo is juxtaposed with the carefree and indulgent pleasure of holiday-makers in 2016 ahead of the Referendum and the comic coming to terms with the result. It is a kind of estrangement that seeks to bring awareness of the historical implications of Brexit through rhythm and fun. All the pieces, the description of the battle, the drums, the music, a man chocking on a Dorito, Farage, and soldier-dancers, come together with perfect timing. The creativity fuelling Les Mis comes from the collaboration of Director Mathilde Lopez, Choreographer Matteo Marfoglia, and Composers John Norton and Branwen Munn, the latter working from West Wales.
The coming together of French-Spanish, Italian, and Welsh talent with diverse national and cultural backgrounds makes gives an extra dimension to the careful multi-layered assembling of sound, words, and movement. It is the collaborative and supportive nature of these relationships that stands out as I watch the rehearsals. There is no hierarchy, no instructions, no neat division of labour, but a coming together to harness the talents and creativity of one another. Mathilde says, ‘We can do that,’ not ‘Can you do that?’ She is not imparting instructions, she listens to others and makes suggestions. The work emerges from this shared effort and fun. They’re working hard but they’re also having fun.
The atmosphere is so relaxed and friendly that I wonder how a comment from me might be received. I comment and I’m struck by Carwyn, one of the actors, turning to me and nodding. It is a listening environment, where each member of the company can make suggestions and is listened to. John Norton, the composer/DJ, is surprised I’m surprised. ‘This is theatre,’ he tells me, ‘If you want control, don’t do it.’ Unpredictable, brittle, never finished, theatre is always in the making. Precision is impossible, flexibility is key.
Mathilde likes the challenge that music and movement present to her as a theatrical director. She needs to limit herself to give space to John and Matteo. Her listening and collaborative frame of mind includes listening to actors and non-actors who participate in the production. When auditioning for the play, Mathilde asked them what they were doing on the night of the Referendum. The piecing together of different perspectives and experiences reinforces the nature of this production of Les Mis where different worlds coexist.
Choreographer Matteo Marfoglia tells me that the idea is to have two
worlds side by side in the same space: the world of the actors and the world of
the dancers. The two worlds do not interact. The dancers and the actors are on
different journeys. The dancers, as soldiers, evoke with their movements and
sounds the tragic sense of the historical dimension of both Waterloo and
Brexit. Actors and dancers come in and out of the space interweaving the
present with the past, connecting and disconnecting history with our daily
Les Mis speaks to our own
reality. It is this sense of the real and dance as a way to communicate real
life that brought Matteo to Wales. Classically
trained, Matteo first moved to Amsterdam and Rotterdam to become a contemporary
dancer and, six years ago, he came to Wales to be part of the National Company
Wales. He left classical ballet because it did not meet his thirst for
something more authentic to human experience. He believes that contemporary dance
allows the individual expression of emotions to come to the fore.
Matteo is training to become a ‘Gaga’ dance teacher.
Gaga dance has been developed by Israeli dancer and choreographer Ohad Naharin.
At its core, Gaga dance is about embodying the inward emotions of the dancer
and how they connect with other dancers. The individuality of the dancer is
expressed outward flowing into the shared consciousness of the group. ‘We feel the same
emotions but we do so differently,’ Matteo explains, ‘We’re all connected
through an emotion but this emotion is expressed in one’s unique and individual
The emotional dimension of Les Mis is a pervasive sense of loss and futility contrasted with seductive pleasure and a hangovered awakening to the aftermath of the Referendum. As European nationals, Matteo and Mathilde experienced a deep sense of loss after the Referendum. They felt ‘under attack,’ as Matteo puts it. All of a sudden, they became foreigners, their presence questioned. Mathilde, who has been living in Britain for 20 years, is married to John and has British children who speak Welsh, felt the pain of exclusion, of being told to ‘go back home.’ She never needed to be formally British, she was part of British society, then Brexit struck.
Brexit has shown that being foreign is an identity that stays with you
no matter how long you live in your ‘adoptive’ country, no matter of many
changes you make, no matter how much you absorb of the local culture. The
‘in-betweeness’ that has characterised Mathilde’s life became problematic with
Brexit. Europe allowed overlapping identities that don’t stop at national
borders. Europe, for Mathilde, is the wider project of togetherness. It is
complicated and Europe often does not live up to the dream. The way the EU
functions right now doesn’t work for many countries, she tells me, but they
don’t question being part of it. ‘It’s like moaning at your parents,’ Mathilde
says, ‘you moan, you don’t kill them.’
The vote brought sadness to Mathilde and also anger. She found that
anger was more ‘socially acceptable’ than sadness because it makes one look
strong, but she found it tiring. She needed compassion. She plunged into
reading classics, such as Steinbeck, Camus, and Hugo. Classics were her way to
get her head around what had just happened and avoid a reductive perspective.
‘When you’re angry at the Americans, you read Steinbeck, when you’re angry at
Italians, you read Dante,’ Mathilde explains. Literary classics allow her to go
beyond the narrow contingencies of today’s events, put things in perspective,
and nourish compassion.
For Mathilde, Les Mis is a personal journey from sadness and
anger to compassion. Compassion is in the ability to listen to one another,
work together, and produce a work that is accessible to all.‘Will my grandmother get it?’
Mathilde asks herself when writing. She wants something accessible, not limited
to regular theatre-goers. She wants to be open to others, wherever they come
from culturally, socially, and, of course, politically. Some members of the
production voted Leave.
‘It is our duty to be compassionate,’ says Mathilde, ‘to find strength in accepting defeat, not despair.’ It is compassion that allows to overcome division, to appreciate human complexity, and find strength in togetherness. Mathilde finds compassion in being supported by Chapter Arts Centre, in working together with actors, non-actors, and dance students, getting inspiration from all.
Mathilde, Matteo, and John tell me working together requires humility, respect, and trust. As John tells me, ‘you need to sense the time when to follow someone else’s lead, when to defend one’s position, and when to let go of it.’ You need to abandon the need to take control. This deeply collaborative and inclusive production of Les Mis is fruit of mutual trust and compassion. It is what the UK needs now.
Re- Live’s new theatre show ‘The Return/Y Dychweliad’ is a moving, courageous composition of sadness, truth, celebration and sacrifice.
It begins at St Fagan’s Museum entrance where we are taken on a welcoming walk to Oakdale Workmen’s Institute, listening to various accounts of the thoughts and memories of the people connected to Oakdale. They tell us of the beauty of ‘devouring books’ from the library which was a rarity then, the joy of choc-ice treats and how Oakdale invited a ‘thirst for knowledge’ in the Institute.
We then reach the Oakdale’s Workmen’s Institute where (after a lovely cuppa tea) we are thrown into a World War I Victory Ball in 1919. The bunting is up, the tea is flowing, the Bara Brith is out and we are entertained with song, story and striking truths of what it was to be a soldier, a friend, a woman and a mother during The First World War. We are shown the thrill of the beginning of war, and the heartache it created during a time when so much was unknown medically about the after affects of battle and sacrifice.
The piece moves through dialogue, solo performance, touching physical imagery and choral singing with a nod for the audience to join in on a few wartime tunes. And there’s the beauty of Re-Live right there. Yes, it’s a show, a performance, but it’s a cwtch too. A really important, poignant, ‘so glad to be home’ kind of cwtch. The cast open their arms to you, smile at you, pour their hearts out to you and allow you to feel something about how they feel and have felt. Re- Live’s mission is to work with communities and to tell stories and truths from their lives and ‘Y Dychweliad’ is a beautiful shower of these things. These stories, this history, the effect war has on people around us and still has to this day are subjects that we must talk about. If we don’t talk about these things, if we don’t remember the history of our times, and the affects it has on us still- will they be lost? Will we learn? Will future generations know these wonderful, war time songs, even?
Karin Diamond and the team have created a gorgeous concoction of story, song, music and poetry and a beautiful memory for all that see the show. The production ends as fuelled as it begins, with a personal poem ‘Mother Wales’ written by one of the cast- which makes your heart beam. The thankful, heartfelt, emotional response at the post show discussion is unforgettable. Talks from the cast about their own experiences, and how much support we must continue to provide for our Veterans is integral.
One of the cast said ‘ Once you leave for war, and go over there, coming back is.. alien. You’re petrified. You come home. But you’re never the same.’ Reading through the Oakdale information book, one Veteran writes (of working with Re-Live) ‘The project has saved me because it’s given me something to look forward to, it’s given me a purpose again. It helps me control my anxiety too. This is the one place I can come where I know I won’t be judged.’
And that’s Re-Live. Sharing words and feelings from people, to people and for people. With the utmost care, gratitude and heart. ‘Keep the Homes Fires Burning’, indeed.
‘The Return/Y Dychweliad’ runs from 14-16 March/Mawrth,
Oakdale Workmen’s Institute, St Fagan’s National Museum of History/ Sefydliad Y Gweithwyr Oakdale, Sain Ffagan Amgueddfa Werin Cymru
Hi Adele, great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
I am a theatre and opera director. I am from Port Talbot originally and live in Cardiff now. I’m about to make my Royal Opera House debut with Handel’s Berenice.
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 am obsessively listening to Berenice as I’m about to direct it! So my iPod is pretty much given over to that and to some of Handel’s other operas. It’s good to get a sense of where this piece fits into his wider body of work.
But the latest thing that I saw and was blown away by was a gig by Hen Ogledd. Their album, Mogic, has just come out and it’s just sensational. I’m a vinyl lover, so I’ll be listening to it on the record player!
We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list 5 records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why? 1
Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles
I’m going to immediately preface this by saying that this is by no means The Beatles’ best album (for me, that’s Revolver) but it is the one that changed my life. I was struggling to fit in in my teens in a world of grey concrete and everyone in head to toe adidas block colour tracksuit and gangster rap. After one very late night of underage drinking, a friend took me back to his house and said “check this out”. He put the film of Magical Mystery Tour on and immediately my entire world opened up. The colour, the surreality, the clothes and, of course, the music! I became obsessed with the backwards tapeloops, the kaleidoscope camera, the technicolour kaftans. I binned the tracksuit and immediately became a 60s throwback. That one encounter opened up everything to me: art, counter culture, the music scene, a whole world of new friends. And I can still quote that film word for word.
His ‘N’ Hers – Pulp
When my school mates did all start listening to Oasis and Blur I was firmly in the 3rd camp: I was a massive Pulp fan. Different Class is the album that cemented them as working class hero for the wierdo amongst us, and This is Hardcore saw them reach the pinnacle of their orchestral ambition, but His ‘N’ Hers is my favourite. It captures something very real about being an outsider in the 90s: when charity shops were packed full of incredible 60s clothing for pennies, the seedy glamour of the beachside dirty weekend B n Bs along Mumbles road, sticky indie clubs and lager and lime. It’s an album that celebrates the trashy, sexy, the working class. Jarvis Cocker is still my hero and nothing makes me dance and cry at the same time like “Do you Remember the First time”.
Work and Non-Work – Broadcast
I wrestled between this and Dots and Loops by Stereolab (which is a masterpiece) but Broadcast just pips them for me. Warp records seemed to be the coolest thing on the planet, and Broadcast’s music touched a nostalgic nerve for a period I didn’t even know. Their music seemed to be the subconscious by product of an alternative past: the mulch creepiness of Dario Argento’s fits, the sun saturated photography, the trippy wierdness of Public Information films. This album is incredibly beautiful and cinematic: every song on it lends itself to a film that has never been made. And perhaps the thing that pushes Broadcast’s work up the list for me is the tragic death of their singer and heart of the group Trish Keenan. She was a fashion icon and a poetic mind who went too soon.
The Hissing of Summer Lawns – Joni Mitchell
One night my boyfriend and I were driving very late down a pitch Black Country lane and we were listening to a radio show of Prince’s favourite songs. Suddenly this piece came on and it was so overwhelmingly beautiful, so totally perfect that we had to stop the car and just sit there in the dark listening. That song was Edith and the Kingpin from this strange and haunting album by the one and only Joni Mitchell. Poetically, every listen glistens with new meaning and her use of language is so incredible. “The helicopter lands on the Pan Am roof/ Like a dragonfly on a tomb”. Exquisite. Especially coming at you through that pure voice.
Wozzeck – Berg
I discovered that I wanted to direct for stage when I sat down and watched Richard Jones’s production of Berg’s complex and terrifyingly hard opera based on the Buchner play. That production tore away any concepts I had of what theatre could be. The world on stage was so strange, so complete, and the performers were incredible musicians and amazing actors (Christopher Purves’ performance in that was one of immense human detail. All while singing some of the hardest music you’ve every heard over a full orchestra). Now I’m finally directing opera, this production is still the benchmark for me of what can be achieved. It’s really worth listening to: yes the music’s complex, but the tragedy of the story is brilliantly served here. Please note the version Adele describes is not available online. Instead we present The Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra, The Chorus of the Hamburg State Opera, Conducted by Bruno Maderna, Directed for television by Joachim Hess. Set design: Herbert Kirchhoff Costumes: Helmut Jürgens Recorded 1970, Hamburg State Opera.
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?
I’m going to chose Babies from His N’ Hers because I think it shows how complex pop music can be. Melancholic, strangely profound: it captures the sense of teenage boredom on a rainy Tuesday evening between school and… But it also never fails to get everyone on the dance floor, and it builds into a euphoric, semi-spiritual exorcism of raw sexuality and kitchen sink drama. I can’t listen to this without dancing!
Hi Lleucu great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
I was raised in Talgarreg, Ceredigion and went to Ysgol Dyffryn Teifi in Llandysul. While still at school my friends and I set up the Welsh-language rock festival, Roc y Cnapan, in Ffostrasol. We had amazing bands such as Y Cyrff (who later became Catatonia), Ffa Coffi Pawb (later, Super Furry Animals), Crumblowers, Cerrig Melys and Datblygu playing in front of thousands of young people who came to the festival from all over Wales. After school I travelled around South America for a while and studied English literature at New College, Oxford. After working at various media and arts companies I ended up where I am now in Literature Wales. Poetry, spoken word and hip-hop have always inspired me, and I love the way these genres have developed and intersected over the years.
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?
These days I’m enjoying listening to Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Stormzy, Dave (the young political rapper from London. Check out his song Question Time) – exciting music with a message and an edge.
There’s also a lot of great music coming from Wales, such as Los Blancos, Adwaith, Y Pencadlys. And Olion by Mr has been playing endlessly in our house for the last couple of months.
We are interviewing a
range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list 5
records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why?
1 Velvet Underground & Nico – a funny, louche and weird album with surprisingly catchy songs. I listened to it a lot as a teenager (and still do), and it made me fantasise about moving to New York, wear black and live in a loft.
2 Ride On by Christy Moore – my friends and family can vouch that this gets played a lot in our house and I know every single word to every song. His voice is hauntingly beautiful.
3 It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy – extremely influential album when I was younger and the band still sounds as fresh and urgent now. I saw them play at the Tramshed a couple of years ago and they were amazing.
4 Libertino by Datblygu – without a doubt the most influential and exciting band ever in the Welsh-language, if not in any language. The combination of the musical genius of Patricia Morgan and the poetic desolation of Dave R Edwards makes any of Datblygu’s albums worthy of intense listening.
5 Gold: Greatest Hits by ABBA – dancing round the kitchen to ABBA songs is a tradition I’ve proudly passed on to my children. Fun, classy, catchy, genius pop disco tunes which should be part of everybody’s lives.
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?
A toss-up between Cân i Gymru from Libertino by Datblygu and Dancing Queen by ABBA. Or perhaps Ride On by Christy Moore, or Don’t Believe the Hype by Public Enemy. I really can’t choose!L
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