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Gruff Rhys: Interview


Gruff Rhys: Interview

Alana Trezise

Originally from the mountains in Wales, Gruff Rhys has lived in Cardiff now for about 10-years. The Welsh musician, composer, producer, filmmaker, author and all round nice guy is one super talented man that has remained humble and passionate throughout his long and successful career.

Performing both solo and with many bands over the years, Gruff formed electro-pop sensation Neon Neon, and was a part of the popular 90's band, Super Furry Animals. With his up-coming visit to Australia for WOMADelaide, we had a chat with him about his music, inspirations and all things Adelaide. 

What does your latest music represent? How did you develop that sound?

I've been writing songs for a long time and I suppose I like to keep it fresh for myself by writing about things that relate to me; but sometimes it's nice to write about a different theme. The songs I will be touring in Adelaide I wrote about an unusual Welsh explorer from the 18th century, and I've got a slide show about his life and his adventures. I'll be singing songs between pictures. I just like to tell some stories I suppose. 

Do you think that Wales has had a big influence on your music?

I think you are always influenced by where you're from, but I would say I am also influenced by the same sort of things that artists would be in Australia, like a mixture between home-grown and international influences. 

You've played at WOMAD before, how was that for you?

It's a fun gig. Last time I played it was my first time there and I didn't know what to expect. It was a high tension show because I left my iPad in the van, so there was a really dramatic tension throughout the gig as I didn't know whether my slides were going to turn out during the gig. In the end, it turned out to be a real great show because of that, sometimes things turn out for the better when everything technical breaks down. 

I guess you know that WOMAD is quite a unique and sensual experience then, what does your music simulate through your performance? Did WOMAD bring anything else to your music?

Coming to do another WOMAD, I feel relaxed. The WOMAD audience throughout my last experience were extremely welcoming and willing to enjoy it, even though it was chaos they were willing to go with me on that hectic journey. So i'm feeling really relaxed and able to throw anything at the audience.

I'll just be doing a solo show so its me and a guitar, a few gadgets and a powerpoint presentation. (It's) about an obscure Welsh explorer who thought the Welsh had discovered America, and he went out there looking for a tribe of Welsh speaking South Americans who he believed to be descendants from a Welsh prince. He lived with several tribes and caused a trail of chaos throughout America. So I'll be concentrating on that really, and I'll be singing as that guy. 

Are there any other acts on the bill that you are excited to get along and see in Australia?

I haven't actually seen the bill! I recorded some of my album at the same studio as First Aid Kit with Mike Lucas in Nebraska, so it will be great to see them. 

What was your favourite memory of recording with all the different artists you have worked with?

When I was recording one of my albums, I got Paul McCartney to do a rhythm track which was pretty cool. It was a pretty average day too, so that was cool. 

What are you looking forward to most about spending time in Adelaide?

Last time I was in Adelaide I wrote a song about the Adelaide tram system which was inspired by the Adelaide trams. I wrote a song called inaugural trams, so I'm looking forward to Adelaide revealing some surprising things I didn't previously know about.