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Ani Glass
Ani GlassPhotography Carys Huws

Six emerging Welsh-speaking artists to hear this Welsh Language Music Day

Marking the 15th and biggest celebration of Welsh language music, we look at six artists putting their heritage at the front of their work

Welsh language music is having a renaissance, with artists turning passionate cult followings in Wales into loyal fanbases beyond, and the patriotic classic “Yma O Hyd”, by Dafydd Iwan, reaching the top of the UK iTunes chart – largely as part of the campaign towards Welsh independence. Indeed, it’s hard to ignore the growing appetite for Welsh language music in the context of discussions about national identity in Wales, which has seen many young artists make their heritage a larger part of their pop culture. 

To mark the 15th, and biggest, Welsh Language Music Day, we’ve rounded up six emerging Welsh language artists – and although a lot of Welsh doesn’t always translate to directly English, we’ve included rough comparisons where we can.

ACCÜ

Nominated for the Welsh Music Prize in 2019 for their debut album Echo the Red, Dutch-Welsh musician, singer, and visual artist Accü has already established herself in the Welsh scene.  With a name deriving from the Dutch ‘accumulator’, Accü’s sound is beyond eclectic, drawing on psych-pop and electronica and making use of three languages (Dutch, Welsh, and English). Her vocal effects are mesmerising, moody, and full of textures.

ADWAITH

The core of Adwaith’s sound is delicate – vocals stacking up against moody guitar, percussive drumming, and slick bass – with intelligent changes in key and rhythm that keeps their tracks evolving. Lyrically, Adwaith (which translates to reaction) ruminate on their place in the world; the tracks are raw, heartfelt, and always emotional. The three-piece, all-women post-punk band were the winners of the prestigious Welsh Music Prize in 2019, have collaborated with James Dean Bradfield of legendary Welsh rockers the Manic Street Preachers, and For Welsh Language Music Day, they reinterpreted a traditional Welsh song “Ar Lan Y Mor” (beside the sea), appropriately showcasing a surf-rock element of their sound.

ANI GLASS

Ani Glass has been on the scene for a small while, most notably for her stint as part of The Pipettes alongside elder sister, Gwenno, back in 2008. For the last four years, she’s been in the studio working on a solo project, Mirores (the album title is a pseudonym she previously adopted). Hailing from a Welsh-Cornish background and speaking both languages, Ani’s tracks draw from dancey electro-pop, with production that’s sharp and clean, pushing shimmering vocals and bright synths to the forefront.

JAFFRO

Wil Richards, who goes under the alias Jaffro, relocated from Wales to London, but still sings the majority of his tracks in Welsh. His music isn’t really classifiable by genre, drawing on complex electronica with intricate drum patterns, dynamic synths, sparse harmonic vocals, and deep sustained basslines. “Mwy Mewn Meddwl” (roughly, “Deep in Thought”), from his 2019 album Mwy (More), uses a mandolin-ukulele ensemble and a beat from New Orleans bounce. Listening to Jaffro is an unpredictable, eccentric trip.

PYS MELYN

Over the last year, Pys Melyn (Yellow Peas) have released four well-received singles that recall Mac DeMarco’s laid-back-and-sad indie, HOMESHAKE’s lo-fi rhythm and blues, and in their latest release, a harder R&B sound incorporating rap. The tracks are all moody and contemplative, and they’re most exciting with their vocals, especially the intonation and harmony of “Bywyd Llonydd”.

SEROL SEROL

Serol Serol (Stellar Stellar) make self-defined ‘space pop Cymru’. The four-piece are comprised of two producers, Llŷr and George, and two singers, Llŷr’s cousin Mali and her other cousin Leusa. Their sound is pop-centric, the vocals light and delicate, with lyrics that feel serendipitous, flowing in and out of Welsh and English. “Aelwyd” (“Household”) captures the mystical-meets-pop sound best, layering up vocals that build over hard-hitting trap drums and glittery synths.