April: Time To Focus Wales!
The best thing about attending a ‘Boutique‘ festival such as this is not meeting or seeing famous acts in small places, it’s ‘New Blood’ it’s discovering something that makes your ears tell your eyes ‘Watch This’ while we listen and then engage your brain to make sure that when you get home it finds these acts and makes them part of the musical fabric that winds through your life! This happened to me not once but twice at Focus Wales! The first time was a band called ‘BLOODFLOWER‘ who are like a band from the 80’s turned upside down, thrown forward in time only to find that the 21st century is hitting fast forward to rewind! The 2nd time was watching a band called ‘BLOOD LIPS’ who were a replacement for another act and are so ‘New’ they don’t even have a facespace page or any music to download… They have a clip on You Tube for ‘Hartbeats‘ with audio wrapped around the infamous Karen Black ‘Easy Rider’ Lsd clip (Watch: http://youtu.be/L-LYkBK0z0Y) This fact alone in 2014 makes them my most favourite new band because they are all mine! They are just here in my head, in my memory, I can’t listen or watch them when I want, I have got to wait until they join the digital world and I can then hear them again! How fucking analogue in a digital world is that… it’s so refreshing that I’m soaking wet…
Other notable mentions must go to STEEL TREES, ORIENT MACHINE, BASTIONS, THE READS and CAMERA who provided an audio soundtrack that needs to be heard on bigger stages not just live but radio, tv, and online, they are part of the new revolution, the next constitution, and make no mistake, there is a sound to the underground that is rising, that’s getting louder all the time. Wales is the new Seattle and this is Not the sound of DiY… This is the sound of DiT (Do it Together) 2014 is he year that things must and will change, the year when the wheel clicks forward just one cog enough to make the wheel spin out of control. I’m not an anarchist or an activist, I’m not the antichrist I just want change…
Live performers also included KIDS IN GLASS HOUSES, POLTERGEIST, GEORGIA RUTH, EUROS CHILDS, DAMO SUZUKI, HOUDINI DAX, alongside ALL WE ARE: an exciting 3 piece from Liverpool providing psychedelic soul & RnB. They recently signed to Domino affiliate Double 6 and are supporting Warpaint on tour in 2014. KEYS: They’ve had a string of critically acclaimed releases, garnering praise and support from Radio 1, 2 and 6Music’s Huw Stephens, Russell Kane, Jonathan Ross, Mark Lamarr, and Lauren Laverne. KIZZY CRAWFORD: You may recognise her as the singer of Calon Lan from BBC 6 Nations adverts, Kizzy has developed an increasing sophistication to her song writing and performance, this is complimented by her soaring voice that boasts both range and charisma. YR ODS: Pop/Alternative band originally from the Bangor/Llanberis/Llanfairpwll/Star areas of North Wales who will make you cry (of happiness).
The national showcase for music from Wales offered a two day programme of keynotes and discussions at The Catrin Finch Centre, Glyndwr University, Wrexham, on the 24th & 25th April.
Topics dealt with on Thursday 24th included an in depth discussion into ‘On-Line Platforms and the empowerment of the independent artist’. Representatives from online platforms such as SPOTIFY, BANDWAGON, and SENTRIC MUSIC talked about the shift in emphasis to ‘the empowerment of the independent artist’, with chair speaker Al Farquhar. This was followed by ‘DIY in 2014: Accessing Mainstream Media’ with Huw Stephens – BBC Radio 1 / SWN, as well as Louder Than War, Team Rock Radio, and Love & Disaster. Thursday was rounded off with a keynote speech from Creation Records and Death Disco founder ALAN McGEE, in conversation with Andrew Childs. McGee is best known for co-forming and running the independent Creation Records label (Oasis, Primal Scream, Super Furry Animals) from 1983–1999, and then Poptones from 1999-2007. He has managed and championed successful acts such as The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, Oasis, and The Libertines. He now lives in rural Wales and has started 359 records, a new venture incorporating a stock of brand new artists. As a keynote speaker he discussed his life & career and his latest book on the true story of Creation Records.
The first topic of day two was ‘DIY in 2014: Funding for Independent Music in Wales and Beyond’. John Hywel Morris presented and discussed funding support available for independent music projects with representatives from companies including PRS FOR MUSIC FOUNDATION and PLEDGE MUSIC. Appearing as part of the FOCUS Wales Interactive sessions, was representatives from all aspects of the music industry including prominent companies such as MUSIC GLUE, DIZZY JAM along with some familiar names, including CHRIS HAWKINS (BBC RADIO 6 MUSIC)
Thursday night saw POET; COMEDIAN; SOCIAL AND CULTURAL COMMENTATOR. Britain’s best loved and most important punk performance poet: JOHN COOPER CLARKE bamboozle a stunned crowds as always Further comedy came from GARY DELANEY (Mock The Week / Radio 4) and RED DWARF’S NORMAN LOVETT.