Afiach! the Welsh language scene – update and new venue
This year Iâve done three tours as Efa Supertramp. One was around the UK, another in Western Europe and one in the Balkans. Each tour was very different and every gig unique. The promoters and punters I met along the way were all equally inspiring. I played in so many different squats and autonomous spaces – the creative stimulation was constant. The DIY attitude which exists all across, from London to Sofia, is an inspiration.
People look after you when you play gigs on the continent. They feed you, give you beer and pay you well. Often in the UK you can be paid fuck all and still made to feel like you should be grateful for the opportunity to play!
Throughout the year Iâve played with some wicked people and some super-dedicated bands! When I returned to Wales, there was only really one thing I could do. I started putting gigs on, started a label and started running a distro, all under the name âAFIACHâ. For me it just makes sense if youâre a touring musician to repay the favour when youâre home – feed the acts well and make them feel comfortable, you never know what kind of shitty gig they might have had the night before!
The venue Iâm putting gigs on at is a self-governing art space called The Wells Hotel. Itâs only a small place, but the aim is that Afiach gigs are different â the entry fee is always a âsuggested donationâ rather than a fixed price, and we encourage participating rather than merely spectating. We invite artists to show their work, or paint murals on the walls. We cook a big pot of vegan curry and encourage people to eat together. We try and get someone to launch a new fanzine at every night and I consciously try and make sure my line ups donât just include middle-class, English-speaking, white males. Itâs important to give a voice to minorities in our community.
The label side for me is a chance to release radical music made through the Welsh language. It is not really intended for a Welsh audience but as a representation of what is happening here to those outside of Wales. You donât need to understand our language to understand our anger! When I play live, I always play some songs in Welsh, it doesnât matter which country Iâm in. I am passionate about minority languages and think people should encourage their use!
The first release on Afiach, âCYMRU aFiACHâ will be out before Christmas and is a compilation of songs full of attitude by our radical and angry artists! The CD will come with a free zine in English so those who donât understand Welsh can know a bit about the artists and what theyâre singing about! This compilation also serves as a reaction to the âSRGâ (Welsh language rock scene) â a scene that has long fizzled out and which bores me beyond belief. Most bands that sing in Welsh in 2012 make me want to puke. Pretty little indie boys with nice guitars, nothing to say and no attitude whatsoever! You could say that singing in Welsh is a protest in itself, but itâs not enough! Itâs all too comfortable and easy these days.. something needs shaking up! Thatâs what Afiach is here to do!
Across the planet there are injustices, big and small happening everydayâ¦ It pisses me off that hardly anyone has anything to say about it in my mother tongue! Why arenât more people angry about the continued repression of small languages and cultures from Wales, to the Basque country to Palestine!? Or about the loss of diversity which comes as a result of globalization? And the constant growth of capitalism, a system which relies on inequality and exploitation to work!? Everyone is too distracted by jobs, TV and shopping to care, let along sing about these kinds of things!
âCYMRU aFiACHâ will include everything but pretty indie boys with nothing to say – punk (Radio Rhydd); Hip Hop (Afal Drwg Efa & Crav Llibertat); Electro (Cyrion & Efa); Acoustic (Efa Supertramp) and DrumânâBass (Wuw and Lembo).
Afiach is still in early stages, but the support and interest so far has been amazing and my enthusiasm keeps growing. I want people to think of Welsh music as something powerful and exciting again, like when bands like Anhrefn, Datblygu, Fflaps and Tystion existed.
Young band Radio Rhydd certainly show promise, their bilingual lyrics are passionate and honest. They are by far the most exciting thing to have happened to Welsh music in the past few years, they are featured on âCYMRU aFiACHâ and their first album will be out with Afiach in 2013, and though their drummer is only 15 I hope I can help them book a tour outside of Wales soon too.
I am looking for artists, bands and people who make zines to get involved with Afiach! Please donât hesitate to contact me, get involved or give me some tips! The beautiful thing with DIY is I have absolutely no idea if Iâm doing things right, I just know Iâm doing them my way but am open to suggestions and support!
Diolch! Cariad, rhyddid ac anarchiaeth!
The Wells Hotel