This coming Friday (08/02) sees the annual celebration of Welsh language music with Dydd Miwsig Cymru (Welsh Language Music Day. This is the fourth year that the event has run for and all across the country (and abroad) a whole heap of events are planned.
Last year, Hollywood actor Rhys Ifans and Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens urged fans of all genres to discover the incredible music being made in the Welsh language, while thousands of people of all ages experienced live Welsh music at events across the country and as far afield as Budapest and Brooklyn. As Huw says:
“Whatever you’re into, Dydd Miwsig Cymru is a day to help you discover music you’ll love. You may already be listening to Welsh language music, or maybe you haven’t listened to it for years. There’s incredible music of almost every genre, all being made in the Welsh language – there’s even some great playlists to share with your friends and family who may not be listening to Welsh language music. Try something and you might just find your favourite new sound.”
WLMD is also quite an important day for this writer as it has helped me discover music from my own heritage that I would never have listened to. You see I am one of those Welsh people who doesn’t speak the language (making me in some eyes worse than those from outside the country who at least have an excuse). In South Wales the language wasn’t pushed and I had no family who spoke it. The only Welsh language music I had enjoyed Super Furry Animals Mwng (and that was more to do with who the artist was behind the album than the language angle). I had the misguided view that all Welsh language music was twee, folk, light and just not as good as the sounds I was loving coming from England. I also figured that as I couldn’t understand what the words were then why bother?
Years later and a (slightly) more mature self was prompted to try Welsh language music again by my boss in Tangled Parrot. His argument, which is a very good one to be fair, was that I listened to music from Germany, Africa, Turkey etc and I couldn’t speak their languages so why not apply that to Welsh? He also persisted on getting me to listen to a band called Datblygu who he was sure I would love. He was right…..
Datblygu were everything I loved about music and I really connected with them. The record label Ankst which they are signed to had released a box set of the bands first three studio albums (Wyau / Pyst / Libertino) which contained all of lead singer David R Edwards’ lyrics translated into English. Pouring through the lyrics I was smitten. I realised that I was reading the work of a supremely talented lyricist who just so happened to live two streets away from me. After this moment my silly reservations were discarded and I have since started to really explore the Welsh language scene. It’s an odd thing as due to my position as a writer for LTW I have seen so many great releases get put out there but not seen much press coverage at all. The wonderful Adwaith who broke through last year had some coverage but even they struggled to get anyone to write about them over the bridge even with the offer of translated lyrics. It baffles me why this happens. Why are English / Scottish / Irish websites and blogs etc (even ones I hugely admire who cover all kinds of music from the avant-garde to folk and whose readers I would regard as very open minded) so against covering Welsh language music? There also seems to be a real lack of coverage in Wales itself with only a few media personalities pushing the cause. The scene is really exploding right now but where are the writers / DJs who should be covering it? Only they can answer that really.
Dydd Miwsig Cymru is a vital day in the calendar and I really hope it opens more peoples minds and hearts to the music being created in my country. If you are reading this, do one favour and listen to just one Welsh language album online. There’s plenty out there to chose from.
There are a whole heap of free events planned for the day plus a full playlist so visit the official website for further details. You can also follow the day on Facebook Instagram and Twitter @DyddMiwisgCymru