Gwenno's 2015 release Y Dydd Olaf has her described by Pitchfork as "a visionary of synth-pop moods and textures". After singing with the Pipettes, playing keys for Elton John, dancing in Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance productions, and playing in Welsh soap operas, she flies to Perth to perform at Mojos, 8th of October. She spoke with Cool Perth Nights ahead of her arrival.
CPN: Hello lovely Gwenno. It's wonderful that you're coming to Perth to sing your deep songs and bring pleasure and maybe even some small change to the spirit of our city.
Could you tell us if you're coming with other musicians, and if so, how you chose them?
Gwenno: It'll be myself and my husband, and producer of my album, Y Dydd Olaf, Rhys Edwards. I vary how I play things live depending on the gig, and we're very much looking forward to making a lot of noise as a duo when we play Perth!
When I listen to your songs a beautiful thing happens - as an English speaker it's one time when I'm outside what is being sung. Most of what I listen to reminds me unconsciously that I'm on the top of the 'pyramid of privilege', second from the top, as a white European-y female with English as first my first language. Of course, it's an illusory pyramid - we can't even breathe without trees. Everything's above us - bees, rivers, the moon. Humans aren't above anything else, and people with power live an illusion of power. When you speak/sing about Revolution, what do you wish for? What system/structure/illusion-based mindframe would you most like to see crumble?
I think the main feeling that I was getting at with the song 'Chwyldro' (Revolution) was that we do, as a collective, have the power to make significant changes for the better. It's hard to remember that in a society that promotes the individual and that monitors and controls us so rigidly but there are ways for us to move forward in a positive way, we've just got to work that little bit harder to work out how!
When you sing "Come and dance in the sunset to songs which are trivial and alarming", is it because you think music is both unable and able to achieve what you wish for the world? What do you mean with this line?
I was thinking a lot about major label female-fronted electro-pop when I wrote that line. I find the genre quite fascinating in that the lyrics are generic and robotic yet incredibly emotive in how they're sung. It's as if the machine is trying to create meaning in its own making, and that is the type of music that I imagine that we would all be hearing as the world comes to an end, which is what the song, 'Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki', is about.
Photo credit: Joel Turner Photography
Many very digital images and videos accompany your music, but I have the feeling you also are not in love with the digital age… Is this right?
Not at all! I adore the digital age, it has been a constant inspiration throughout the years and has allowed me to create my art with fewer restrictions than I could've ever imagined.
Do you have any impression of Perth already?
I spent some time in Perth a few years back now and got to do a bit of wandering around. The Art Gallery of Western Australia was a wonderful place and had a fascinating exhibition on of Modern Aboriginal Art which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I'm very much looking forward to visiting again to see what's on this time. We don't have an art gallery of that scale, or (criminally) a museum of modern art in Wales so it's always a real treat to visit anywhere that does.
How does it feel to play your own music on stage after being part of other groups - The Pipettes, Elton John's band etc?
I've had a brilliant experience playing in other bands and with incredible musicians over the years, and I very much enjoy collaborating with other artist. There is so much to take from learning from others and from creating your own work from scratch. They feed into each other for me.
Tix are still available to Gwenno at Mojo's Bar October 8, find yours here!