Need to know: Gwenno

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Ladies who rock have been my favorite to cover lately and the first one to kick off this excellent group is Gwenno! She is coming to the Great Scott in Allston this coming Monday and it’s sure to be for an insane show. As she talks about in our chat, it is definitely a niche genre but something that should make for an insanely gorgeous intimate performance. Read our chat below and find me in the crowd for Gwenno’s sure to be excellent gig Monday night!

Obviously you have a lot coming up! You’re about to come back over to the states for a festival and a few tour dates. The three things you must have with you while on tour? 
When I’m on tour the three things I must have with me. A good book, what else do I have to have with me? Lots of nappies for my son. Well apart from like the obvious things like having my music equipment it would probably be that.
And does your son always travel with you, that must be crazy. 
Yeah well because he’s six months old so yeah he’s with me everywhere I go.

Perfect that’s amazing then you were over here for SOuth By and you’re doing the East Coast run. Maybe the plans for those shows? Like is it going to be some new material with the record that just came out, like the reason for people to come out? 
Obviously for the shows, I’ll be playing the album which came out late last summer on Heavenly Recordings. It’s an opportunity to be playing the songs on the East Coast so that’s pretty exciting. It will be the first time I’ve done that. I’ll be playing in New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Boston. I’m playing Moog Fest as well in Durham. I don’t know, if you fancy having a listen to some Welsh dreamy electro pop with some politics and pleasure, come and see me! It’s a pretty niche genre so you know maybe if you wanted to come and watch something different, come along!

And your new record, Y Dyadd Olaf, came out the end of last summer. You have been playing music, you’ve done music before. Kind of how long was this record in the making for you. How long was the process? 
I think it kind of started probably about four years ago when I moved back to Wales because I had been living in London and Brighton as well. So I had just been living in a different country. It’s sort of evolved over time. It probably took about a couple of years and from the very beginning because I had been in a pop band. I was in The Pipettes which was kind of an indie pop band before then. So it was the first time that I had even tried to make a solo album but I think it took a little bit longer because I hadn’t really made something myself before.

And like you said, you were in The Pipettes. As a music veteran, maybe something you left behind like you didnt’ do with this project and something new you tried? Obviously it’s your first record but maybe something you learned like in the writing process that you avoided on this record? 
Something I did differently from Pipettes you mean.
I mean I think I took a lot from The Pipettes. Probably weirdly because the music I make now doesn’t sound anything like that but I still write pop songs and I think that was a big part of what we were trying to do in The Pipettes. So I think that’s probably quite similar. Even though the subject matter is slightly different and the language is different and the arrangement is different but it’s still a pop song.

Perfect and then with that record coming out for you late last summer, are you currently working on something or do you think that’s something that will still be a while away? 
Yeah, we’re working on another album now. Sort of still in the writing process and kind of taking a lot of things in. Just doing a lot of writing. I tend to read a lot and do a lot of lyric writing. I’ve been doing a bit of recording so it’s quite exciting and obviously I’ve learned a lot from all the gigs that I’ve played and I’ve been playing with bands in the UK as well. So that’s probably important for what I’m going to do next. It’s sort of evolving and we’re figuring out what direction to go into next I think.

Perfect and is it something where you kind of write by yourself? Do you ever write with other people? 
Yeah well I tend to start songs off and I write the songs and then I work with the producer, Rhys Edwards, who produced my first album. Together we sort of develop the songs but yeah I sort of start things off. I pretty much have a song in place and some sounds and then they get sort of developed. It will be interesting because I think we’ll probably be doing a bit more recording with drums and stuff like that. It doesn’t sound very exciting but it is.

Then as a softer one for you, the first CD or first cassette ou ever remember getting as a child then the first concert you can remember going to? 
Gosh, I’m trying to think. A really brilliant album that I remembered from my childhood is called Brenda Wootton who was a Cornish singer. It’s called “Children Singing” and it has this brilliant cover. It’s basically Brenda Wootton who is probably the best singer to come out of Cornwall. It was kind of music for children on vinyl and it’s brilliant. I was listening to it again because my son is young so we were listening to it. It’s not that childish but it’s really really good. That’s probably the first one I remember and first concert would have been probably when my dad took me to see The Chieftains so that was probably my first concert. That would have been when I was six or seven I think. So that was quite exciting.

Then to end it off, like I keep saying, you do have a lot coming up with coming over to the states and Moog Fest and these shows.  Kind of what’s maybe the plan for the next few months for Gwenno after these dates? 
Yeah I think just reading and writing a lot and recording music. I think that’s my main thing that I am getting excited about because even though I’ve got some shows, you do it in phases really. I think always as an artist it’s vital really that you’re listening to other music and reading books and watching films and all of these things. I think that for me personally, I’m inspired by what other people do. So I’m in that kind of mode at the moment and it’s great. I feel really inspired.

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Colleen has been writing about music since 2009. Interviewing bands since the glory days of Warped and has continued to do so for now over fourteen years. As well as doing freelance for other publications, the love for everything rock continues today.

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