SXSW Interview: Adwaith

There has been a real swell of interesting Welsh language music making its way across the Severn recently, and one of the bands spearheading the charge have been Carmarthen trio Adwaith. They were one of seven acts selected to perform at FOCUS Wales’ SXSW showcase stage and we caught up with vocalist/guitarist Hollie and bass player Gwenllian for a virtual chat after their set had aired.

How’s your bizarre lock down South by South West been so far?

G: Yeah, not as good as maybe it would have been if we went out there, but as good as it can be in lockdown I guess.

H: Yeah, we’ve been really grateful that they’ve been able to pull this together and still give us the opportunity to play to a whole new audience that we wouldn’t have otherwise, so it’s great that they’ve done this and sorted it out.

Your ser was part of the Focus Wales Showcase – How did you get involved with them?

G: They have an international showcase festival that they host in Wrexham every year. We’ve played that festival maybe three or four times. And Andy, who runs it has been helping Gruff our manager, trying to get us to a new audience and he knows a lot of people. He’s been really helping us with getting us some awesome opportunities so yeah, we’re really grateful to him.

Had it been actually happening where we’re supposed to be would that have been your first time out in the states playing?

G: Yeah, it would have been. It’s always somewhere we wanted to play, hopefully we can go back next year. But yeah, we’d love to do a tour of the states. That would be awesome.

Your showcase went out at about midnight last night UK time, have you got any kind of idea of what the reception has been like?

G: I think it was pretty good. You saw a lot of people doing Instagram stories and loads of people on Twitter reacting to it as well. Yeah, I don’t know if it would have had a bit more traction maybe it was on a bit earlier, but obviously we can’t control that. We can’t control the time difference.

I guess you’re hoping that a lot of people are going to be watching aren’t going to be in this time zone anyway, so…

H: It give us a wider reach as well. You know. People can buy tickets from all over the world now and be able to tune in and not have to be there in real life. I think that’s pretty cool.

The showcase was an interesting mix as well – I can only really judge by our inbox, but there seems to be a lot more really interesting Welsh music that’s getting out there. I’m sure it was it was there before and maybe not making it out of local scenes, but we seem to be getting absolutely loads. (Adwaith’s label) Libertino in particular send us fantastic stuff on a regular basis. But yeah, there does seem to be more getting out beyond the beyond the border at the moment.

G: Most of our audience really is outside of Wales, I’d say – I think about 75% or 80% of our vinyl sold outside of Wales. That was a big shock to us because, you know, we started writing music in Welsh, we never thought that it would have that much of a reach outside of Wales. We have people who’ve properly lapped it up and we’ve played gigs abroad and people just love it as something that they probably never come across before. It’s something really interesting to them, which is super cool.

Going back to the showcase itself, in that big empty theatre (Theatr Clwyd) onstage, what was it like recording in that sort of space with nobody in the audience?

H: Yeah it was a very surreal experience and quite strange vibes, quite eerie. But it was also quite iconic at the same time. Looking back at the recording, the pictures and stuff, I feel like it captures the time of Corona really well.

G: Yeah, we’d definitely like to look back at it in a few years’ time and just remember the feelings of just being there. It does kind of capture the time really well. But it was really weird to play to like 5 people. Very strange.

And how are things going in terms of the chance of opening up and playing in front of an audience in Wales?

G: It’s really hard to tell, because if things stay somewhat socially distanced I feel like a lot of smaller venues are either going to have to charge a lot more or not be able to put gigs on because everyone’s going to be sitting at tables and you can’t get full capacity. I don’t really know what it’s going to go back to or when we’re going to go back to it, really. It feels like we’ve been through this same question over and over again for the past year

H: Fingers crossed though.

Have you been able to checkout very much else at the festival?

G: I’m really like an early bed kind of woman – bed at 9, cup of chamomile tea. You won’t see me past ten these days.  But yeah, I did watch the Focus Wales one, which was amazing.

It’s a really weird collection when you trawl through it all as I have done. It’s really just the strangest mix – the music all sort of makes sense, but then you’ve got George W Bush doing a talk about his new book and then the next thing on is somebody talking about the legalisation of cannabis in the US and then the next thing is, you know, NASA.

H: I can only imagine how amazing it is in real life. Being able to go to all these different talks and see all these different types of music. I just can’t even imagine how amazing and educating it is. A real life experience as well.

G: Yeah, it’s kind of a different thing when you’re there, you know. When you’re there you’re like “I want to take advantage of being here and go and see every single thing that I can,” then go from one place to another, to another, to another and just not stop really. So it’s a shame we can’t do that this year.

Do you think there’s likely to be a chance of going next year too?

G: I don’t know. It’s quite hard because obviously a lot of people haven’t had the chance to go out there and play – I don’t know if they’d count this year as playing and we’re not allowed to play next year or something I don’t know.  I really hope so, it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and it’s something that we’ve been talking about and kind of was one of our goals for like years, like “I would love to play South by SouthWest”, so hopefully – I’ve got everything crossed.

Outside of these few days of an online festival, what’s coming up with the rest of the year?

G: Album number two will be out this year. We’ve just had the first mixes back. We’re super duper excited to release it. It feels like it’s been ages since Melyn, like years and years and years. We’re working on music videos and got some photos done the other day and we’re just kind of getting everything together, which is very exciting.

H: Yeah, we really want to make it work around the album this time and have everything connected and I think this time off has given us the hindsight to plan things better for this album. We’re going all steam ahead for it, and we’re really excited for people to hear it.

Hopefully by the time it’s out, there might be a chance to get out there and play some shows with it as well.

G: I mean would be great to tour it. That would be ideal.

Follow Adwaith on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

FOCUS Wales 2021 takes place from 7th-9th October in Wrexham – get the latest line-up and ticket news here.

SXSW 2022 has been announced for 11th-20th March – get all the latest details at sxsw.com

Interview by Paul Maps
Photography by Steve Davies at Film Cafe & FOCUS Wales

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