meryl jones

Earlier this year a gorgeous, baroque, oddball record came out by Welshman Meilyr Jones, formerly of Racehorses repute. The album entitled 2013, was written during a sabbatical in Rome Jones took that very year. In its many rotations on my record player, 2013 continues to stun me, and will certainly be high up on my year-end list. While I still eagerly await Jones to tour the U.S., the best I can do is envy his U.K. fanbase, as he’s just added a handful of tour dates to his schedule. Oh, and I guess I could ask him about God, his Grandmother, and the pros/cons of the contemporary music industry. Read on!

Audiofemme: You’ve spoken at length about the impact of your trip to Rome. Do you have plans for returning? If so how do you think the experience will differ or affect your creativity? 

Meilyr Jones: That’s interesting. I will return but I have no idea what will happen. That is the magic of the place.

You recorded 2013 on a fairly tight budget – youʼd never know it from listening – yet you still managed to feature a 30 piece orchestra as well as some unexpected instruments. What would you dream of doing if money were no object in the studio?

I think I like the fact that music/art and what you make doesn’t scale up with money. 
I’d probably end up making a 4-track record with a small group of people. Haha. Part of the fun was not needing a big industrial model to achieve things. I am really firm in that. Imagination, support, and passion can achieve things of big scale. I was lucky to meet so many able, and kind and talented people that I worked with. It wasn’t an already put-together orchestra; I brought the group together with help from my friends.

Looking back what are you most proud of with regards to this record? 

I am most proud of my determination to complete it.

How has Welsh culture influenced your music or your way of approaching your craft? Do you feel a lot of solidarity with other Welsh artists?

I feel very lucky to have grown up in Wales and very fortunate to have bands such as Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci around when I was growing up, who were from down the road in Pembrokeshire. I saw them when they came to the Student’s Union in Aberystwyth. There’s a lot of fun in their music as well as an uncompromising and individual attitude and freedom, I and other bands in Wales were lucky to grow up with that around as an example. I was also lucky to grow up with the Eisteddfod in a way, and Welsh poetry. There was also Ankst Music which was a record label and management company who worked with Super Furry Animals and put out SFA, Datblygu and Gorky’s records who fostered a certain kind of ethos. So from all angles, good.

You clearly have a lot of passion for and knowledge of the fine art world…if music wasn’t your profession what would it be? Perhaps painting or sculpting?

I love it, but I have no skills or much of an aptitude for drawing or sculpture I don’t think. I can’t imagine not doing music. It’s the most natural thing in the world. Perhaps I would be a gardener or something.

There seems to be some discussion about authenticity in art on the record, particularly with the opening track. What does your idea of an authentic artist/work of art look like? Is there such a thing?

I think it will always take a different shape. But something you feel, that makes you want to return to it, that a work of art grows and moves you. Maybe sometimes first by remembering, then revisiting it.

As an artist, what is the greatest thing about the contemporary music industry? The worst thing? Why?

The best thing is the breakdown of it, and the fact that there is less of an attraction for big companies so there is less of a hold. The hard thing is the self-consciousness because there is so much history that we are always around. I think that our history is the best thing and the hardest.

Youʼve worked with a lot of incredible musicians in the past – your own band Racehorses, Cate Le Bon, Gruff Rhys…if you could collaborate with any living musician who would it be?

Kate Bush.

I read in an interview that you consider yourself a religious person. Would you mind expanding on that? What does religion and/or God mean to you?

I’m not sure exactly. I think there is a lot of wisdom in the past that is lacking now, also a dominance of reason and the physical/visual. I certainly believe in more than chaos, and feel more than just what I can see.

2013 suggests quite a bit of Romantic and Classical influence and I know you have a lot of affection for poets, artists, and composers of those eras, but who are some contemporary musicians that you admire? 

I like Neil Young and also Serafina Steer.

Iʼm curious about something you mentioned in an interview about your grandmother being a huge source of inspiration for you. Can you tell us why?

Yes. She was full of excitement. She was imaginative and musical and encouraging. Also the character in the way she played the piano came from a different time – wartime and a mix of Welsh chapel music…it’s hard to describe the combination, but I remember it distinctively. She was a link to a past with a really clear and warm feeling. The ‘30s and ‘40s in music…

I loved learning about your reading Hector Berliozʼs autobiography, and the intense passion with which he experienced all forms of art. Sometimes I feel like modern- day audiences or “listeners” are far less engaged in the music they are surrounded by – it is merely background music and no one has the time to listen to an album in full. What is your take on this? How do you reconcile with that as an avid an active artist and art appreciator alike?

That’s a really good question. I find it hard to listen to albums. I think slowing down the pace of life, or at least spending more time doing things without too much of an intention is important. If you see everything as a goal to be achieved, things can’t grow or seep in. When you are a teenager and have fewer expectations it’s easier for things to grow on you, and to be open to listening to things I think. I think we expect to be won over in 10 seconds or we’re on to the next thing. Maybe that’s why a lot of contemporary art is quite bold, and pop music is getting harder and more reactive because the impact is more valued than growing.

A lighter question to follow that one: what instrument are you eager to learn, and why? 

Haha. I’d like to learn the violin. I’ve never learned an instrument with a bow.

What other aspects of the music industry would you like to someday tackle? Are you interested in production? Film scores? Musical theater?

I’m not interested in production so much. But continue to do what I’m excited about, wherever that takes me.

Lastly: any plans to tour the U.S.? Weʼre dying to see you live!

Yes! I’m making sorts of plans at the moment for it. I hope to be with you soon.

Check out the video for Meilyr Jones’ “Strange/Emotional” below!

LIVE REVIEW: 4Knots Festival Highlights


While last year’s 4Knots was downtown and gratis, the updated version boasts an impressive list of food vendors, top notch sound quality, and a killer lineup. And though you have to shell out a lot more than nothing this time ‘round, rest assured that all proceeds go to benefit Hudson River Park itself.




As you can see from our interview with the Grand Rapids trio, these boys are straightforward and approachable as human beings as well as musicians. They play psych rock straight up. Their set was incredibly tight and focused. It’s always interesting for a band’s sound to be so raucous and raw and their composure so stoic and professional. Guitarist/vocalist Andrew Tamlyn, drummer Joshua Korf, and bassist/vocalist Nolan Kreb all look like they could be in three different bands, but they sure as hell sound like one. Despite a little pestilence from a “Free Bird!” shouting audience member, the crowd loved them, and so did I.




In my opinion the most surprising act of the evening, Los Angeles-based Meatbodies kicked ass. It’s a pedestrian description, but an accurate one. They’re a shambolic bunch whose stage banter is far from sophisticated and all the better for it. “We’re sorry we’re sick. We ate too much cheese last night. We’re sick on cheeeeeeeeeese!!!!!” they shout out phlegmy throats. Lead man Chad Ubovich is freakishly talented, and when you consider his resume it makes sense; he was long the lead guitarist for Mikal Cronin and currently plays bass in Fuzz. Each Meat Body has palpable chops, but Ubovich is a real showman and potentially a savant; his solos are wild and wailing, seeming at once impossible and effortless. As his guitar squeals his eyes roll back in his head and his mouth twitches in unembarrassed focus. The lot of them come off like your shithead little brother – that all your friends would rather hang out with.




You may have noticed by now that we’re a bit hung up on Happyness, and that won’t be changing anytime soon. They play a familiar set-at least to someone who’s seen them three times in the past couple of months-but it never grows stale. The thing that continues to surprise and delight me about these boys is that despite their all-too-clever lyrics and flippant interview responses, they perform with an intense and joyous sincerity. Drummer Ash Cooper, though only in his early twenties, comes off like a seasoned jazz session man, mouthing each brush on the high hat, squinting and smiling in a surely unconscious way. Benji Compston and Jonny Allan do all the talking to the crowd, but as a trio they seem to be speaking to each other with a ease and professionalism that typically marks bands who’ve been together much longer than they.



Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks:

I’ve been looking for Stephen Malkmus all night. Was he in the crow’s nest? Aboard the artists’ lounge? Catching some shade under that enormous prop Deep Eddy Vodka bottle tethered to the bow of the boat? He’d managed to escape my searching eyes until the moment he stepped out from behind the stage (I’m convinced I was the first person to see him). “Hello photographer people” he mutters and leans over the photo pit a bit self-consciously. The Jicks are on the edge of their first song when a resounding ferry horn honks. “Even ships fart,” Malkmus quips, proving he’s still the easily humored dude he’s always been. The band played the bulk of 2014’s Wig Out at Jagbags but no Pavement managed to creep into their set. (I can dream, can’t I?) A particular show high-point peaked during “Freeze The Saints” when Malkmus sauntered over to guitarist/keyboardist Mike Clark to join him on the keys. They plunked away side by side until Malkmus turned to Clark, stating dryly: “You’re stepping on me, bro.”



Super Furry Animals:

It’s only fitting that the Super Furries would headline, seeing as they’ve been on hiatus for half a decade. I know that the stage set up won’t be demure (knowing them, and how long it takes for them to come onstage) but I have read the yeti costumes are destroyed, and will therefore not make an appearance this tour. They too find amusement in the ferry horns, pausing after the first and maniacally shouting back at it. SFA fans are not fainthearted, and there is a flock of them. They play all the favorites, mine being “Juxtaposed With You” simply for how much it stands away from their catalog. Their set is long and solid, but of course they deliver a generous encore. And despite all the talk, they play it in yeti suits after all.

ARTIST INTERVIEW: Huw Bunford of Super Furry Animals


“I keep forgetting I’m on a boat!” Huw Bunford, lead guitarist of Wales’ Super Furry Animals, is sitting in a booth on the Hornblower Infinity, 4 Knots’s designated artists lounge for the one-day festival on Pier 84. “Sorry, I just saw the horizon go up and down (laughs).” It is mildly unsettling trying to hold composure for an interview while feeling the slightest swells rock us left and right. All around are musicians snacking on buffet cheeses and crackers, chatting and ordering drinks from the bar. In all honesty, I keep forgetting we’re on a boat too.

Bunford, or as he cordially introduces himself, “Bunf,” is soft spoken, gracious, and exceedingly kind. These are not three adjectives that leap to mind when one imagines a rock star who’s been in the biz twenty-odd years. There’s a lot more ease about him – a casual uncertainty regarding the future that typically marks bands in their first year. Perhaps it’s the well-rested temperament of a man whose band has just emerged from a six-year hiatus.

Super Furry Animals are not only touring again for the first time since 2009, they’re also riding high on the deluxe edition rerelease of their 2000 album Mwng (pronounced Mung as I learned the hard way). The record, sung entirely in Welsh, was anomalous not only to the band (all prior recordings were in English) but also to the U.K. music industry of the time, which was strongly steeped in Britpop.  But as opposed to the Beatle-ific, Kink-centric nods from contemporaries such as Oasis and Blur, Super Furry Animals took on everything from funk to psychedelic, to space rock. Their diverse sonic anatomy makes it difficult to solder them to any specific time period – which may be why a reissue and a resurrection is so appropriate.

Bunf was kind enough to take the time to answer a few pressing questions, and chat about iTunes, wltimate painting, and SFA’s biggest fan.

AudioFemme: Welcome back to New York!

Huw Bunford: Thank you.

AF: So you’re back from a hiatus, you just played Glastonbury, and you’ve reissued Mwng after 15 years; what’s it like touring together as a band now? Is there a different dynamic?

HB: No. It’s strange really, it’s just like none of us have been away. It’s a very bizarre feeling. Before we did Glastonbury we did a short tour just to publicize Mwng really-the reissue-and there were about eight dates around Britain, and that was the first time we’d played for six years and we rehearsed before it and Cian [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Ciaran: keyboards, synths, etc] said when he walked in the first day, he looked in and our roadies had set up everything exactly as we’d remembered.

AF: It’s like when you talk to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while and it’s as if no time has passed.

HB: Yeah, it’s very strange.

AF: What was it about Mwng in particular that you wanted to rerelease it instead of other records in your archive?

HB: Well, one thing about this is that there was no plan, it’s quite shambolic, a super loose idea where we had a few record companies like Sony and Domino who mentioned doing it years ago, and we sort of just never got our shit together and sorted it out. And then for some reason a year ago a guy from Domino bumped into Gruff [Rhys: lead vocals, guitar] and said “oh, we never did get that reissue….”

AF: I’ve read about it and I love that you all just say “oh we just forgot….”

HB: (laughs) Yeah, basically we were all just like (looks quizzical) “oh yeah….” But it just seemed right at the time. The idea of [reissuing] Mwng came out and Domino really jumped on it and was really amazing, and they made a really nice pressing. And Kliph Spurlock, who used to be the drummer for Flaming Lips is a massive fan-

AF: I would assume that the Flaming Lips may have been a fan of yours…

HB: Yeah, Kliph is, he’s a superfan. I first saw him in a gig in Lawrence, Kansas and I didn’t know who he was and he knew all the songs, all air drumming. So he then compiled a lot of outtakes and ATPs of Mwng so [the reissue] has about six sides. So that was worth pushing…worth doing something around it.

AF: I know one of the defining features of Mwng is that it’s sung entirely in Welsh. Looking back do you feel like that’s made a mark on contemporary Welsh music? Is it a thriving tradition or kind of an oddity?

HB: No, no, Wales has got a thriving musical scene, the Welsh language has its own radio station, and a lot of quite amazing bands really…a lot of young bands that really hold their own against anybody. And it’s healthy, you know, it’s not contrived I don’t think in any way, even though it’s a language that you might not associate with pop music, but it doesn’t matter really. In the end in a way, ironically, when we finally played America it was only when we came back and toured Mwng that’s when audiences in America thought ‘oh, these aren’t Britpop then’ because we’d been slightly lumped in by association.

AF: Which is so funny to me because I could not think of a further diversion from Britpop…

HB: It’s probably just because Creation [Records] and Oasis were out then and we came out then…I could see why people would sometimes think it…but not when they heard us (laughs). Once we started playing they were like “Oh, no, right.”

AF: What are you listening to now? Are there any new bands that you’re excited about or do you just go to the classics?

HB: Yeah, I like some new ones. Have you heard of Ultimate Painting?

AF: Yeah! They’re fantastic!

HB: Yeah, they’re amazing. I love them. And um, Van Etten.

AF: Sharon Van Etten? She’s great.

HB: I’m kind of into Soundscapes as well, though they don’t really figure much in the Billboard 100, but yeah, it’s kind of weird…and documentaries as well…that’s what I listen to and watch really.

AF: This is actually paraphrasing something Gruff said from about 2009, but it was regarding the fact that you guys have always been a very album-centric band, and that was a time period when people really constructed albums from start to finish as a whole composition. And now we really are in this era of individual downloads. How do you feel as a band kind of in those two spaces? Do you feel like there’s even a chance for bands to have longevity anymore based on that?

HB: Well, no not really. I suppose to be cynical it’s a completely different business model now. Cuz in a way that’s how everything effects everything in the end, unfortunately. You know peoples’ habits change, technology has in a way pushed that into the way people have changed. There’s a small little niche for vinyl…it’ll never die out, because I think bands love to do albums in the end. If you’re a band you might not want to just stop at one song, even though the record company does…

AF: I know bands will continue to make albums, I just wonder if there are any bands that we listen to now that we’ll still be excited about in 15 years…that I question a lot. I hope, but I don’t know.

HB: Yeah, I know what you mean, because there might not be enough…

AF: Attention span.

HB: Yeah, it’s kinda crazy. I mean there’s so much new stuff and then you get indie music, which is almost quite generic indie music, and then you get other indie music which is really out-there indie music and you can always see subtle differences and I think that’s because there’s just more of it. And I suppose peoples’ tastes become more sophisticated. We keep getting more sophisticated with our tastes.

AF: Some of us do….

HB: Well, yeah, but when you think about it it’s inevitable. Pop will eat itself.

AF: Not to age you guys with this statement, but as a pre-internet band-

HB: Oh, yes. We’re proud of that.

AF: I’m sure, I mean I would be if I had a band. Pre-internet. But, how do you feel about streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music? It’s complicated…

HB: Well, yeah, it is. It’s a minefield really isn’t it? Some bands like U2 totally missed the point spectacularly and put out everything on iTunes and get a separate contracted deal with Ttunes for a zillion pounds but make it look like “hey, we’re giving it away!” and it’s a lot of massive bands that do that, so it must be quite difficult for bands who are starting out now if the precedent is: ‘give it away and something might happen’ it’s a very upside down business plan. You can embrace it as a way of getting something out there. When we were around starting, you’d have to have a press officer, you’d have to have an agency, all these kinds of things which were all parasitic of the record company, but they needed them to be there and the whole apparatus would work and you’d get onto morning shows and TV shows. But now that’s all out the window. I think that people were just too slow to realize it…if you stand still in this game you die.

AF: Yeah and once your standing you’re not even there for that long.

HB: Yeah. That’s hard.

AF: I’ve read interviewers ask you guys about how having kids has affected your careers, but I’m curious to know how you guys have affected your kids with music. What kind of stuff are they listening to?

HB: Well now they’re just about getting to that age where they can really see what we did. Before they were a bit too young. They didn’t get it. So now they kind of, my kids are beginning to see that.

AF: Are they like ‘dad’s cool’ or are they kind of embarrassed?

HB: Yeaaaah, my kid’s eight-they’re all under 10 so still young, but you know, they don’t have any qualms saying ‘my dad’s a rock star’ to the milkman or something like that (laughs) that’s what they see, you know. But it’s funny you know, you try and downplay it but it’s sweet.

AF: I guess my last question would be, what’s next for you guys? A new album?

HB: Yeah, it’s just super loose. We don’t know. We’re taking it a week at a time. Well, not really, we’re doing almost like a festival tour up until the end of the season really. And then after that we’ll do something next year like the festivals and some of the things we didn’t get a chance to do, and that’s about as far as we’ve really stuck our necks out. But it’s good; it’s a nice feeling.

AF: But that’s nice, not being stressed out.

HB: Like I said, you know, people don’t really listen to albums anyway, so wha’ts the point of writing one? (Laughs)

AF: I do!!!





FESTIVAL PREVIEW: The 5th Annual 4Knots Music Festival – Our Top Picks


4Knots set times

The 5th annual 4Knots Music Festival approaches. Held Saturday, July 11 at Pier 84, this year brings performances from Welsh psych-stars Super Furry Animals and Portland rockers Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks along with: Twin Peaks, Mikal Cronin, Screaming Females, Happyness, Meatbodies, Heaters, Heaven, and Surfbort. Thankfully nothing overlaps so you can see them all ’cause they all rock. I just picked the top three to talk about that at this point in my existence made me feel something.

1. Surfbort

These Brooklyn stinkers make some fantastic garage punk rock. First up, they’ll hit you harder than a double expresso.

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2. Twin Peaks

I used to think this band’s name was just too obvious, but the Chicago rock ‘n’ rollers won me over with their haunting and heartbreaking guitars and melody.

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3. Happyness

You can’t miss these London boys, who also make the list of  one of our favorite AudioFemme interviews of all time. My favorite part of their songs is their lyrics, in particular the highly intelligent yet playful musings on love. They just make it sound so fun!

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