RECORDIAU RHYS MWYN 7-10pm Monday’s BBC RADIO CYMRU
When I was invited by BBC Radio Cymru to present the Monday evening show back in 2016, the basic aim of the show was to reach listeners broadly in the 30-50 age group who had grown up listening to bands like Super Furry Animals, Catatonia and Gorky’s and the show was promoted as featuring music mainly from the 1980’s and 90’s.
The 80’s and 90’s basically covers the Welsh Underground scene that spawned Datblygu, Cyrff, Tynal Tywyll. Llwybr Llaethog etc in the mid-80’s. The second wave of bands like Crumblowers, U Thant and Ffa Coffi Pawb would be obvious candidates for airplay as would the whole ‘Cwl Cymru’ period taking us up into the 2000’s and the turn of the Millennium.
The first ever show back in April 2016 kicked off with Gwefrau Miss America, Jess Glaw ‘91’ and Cast Alright. Those three tracks being bang in the middle of our ‘target’. Initially the three hour show was divided into the first hour being a ‘drive time’ hour – basically banging tunes from guitars to dance / House – a Welsh version of 6Music, fast paced. The second hour usually featured a guest and we’d go into a little bit more depth about an album or some aspect of the scene. Finally, the final hour 9-10pm I always thought of (and still do) as being a little bit more of a ‘Whistle Test’ hour – where we take our foot off the pedal slightly and maybe play album tracks and open things up a bit with Soul, Jazz, Funk, Blues, Southern Soul etc etc
Without making a song and dance about things, the hope is always that we play good music and that the music speaks for itself. I try not to ramble too much. Just get on with the music!!!!!!
Going back to the first ever show – in the final hour we featured a compilation LP called ‘Yn Dawel Hyd Nawr’ which included artists like Heather Jones, Pal, Astronot and Geraint Lovgreen. The album was released on the Welshpool based label ‘Legless’ back in 1980 and was recorded up at the iconic Foel Studio in Llanfair Caereinion. Heather and Lovgreen sat in with me as guests, we reminisced about the album, very chilled, very late night. For me this was exactly what I wanted to do with the show – talk music, but find a very obscure album with a great story. Part education, part record collector – very Whistle Test.
I don’t do ‘interviews’ on the show – we just ‘chat’. In my head I imagine people at home having supper or a cup of tea. (Others obviously in the car stuck on the M4 maybe). And we are all chatting and listening to the tunes. No talking at them. No bombardment of facts. We always come back to the same thing – just let the music speak. Dyl Wyn my producer told me at the top of the first ever show ‘remember to smile on the radio’ – this has stuck with me ever since. We talk of ‘friends of the show, ‘Cymuned Nos Lun’, the Monday evening community where all are welcome – we are all friends and family – that is with me every second of every show.
And being ‘Rhys Mwyn’ things can be ‘edgy’ at times but never contrived – we have shows that turn out to be quite funny, others maybe being more edgy and provocative but on the whole, I am most satisfied when I think we got the music playlist or running order right on the night. There is a small side of me that thinks each week that if I play something the Datblygu ffans won’t like then I’m doing my job. But hardly a week passes without playing Datblygu.
I want everybody to trust in the show – to know each week will be a good one – but I never want the audience to fully know what they are going to get. The element of surprise, discovery and challenge has to be there along with the comfort food of Rings Around The World, Y Teimlad or Cymru, Lloegr a Llanrwst.
Maybe for me the biggest challenge during the first couple of years was the delicate balance of keeping my musical credibility (oh yeahhh ???) and not re-writing history. For example you’d expect Ffa Coffi Pawb or Cyrff to get more airplay than say bands like Edrych am Julia or someone more electronic like Plant Bach Ofnus.
Ffa Coffi and Cyrff were far more popular in their day and I wanted the show to reflect that. But then each week we’d have a feature with a track off a 7” vinyl record where you would play Edrych am Julia or Plant Bach Ofnus within a broader context.
I love to play proper early electro by artists such as Malcolm Neon but you can’t have three hours of that, you have to give them (our audience) the tunes, you have to keep them with us – so we’ll always have a strong smattering of Cyrff (or Mr) type tracks each week. Each track has to count. No fillers that for sure. My name is on the tin and I want to believe in every thing that I play on that show. But within context – sure we can play some obscure electro alongside some heavy Blues.
I don’t see us as a ‘John Peel’ type show at all. We don’t play tracks because they ‘exist’ or because they have just been ‘released’. We don’t play ‘out of time and out of tune’ because it’s some kind of ‘Art Statement’. We curate each show with the aim of taking the audience on a musical adventure – it’s more from the heart than you’d think to be honest – again let the music speak.
And do we champion new bands? Of course we do. Adwaith, Ani Glass, Parisa Fouladi, Cerys Hafana, Alun Gaffey and Roughion are a few recent examples where we play them a lot because they are really good. And do we re-discover old bands? Of course we do. I’ve re-discovered wonderful tracks by JIP and Endaf Emlyn – the funky stuff and some classic Disco tracks by Bando. There are forgotten gems by Edward H out there and they get in on the show now with increasing regularity. Keep moving, never stay still.
Broadly speaking the 80’s and 90’s may still feature heavily on the show, but so do the 2000’s and so does Punk from the 1970’s. Mary Hopkin sits comfortably alongside Cerys Hafana and this makes me very happy indeed.
See you on Mondays!!