Feb 14, 2011

An Interview With Meilir Tomos, Welsh Singer Songwriter - Bourbon, Gravel and Cat Litter Trays

AmeriCymru: Hi Meilir, many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by AmeriCymru. Lets start with what's new. You have a release due on Feb 21st entitled - 'Cellar Songs' . I know that a great many of our readers will be eager to hear more about this .

Meilir: Cellar Songs is my latest release and my second Ep that will eventually be part of a three Ep collection. It is a record of six songs, recorded over 4 days with producer Charlie Francis. Some of the songs were close to making it on to my first release Bydd Wych but were not quite ready in time. I think this has ended up being the way it should have been, I am still very proud of Bydd Wych as a piece of musical work but I think I have made some progressions as a writer & performer with Cellar Songs. It sounds like a Meilir record if you will, but it is also different from Bydd Wych, after all there is no point making the same record again. I think the new Ep Cellar Songs is a unique record in today's music environment because I am not trying to follow any musical trend. I am just making music because it's what I love to do. Creating songs with meaning and feeling.

AmeriCymru: Can you explain the significance of the title?

Meilir: I have a small cellar or basement studio at my home were I write most of my music, all of the songs that make up Cellar Songs were composed in this room so this is how the title came to be.

AmeriCymru: I am referring to your profile ( link ) on AmeriCymru here. Why owls and why Tequila and Bourbon?

Meilir: I have been fond of owls since I can remember, as well as birds in general and all things nature, this resulted in small owl ornaments becoming a regular gift, i now have hundreds of them. The booze goes like this, when I was 16 my family moved to a small pub in North Wales, and as I was at a curious age it was obvious that the first time my parents left me home alone I was going to experiment with the vast amount of alcohol to hand. I stated with the obvious... at the pumps with the lager and bitter and was amazed at the horrid taste, this is not a poor reflection on the pub I just did not like the taste, I also doubt many do. With Bourbon there was a different story I love it and this is my drink of choice, if anyone ever wants to buy me a drink this would be a good place to start. I was introduced to Tequila at Glastonbury Festival by a good friend who plays in a band called Mother of Six, this drink is one of my weaknesses. Having said all this on occasion I can be persuaded to flirt with other drinks.

AmeriCymru: Your song 'Bydd Wych' is a firm favorite with many AmeriCymru members. Care to tell us more about it? How it came to be written?

Meilir: Bydd Wych (Be Great or Be as Good as you can) is a song that came into existence over a long time and in different ways. I first became aware of the saying Bydd Wych after a long conversation with a good friend of mine who is the singer with Mother of Six. It was him who told me of the saying & how it was maybe used before old battles by the Welsh as a last rally of the troops before engaging in battle. At the time I was writing my debut Ep and thought that it would make a good title for the Ep. Over time I wanted the opening song to be a song called Bydd Wych, I had a song that was a folk song played on the guitar with the lyrics that make up the chorus as the song is today but the song was not right, it needed to have more of an impact and be more unique. I found a thumb piano at Glastonbury festival, and when I returned home there was one pattern that I kept playing on the thumb piano and the song was written quite quickly from then on around this pattern.

AmeriCymru: I have to ask...how did you hit upon the idea of using a cat litter tray filled with gravel for percussion on this track?

Meilir: I am always looking for ways to make thinks interesting for myself & the audience. I am very interested in creating sounds from sources that might not be as conventional as people expect. The gravel idea is something I had in my mind for a long time before I managed to experiment with it. I eventually realized that I could get my hands on some gravel from an ex place of employment, lets just say that it was in abundance under my feet during cigarette breaks, I would amuse myself by making rhythmic patterns on the gravel whilst wishing I didn't have to go back to work. I filled a bag full of gravel one day and took it home, to my surprise the results were amazing the sounds that you can make work very well. But I must admit there have been more failed experiments that successes but I love the idea of using such organic earthy elements to the music.

AmeriCymru: Can you tell us a little more about 'Less Wrong'? What inspired it?

Meilir: Less Wrong comes in two parts, to be honest with you I always wondered how songs that were in two parts came to be before I wrote a two part song myself. The song was split into two parts when I had two songs developing from the same original idea. I don't like to elaborate to much on the meaning of songs that I write as they are mostly very personal & I do attempt to be a little obscure with some lyrics. I suppose that the inspiration for Less Wrong comes from different perspectives of hope & faith in part 1 & how this can go wrong in part 2.

I would not want to say more than that really or I think I would be giving far to much away. I like it when a listener can create their own narrative and imagery to a piece of music, I don't like it when everything is to obvious.

AmeriCymru: Where can our readers go to get your music online?

Meilir: To stay updated on whats going on here is facebook.com/meilir.tomos & myspace.com/meilirmusic. I sometimes post musical ideas & treats at soundcloud.com/meilirmusic You can purchase Bydd Wych at iTunes as physical copies are sold out and listen to it on Spotify. Cellar Songs will be available from spillersrecords.com & you can have it sent to america from here!!!
AmeriCymru: What's next for Meilir Tomos?

Meilir: I will be performing lots of live shows... I am planning a small tour of chapels and churches to promote the release of Cellar Songs information on this will be released soon and I will be performing at a few select festivals over the summer. I am writing material for the third Ep that I hope will be ready for release by November of this year. I have recently had my music used for a film Masterpiece by young Welsh filmmaker Andrew C. Tanner, I would love to get involved in more films. scoring music is something I am going to look into doing more. So it's more of the same but hopefully to a wider audience, It's not an easy climate for independent creative musicians but I love what I do and would not change it for anything.

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the members and readers of AmeriCymru?

Meilir: Order your copy of Cellar Songs from spillersrecords.com from Monday 21st February... there it is the hard sell, thank you in advance if you do get a copy. With any luck I might get the chance to come and play over in America some time soon see you then...

Bydd Wych

Interview by Ceri Shaw Email

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