PLANETARY GROUP PRESENTS: FOCUS WALES 2023 SXSW SHOWCASE
Join the team behind the FOCUS Wales festival at The Creek & The Cave, Austin, TX on Thursday, March 16th from 7:30pm for complimentary drinks and networking (arrive early to avoid missing out), followed by a sampling of the best in new Welsh music at 8:00pm.
In partnership with Wales Arts International, Creative Wales, and the Welsh Government office in North America, FOCUS Wales will present a selection of the best new Welsh artists at SXSW 2023 in Austin, Texas! You can find more information HERE.
RSVP entry only valid with SXSW accreditation
While SXSW festival goers may still access the venue without an RSVP, an RSVP is required for the complimentary drinks from 7:30pm until they run out, so arrive early to avoid missing out!
Introducing the FOCUS Wales @ SXSW showcase schedule:
8:50pm EDIE BENS
9:40pm THE TRIALS OF CATO
10:30pm N’FAMADY KOUYATE
01:00am PANIC SHACK
7:30pm FOCUS Wales Drinks Mixer in the front bar!
MEET THE 2023 FOCUS WALES X SXSW ARTISTS:
(Download hi-res CHROMA press photo HERE)
CHROMA is a bi-lingual, alt-rock band from Pontypridd. With support from Festival Republic and PRSF, CHROMA spent lockdown recording their debut album Ask For Angela which is due for release in October 2023 on Alcopop! Records.
Influenced by the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and The Gossip, CHROMA have received radio support from BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music, Kerrang! Radio,Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru and ongoing support from BBC Introducing.
CHROMA have played festivals such as Reading & Leeds Festival, BBC Radio 1’s Biggest Weekend, FOCUS Wales and Festival Number 6 along with European festival appearances in Barcelona and Brittany. They've also played sold-out shows all over the UK with the likes of IDLES, Peace, VANT and Tigercub.
The band closed a successful (pre-pandemic) 2019, with a notable appearance at Maida Vale Studios, recording a live session for BBC Radio Wales which later got picked up by Radio 1 and played on air.
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(Download hi-res Edie Bens press photo HERE)
Welsh singer-songwriter Edie Bens grew up on a farm near Swansea with a pet owl and the world's largest dog (Guinness Book of Records official), finding solace in songwriting and playing in local pubs. Now, Edie has become one of the most hotly tipped emerging artists, signing to Glassnote Records and garnering support from the likes of BBC Introducing, Greg James and Tom Walker, as well as Matt Edmondson & Mollie King who she recently joined on BBC Radio 1 as "one of the best" interviewees they've ever had.
Inspired by the great stars of Alternative and Country music, on her debut EP Edie has taken memories from the past few years of touring and falling in and out of love and weaved them into captivating stories with meticulous songwriting and emotional depth which makes you feel like you’re watching them unfold in front of your eyes.
Edie has spent the last year collaborating with the likes of Flyte, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Josh Scarbrow (Arlo Parks), Jonny Coffer (FKA Twigs) & Burke Reid (Courtney Barnett), and touring across the UK including support slots with Tom Chaplin, Rae Morris, COIN and Felice Brothers as well as performances at The Great Escape, Secret Garden Party, Live at Leeds, Neighbourhood Festival & SWN Festival.
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(Download hi-res The Trials of Cato press photo HERE)
Deep in the wintry woods of Gog Magog Hill something stirred. New sounds tangled with woodsmoke as The Trials of Cato fused their usual flashing Celtic instrumental interplay with striking new compositions to bring us the follow up to their award-winning debut. Gog Magog is The Trials of Cato’s hugely anticipated second album, scheduled for release in February 2023.
Notably formed in Beirut, Lebanon, The Trials of Cato have blazed a trail like no other since returning to the UK in 2016. Memorable performances across Britain, Europe, and North America led to Mark Radcliffe hailing the band as ‘one of the real discoveries on the folk circuit in recent times’, with their 2018 debut Hide and Hair going on to win a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for ‘Best Album’. With Gog Magog, the ‘Sex Pistols of folk’ (John Davis - Led Zeppelin, Gorrilaz) now present their most daring music to date.
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(Download hi-res N'famady Kouyate press photo HERE)
N’famady Kouyaté is a young energetic master musician from Guinea (Conakry), who relocated to Cardiff (Wales) in 2019. A talented multi-instrumentalist who wowed audiences across the UK and Ireland with his modern interpretations of traditional West African Mandingue songs and rhythms supporting Gruff Rhys on the Pang! album tour.
In the UK N’famady has played both as a solo artist and with a full band line up – where his arrangements are a fusion of Mandingue African with western jazz, pop, indie, and funk influences provided by an ever-evolving collective of musicians. Instrumentation includes balafon, keyboards, drumkit, djembe, guitar, bass, kora, doundoun, congas, saxophone, trumpet, & callabash. N’famady’s performances create amazing atmospheres and vibrations wherever he goes, and audiences are charmed by his infectious enthusiasm and joy.
N’famady released his first EP in July 2021, recorded in the legendary Rockfield Studios, with a full band line up, including guest appearances from Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), Lisa Jên Brown (9Bach), and Kliph Scurlock (The Flaming Lips). The EP features mash-ups of traditional Guinean songs with new Welsh lyrics, modern & traditional instrumentation, played by a ten-piece band. N'famady has a steadily growing fanbase both in the UK and West Africa.
During the 2020 lockdown N'famady participated in a number of online events including DarloDrum Fest, Ara Deg festival online, Out Of Focus Wales, and Gwyl 2021 festival - but due to COVID-19 restrictions was only able to do solo sets. The Summer of 2021 saw the band performing at the Wales Millennium Centre, Llangollen Fringe Festival, and taking Green Man Festival by storm headlining the Chai Wallah stage. The summer of 2022 brought N’famady to dozens of festival stages across the UK and Northern Ireland, including Cambridge Folk Fest and Belfast Mela. In October and November of 2022 he embarked on his first nationwide tour of the UK, with generous support from PRS Foundation’s prestigious Momentum grant. Summer 2023 will see N’famady doing a Canadian tour, and hitting the main stages of some major UK festivals
CONNECT WITH N'FAMADY KOUYATE
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(Download hi-res ALASKAALASKA press photo HERE)
Following their debut album in 2019, ALASKAALASKA resurface in to a new era embracing all the things that put the band on the map, attracting the likes of Tame Impala, Hot Chip, Porches and Nilüfer Yanya for tour support slots. The band now push their foundational ideas further and explore sounds they’d never quite had the freedom to play with on their latest album Still Life.
While their first full length outing was a maximalist pop record, Still Life was more about removing the unnecessary and freeing oneself from stereotypical pop constructs. Ordinarily located in South East London, writers and producers Fraser Rieley and Lucinda Duarte-Holman were eager to get out of the city. Taking advantage of this rustic countryside scene, they were able to capture something uniquely their own.
For Rieley and Duarte-Holman, writing on their latest record began in 2019, pre lockdown-era, although the subsequent time alone together added a new spin on ALASKALASKA's process of experimentation and fine tuning. Unable to get their regular supporting band together in one room during that time, the two embarked on a 24/7 endless stream of noise, soundscape, and consciousness that only the 21st century 5G world can facilitate.
Production on Still Life kick-started in August 2021 with producer and musician Jas Shaw (of Simian Mobile Disco), nestled in the idyllic Kentish countryside, opposing the somewhat grimier setting the album was written in. This collaboration, added to their ideas and maturing musical sensibilities, allowed the record to bloom into a beautiful, multilayered creation. Though never imagined as a “pandemic record” it was ultimately realized and enhanced by this moment in time. Lyrics are as wide-reaching as the sonic textures.
ALASKALASKA rose up in parallel with both the South London jazz scene and the post-punk movement of Brixton Windmill, but they’re happy to better know themselves as friends of these movements without committing to any one label. Influences shine through both in a fluid exploration of genre and a tender, always focused lyricism. It’s the methods of Björk, Fever Ray, LCD Soundsystem and Arthur Russell, and the contemporary melodies of Metronomy and Porches that excite them. What matters most for ALASKALASKA is painting a sonic picture, making music that’s visceral. Something you can feel on your skin. The buzz of a bass. The shiver of a synth.
Following the album’s release, Rieley and Duarte-Holman plan to tap into their new interests and musical flexibility with their live shows: arranging the album with their full band, or an even larger formation, or perhaps playing more minimally together as a pair. Whatever the setup on stage, this new album places ALASKALASKA in their most dynamic, boundless era yet.
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(Download hi-res Adwaith press photo HERE)
Hailing from the Welsh town of Carmarthen, Adwaith grew up surrounded by a rich tradition of Welsh-language indie-rock, and a tight-knit scene of experimental, artistically-minded bands that frequented their beloved local venue The Parrot. Inspired by the lineage of boldly experimental bands that emerged out of Wales in the ‘80s – Datblygu, Traddodiad Ofnus and Fflaps to name three groups spearheading new wave Welsh rock music at the time – Adwaith knew that they wanted to be similarly uncompromising in their own vision. When Hollie Singer, Gwenllian Anthony and Heledd Owen first went about founding their own band in 2015, they were also equally influenced by newer acts they’d seen playing at local indie venues and Welsh-Language music festivals, where they bore witness to another new wave of musicians wielding Welsh as an exciting musical instrument.
After signing to Carmarthen-based indie label Libertino, Adwaith released their debut single ‘Pwysau’ in 2016, and steadily built on these promising foundations as they delved into mangled, free-wheeling post-punk recalling just some of their heroes: CAN, The Breeders, and NEU! That same year, their debut album Melyn perfectly skewered the anxiety and unease of becoming an adult in a fraught political climate, in a region too often sidelined and ignored by Westminster. The record went on to win the prestigious Welsh Music Prize, and the likes of BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music, KEXP, NPR and BBC Introducing’s Huw Stephens all threw their support behind the group along the way.
In 2022, meanwhile, the band released their widescreen follow-up Bato Mato – inspired by illuminating train journey into the remote rural reaches of Siberia aboard the Trans-Siberian Express to play UU.Sound festival in Ulan-Ude. In a historic first, the band became the first act ever to win the Welsh Music Prize twice over, and now have three headline tours, an acclaimed Glastonbury set and Manic Street Preachers and IDLES support slots under their belts.
Adwaith might be a band with clear roots set down in Wales – but looking towards the future, they’re now keenly focused on taking the language worldwide.
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(Download hi-res Panic Shack press photo HERE)
Aside from their enthralling tunes, Panic Shack challenge the music industry's exclusionary nature. In 2018, Sarah Harvey (vocals), Meg Fretwell (guitar/backing vocals), Romi Lawrence (guitar/backing vocals), Em Smith (bass) and Nick Doherty-Williams (drums) formed the band with the mission of proving that anyone can play music.
In an effort to carve out a space within the local Cardiff scene and beyond, most of Panic Shack's members learned their instruments from scratch when starting the band, dissatisfied with the male-dominated music industry.
In addition to receiving considerable airplay, Panic Shack have already been booked at tastemaking festivals such as FOCUS Wales, under the independent Welsh label Clwb Creative Records.
There is a considerable buzz surrounding the band, with the indie music press taking notes at every turn.
As part of their Baby Shack EP from 2022, the band presents their first single “Who's Got My Lighter?”. The band's other tracks include 'Jiu Jits You' and 'I Don't Really Like It' alongside brand new songs 'Mannequin Man' and 'Baby'. Most recently, the band released their “It’s good to be back” single alongside Metronomy.
CONNECT WITH PANIC SHACK
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ABOUT FOCUS WALES
FOCUS Wales are determined to reduce greenhouse emissions and make their work more sustainable, as part of this intent they have committed to offsetting the entire carbon impact of this year’s SXSW showcase in Austin, Texas. Read about the work we’re doing HERE
FOCUS Wales 2023 takes place May 4th-6th across various venues in Wrexham, North Wales. Full 3 day wristbands for admission to all FOCUS Wales events are available now at www.focuswales.com/tickets
FOCUS Wales is supported by Creative Wales, PRS Foundation, and Welsh Government