Recommended gig

Sion Russell Jones, Brigyn & Little Arrow at St John's Church, Canton, Cardiff on Saturday 10th November 7.30pm. Tickets available from:

Al Lewis

Al Lewis first came to prominence when he took part in the Song for Wales competition. Since then he has released two critically acclaimed albums and has established himself as a formidable live performer.

Your biog says you as a 'relative latecomer' to music. What were you doing before you became active in music and what was it that made you get involved?

What I mean by that is I never did music academically at school or college - though I did partake in extra-curricular stuff - the only point at which I began to actively consider pursuing a career in music was during my final year at the University of Bristol where I'd been studying Economics & French - bit of a tangent as you can see!! I just decided that life was too short and I needed to find a career that would give me pleasure and the number one thing I could think of was music

You took part in the 'Song for Wales' competition and your song "Llosgi" came 2nd. How did you approach writing that song and what was the experience like of taking part in the competition.

Me and my good friend Arwel Lloyd who co-writes all the 'Al Lewis Band' Welsh language material with me and is also the guitarist in the band-  had the song already in our repertoire - It just so happened that one night at one of our gigs, one of the producers of the show was in the audience and he really liked the song. He asked us whether it'd been released - which it hadn't - so he recommended that we submit it - and the rest is, as they say, history!

The night itself I was very nervous - as anyone who was watching would have been able to see! It's a very hard song to sing and to add to that it was my first ever live TV performance!

You first album was in Welsh, 2nd in English. What determines the language you choose to sing for a particular track? What differences do you experience when you sing in English and Welsh?

It just depends what I'm feeling at the time and whether I'm in around Cardiff - if so I'd probably write it with Arwel or London when I'd most likely write something English.

The Welsh stuff tends to have more of a Band feel - as it's easier to get gigs and radio play in the Welsh scene if something had a beat behind it and potentially people can dance to it - or have drinks and socialize :)

Who are your musical influences and how do they impact on your song writing?

They fluctuate - but the main-stayers are Bob Dylan and the Beatles. I also love James Taylor, Neil Young, John Mayer, Fleetwood Mac, Simon & Garfunkel, John Martyn..........

I think I can safely say I've based my acoustic guitar technique on a combination of Dylan and James Taylor

Your latest album "In the Wake" has received positive reviews. Tell us about the making of the album and in what way it differed from the recording of 'Sawl Fford Allan'.

As budgets these days rarely allow for me to go in to a studio in one big block - this album 'In the Wake' is comprised of the best of several different sessions spanning over the last 2 years. As I mainly write the English stuff by myself or with Sarah I think there's a different feel to 'Sawl Ffordd Allan', in some ways it's a lot less 'mainstream pop' and more 'singer/songwriter'.

One of the highlights of the new album is "Tangent". What is the background to that song and what does it mean to you?

That is a song I wrote about the journey my life has taken over the last few years since finishing University as I alluded to in the first question.

It's one of the most personable songs on the album - I think its best described as a song about what we say in Welsh as 'Hiraeth' - longing...

You have been working with Sarah Howells from Paper Aeroplanes this year. How did that come about and what it was like recording with her.

We met in 2008 as we had been using the same drummer for quite some time and he invited us both down to a gig he was doing with another band down in London.

I think we clicked as we were both singer/songwriters from Wales who'd moved to London for our music and who liked the same kind of people and things.

Are there any artists that you would like to work with apart from Sarah?

Bruce Springsteen - I think he'd be fascinating to meet and work with

You spend your time between London and Cardiff. How do they differ and what are the best and worst aspects of each?

London - The franticness and the feeling that something's always going on - is both a positive and negative. Sometimes I wish I could escape the buzz/ hub hub for a little rest-bite

Cardiff - I feel is on the doorstep to some beautiful countryside - Brecon Beacons / Carmarthenshire but still has enough going on so that you wouldn't get bored. Downside is a lot of the music venues have now shut down - Toucan, Barfly and my personal favourite the Point

What are your plans for 2011?

Lots of touring in support of the album 'In the Wake' - starting off with a tour of Cafe Nero's in Feb/March. Also my new Welsh album 'Ar Gof a Chadw' is due for release in April/May on Rasal (Sain).



Sawl Fford Allan (2009)

In the Wake (2010)



Paper Aeroplanes
The Keys
Jimi Alexander
Misty's Big Adventure
Devon Sproule
Lightning Dust
Frank Turner
Jam with RoBina
The Rumble Strips interview
Heather Jones
Battle of Land and Sea
Peter Broderick
Cakehole Presley

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