This month we are featuring Lowri Evans, an up and coming solo artist who has steadily been gaining recognition for her strong material and her live performances. Lowri was born in Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire. Apart from a short absence spent studying for a degree in Newcastle and some time travelling, her home remains in Wales. With her partner and music associate Lee Mason she now lives in Llantrisant near Cardiff. She has just released her 4 th studio album Dydd a Nos.
What or who prompted you to start singing and writing songs?
I think I must have been able to sing from an early age! I was in the school choir at 7, and then it was suggested that I went and had singing lessons, so I had lessons until I was 17. I remember writing my first piece of music when I was 8 - it was for the piano and I remember my piano teacher writing the song out on manuscript paper- I'm sure I've still got that piece of paper!
I was around 15 when I got into my first school band and that's when I started writing songs for the band. We competed in Eisteddfod's, played local gigs - it was great fun.
You studied at Newcastle University completing a degree in 'Jazz, Popular & Commercial Music'. That sounds like quite a broad subject! What did it involve and what did you gain from the experience?
It was a fab experience studying jazz and pop music in Newcastle. I had a great time there. The course really taught me a lot - music theory, composition, music history and of course, performing - this was a big part of the course, and I had to perform 2 concerts a year that were graded - I also sang in other people's bands as there was a shortage of singers - the more bands the better!
I think I gained a lot of experience and confidence in these 3 years - getting on stage, performing my own songs, organising people - it got me ready for the big wide world! I also got the chance to perform at Leeds Festival with my own College band - that was an experience!
In 2010 you were short listed for the Best Female Welsh Artist of the Year. How did you react when you found out you were on the shortlist??
I was really pleased that I had been shortlisted - funny thing was, I hadn't been contacted by anyone to tell me I was on the shortlist...I only found out after the winner had been announced!! But it's a great thing to have on your musical c.v!
You have just released your new album "Dydd a Nos" (Night & Day) Tell us about the making of the album and in what way it differed from previous recordings.
I had a mixture of both Welsh and English songs that I had written over a few months, so we got down to recording them, to see if the 2 different languages worked together. We started recording last year and finished in April 2011.
I'm really happy with the finished cd - I can still listen to the album so that is a good point! There is a mixture of musical styles on the album, which suits the type of music I write - I don't like to stick to one sound - I love all kinds of music - jazz, pop, folk, American, blues. I think the album draws on all of these styles and the songs blend really well together.
The new album features songs in Welsh and English. Was that a deliberate move to reach a wider audience or were there other reasons?
Previously, I had kept the 2 languages separately, but this time, I thought "Why not bring both languages together?". Also, I get asked very often in gigs for bilingual albums, so that was another reason for doing it. I think it is an advantage being able to write in both Welsh and English - I can reach 2 very different sets of audiences.
The album has been released by Sain's Rasal label. How do you feel about being part of this legendary Welsh label?
It's great that we have released the new album with Sain. They are a big company in Wales with an excellent reputation, so hopefully good things will happen because of this!
You have played a wide variety of gigs ranging from small clubs, libraries to full scale festivals such as Wychwood. How do they differ and in what way do you adjust your performance and presentation to suit the different audiences and venues you play for?
I am lucky that I can choose between having a 2, 3, 4 or 5 piece band to play at gigs. It all depends on the size of the venue, what type of music they want and who is available! Every gig is different, but I treat all gigs the same - if there are 10 people in the crowd or a 100 - they have come to see me perform and they deserve a good performance. I can be very acoustic or we can rock out a bit with electric guitars!
What has been your favourite experience of playing live so far?
Recently I have had some lovely gigs - I always have a great reception playing on the Glanfa Stage in the Wales Millennium Centre - I really enjoy those gigs. Also, some of the gigs promoting my new album have been brilliant - our West Wales launch in Theatr Gwaun, Fishguard was a night to remember, and so was playing in St Donats Arts Centre in Llantwit Major. Supporting Cara Dillon, Martin Simpson and Richie Havens were very special too - I won't forget those in a hurry!
You have performed alongside an impressive list including Cerys Matthews. Are there any other performers you would like to play live or record with?
One of my ambitions is to play with Eric Bibb, a blues-folk Troubadour. I have been following him since 1998, when I first saw him supporting Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Just to see him play and sing, there is nothing like it, its indescribable - I can't stop smiling when I hear him - he uplifts you, gets your toes tapping, makes you want to shout out!
What are your plans for the rest of 2011?
I've still got a busy summer ahead, and then a few gigs coming up in the Autumn. Over the Winter I will be busy recording my next English album which I hope to release in the Summer of 2012, so there is plenty of work to keep me going!
21/8 Boat Club, Newport Pembrokeshire
26/8 Gwyl Fach y Cloc, Carmarthen
27/8 Cardigan Quays Festival
28/8 Yacht Club, Aberjazz Festival, Fishguard
29/8 Festival of the Celts, Ystradgynlais
Clyw Sibrydion (2006)
Kick the Sand (2007)
One Way Ticket (2009)
Dydd a Nos (2011)
The Soft Hearted Scientists
Misty's Big Adventure
Jam with RoBina
The Rumble Strips interview
Battle of Land and Sea