“Tradition is the future of the music”

Traditional music shows us a world of beautiful stories and memories.

Three members ( Dylan Fowler on the left, Oli in the middle and Jamie Smith on the right) of the band ALAW playing hard during the performance.

With a long history of almost one thousand years, Wales is a place enjoying the reputation of “hometown of songs”. Welsh music may be a type of music that is not familiar with the public. What is the status of traditional music in Wales now?

ALAW, one of the well-organized Welsh bands in Welsh held a concert in Norwegian Church in Cardiff. I interviewed the singer, Oli, from the band.

I found the information of this activity on the website of the church by chance. Being a big fan of traditional music and also curious about the Welsh music, I sent the request of interview through the Facebook page of the band. Oli received my message and replied me immediately by saying “I’m gonna be famous!” I meet Oli after the concert in the cafe of the church. With a warm smile, he shook my hand gently, welcomed me. “You seems younger than a university student.” He said a joke.

“We recently played in a world music showcase called Rollmax, which is in Poland. It provides the chance to show the music to the international promoters. So we are going to get some more work through that, and find some interests overseas, such as Canada, Ireland and east Spain, even some places in Germany.” Oli recommended this plan with his face became alive.

“ So I guess just more playing, more getting out there and doing our things, really!” Oli was joyful when he stressed they focused and took more efforts recently after released new album. “We love it but it always takes the backseat of our other projects.”

Oli played his violin with great emotion.

Talking about the challenges they faced, Oli described them as the word “numerous”, saying that “First of all, the problem we met was the cooperation with guitar, as Dylan’s style of guitar covered a lot of bass sense, you know, he played bass often before. And also made work with Jamie’s accordion. At first, it came out a bit of clash in sound among these instruments. So it took a while to make it harmonious.”

“That is one challenge.” Oli said, “The other challenge is that because we are all busy musicians playing in different bands and Dylan did a lot of solo work as well, so coordinating, we must find a good balance of time to actually, working together, finding time to do this project.”


The concert tour celebrates the release of their new album Dead Man’s Dance. Wandering to different locations in Welsh, including countryside, the band seeks for an opportunity of spreading the spirit of Welsh traditional music.

Oli introduced something about their band, the idea why forming this band. “It started as a trial from five years, maybe six years ago. And we really finished our first album in 2013.”

Reviewed by Folk Wales, which says that “Must-see masterful musos”, and “Truly remarkable” by Frank Hennessey from BBC Radio Wales, the band combines with three leading musicians, Dylan Fowler for guitar, Jamie Smith for accordion, and Oli Wilson-Dickson for fiddle. Members together work for a long time, writing original and powerful songs that brings audience fresh experience of modern Welsh music. Also, they share projects such as The Devil’s Violin and Szapora.

The leaflet and albums on a desk outside the concert.

When being asked whether it is many bands playing Welsh music now, Oli paused a moment and said, “There ain’t a lot of playing it but there is a good number. I think particularly recently there are more bands coming out playing this fantastic kind of music.”

“The other thing is Welsh music has stayed and being enjoyed at Wales for a long time, and what starting happen again recently is that bands begin playing music in other parts of the UK.” And Oli also mentioned the challenges that those bands facing. He thought Welsh music is less well-known, compared to Scottish and Irish music. Bands should start from a point of saying what is Welsh music instead of informing what can people expect. And for Oli’s band, they rearrange the music with they own idea. Also, it is difficult for any band to get well-known especially for those making music which is unpopular.

Instruments in the scene of the concert.

When I wondered what is the idea of music in Oli’s mind, he scratched his head, silent for a while and said, “It shaping sound deliberately, so any sharp sound shaping, you do on purpose, there is no accident in daily life.”

You may think musicians like Oli who concentrate in one area of music probably not have time to care about other kinds of music, but he also shared some experience of his own taste of music, “ I listen to lots of cultures’ music and I also enjoy different styles of music. I was listening to a jazz-pop singer in Welsh college on Monday, and funky type like Micheal Jackson of my children’s favorite, I love it as well.”

Concerning about the spreading of traditional music into the younger age group, Oli thought that is a “real challenge”. As he knows, there is a dropping trend among youngsters in Wales as well as Scotland. “Arts center are generally supported by the elder group, of those who go to these places more often. In terms of that, there should be more actions we can do.”

At the end of the interview, Oli shook my hand and said to me, “Thank you for spreading the Welsh music culture.” Then he turned around, continued packing all the band’s belongings. They will leave the performance place after a while.

We went out from the church nearly midnight. Just like the bright future of Welsh music, stars shining in the sky, with strength in them.