‘People are waking up to Welsh independence’

Influential Welsh artists are coming together for a gig to support Welsh independence, but how do Yes is More’s organisers plan on making their voices heard?

charlotte church pop dungeon
Charlotte Church is one of many Welsh artists performing at the Yes is More gig. © Shaun Joyce 2018

Welsh independence supporters will come together at Cardiff’s Tramshed on 15 February for a gig including famous Welsh acts. Artists like Charlotte Church and Gruff Rhys will come together under the Yes is More banner to show their support for an independent Wales, hoping that this gig will encourage fresh debate around the topic.

Yes is More is a political movement that aims to make Welsh independence a less taboo subject by organising fun, creative events to spread their message across Wales. The very notion of Welsh independence has grown in popularity in recent years, with campaigns such as YesCymru and Welsh Football Fans for Independence gaining more and more support.

Los Blancos, and up-and-coming Welsh-language band, will perform at the Tramshed in support of Welsh independence. © Los Blancos – Facebook

Elin Davies is one of the organisers of the Yes is More gig, and isn’t surprised by the recent increase of support for Welsh independence. “With Brexit on the horizon it has become apparent just how many people are unhappy with the direction that the UK is going,” she says. “Yes is More is an attempt to widen the debate and engage with all people from walks of life. People who live in Wales don’t have to be part of a ‘union’ that doesn’t have our best interests at heart.”

Elin is eager for the subject of Welsh independence to become less taboo, and hopes that Yes is More can contribute to this process. “People are starting to wake up to the possibilities of Welsh independence,” she says. “But it’s up to all of us to keep talking about IndyWales and further normalising political discussion around the future of our country.”

IndyFest – the inspiration behind the Yes is More gig. © IndyFest – Twitter

Yes is More was founded following the success of IndyFest in September 2017 – an Independence Day of sorts featuring live music, poetry and literary performances. “The name is a play on the words ‘less is more’,” says Elin. “We’re saying ‘yes’ to Sovereign equality and ‘yes’ to more of the things that we think would be important in an Independent Wales – more community, more doctors, more nurses, more social housing, more renewable energy, for example.”

Although protests and rallies could be effective means of showing support for a cause, Yes is More have decided to use music to spread their message. Gruff Rhys, who is performing at the gig, says: “The beauty of music is how it acts as a precious and secular space beyond the rigidity of politics and nationality where opinions can be discussed and society mirrored, celebrated, ridiculed and criticised.”

Gruff Rhys performing with his band, Super Furry Animals. © Alamy 2017

Yes is More were determined to use music and the arts to get their message across to make sure that Welsh independence wasn’t treated as taboo. “In our experience, music brings people together,” says Elin. “It is an artform that resonates with most people. It’s also a way of engaging with people who may not be interested in what they perceive to be ‘politics’.”

In a time where the public may feel either apathetic or frustrated towards those running our country, it was important to Elin and her colleagues at Yes is More that this event was accessible to those not usually involved in politics. “I saw a quote by Ai Weiwei (the Chinese artist and activist) just the other day,” says Elin. “He said: ‘Everything is art. Everything is politics.’ and we believe that too.”

Elin hopes that a music gig will be more accessible to the younger generation particularly. “The Yes is More gig aims to engage with young people through music,” says Elin. “There is always a need to engage with young people, as their voices are often ignored. Getting involved in activism can make you feel that you’re part of a larger group of people who can influence and make a significant, positive difference.”

A YesCymru rally supporting independence for Catalonia. © YesCymru – Twitter

Tickets had completely sold out weeks before the gig, and Elin sees this as a sign that attitudes towards Welsh independence are changing. “We think it shows that there’s an appetite for change,” she says. “And we hope that because of this, the debate is carried forward and the idea of independence normalised. We’d love for the gig-goers to get involved in the IndyWales movement, and to start spreading the word and getting people imagining the possibilities of doing things differently were we to govern ourselves.”

The Tramshed gig is merely the first in a series of creative events planned by Yes is More – their main goal being to target the threat of a “reckless Westminster government”. “We hope that Yes is More takes on a life of its own just as Wales should,” says Elin. “We hope that this is the start of many more creative events under the Yes is More banner across the whole of Wales. Watch this space!”