Ashli Todd talks about the Welsh music scene

1No one knows Welsh music like Ashli Todd. From behind the counter in Spillers Records, she sees it all.
From hopeful new acts passing on their DIY demo tapes, to global rock acts and their international followings, Spillers has held a special place at the heart of the Welsh music scene for decades.
“To me, the Welsh music scene is just as vibrant as I remember it,” she said. “A lot of good things can happen from a DIY approach, and a lot of good things do. Self-promoting gigs, self-promoting bands – that whole DIY ethic.

“However, you can’t cut things from further up the food chain because there isn’t anywhere for people and bands and entities to progress to.
“In Cardiff we’ve had a lot of setbacks I think, in terms of live music with venues that have disappeared over the last five to ten years and I really think that someone needs to ask the question of, you know, what’s more important?
5“We are the land of song, after all,” she added. “And I think that if you want to trade on that tag line, you really need to invest in things that help support something that’s really important within Cardiff and Wales, which is creative and musical culture. It’s imperative.”
We asked Ashli about her favourite Welsh records and managed to get her down to five. So, with a week to go before St David’s Day (or Dydd Dewi Sant), why not investigate some of the records that have made the Welsh music scene what it is today.

Meic Stevens: Gwymon – 1972
“He’s kind of hailed as the Welsh Bob Dylan. He’s legendary, he’s amazing. I think most people who know Meic Stevens have a Meic Stevens story because he’s got some legendary tales. I’m not sure I can really tell some of the ones I know on camera.
“If you listen to some Meic Stevens, especially from the 70s to early 80s period, you’ll be able to see the influence that his music has had on more contemporary artists, so an album by him is absolutely essential.”
Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci: Bwyd Time – 1995
“Even at the time it was mad. They were so young when they made this album. It’s one of the best constructed albums in terms of how it’s pieced together. I bet there was hardly any budget for it at all.
“They’re mad and creative as it gets. It sounds like something that people made in the 70s but it was made by teenagers in West Wales. I think in 30 of 40 years’ time, people will be looking back at this album and re-issuing it and banging on about how influential it was.”

Llwybr Llaethog: Mega Tidy – 2006
“Llwybr Llaethog is Welsh for Milky Way. Again, the same with Gorky’s, John Peel used to play both of these bands and give them loads of support. The classic one of hiding under the covers and writing the names in a notebook; that’s where I came across bands like Llwybr Llaethog and Gorky’s.
“They’ve been going for absolute years, absolute years and the Welsh language is obviously very intrinsic to them.”

Cian Ciaran: They are nothing without us – 2013
“Everyone likes a pretty tune and everything but we definitely need artists with a voice to say stuff, and people who document what is going on with the bigger issues instead of, you know, ‘my girlfriend left me’.
“We should definitely celebrate people who have opinions and have voices and want to change things through the art that they make, and Cian’s definitely one of those.”

Islet: Released by the movement – 2013
“I know them all as individuals and everything they do is so sincere. I can’t really ever see them signing to a major label or having major label distribution for their company because everything about them is very DIY, but without being contrived about being DIY.
“Any release on their label is going to challenge your ears.”
And the one that stands out? The absolute favourite that would always be on her desert island to remind her of Wales?
“It would be Bwyd Time. I do enjoy a good sing-along to it and, quite frankly, Miss Trudy on here is one of the best all time songs in the world ever.”

Happy Saint David’s Day – Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus!