IT has been wonderful speaking with Eleri Angharad...
about her album, Earthbound (out on Friday), and how it came together; whether she has a standout song from the set and what it was like recording the album in Cardiff – Angharad tells me about her favourite artists and music.
I ask whether there are gigs coming up and why she takes guidance from Nashville and its artists; the musician she’d support on the road given the choice and which approaching artists should be in our sights – she selects a great song to end the interview with.
Hi, Eleri. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello! I’m good, thank you - tired but very, very excited! So far it’s been a busy week getting everything organised for the release, but I think I’m just about ready!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Eleri Angharad, a Country/Pop artist from South Wales, U.K. My music is influenced by a mix of Welsh and Americana musicians such as Cerys Matthews, James Taylor and Taylor Swift. I was really drawn to Country music both growing up and after a road trip I took around the U.S., playing in Greensboro, Nashville; Chicago and New York.
Your debut album, Earthbound, is out soon. Can you reveal what inspired the songs and what it was like to record?
I chose the title, Earthbound, which is also the name of one of the tracks because it really tied in with the themes of home that run through the album - whether home is your hometown or a person or just a feeling of belonging somewhere. I travelled a lot around the U.S. and Ireland, so a lot of places feel like home to me. I’m lucky to have friends all over the world that keep really grounded, so Earthbound encompasses all of that. It’s the most honest collection of songs I’ve ever written.
I love recording music and I’ve worked with the same producer on my last two records - a fantastic guy called Lee House. We work really well together and everything seems to flow.
Is there a song from the pack that stands as a favourite?
Oh. I change my mind on this every day! At the moment, I think Stronger Stuff really stands out to me as it’s so upbeat and empowering. It’s also got a great harmonica solo blended with electric guitar, so I really love how the sound turned out!
I also love Chicago as it’s such a nostalgic song to me. It’s like a time capsule.
What was it like recording the album at Woodcroft in Cardiff?
It was a new studio for me so that was exciting. It’s a really chilled space with lovely carpets and fairy lights so it’s quite magical and relaxing - it makes me feel really creative! It’s always an absolute pleasure to work with Lee House as producer too. He always listens to my vision for the songs and makes them sound even better than I could imagine!
It was difficult at times especially playing the same guitar parts over and over but it was amazing to see myself grow and improve as a recording artist during the process and I can’t wait to see what my next project will be.
When you were growing up, which artists/records did you hold dear?
I grew up listening to a ton of my parents’ music collection including welsh artists like Cerys Matthews/Catatonia and Amy Wadge. I have always loved storytelling songs like those of James Taylor and Dolly Parton - I’m a self-confessed Taylor Swift super-fan too and her album, Fearless, really got me into Country music. These days, I really love the modern Pop twist on Country - with artists like Kacey Musgraves, Jillian Jaqueline and U.K. country duo Ward Thomas.
It seems like you take guidance from Nashville artists. What is it about the city and sound that captivates you?
Nashville is wonderful because there’s music in absolutely every bar - almost 24/7 - and yet there’s always an audience. The people there just adore music and it attracts music lovers and artists from all over the world. What struck me most was the heartbreaking honesty of Nashville artists, each one with their own story to tell and being completely unafraid to sing it to a room full of strangers with often just a guitar in hand. I really wanted to incorporate that stripped-back integrity into my own music and this record reflects the Nashville magic for me.
Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?
One of the best gigs I ever played was completely unplugged in a bookshop in Stockholm, Sweden. I got to meet Izzy Young - the man who booked Bob Dylan his first-ever gig - so that was pretty amazing. It was absolutely filled to the brim with people who were so supportive and attentive - I even sang in Welsh and I think that was their favourite song!
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Fearless - Taylor Swift
This album really got me into Country music and exploring more and more artists.
Catatonia - International Velvet
My mum used to play this in the car all the time when I was growing up and Road Rage was my ultimate-favourite song for years. I know the whole album off by heart and I still love it. I got to write with one of the band members for my Earthbound album and that was an incredible experience.
9 to 5 and Odd Jobs - Dolly Parton
I was in a play in school where this was the soundtrack and it really got me into older Country music; it holds a lot of memories for me. I just adore Dolly in general. I think she’s wonderful!
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Oooh, wow! I’d actually love to support Kacey Musgraves as I feel like the show would be magical and full of sparkly things! On my rider I’d definitely have some pink gin, watermelon and strawberries.
What does the rest of this year hold for you?
Well. I’m going on a U.K. tour this month to promote the album release - playing in York, Brighton; Manchester, Bristol and London as well as some more along the way! I’ve also got a busy summer of festivals coming up, too: How the Light Gets In, Live on the Wye and Home Farm Fest (which have already been announced), so I’m also really excited about those. Maybe some more music videos, too; they’re always so much fun to release!
Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?
I’ve got my album launch next week in Cardiff – 13th April (which is now sold out). I’m playing there with my full band, The Blue Js, and I’ve got the tour. Also doing a big hometown show in Swansea on 3rd May. After that, I’m supporting Ell South in Porter’s, Cardiff on 8th May and Sarah Birch in The Cellar, Cardigan on 14th June.
How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?
They’re very different. I love the experience of chipping away at a record in the studio and seeing my songs come to life, but I also love the buzz of performing! I’m so excited to be playing some full band shows this year as the atmosphere onstage is great. I can’t wait to share my album live with an audience.
IN THIS PHOTO: Violet Skies
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
There are some really great upcoming artists from South Wales. I’d hugely recommend listening to Pop acts like Violet Skies and Emilie Merry and, for some Country, my favourite new acts are Jillian Jacqueline, Natalie Jones and Rosey Cale.
IN THIS PHOTO: Jillian Jacqueline
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I love to keep fit and go to the gym, although I haven’t had much time for that for a while. I also really love cooking new vegan recipes and baking. I find it so relaxing! I even have my own food blog on Instagram, What Eleri Eats.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Oooh. I think I’ll pick Space Cowboy - Kacey Musgraves. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and I love a good sad song!
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