The Monolith Cocktail’s inimitable antagonist from Istanbul, Sean BW Parker, casts his vociferations, observations and criticism wide. On a penitence driven travail to interview every single relevant commentator, musician and industry expert in the cultural pantheon, Sean has probed, even teased, some candid revelations and insights from the likes of Julie Burchill, David Stubbs, Simon Raymonde, Ed Harcourt and Ian Gittins.

Next on his infamous list is Bangor born Welsh radio and TV presenter Bethan Elfyn. Hosting two of the most popular radio shows for both BBC Radio Wales and Amazing Radio on the local music scene, Bethan has also sat-in on a regular basis for Lauren Laverne on 6 Music and co-presented a regional show with the beeb’s Huw Stephens. Sean and Bethan chat on both the past and current developments and highlights of the Welsh music scene – one that ‘punches well above its weight’.  Accompanying this chinwag is a scattered, mere meandering, collection of ‘choice’ Welsh bands to enjoy.

You’re married to the manager of Clwb Ifor Bach, Richard Hawkins. As one of the main voices of new music on BBC Radio Wales, would you say the pair of you have this niche pretty well sewn-up?

The work we both do has evolved quite naturally from our own interests and passions, so I guess it was natural that we’d be a good marital match too – but we certainly were not expecting to be doing these jobs when we met (a long time ago). Rich was working at Grassroots and I was a trainee journalist back then. Being involved with Welsh music in all its different guises is certainly a joy to us both.

If you remember back to a certain heyday for Welsh music in the 90s (Catatonia, Super Furry Animals, the Manics’ commercial peak), how has the music scene changed since then?

I think we’ve come a long way as a Nation since ‘Cool Cymru’, but that unexpected and wonderful ‘boom’ for Welsh music was a turning point, the cultural trigger that we needed. We have more people working with music in Wales than ever before, and more bands on the road touring and releasing at a recognisable level.

The charts have changed since the days of Catatonia et al, so we might not have seen any big success stories, (aside from Duffy maybe) but we certainly have a national pride in our music that wasn’t part of the fabric of everyday life in those days. I’m still a bit evangelical about spreading the word, raising awareness, and getting new and exciting music from Wales onto as many platforms as we can… there’s still work to be done.

Who would win in a fight between you, Huw Stephens and Adam Walton?

You won’t find three people with more love and respect for each other, its quite remarkable in the world of DJs/media… but if we had to fight, Huw would crush us with bare hugs, Adam likes employing the skills of shin-kicking, and I would conjure the spirit of scrappy doo!

Would you say there is (still) an element of ‘Cymruphobia’ in the media in general?

I think we regularly punch above our weight as a Nation in many aspects of life – for a small population, we’ve had some HUGE stars, and they’re still playing and performing too! They are so important to be the forerunners, and champions for the smaller artists. The Manics took Cate Le Bon on tour, Cerys’ Womex concert introducing Georgia Ruth to an international audience, and many more examples in the rock world. In terms of press we have National representatives at the NME, Guardian, Radio One, and 6 Music – so no, I’d say our voice is being heard and appreciated more than ever before. However, Womex World music festival did highlight to me how other Celtic nations have a natural tradition of ‘export’, and we’re only just getting that idea here in Wales. Lets think as big as possible!

With regard to music/publishing/culture industry’s current angst, how would you respond if the BBC asked you to DJ or present for free?

The poets and jesters of old were plying their trade entertaining the kings in court – its sad that musicians struggle so much when they are so important to the fabric of life, but there’s more support out there too through the Arts Council, Prs foundation and other grants available. Good music will reach people and, people are still buying the formats – stats were released recently saying Independent record labels were selling more than ever. Musicians might have to work hard with their passion as a hobby for years before being able to make a living from music, but that’s true of media and any creative field. I did years of internships & ‘work experience’ too!

Any new bands (Welsh or otherwise) we should be following?

Look out for the new Horizon project. It’s a BBC Cymru Wales and Arts Council of Wales initiative where we’ll be announcing our list of Artists to Watch in 2014. Follow me on twitter for more details before Christmas.

But 2013 for me has been all about Sweet Baboo’s Ships album, Cate Le Bon’s Mug Museum, and Georgia Ruth’s Week of Pines. They have shone very brightly this year.

What are your plans for the rest of the week?

This week I’m presenting a show on S4C of Womex highlights, Tuesday and Thursday at 8.30pm – do tune in. BBC Radio Wales on Saturday at 7pm. And during the week working on getting everything ready for the Horizon’s announcement.

Can I get you a drink?

Lovely, pint of cider, cheers!

Thanks, Bethan


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: