We have very much been in enjoying the throwback electro-pop sounds of ANi GLASS and her latest EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ during our stint in the Spanish sunshine for the early summer festivals. It’s been something of a daily indulgence to get us set for the day. Imagine our delight when we got the opportunity to run a few questions past her and to find out a bit more about the release.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, ANi GLASS is the persona of Cardiff-based electronic pop musician, producer, artist and photographer, Ani Saunders. Now, hit play, have a listen and a read.
We understand that the EP was about reconnecting with your language, history and culture after returning home to Wales having been away for years. Was it your intention to return home in order to make this collection of tracks or was it the process of returning that inspired it?
No, my intention was to return home in order to pay off the debts that I had amassed in London with a view to returning some time later… which of course never transpired. I hadn’t accounted for any form of “reconnecting”, at the time I wasn’t aware that there was anything amiss; which is probably true when you are subconsciously searching for some form of grounding. Therefore it was entirely the process that inspired the EP.
You incorporate sounds evocative of Welsh culture and history (e.g. rich layers of soaring vocals and industrial sounds) in the songs yet have chosen a more modern musical medium to deliver them. Were you confident before you started making the EP that marrying these influences and styles together would be effective for communicating your message or was there an element of experimentation and hope in there too?
I suppose instinct was and is one of the main driving forces – it always felt right to do it this way. I’ve always been equally fascinated and mesmerised by pop music – I’m really curious about the mechanics behind a great pop song but no matter how much time passes I can never shake away that inexplicable feeling I had and still have when I hear a great pop song. It’s something that you can only dream of recreating. The lyrical content is terribly important to me but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest if it isn’t for others. You find your own enjoyment and meaning in art and that’s equally as important. So in terms of marrying influences, I suppose it’s always a bit of a stab in the dark and when you’re lucky; it works!
Can you give us some insight into the title of the EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ (which we understand translates into English as Silent Explosion), how this links to the theme and messages within the tracks?
The title of the EP was inspired by an exhibition of the same name by Welsh artist Ivor Davies which was held in the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff last year. The exhibition had a great impact on me; the themes, medium, colours and language all represented what I was trying to convey and although I wasn’t aware it was missing, viewing this exhibition gave me a narrative that I was then able to explore and run with.
On the subject of messages within tracks, we specifically didn’t read through the lyric translations in the accompanying booklet on our first listen as we wanted to focus on the way the tracks created an emotional connection through sonics. However, it became clear to us when we did read into what was being said that the lyrical content is very important to what the EP seeks to convey. Was it always your intention to include translations into English as part of the material that supported the EP?
It was important to me that this body of work was sung entirely in Welsh – I’ve been quite vocal about there not being a lot of modern Welsh language music that I could relate to and so making my own music was a way of addressing this. However I was quite keen to put a real emphasis on translating the lyrics as best I could, I felt that although the music gave a sense of atmosphere it perhaps wasn’t enough to convey the true meaning.
Did you consider recording English language versions of the songs too so that non-Welsh speakers would be able to absorb more of the messages through the music alone?
‘Y Ddawns’ (‘The Dance’) was in fact originally written in English but I didn’t ever record the English version. Recording in English is something I have done a lot of in the past and will do in the future but I didn’t feel it necessary for this release. This was my opportunity to fully embrace and express myself in my native language, to make a real contribution and to do my part in growing and developing our (albeit small) thriving culture.
We were really interested in the imagery and colour choices used in the accompanying booklet. Did the design work develop in parallel with or as a separate exercise inspired by (or maybe inspiring) the music?
The artwork was a very slow process. I think the EP cover that you see was my 10th (ish) design! It was always my intention to work with collage; there was a great one in the Ivor Davies Ffrwydrad Tawel / Silent Explosion exhibition catalogue that really inspired me. I was also looking a lot at collage work from the 60s by artists such as Richard Hamilton and Lichtenstein and new artist Quentin Jones – she’s great! It took a while to create a cohesive narrative but I think I got there in the end; finally and just in time!
Finally, what’s next for ANi GLASS, can we look forward to a full length LP at some point in the future?
My focus for the summer will be the live shows however I have already begun researching what will hopefully be my first LP! I’m not in any hurry but I’m hoping it will surface sometime next spring, fingers crossed!
Massive thanks to Ani for the words and insight into the EP. Also keep an ear out for the remix package due out on 4 August. If you want to see / hear more of Ani’s work check her Bandcamp (music) / Cardiff to the Sea (photography) / Personal Blog (art).
ANi Glass ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ is out now on Recordiau Neb.