Interview with The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable

Liam McNeilly: The new single Cholla was released in October. Are you happy with how that’s been received?
Ritzy Bryan: It’s never really been about how our music’s received. We’ve been away and made an album which we think is really beautiful and that we’re happy with and that’s the most important aspect of it for us. Cholla is a song that we really love. It talks about the breakdown of a relationship between a mother and a child. It’s amazing to play it love and we hope people can really connect with that.

You’ve been supporting Muse for their arena shows and you’re going to be supporting Bloc Party in Europe and at Earls Court in February. How are those arena shows for you, do you prefer playing to the bigger crowd?
Yeah it’s been amazing supporting Muse and we’re really looking forward to playing with Bloc Party, they’re really nice guys. Playing arenas is fantastic and it’s great to have the challenge of playing to someone else’s audience too. It’s always great to play our own shows though, we’ve got a really fantastic fan base so for us we approach every show in the same way and the delivery for us stays exactly the same.

You treated London and Bangor to some intimate headline shows recently.
Are they the types of venues that are best to debut new material live?

It wasn’t something that we planned like that. It’s not a case of we have a load of new material and we want to play it in tiny intimate venues. We’ve been playing new material when we’ve been supporting Muse too. Having said that though it was lovely to play back home in North Wales. That’s where Rhydian and I are from and it was fantastic to be home for that show. I hadn’t been home for 6 or 7 months so to play a show there was something really special for the band and me.

Your new album is coming out in January to coincide with the tour,
what can fans of the first album expect from the follow up?

With this album there’s a lot of focus on the voice. When we were writing a lot of the foundations for the songs were in the voice, acoustic guitar and a piano & we’ve used some new instruments that we haven’t used before too. Rhydian and I both have our backgrounds in classical music and I think there’s a significant orchestral element to this album & there are a lot of very personal songs too. So as you can expect some things are a little different but it’s still very much a Joy Formidable album and that’s important.

You recorded some of this album in Portland, what was the process for writing the record?
We wrote a lot of this album on the road whilst we were touring which is quite a hectic way to write, it can be quite chaotic. We write some of our songs together but Rhydian and I write separately too. In terms of recording in Portland we finished our last tour there when we were touring The Big Roar so it just all fitted in nicely really. In terms of production we produced this album ourselves again. That’s something that’s really important to us in creating music that’s special to us but it was also fantastic to get Andy Wallace on board to mix the record too. We really admire him and his work and he did a fantastic job.

Did any bands in particular influence the album?
Do you listen to a lot of music before you start to write material?

When we’re on tour we have a playlist that we put together, but when we’re writing we tend to go in to a bit of a bubble. You know, where we recorded just outside Portland was a really quiet, tranquil place and that was just a perfect place for us to work. Having said that, there are some really personal songs on this album and between The Big Roar and this album, my grandfather passed way. I was listening to a lot of the music he listened to and whilst that doesn’t come across in the sound that we produce it’s something that has influenced the album on a deeper level.

What does Wolfs Law mean?
It’s actually from the scientific term ‘Wolff’s Law’. At least that’s the foundation of it. It means that the body’s bone structure will adapt and strengthen when it’s under stress and pressure. With what I’ve just said about my grandfather, it was a difficult time for me and on that level it’s really relatable. It also fits in on the level that as a band we really feel like we have an affinity with nature; two of us obviously grew up around the lovely peaceful North Wales countryside. We read a lot of mythology that is very animal orientated and stories rooted in Native American culture too. The Wolf is a symbol that we felt bonded those aspects together, it sort of epitomises a lot of the things that have happened to us and that we’re passionate about.

You’re on tour in the U.S.A right now and you’ve sold out iconic venues like New York’s Terminal 5 earlier in year.
Is there a lot of hype about you over there?

Hype? I think hype’s a horrible word. We’ve never been about the hype. We want fans to discover our music themselves so you know, like I said, it’s great to play to other people’s audiences as well. But we’ve played a lot of shows over the past few years and gathered a really loyal fan base that we hope can connect with what we do themselves and not through any sort of big machine.

2012 has been a great year for new music. What new music are you listening to at the moment?
Yeah I think it has. And there are some really great Welsh bands. I’m really enjoying what Denuo are doing at the minute. I’m a fan of theirs. Also, We//Are//Animal too, they’re a really good band. Here in America I’ve been listening Kenny Vasoli’s band Vacationer who are great, I’ve liked what he’s done in the past too. And Churches, a band from Glasgow, who are fantastic.

Where do you consider your hometown show?
You know when we played those two headline shows in Bangor and London between the Muse dates it was like playing two hometown shows. We moved to London because that was where Matt was from and that’s where we’re based now. So I’d say North Wales and London are both our hometowns.

You played Swn Festival last year. What do you think the festival’s done for the Welsh music scene
and what do you think of the Welsh music scene generally?
I think it’s great, and us relocating to London isn’t a reflection on the music scene in Wales. There’s still good bands coming out of Wales, there always have been, and the more shows that are being put on the better. With awards like the Welsh Music Prize it’s a tricky one because I think awards can be quite simplistic. But at the same time anything that can put focus and emphasis on Welsh music is absolutely fine and the media and the press are contributing to that too. There’s always going to be amazing talent in Wales and that’s really exciting. We always make sure that we’re keeping up to date.


 Words: Liam McNeilly.

About Nadine 122 Articles
Soundscape co-founder, webmaster and South Wales music photographer. Forever traveling on buses and singing all the wrong words. Get in touch: twitter: nadinebphoto e:

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