With new singles ‘Dyma Kim Carsons’ and ‘The Piper Pulled Down the Sky‘, Y Dail (The Leaves) aka teenager Huw Griffiths from Pontypridd, South Wales, seems intent on continuing his run of highly melodic intelligent pop songs. Both songs follow 2020’s debut Y Tywysog a’r Teigr (The Prince and the Tiger) , second single O’n i’n Meddwl Bod Ti’n Mynd i Fod Yn Wahanol (I Thought You Were Going To Be Different), and the hazy dream-like ‘Feel The Sun‘ written and recorded specially for the V4Velindre charity compilation. Y Dail bagged national airplay with his releases, second place in Rhys Mwyn‘s Radio Cymru Alternative Chart 2021, and a GIITTV Sound of 2021. He continues to win support both inside and Wales and out of it. Huw tells us more about Y Dail and what motivates him and his music.
It’s a year since the first Y Dail single. How’s the last 12 months been for you?
It’s been both good and a bit frustrating.
Y Tywysog a’r Teigr was self-released in early November 2020, I think, which went pretty well. At the same time I was also recording for more potential singles and an album. We’d started about eight tracks but at the end of December 2020 the country went into lockdown, so — factoring in my A levels and other Covid complications — this meant that the earliest we could actually start finishing stuff was in the summer of 2021. We mixed The Piper Pulled Down the Sky and Dyma Kim Carsons and recorded more tracks. So there’s probably about fifteen tracks floating around in various stages of completion.
In April we decided to release O’n i’n Meddwl Bod Ti’n Mynd i Fod Yn Wahanol just because it was the track that was closest to being finished, and with a few tweaks over the phone (to Kris Jenkins, our producer) it was done. It’s funny because — other than being more or less forced to release it as a single — perhaps it wouldn’t have come out.
You’ve had 6 Music, and BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru success. What does that mean to you?
Recording songs, for me, is a kind of compulsion. Other people liking them, especially Marc Riley and Adam Walton, is great because it’s a sort of validation. But I’d do it anyway, even if no-one liked the songs. It’s not to try and ‘make it’, or become what people call ‘successful’. It’s just that I love music and if I hear something good it inspires me to do it myself.
O’n i’n Meddwl Bod Ti’n Mynd i Fod Yn Wahanol has been described as ‘perfect pop’ What is your definition of perfect pop?
Great pop, for me, is many things. It has a physical effect, and makes you crazy, whether it’s ‘Ice Hockey Hair’ or ‘Being Boring’ or something by the Supremes or ‘Borderline’ or ‘When Doves Cry’ or ‘Diane Young’.
How is the album coming on?
As I’ve already said, there’s already enough songs for an album in theory, so when I get a chance over the next few months I’ll be finishing them. It would be nice to put ten or so together for a release, if only to document the last year or so, but it may be that we just carry on releasing singles for a while.
In the summer we said ‘Running the risk of patronizing Griffiths to death, he has a ridiculously wide listening practice, and it shows.’ Who and what influences your work the most right now, and why?
All sorts of things influence me, from other groups to books and films, even sport. Musical influences would be Gorky’s, Television, early Prefab Sprout (in their ‘ecstatic melancholy’ phase, as Michael Bracewell put it), Super Furries, Northern Soul, Cate Le Bon. Less obvious might be Vampire Weekend or The Go-Betweens. My favourite run of albums from a contemporary artist would be the first three Vampire records which I think are just sublime.
In terms of words, over the last few years I’ve been reading Imagist poets, modernists, cut-up writers, French symbolists. I really like Paul Farley, who writes sonnets about pop culture.
How are you enjoying the live shows you’ve done this autumn, did you do any before plague year?
When we started off in about 2018 there were four of us in the band, but this subsequently became two: me and my sister Elen, who’s sixteen, and plays a few different instruments. We were asked to support Papur Wal in October, and they’re one of my favourite Welsh bands, so we decided to do it as a two-piece, then we played the Swansea Fringe the following day. Even though it’s not a full sound I think it works in a different way. There’s a focus on the songs as a two-piece, a sort of lightness to it, a brittleness, maybe, that could be exciting. The world we live in is often very muscular with everything nailed down, and it’s nice to do something more vulnerable and sketchy. We’ll see what happens in the future.
What are your plans for 2022?
More singles, perhaps an album, and more gigs.
Y Dail live shot photo credit : Gareth Bull