The Sound of 2023: Wales – Part One

The Sound of 2023: Wales – Part One

In the first of our tips pieces from Wales, Bill Cummings picks out some of his picks for the next twelve months.

Y Dail

Here at GIITTV we’ve had our eyes and ears on the heavenly melodies and quirky pop stylings of Y Dail (The Leaves) for a while now, indeed last year Cath Holland tipped teenager Huw Griffiths and sister Elan for success and their star has only grown. They don’t just posses a brilliant knack for melodies but literary and cultural references that add intrigue and depth to everything they do.

They released the peerless ‘Whizz Kids’ last year on Libertino Records. It took the production up a notch pairing a more hi-fi backdrop that still retains their charm, with Huw’s wistful melodies and more than a helping of 60s influenced harmonies, 80s keyboards and a pleasingly mid tempo beat. ‘I read an old interview with Paddy McAloon (Prefab Sprout) where he said he wanted to sound like Picasso with a JX3P synth……Whizz Kids is me trying to be Brian Wilson on an old Casio,’ says Huw. Whizz Kids hits that sweet spot and proves that Y Dail deserve to be once again ones to Watch in Wales, as purveyors of a superior brand of indie pop.

‘There is something timeless about Y Dail songs that could have seen them as C86 Indie darlings, sharing NME pages with early 80s Postcard Records trailblazers Orange Juice and Aztec Camera. It’s this timeless romantic quality that enthralled us from the start,’ say Libertino. 

[embedded content]

Half Happy

Love Sweeps’ is a swoonsome tune about longing and love and is a fantastic introduction to emerging Cardiff band Half Happy. They describe it as ‘a love song by people who never thought they’d write one’, Rose’s wonderfully expressive voice is imbued with a hazy quality, underpinned by dreamy waltzing percussion and jangly sepia-tinged guitars. Before being swept away by the rush of the shimmering, gorgeous chorus, where she’s overwhelmed by the feeling of love. Fans of the Sundays and Alvvays will find much to love here.

They followed it up with the subtle jangling swell of ‘Steal Me Away‘ that displays a more cinematic and wistful palette, and the liltingly gorgeous new track ‘Runaway Girl.’

Zac and Rose started writing music together in lockdown on garage band and created a mini studio in their living room. When everyone could go back to the pub, they went to the studio with friend Tom Rees (of Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard) and recorded a few tracks. To bring the band to life, they asked long time best pals Jon and Pete to join. They’ve all known each other for 9 years.

[embedded content]


We were tipped off about South Walian MC BOYO by our regular hip hop in Wales scribe Kaptin. Imagine the Goldie Lookin Chain sparring with Run the Jewels and the Beastie Boys, and maybe you’ll get someway to understanding his fiery, witty positively bursts from the speakers every time BOYO delivers another track.

Fuming’ explodes with rage while the crushing ‘Raw Pop’ is also brilliant, like miniature sitcoms layered with inventive samples. harsh realities and brutal truths. My favourite though is ‘Valley Bouncing’ that weaves up the valley mountains with frenetically spat lines that are so intricate, and abrasive that they’re impossible to ignore. Self aware, aggressive and bustling with inventiveness, this is incredible levels of rhyming bristling against abrasive beats, and collapsing into a joyous chorus “Boyo from the valley n’that” indeed!

BOYO is about to pop off in 2023.

Hana Lili

Hana Lili has been carving out a space for herself with a run of wonderful releases in the last eighteen months, blurring lines between indie pop and folk pop but with nouse, Lili possesses a voice of rare quality. The South Walian followed her debut EP Flowers Die In The Summer in 2021 with the longing ‘Stay` and infectious single ‘Burden‘. Co-produced alongside Frank Colucci (JGrrey, Rose Gray), the atmospheric production, nagging strums and intimate vocals of ‘Burden’ are intensely personal. In mental health week Lili opened up about carrying a weight around with you, and worrying about adding it onto your loved ones’ load. Burden flowers somewhere between the bittersweet introspective lyricism of Phoebe Bridgers and the infectious refrains of Soccer Mommy. It’s a superlatively wistful earworm.

She recently released the excellent Existential EP , peeling back even more layers of her songwriting that bristles with emotional depths and wonderful song writing craft. The swelling ‘Common Ground’ pulls you into its embrace, her voice oscillating somewhere between the feather light pop of Billie Eilish and the yearning hooks of Natalie Imbruglia. ‘Solitude’ displays a McCartney-esque knack for hooks as she slides down a deliciously introspective melodic line. Hana Lili is a voice and a songwriter who holds prodigious promise.

[embedded content]


The world currently resembles a trash fire right now, a cost of living crisis, eye watering bills, spiralling debt, and we are careering towards a recession on top. Into this post-apocalyptic environment enter Swansea group Kikker, with a ferocious shot of pure anger and bile aimed at the boomers who kicked away the opportunities. Kikker’s sound trundles through on the back of a caustic cavalcade of guitars, and an abrasive howl from the depths laced with withering sardonic scorn, it’s inspired by anger, injustice and inequality. It sounds like The Birthday Party‘s spitting rage and fury, colliding with the relentlessness of the early work of Fontaines DC. Absolutely fearsome and truly cathartic to hear.


Newport-raised, now London-based artist, Lemfreck, was nominated for the Welsh Music Prize for his excellent debut 2021 album the Pursuit, and he’s built upon that with an EP Blood and Sweat and Fears and superb, personality-filled live performances including at Swn festival where I saw him last year. Lemfreck’s music skirts the lines of hip-hop, ragga influences grooves and gospel, carrying with it his unmistakable stamp and unique voice, forged from his upbringing and the poverty and injustice in his community.

‘The Sound of Silver’ possesses an insidiousness paired with a menace. His song ‘Kings‘ from his album featuringINFAMOUSIZAK, matches smooth beats and soulfully sung tones with searing bars and a strutting beat, is a tale of L E M F R E C K’s life up until now and how he got here. He says: “So I wrote it as a memoir, like a story of how I got here. How I wanted to quit. How I’ve done all this so I can respect myself. And provide a life for my people.

‘Kings’ is an honest account, L E M F R E C K’s rapping delivery is calm but interesting, heightened by his surprising smooth singing “Hard times came to play, I’m awake, are you the same”.

[embedded content]

Elina Lee

Originating from Sweden, now based in Cardiff 24-year-old Elina Lee’s debut single ‘Deja Vu’ is impressive. Plunging us into memories of past lovers with her delectable r&b meets neu soul sound, pulsing beats underpin Lee’s intimate musings of love and lust with potential romantic partners. “It’s about having a shared moment or experience with someone and moving on, but having this sensation in your mind that it never happened,” she says of her debut release. “It’s a sort of brain fog similar to the feeling of deja vu.”

“2 AM I think about you/4 AM you alright now?/5 I forgot all about you/Morning, you’re still on my mind,” she bristles over slinky keyboards growing into a repeated refrain that burrows its way into your head, lovelorn and filled with doubt in the early hours. It’s an intoxicating pop song that holds itself with a wealth of promise.

[embedded content]

Lunar Bird

Forming in 2017, the Italian/Welsh band Lunar Bird weave intoxicating soundscapes with vocals that spy towards the horizons and burst with imagination. They released debut EP ‘Daydreamer‘ in 2018 and followed it up with a self titled debut album in 2021. The single ‘A Walk‘ was a woozy Catherine wheel of synth motifs and a glacial wash of percussion, redolent of Jane Weaver, draped with the ethereal vocals of Roberta Musillami. Both evocative and life affirming.

With an intoxicating gloss of dabbing keys and translucent melodies, recent single ‘Venilia’ is an absolute delight that captured the dying embers of summer freedom and hope, with a spirit that guides you to dance towards the shore. This glistening percussive gem is stamped with warm analogue synth stomps and shrouded in the orchestral waves of Giuseppe Magagnino. While Roberta’ Musillami’s vocals are both seductive and hypnotic, surfing the elliptical tides of the Franco psych pop of the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg or Melody’s Echo Chamber and the kaleidoscopic sun kissed melodies of mid-period Goldfrapp. Recorded by Stefano Manca at Sudestudio, mixed by Steffan Pringle, mastered by Charlie Francis, for my money is the best song Lunar Bird have produced so far. We await a follow up album from the duo with anticipation.

[embedded content]


Gillie‘s evocative single ‘i ti’  is a wistful trawl through to self-discovery, documenting her journey back to her homeland of Wales after late teens and early twenties spend in London. This wonderful song swims deep in swirling melodies and pitter patter beats and entwining guitar motifs. Her meditive vocals ripple with anxiety, contemplation and release with a recognition things must change. Also a part of Ailsa Tully‘s band, it’s the first song the Carmarthenshire-born artist has written in the Welsh language. Her first release for Libertino which is a hallmark of quality Welsh release, we look forward to what is to come from this talented and burgeoning songwriter.

As Gillie explains: “This song centres around a period in my life where I was looking for a change of direction and hoping to rectify frustrations of feeling overwhelmed and worn out. . I began writing this track in my last month of living in London, but the song itself came to life and was fully realised once I made the move back to my homeland.

Back to top