LUMP, a new collaboration between Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay, join this year’s Festival of Voice in Cardiff to complete the line-up of headline music artists performing at Wales’ 11-day international arts festival this June. This new collaboration was born from a chance meeting between producer Mike Lindsay (Tunng, Throws) and three-time Mercury-nominated songwriter Laura Marling. Lindsay’s compositional style is visual and colourful, mathematic yet emotive – a mix of guitars, Moog synthesizers and pulsing drums set against drones of flutes and voices, while Marling’s lyrics are inspired by André Breton’s Manifestoes of Surrealism, Edward Lear’s nonsense verse and the absurdist poetry of Ivor Cutler. Their united energies will be on stage on Thursday 8 June at Festival of Voice, Cardiff, one of only four cities currently announced for their first tour.
LUMP join the diverse, distinctive and powerful voices of Patti Smith, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Angélique Kidjo’s reworking of the Talking Heads’ masterpiece Remain In Light, Gruff Rhys and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Billy Bragg and Nadine Shah’s Voices of Protest, Angela Denoke with WNO Orchestra and Passenger on the main stage at Wales Millennium Centre, from 7 – 17 June.
This week Gruff Rhys announced his forthcoming 5th studio album, Babelsberg, his first record for Rough Trade since 2007’s Candylion. Documenting our troubled times with humour, grace and addictive melodies, the ten-track orchestral pop masterpiece features the 72-piece BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) with arrangements by composer Stephen McNeff. Gruff’s world premiere performance of Babelsberg will be a one-off live collaboration with BBC NOW at Wales Millennium Centre as part of Festival of Voice on Sunday 10 June, coinciding with the album’s release on 8 June.
Gruff Rhys comments:
“I was looking for a name that evoked the Tower of Babel – people building towers to reach an idea of heaven (but maybe creating a kind of hell – I’m an atheist by the way!) … Musically, I know I’ve had more radical ideas in the past but with these songs… sometimes you just have to accept them the way they are and the way they want to be arranged. The idea of utilising an orchestra seemed to chime with the fact that we’re living in this weird fake opulent world with empty luxury flats towering over city centres and that veneer is there to disguise the cancer inside.”
Charlotte Church returns to Festival of Voice – this time with a unique curatorial voice – presenting a joy-fuelled evening at Wales Millennium Centre entitled Utopia (16 June). Charlotte created her first theatrical work, The Last Mermaid, as a new commission for Festival of Voice in 2016. This year she’s back and inviting a selection of innovative international artists to perform in Cardiff with a contrasting line-up of voices from world music, cabaret, electronica, synth-pop and spoken word. Utopia will host ionnalee (iamamiwhoami), a new solo project from Sweden’s ethereal audio-visual electronic artist Jonna Lee, plus captivating Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara, multi-talented cabaret, drag and performance artist Le Gateau Chocolat and the distinctive spoken word, comedy and theatre artist Talia Randall.
Charlotte Church said:
“My perfect world has voices from the most diverse areas of world music, grime, cabaret, electronica, all snuggled alongside each other as comfortable bed fellows. I want to explore concepts of utopia and dystopia with the audience, whilst having unhealthy amounts of fun. But in my utopia, there’s always a rave at the end of the night. Just a very vocal rave…! It’s also great to be involved in Festival of Voice again this year – the festival offers artists and audiences new opportunities to explore, discover and find their own powerful voice – and all in Cardiff.”
Festival goers can feel the spirit of the ‘70s and ‘80s Wales with a night dedicated to the classic Welsh language rock-operas, a highlight in the cultural calendar for many people growing up in Wales. Epilog will be at the New Theatre (15 June) for a ‘best of’ night, based on a soon to be released compilation album curated by collector and radio producer Dyl Mei, featuring original and new vocalists. This event at Festival of Voice will offer new generations an introduction to this golden era in the history of Welsh language pop music, while older audiences can revel in nostalgia.
Epilog completes the theatre and performance programme at Festival of Voice which also includes productions from Welsh National Opera, National Theatre Wales, Canada’s feminism-focused Quote Unquote Collective and an audio-visual one-off performance from Gwenno. Plus four new female-led commissions premiere at this year’s festival – Lovecraft, a one-woman-science-comedy-music show from Carys Eleri; Highway One, a touching and absurdly funny tale of pilgrimage from August 012 and singer-songwriter Katell Keineg; Double Vision, a new thriller and multi-sensory inclusive experience inspired by Hitchcock and Lehman from Cardiff-based gig theatre specialists, Gagglebabble; and Cave, a theatrical exploration of the songs of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds by Camille O’Sullivan.
New additions to the live music programme are Ibibio Sound Machine (13 June), bringing a high-energy clash of African and electronic elements inspired by the golden era of West African funk, disco, modern post-punk, and electro.
Wales Millennium Centre’s long-running annual hip hop festival Breakin’ The Bay presents… Kin Folk (9 June), an incredible 6-act bill including host and DJ AAA Badboy, rappers Ty (with live band), Chester P and NonameDisciple, First Word Records’ Children of Zeus plus Reykjavíkurdætur, a 10-woman-strong rap collective from Iceland.
And Breakin’ the Rules (15 June), a new event produced and presented entirely by young people involved in Wales Millennium Centre’s Tooling Up skills programme takes place at Clwb Ifor Bach, with Manchester’s Free Wize Men, plus Eadyth, Asha Jane, Wonky Tree and Cardiff’s hip-hop hero, DJ Jaffa.
Audiences worldwide can follow the lead-up to and events throughout the festival by tuning in to Radio Platfform (@radioplatfform), Wales Millennium Centre’s youth-led radio station which launched as part of Festival of Voice in 2016. Over 60 young people have now taken part in the media training programme and a team of 20 will be covering this year’s event.
Young people have also been at the forefront of creating Extinct alongside Yello Brick. Looking at the increasing use of technology in our everyday lives and our right to a voice, Extinct is a roaming ‘what if’ technology experience that will play out on the streets of Cardiff in a mixture of game, music and theatrical happenings (15 – 17 June).
Other festival activities include a Talks programme (9 – 10, 15 – 16 June) at Jacob’s Antique Market, in partnership with The Open University in Wales. The programme includes Women & War: An Un-Silencing with Gentle/Radical, charting a century of war and the continued unfolding of women’s struggles and resistance against the backdrop of imperial terrains. Plus Tell Your Own Story, a free two-hour talk and workshop for writers and the writer-curious, encouraging people to find their own creative voice.
Young people and community groups have already been finding their voices with Festival of Voice’s Voice Collective programme – working with refugees and asylum seekers, foster families, high school students and individuals with learning disabilities, four very different vocal groups have emerged over the past year, from a traditional choir to emerging beatboxers. Each group has been celebrating their voices throughout the process, and some will perform at this year’s Festival of Voice.
The Forget-me-not-Chorus #Mysongmystory Exhibition and Concert Series (8 – 17 June) will be at Penarth Pier Pavilion. The Forget-me-not-Chorus uses the power of song to bring joy to people with dementia and their families. Working with writer, Patrick Jones, over 120 choristers have explored their special song and the story behind it. With powerful images accompanying emotive poetry, the free exhibition will also feature a series of lunch time and early evening concerts.
Festival-goers can access other free events and activities at the Festival Hub, based at Wales Millennium Centre, such as India – Wales (16 – 17 June), a collaboration between Jodhpur Riff Festival and Beyond the Border International Storytelling Festival. Celebrating the music and storytelling of Rajasthan and Wales, a 360-degree dome will host a series of free-but-ticketed events and artists including vocalist and musician Kadar Khan Langa, master kamaicha player Dara Khan Manganiyar, classical Hindustani vocalist and Sufi singer Smita Rao Bellur, plus Welsh singer-songwriter Gwilym Morus and storyteller Angharad Wynn.
The Festival Hub will also be the home to Refugee Food Stories, a pop-up food offering and training scheme in partnership with Oasis Cardiff, an organisation that aims to help refugees and asylum seekers to integrate into their local community. And popping-up elsewhere in the city centre, will be a secret festival bar. Maquis will be resistance themed and there will be DJs. Other than that, it’s top secret, so follow @DTAcardiff for clues closer to festival time… #donttellanyone
There are opportunities to get involved in Festival of Voice with Processions (10 June), a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in a mass participation artwork to celebrate one hundred years of votes for women (processions.co.uk); Gig Buddies Cardiff, a befriending scheme that matches people with a learning disability with volunteers who share the same interests; or to volunteer at Festival of Voice in a variety of roles.
The full Festival of Voice 2018 timetable is now available to view online at festivalofvoice.wales
All events are now on sale. To help people with their Festival of Voice journeys across Cardiff this June, four tailor-made Discovery Ticket Packages have been released today at £40, based on vocal themes (book by calling 029 2063 6464 or select all shows in the package at festivalofvoice.wales and the discount will be applied at checkout):
#1 Voices that Heal
- The Tiger Lillies – live soundtrack Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency photography
- Karine Polwart’s Wind Resistance – from the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner
- Highway One – featuring live performance from Katell Keineg
#2 Blissful Voices
- Angélique Kidjo’s Remain In Light – a reinterpretation of the classic Talking Heads album
- Orphy Robinson presents Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks – with special guest Zara McFarlane
- Susanne Sundfør – with support from Novo Amor
#3 Mighty Voices
- Tank and the Bangas – distinctive neo-soul group from New Orleans
- Utopia – Curated by Charlotte Church – with ionnalee (iamamiwhoami), Fatoumata Diawara & more
- Ibibio Sound Machine – high energy West African inspired beats
#4 Voices that Enlighten
- A Filetta – Corsica’s 6-man vocal collective, premiering brand new work
- Atlantic Arc Orchestra – led by BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Lifetime Achievement winner Dónal Lunny
- Billy Bragg – with support from Nadine Shah, in a Voices of Protest evening
Ticket buyers can also buy a Pay It Forward ticket, with a simple add-on donation. Festival of Voice’s subsidised tickets are given to people who would not normally be able to enjoy the festival, enabling many voices to hear and be heard.
For tickets, the full programme and further information, visit festivalofvoice.wales or call 029 2063 6464.