On this episode of The Paul Weller Fan Podcast, I am joined singer-songwriter-musician-producer-sound artist, Gwenno Saunders. She is another of those incredible talents to have entered Paul Weller’s orbit – first as somebody whose music he has regularly recommended, and then as a remixer for one of his songs from On Sunset in 2020.
Her creations are things of beauty – sung in Cornish and / or Welsh – hypnotic with gorgeous, enchanting melodies, a captivating blend of dreamy synth-pop and ethereal vocals that transport listeners to otherworldly realms. Her work to date is a real sonic journey that immerses audiences in a unique and introspective musical experience.
It was a real delight to dive into her story-so-far, from that early love of music, being raised in a bi-lingual household by a Welsh activist mother and a Cornish poet father to the creation of a trilogy of stunning albums. The details of which you will find below. Albums that were introduced to me by (you’ve guessed it!) – Paul Weller…
Her debut alum Y DYDD OLAF won Welsh Album of the Year Award at the 2015 National Eisteddfod and the 2015 Welsh Music Prize. It was also mentioned in an article with Paul Weller in Uncut Magazine (Jan 2016 Issue)…
“The band come off stage buzzing, but there’s no time to celebrate. After a quick change of clothes – Weller hands over a CD to listen to. (Y Dydd Olaf by Gwenno) and shouting farewell, disappears down the stairs, followed by the band.”
Her second album, LE KOV, was named as one of the best albums of 2018 by so many publications, including The Guardian, Uncut and Mojo.
Reaching #13 on the Official Independent Albums Chart (UK), it was nominated for ‘Best Sophomore Release’ at the 2018 AIM Independent Music Awards and shortlisted for the 2018 Welsh Music Prize.
Paul Weller featured it in his list in Uncut Magazine for the end of year round up.
Her third album, TRESOR released in 2022, took things to another level again.
Rave reviews – Observer – ✭✭✭✭ – Sunday Times – ✭✭✭✭ – MOJO – ✭✭✭✭ – The I Paper – ✭✭✭✭ – Financial Times – ✭✭✭✭ – The Times – ✭✭✭✭
It was also shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize, making Gwenno the first Mercury Music Prize nominated artist not to sing in English!.
It rightly earned it’s place on album of the year lists everywhere – NME, Mojo, Uncut Magazine etc, including once again Paul Weller…who said “ I really loved Gwenno’s album – this is her best so far. She sings in Cornish and Welsh so I’ve no idea what the lyrics are about but the sound of the words is so beautiful and evocative.”
Throughout his career, Paul has consistently recommended and supported musicians who have gone on to achieve great success. By championing new talent early in their careers, he has become a vital catalyst in shaping the music landscape. His recommendations have given a platform to a plethora of talented artists, propelling them into the limelight and introducing their music to a wider audience. His support serves as a stamp of approval, lending credibility and opening doors for these gifted individuals.
Click your preferred podcast platform to listen…
EP149 – Gwenno – Singer-Songwriter-Musician + Paul Weller Remixer… – Paul Weller Fan Podcast : Desperately Seeking Paul
2022 – Tresor – Gwenno’s 3rd album – Mercury Music Prize Shortlist…
Tresor (Treasure) is Gwenno Saunders’ third full length solo album and the second almost entirely in Cornish (Kernewek).
Written in St. Ives, Cornwall, just prior to the Covid lockdowns of 2020 and completed at home in Cardiff during the pandemic along with her co-producer and musical collaborator, Rhys Edwards, Tresor reveals an introspective focus on home and self, a prescient work echoing the isolation and retreat that has been a central, global shared experience over the past two years.
Buy your copy here.
2020 – Gwenno remixes Paul Weller…
Released at the tail end of 2020, this release saw five tracks from Paul Weller’s critically acclaimed album On Sunset reworked with five remixers taking the stems and crafting something new from that original material. And what remixers they are, comprising Welsh synth-y songwriter Gwenno, James Skelly of Liverpool band The Coral (Skeleton Key), Senegalese drummer Seckou Keita, psychedelic folk star Jane Weaver and French indie pop troupe Le SuperHomard.
Gwenno has built a beautiful new version of ‘Old Father Tyme’ … have a listen…
2018 – Le Kov – Gwenno’s 2nd album… Endorsed by Paul Weller…
Written entirely in Cornish, ‘Le Kov’ is exploration of the individual and collective subconscious, the myths and drolls of Cornwall, and the survival of Britain’s lesser known Brythonic language. As one of the language’s few fluent speakers, Gwenno felt a duty to make her second album entirely in Cornish: to create a document of a living language, explore her identity and the endless creative possibilities of a tongue that has a very small surviving artistic output, despite having been around for at least 15 centuries.
Paul Weller featured the album in his end of year ‘best of’ list for Uncut Magazine.
Buy your copy here.
2014 – Y Dydd Olaf – Gwenno debut album, now reissued…
In a period of governmental and cultural transition, Gwenno released a political concept album inspired by an obscure 1970s Welsh language sci-fi novel, subtly disguised as a blissful kraut-pop record. Written by Gwenno and produced by Rhys Edwards, ‘Y DYDD OLAF’ (‘The Last Day’) is out on Heavenly Recordings.
The album, which is sung entirely in Welsh, apart from one song in Cornish, is a political and feminist record, and a cultural document and celebration of what is unique about life in modern day Britain.
Paul Weller loved this album and is known to have bought copies for friends as a recommended listen…
Buy your copy here.