is taken from Gruff Rhys’ new album, Babelsberg, which is released 8th June 2018, on Rough Trade Records. Gruff is the lead singer of the Welsh indie rockers, Super Furry Animals. He is also a memeber of the band Neon Neon, with Boom Bip.
See you in face from tomorrow, my place For a meaningful exchange The natural embrace is replaced By the space of a virtual arrangement Take something spherical Make it mechanical Too many comical, take it in Take that call
Gruff Rhys - American Interior (not all in Welsh, but parts of the chorus are. Also, it’s from a documentary film all about indigenous languages, specifically Welsh and the decline of indigenous languages in the US. A v v good watch)
Some things to remember about Welsh language music: the platform for it is very limited, and thus a lot of it is done on a budget, so keep that in mind regarding the music videos; not all Welsh music is Celtic music and I’ve tried to keep songs with lyrics like ‘I frolic around the beautiful green hills of my besmirched country and dream about dying at the hands of the English’ to a minimum; it’s been 2003 in Wales for about 36 years.
Welsh is Rhys’ first language (he pauses often during the interview, with a slight, concentrated frown, to translate things in his head to English) – and he feels as though it is one that’s in crisis.
“What’s been done to Welsh is a scandal, and it’s at its lowest-ever point every year. But there are measures that can be taken to safeguard it. Schools teaching it are on the increase. In the bulk of the 20th century, people were encouraged not to use the language, it was seen as this backward thing. Now people are largely proud of it, and now it just needs to be backed up by regulation, to give it concrete support. Especially for the communities where it’s spoken traditionally.
“It’s precious, and it has the disadvantage of being invisible. If there’s an ancient, historical building that represents a whole culture – if that’s wiped out then people are in uproar. But something as fragile as a living language, it’s harder to manifest itself visually in people’s imagination.”