We spoke with Welsh folk artist Bethan Nia recently ahead of the release of her debut album ‘Ffiniau”
Available now HERE
Q: Your skills are amazing – harp playing harp and incredible singing too. Tell us how long you have been involved in music and your background.
BETHAN NIA: Thank you for the compliment! I went to a Welsh language school where singing Welsh folk songs and competing in the Eisteddfod (an annual arts festival) was a natural everyday thing. This is where I learnt to play the harp as it’s our national instrument. I then went to drama college and was an actor for eight years before feeling a calling back to playing the harp and singing. I have been working as a musician ever since.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about your debut album ‘Ffiniau’ and the inspiration behind it.
BETHAN: I was keen to develop my own sound for this debut album and wanted to incorporate other instruments too, not just harp and voice. When I met music producer Charlie Francis, we had a shared vision for the sound. it was fantastic to hear the Welsh folk songs in a contemporary setting with beats, atmospherics, field recordings and other instrumentation. Some of the songwriting happened organically during the recording process. A theme emerged of ‘Ffiniau’ (borders or boundaries) – exploring the boundaries between people, languages, musical styles and worlds. I am inspired by nature and ‘Annwn’ in my own writing (which is the otherworld in Welsh mythology).
Q: Who would you most like to collaborate with if it could be anyone in the world?
BETHAN: Kate Bush. I have been a fan for so many years! Her albums ‘Aerial’ and ‘Hounds Of Love’ have influenced my songwriting for sure. I would love to collaborate on an album of Welsh folk songs with her – how cool would that be?
Q: You have a calming and stunning voice – who are some of your musical influences?
BETHAN: I must admit that I am influenced mostly by other female artists – Kate Bush of course, Moya Brennan (Clannad), Natasha Khan (Bat For Lashes), Florence Welch and Loreena McKennitt being my top five!
Q: Many of our readers are artists who might be working hard at their craft and wanting to get to the next level. What kind of advice would you give to other up and coming artists trying to get their names out there?
BETHAN: My advice, aside from fine tuning your craft, would be to learn some business and online marketing skills. There is so much you can do now with social media to connect with fans around the world – learn about branding and how to sell your music directly online. It’s a lot of work, but I’m very happy that I have started on this venture. I still have a lot to learn myself, but it puts you very much in control of your career and gives you a lot of confidence. Oh, and build your email list! The knock-on effect of this is that you learn professionalism and people can see that you’re taking your music seriously, which may lead to getting an agent or manager (if that’s what you want).
Q: What is coming up next for you?
BETHAN: I’m playing at the wonderful Between The Trees Festival in August 2021 https://betweenthetrees.co.uk/ and I’m building my online Shopify store to sell the album and merchandise to my fans, as well as working on building my email list. I’m very excited about this new venture! As things open, I hope to do more live performing. I’ve been performing online for fans during the pandemic, but nothing beats live gigs!
Interviewed by Stephanie Pankewich
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