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Entertainment, Music

Interview: Andy Jones, Music booker for Focus Wales 2014

Tell us the thinking behind the festival and behind the bands you’ve booked.

Really, we’re a non-genre specific festival so we’re here to support everybody in Wales who’s making music that needs a platform to showcase what they’re about and what they’re doing. We’ve found through our own experiences as the festival organisers – we all have a background in music, we’ve all been in bands, involved in record labels and with promoters looking after bands – we’ve seen actually in other parts of the world and other parts of the UK, that they have events like this that provide an opportunity to put the spotlight on the artists from that region. It’s an opportunity to invite the music press to that region to say, “Hey look this is the talent that we have releasing some amazing records over here. Come and check it out!”

So really we’re just looking for the most exciting things; be that the most interesting and creative acoustic songwriters or the most amazing punk / metal bands, or the most interesting and fun electro acts. It’s wide open really. We love all sorts of music and we want to support the guys who are working hard all year round. This is becoming the annual thing that generates a whole lot of buzz for Welsh talent. That’s the idea.

How long have you been involved with Focus Wales? Since its inception? 

Yes. Essentially, myself and my colleague Neal Thompson established Focus Wales; our first edition in 2011. This is our fourth year now. We’re really pleased with how it’s grown. We’ve gone from having really only two venues and 40 bands over two days, to having 150 bands and 16 stages this year. Plus with the three days of stand-up, we’ve brought in that new dimension this year. It’s evolved really quickly. We’re really proud of the way it’s going and we just want to keep building it.

Are there any particular bands you would recommend checking out this weekend?

There are so many, to be honest with you. There are so many exciting new Welsh bands coming through. Islet are a really explosive band playing at Central Station on the Friday. This evening, we’ve got Cian Ciaran, who’s a Super Furry Animals legend and he’s basically now championing artists through his record label Strangetown Records and he’s got a new record out himself. It’s awesome really and it’s a privilege to have him on site.

There are so many others. The international aspect of what we do is a really exciting one. We have artists from all around the world. Over the past few years, we’ve had artists from literally all corners of the planet; from Korea, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the USA, and all across Europe. It’s awesome to be able to welcome the world to Wales for one crazy four day period. And they love it, that’s the exciting thing. It’s an opportunity for everyone to be on their best behaviour and to host international artists from around the world. It’s a privilege for us.

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About Alex Watt

I’m a writer, not a fighter. Freelancer, NCTJ student and comedian. Write for the Mirror, 411mania, the Denbighshire Free Press and more.

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