Red & Bluea five-track project by Unity ~ 19th August 2022

~ choose your myth and act accordingly ~
Words by Jane Oriel & Doc Blackdawho

Diving Deeper was Unity’s first release with Bard Picasso in 2021. Now comes her new work, Red & Blue. The project is an expression of the struggles we all face, and Unity’s ways of coping with the complexities. 

Watch RED & BLUE video

Watch ‘making of’ RED & BLUE video

Watch RUNNING video

 

PURCHASE FULL PROJECT (bandcamp)

Stream Full Project:

SPOTIFY
APPLE MUSIC
YOUTUBE
TIDAL
AMAZON MUSIC
SOUNDCLOUD
YOUTUBE MUSIC
DEEZER
QOBUZ
NAPSTER
ITUNES
AMAZON

TRACK LISTING

The lead track Red & Blue (featuring Wolfgang Von Vanderghast and produced by Billy Phono) explores contradictions; those internal and external battles and how everything is interwoven. There are questions:

Who are we?  – Descendants of apes and living on a giant rock that spins around an even bigger ball of fire. 

What are we?  – At birth, we inherit a bunch of 2D labels that can’t possibly fit our 5D being. 

But when those labels and expectations are stripped away, who are we? Could we become anyone in any moment? When you live by the roll of the dice and acknowledge the myriad personalities existing beneath the surface, who is the true you? Choose your myth and act accordingly!

High Street Bullshit (produced by Rollo)  

In neglected city areas of Swansea, graffiti writers overcome conflict to work together instead of against each other in a system that wasn’t designed to be inclusive. 

Faith Makers (Featuring Missy G. Produced and mixed by Leone Vuetivavalagi.)

There is so much sadness in the world it can be overwhelming, but beneath it all we are human – we all have access to empathy and smiles and rainbow coloured wisdom.  

Dead Boy Walking (Featuring Skunkadelic. Produced by DW Smith. Additional vocals by Stabitha.)

Unity would hear teachers talking when she worked in Primary Schools. They’d tell tragic stories of parents there who held their children back by neglect and/or intent so they could claim disability benefits. Children were coming to school unable to speak or use the toilet because they hadn’t learned at home but had just been given a screen.

Running (Produced by Unity. Additional vocals by Stabitha. Cuts by DJ Veto.)

Are you running to, or are you running from? You need to bravely face yourself first before you can face the world head on.

RELEASE INFO

Lead track, Red & Blue is released by Bard Picasso Records, 19th August, with the full 5 track Red & Blue project available the same day via Bandcamp – Unity. Available to stream from 9th September.

All five track on the Red & Blue project were mastered by Jamie Winchester, who also mixed all tracks except Faith Makers

EARLIER WORKS

Diving Deeper (2022) Bard Picasso

Garden of my soul (2021) 

Progress is a process (2020) Later Records

Hey all. It’s that Leo guy again with my final blog post on FOCUS Wales 2022 in association with Unity and LOR Cardiff. I’ve seen the reactionary love and the retweets for my scribings from earlier in the week. Thanks, it means a lot, nice to know that I’m having a positive impact. Perhaps I should do more of this more often.

I started writing this the Monday morning after on a train that departed early doors from Colwyn Bay. Wait, what? A bit of a trek from Wrexham, right? Well, what you need to know about me is that while the festivals may wrap up for another year, the live music does not.

A dear DIY musician friend of mine who goes by the name of Grant Sharkey is currently on a tour of his own in promotion of his latest album. He travels all over the UK in his car to play to anyone willing to listen. And how fortuitous it was that he happened to be playing a string of shows in Wales at the same time I was in the country. He played an open mic night at The Pavilion in Colwyn Bay the evening after FOCUS, so it was an absolute no brainer to travel further north to see him and his double bass in action. Yes, you read that right. Here’s some pictures. And go check him and his music out, there might be something there that you’ll like.

 

(The second of the two pics is used with permission from Grant, because, frankly, the selfie he took with his camera is far better than the one I did.)

Yes, a little digression there, but a little something to give you a better insight into me and what I’m all about with the live music thing. It’s my biggest passion in life, I love it so much.

People will have said this before about FOCUS, but the general vibe of the festival is so special. And how cool is Wrexham for the setting? I’ll definitely consider travelling there for one off shows in the future.

I loved the interactions and conversations with people outside the venues as much as what I saw on the various stages. Interactions such as the two I had with members of Vagina Witchcraft, they are really cool people. Giving a cheery hello and appreciation of the set they just played to Aleighcia Scott and her bandmates as they walked past me on the Friday evening. Seeing the bandmates of Samantha Savage Smith having breakfast in the dining area of the hotel on the day of departure, walking over and having a friendly conversation and giving them tourist tips for when they visit Manchester later during their tour.

Numerous fist bumps with Skunkadelic when passing each other at various times. Bonding with Kaptin Barrett over a shared appreciation for black midi. The quickest of catch ups with Maditronique in the entrance of The Royal Oak. So many welcome LOR interactions, too many to mention but one that stands out was a nice lengthy chat with Małgola a few doors down from The Parish on Friday. I was unable to see her solo set at FOCUS – that’s clashes for you – but I know even now that I am certain to catch a future solo or 100% Rabbit show. Just a question of when.

So many others I could mention and they were all good, but yes, you’re right dear reader. Time for me to get on with the day three FOCUS review. I hear you.

Just the mere twelve hours of action to close out proceedings. But I didn’t miss, I saw everyone as planned – and, get this – I actually scheduled a meal break for once as opposed to grabbing a quick bite on the go! Yay me for being sensible.

My day started off at Hope Street Church and with a showcase laid on by Fierce Panda Records. Manchester band SHADE were up first, and they did a very solid job of getting things up and running.

If you’re going to call yourself Enjoyable Listens, you’d better have the tunes and the character to back it up. Both boxes checked, and Luke – the guy who bought his suit from a charity shop for a fiver just minutes before the set started – has oodles of charisma. His in between banter was on point, and I enjoyed a nice chat with him afterwards. We’ll meet again.

Good three piece bands will always bring the energy, and JW Paris had plenty of that. The photo you see below should provide ample proof of this. People moved around in quite the enthusiastic manner during their set.

I planned my entire time at HSC on day three around Moon Panda, their Spotify offerings impressing me greatly during the planning stages. They lived up to my expectations when on stage, and like so many other people I encountered this weekend, they’re cool people too. If things work out, I might have a chance to see them again later this week in Brighton. Yes people, I do get around.

Now excuse me if you will, but I’m going to step away from doing things chronologically just for a moment. Because what I saw next from Unity and the LOR crew at Old No. 7 needs way more emphasis and attention. You’ll read more on this later, but for now look again on the cover shot of myself with the aforementioned Unity on the right, Skunkadelic and the fabulous Cara Elise.

I hate the fact that UK Garage declined in mainstream popularity at some point in the noughties. I still have a lot of love for the two-step, and what I saw from Niques was top drawer. She has bags of personality too, and she made everyone in the sizeable Old No. 7 crowd feel as if they were all a part of it, like one big happy gang.

My final visit of the festival to The Royal Oak and its single file viewing saw me take in a solo set from Aderyn. She’s got the tunes and the chat, and I enjoyed what she had to offer.

A flying visit to CENTRAL after the aforementioned meal break saw me go over to Room 2 and take in a set from Irish band Manilla Times, their choice of stage outfits a clear show of solidarity with the country they were playing in. They did a good job, and a shout out to the little lad also in this shot, he was well into it and I loved to see his enthusiasm. He started a one man moshpit at one point.

I saw Razkid do his thing at 2021’s FOCUS, and I was expecting something good from him at Penny Black. Of course the man delivered, and it was cool to be a part of the crowd there to see him do his thing. He kept calling on us to come further forward, at one point I thought that we were all going to be hanging out with MINAS behind the decks. More on him later.

One final visit to Llwyn Isaf to catch the set of Art School Girlfriend, in case you didn’t figure this out from the snap below. I liked what I heard.

Back to Old No. 7 to catch a piece of history in the making. Whenever I mentioned the name of sorry stacy to anyone, those in the know without exception told me how good she is. I’d planned on seeing her before reaching Wrexham in any case, but the glowing reports received from others only served to heighten expectations.

She did really well. It’s highly likely that she would have been dealing with first performance nerves, but if she was she hid them well. Hopefully we’ll be seeing and hearing more from her from a stage many more times in the future.

Back then to CENTRAL and the nightly shuffle between Rooms 1 and 2. What I will discuss here will be out of sequence with good reason if you continue to read on.

The last time I saw Big Thing was many years ago in my Swansea residing days. I’d come over to Cardiff for a gig at Clwb Ifor Bach and they were one of the support acts, playing then under their previous band name of Winter Coat. Until Saturday night I hadn’t had the pleasure of seeing them on a stage since then, I definitely enjoyed the experience this time around.

I read in the artist bio section on the FOCUS Wales app that SUNHILL named themselves after a cheap wine brand. It would have been funnier still if they’d somehow come across some old episodes of The Bill in their native Sweden and used that as their band name origin story instead. They were quite loud, but very good and they had Room 2 rocking.

Next in the top to bottom trio are KEYS who also made a joyful noise to those in Room 2 land, and Eitha Da who took advantage of a longer set time to give a largely knowledgeable and appreciative Wrexham crowd everything that they wanted and more.

CRAWLERS were a band that I cast a particular critical eye over. When planning for gigs and festivals over the past few months, I kept seeing their name popping up over and over again. So I’m like okay then, let’s see what you got.

And you know what? Yes, I’m believing the hype. They have decent songs, and their leader Holly Minto was definitely meant to front a band. I particularly liked the way how she went out of her way to personally acknowledge those who were there just for her band in the front row who had queued outside the venue long before it opened. If they maintain that level of love and respect for their fans throughout, they’ll go far. Definitely keen to see where they go from here.

But out of everyone I saw in CENTRAL that night, nobody had a greater impact on me than MINAS.

Yes, the above sentence is there on its own for deserved greater emphasis. Man, this guy. I’m not going to suggest for one second that people who perform aren’t passionate about what they do. But there are some out there who are next level, and it just shines through in their output. He is one such person.

I saw him in various places during the week on deck duty for other artists playing. Some performing acknowledged his role in the production of some of their work. (I particularly enjoyed Niques during her set talking about setting up a potential Direct Debit scheme in order for the two of them to get back into the studio to work on new material as quickly as possible.)

This dude gets it. His desire to help other artists be the best they can be shines through. And as for his own work…damn! Just damn. Let’s just say that man’s set flew by quickly, and I could have listened to twice as much.

As I said up above, his passion comes through loud and clear in his performance, and the impact on those in the crowd was pretty cool to see too. Especially Benji Wild. He was 100% feeling it. I’ll remember his reaction to what he was seeing just as fondly as the performance.

Definitely have to see him somewhere again with the mic in his hand, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be at a future FOCUS. Joint best performance of the day for me.

Okay, you’ve waited long enough. Time to rewind back to Old No. 7 and the Starving Artists CDF showcase as hosted by Skunkadelic.

I started talking to Unity about the prospect of writing this guest blog on her website from the previous Sunday. I consider myself to be reasonable at this writing thing, so why not?

We then met up in various places during Wrexham, watching the same artists play on many an occasion. To be honest, it blew my mind a little when she made it clear on the prior Sunday how much she appreciated my passion for live music, as we hadn’t spoken much to each other at that point. But we have mutual friends, hence the invitation to blog.

(Big up LUCE KANON and St Bernadette. Your collective presence was definitely missed in Wrexham this year!)

So it has been cool bonding with her over the past week. And of course I was looking forward to her set at Old No. 7, along with the LOR crew.

Having seen her in the exact same venue last time around, I knew that it was going to be good. After all, how could she fail with TrishnaJaikara backing her up on the decks? And also with Cara Elise pacing her with her own silky smooth vocals? What a team.

But yeah, she’s got the bars and she knows how to spit them. And as with MINAS, I definitely could have listened to her perform for much longer.

And her crew too. Big up Asha Jane, Harriet, and Trish for what they did when they each took their turn on the mic.

TeiFi almost stole the show when she got up and did her thing, actions that I highly approve of by the way.

And a shout out to Brooke for playing a mean guitar, and to Eädyth for laying down the cool basslines. Some real talent on the strings right there.

Yes, I could go on and on. And yes, I was thoroughly entertained.

My personal 2022 FOCUS came to an end in the upstairs part of Penny Black taking in a set from Seazoo as part of an evening’s entertainment broadcast live on BBC Radio Wales. Yet another band that somehow managed to miss my attention until now. But that’s what these events are for, they’re definitely on the LG radar now. Yes, the radar is a thing. I refer to it a lot as regular readers of my writey stuff on Facebook can attest to.

And that was my Wrexham adventure done for another year! I had so much fun for the second year running, and even though I have no idea where I’ll be at in life 12 months from now, I have to say that those FOCUS Wales 2023 Super Early Bird tickets look seriously tempting.

Time for thank yous. A wholehearted thanks to the team behind it all. I’m so appreciative, and I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that Andy Jones somehow noticed this and gave such a lovely reaction in response. Thanks for everything that you, your colleagues and your whole team do.

Thanks to all of the FOCUS staff and crew for helping to keep everything running smoothly. And thanks to all of the security personnel for helping to keep everyone safe. They don’t get anywhere near as much respect for their role in all of this in my opinion, and they should be celebrated more.

Thanks to all of the movers and shakers. The promoters, the delegates, those providing networking opportunities. Your role in all of this is appreciated.

Thanks to all of the artists who I saw on stage, and for making my decision to come and watch you play a good one. Especially if I saw you play for my first time.

Thanks also to those who I missed out on seeing, and for making the choice to pass on as difficult as possible. Trust me, you haven’t gone unnoticed, and I will see many of you play elsewhere at some point along the line.

Thanks to Ladies of Rage Cardiff! It’s been a pleasure to catch up with many of you from last October, and to meet many more of you for the first time. I’ll be seeing many of you again, and not just in Wrexham either.

And, of course, the biggest thanks of all goes to Unity. THANK YOU SO MUCH for giving me this opportunity. It’s been a pleasure to bond with you this week, and I am more than up for future collaborations if and when the opportunity arises to do so. Changed my mind about sharing this one. I assure everyone that I wasn’t harmed during the making of this photo.

I hope I’ve done you proud.

So that’s me done. But before I go, let me leave you with a screenshot of my upcoming plans for May. Some of you might have seen this already, but for those who haven’t, just sharing so that you can truly see what I’m about.

Yes, I’m doing all of this, no joke. By the time this goes out I will have gone to Nottingham and seen FOCUS participants Eädyth and Mangka perform. And this coming weekend will see me do something similar to what I just did down in Brighton for The Great Escape 2022. I plan on seeing a handful of acts down south that I also saw in Wrexham.

The rest you can see for yourself. This is my passion, and I cannot ever see myself stopping completely unless I’m physically unable to continue.

Okay, time to sign off. For those who read any of this, whether it be a few words or every word, thank you so much. And thanks again to everyone who has shown me love for all of this. It’s still blowing my mind that anyone would care to give attention to any of this, but please don’t think that I don’t appreciate it. I do. Wholeheartedly.

Thanks for reading.

LG

How do? LG here with your daily FOCUS Wales 2022 post in association with Unity.

It’s Saturday morning here in Wrexham, and the sun is out. Hopefully you’re having similar luck with the weather wherever you may be.

Going to be a relatively quick one today owing to me having little time to write before day three’s festivities get underway, but I still hope to continue to capture the essence of this wonderful festival for you through the words and pictures that follow.

I had a blast on day two. Saw a whole host of top quality acts, met up with friends old (in terms of time knowing them, not age, let’s make that clear to avoid confusion) and new, made new friends, had more random friendly conversations with people in the street.

Yeah, all good.

My Friday FOCUS was scheduled to be the busiest in terms of planned acts seen, and I largely stuck to it with action spanning just over fourteen hours. As with Thursday, my day started off over in the studios at Glyndŵr University with more acts from Canada on the bill.

As you might have seen at the tail end of my last post, I had high expectations for openers Super Duty Tough Work. They delivered a solid, tight set, and it is highly likely that I will see them play again next weekend at The Great Escape in Brighton. Check them out, they’re worth your time.

On to Art d’Ecco. Now imagine all of the cool things musically about the 80s and updated into an easily accessible package. That’s exactly what you have here with this guy and his band. Plenty of influences abound, if that decade means everything to you, remember the name.

Vagina Witchcraft were up next. Yes, that’s their name. And they were LOUD. Put it this way, if anyone was sleeping in that studio they would have been awakened in a hurry. They’re cool people too, I saw them out and about in town afterwards and we had a lovely conversation.

After saying my goodbyes to everyone at the uni for another year, I headed back into town and to Hope Street Church for a showcase of Spanish artists. Seen here are Sophia Lafuente (she’s the one in black), the Catalan band Chico Jorge, and Marta Knight stood on the right of shot with her bandmates. Very good sounds from all of them.

I have to single out the mini event closers Yo Diablo though. They were absolute dynamite and they had the entire crowd at HSC rocking long before the end of their set. If our paths cross again somewhere in the future, I wouldn’t be mad about it.

Back over to Old No. 7 and the hip hop vibes. Caught up with friends in the crowd, and there was a great atmosphere for the time that I was there at least.

First up we had Fig. bringing that Caerphilly flava. I felt the passion.

And then Aisha Kigs and her silky smooth vocals stepped up and delivered something that just simply oozed cool.

Abertawe represent! The mere mention of Swansea was more than enough to get me interested anyway, but Original TitanTeeth held my attention from beginning to end in any case. He’s on the right in this shot, also seen here is Charlie J who plays his own set today in the same venue.

Over to Llwyn Isaf and FOCUS Wales’ equivalent of a Big Top. Many other places I could have been at this particular moment of the day, but I didn’t want to miss out on seeing Aleighcia Scott play under any circumstances. I made the right choice. If you like reggae, go check her out.

Beija Flo is cool. She’s awesome, and she’s one amazing lady. Sorry to everyone else playing at the same time as her, but you had no chance. As with Aleighcia above, I wasn’t going to miss out on seeing her play over at The Parish. Her rich personality shines through in every performance, and she won over those in the audience who watched her whole set.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m a fan.

But yeah, so cool to be on hand to see her first ever performance in Wales, and I’m already looking forward to seeing her play again.

My day ended at CENTRAL, but I was there for five hours switching between rooms taking it all in. Both music and conversations with friends and bands. And friends in a band. Liam Bevan is one such friend in a band (CHROMA). He is who you see with me in the snap at the top of all of this.

On the music side of things, what I heard from Feather Beds and Los Blancos sounded pretty cool.

Gabe Is A Unit are one of those many bands that I wished I’d heard about sooner. Seeing them for the first time last night, and I strongly suspect that I’ll be seeing them again in the future.

I changed my evening schedule so that I could make time to see Language Arts (having been very impressed with them in the planning stages), and I told them so later. Yet another cool band both on stage and off. Very friendly and relatable. I hope they are able to come back to the UK frequently and often. But if I ever get the chance to see then play again in their native Canada, I’d happily take it.

My second viewed Barcelona band of the day are another I’d happily see again further down the line. I thoroughly enjoyed the angry at times (their description, not mine) rock of The Crab Apples. And they’re also cool people.

And now CHROMA. Yes, I’ll find the words. I love them. They’ve been my homies for six years and counting, and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching them grow and develop as a band. And I have also enjoyed my friendship with them that has continued long after I returned to England to live. That hasn’t stopped me travelling to various towns and cities in Wales and England over the years to see them play though. And it never will.

They played to a packed out Room 2 in CENTRAL, so pleased to see such a big crowd for them. KT was on FIRE with her vocals and overall performance, Bev keeping everything in control with his axe work, and Zac was playing so intensely that at one point he totally and involuntarily rearranged the alignment of his drum kit and needed assistance to put everything back in its correct place.

I could write about these three for several more paragraphs. You just have to know that I am so very proud of them, and the support will continue.

Goat Girl are such a cool band. Last night was the third time I’ve seen them play, and they continue to get better and better. I know that ‘On All Fours’ is still relatively knew, but I already want album three, so excited to see what they do next.

A change to the CENTRAL schedule saw Jack Found play next in Room 2. Well, how do you do! A very pleasant surprise, a very cool discovery at this festival. I definitely want to see more at some point in the future.

My night ended with HENGE. They were quite something. You only have to look at the collage below to get the vibe. Definitely a case of what on earth did I just watch, but you know what, I was totally there for it and the crowd reaction and interaction.

Longest scheduled day at 2022 FOCUS in the books and it was fun from beginning to end.

Day three now, and this is a real time write, so by the time you see this my day will be underway. Check the schedule.

After touching base with Unity all week in various festival spots, I finally get to see her do her thing on stage at Old No. 7. I expect TrishnaJaikara to be laying down the beats with her, and I hope she brings out Cara Elise to perform with her at some point as I’d love to meet her afterwards.

Moon Panda were a band who stood out for me during the planning stages, and I’m fully looking forward to seeing them in action.

I first saw Big Thing many years ago in my Swansea residing days, and it’s been quite some time since I saw them last. Looking forward to seeing them again.

Crawlers are a band who I’ve seen popping up all over festivals and potential gigs to attend. Definitely keen to see what they’re about.

After seeing MINAS in various guises performing different roles for other artists, I’m excited to finally see him perform later.

And whenever I’ve mentioned the name of sorry stacy to anyone who knows, they’ve had nothing but good things to say about her. I understand that today’s set at Old No. 7 is going to be her first ever public performance, so history in the making right there.

Looking forward to it all. Please come back for my final recap and a wrap up of my overall impressions of FOCUS Wales 2022. It will be with you no later than Monday.

‘Til next time

LG

Ay up! You all good, yeah? Let’s commence your daily FOCUS Wales 2022 LG reading in association with Unity!

So let’s start with a checklist:

Was I mistaken for a bouncer? Check. (Don’t worry, it’s been happening for over a decade now, I’m used to it.)

Did I have numerous people in conversation take my ‘Turtles’ T-shirt to be a visual aid to help me remember my own name? Check. All good banter though, I loved it.

And following on from the above, one of the best random conversations I had on day one took place outside The Royal Oak inspired by said tee. Started off talking about the famous arcade game of the late 80s/early 90s, and then it ended up with us the participants speculating on what they would be like as Middle-Aged Mutant Ninja (Hero) Turtles. Would they be running their own successful chain of pizzerias whilst casting a disapproving eye over the next generation of fighting turtles? And would they all still be living with April O’Neil?

Quite the tangent, right? But I included this anecdote to give you more of an overall feel of the festival and its friendly nature. I certainly expect to have more conversations of a similar nature, though probably not as bizarre.

Shall I talk music now? Okay, go on then.

Like the picture up top? This was taken at the end of TeiFi’s (right) amazing set, easily the highest highlight of day one for me. Also pictured to my right is the formidable TrishnaJaikara, she’s got the sick beats. Oh, and she periodically steps away from her decks, picks up a mic and drops some serious bars. Evidently there is very little that she cannot do.

Also in The TeiFiverse was Miss Harriet, seen on the left, and to my left stands Małgola, No, who plays a solo set today. Last but not least is Unity, two from the left, and there as a spectator. She plays on Saturday.

I also loved how at one stage it became a Ladies of Rage party, with other LOR artists stopping by to show love. The unconditional support they give to each other is wonderful to see.

My day started with a walk over to the studios at Glyndŵr University for the early bird show commencing at 11am. I did exactly the same thing last October, and it was great to catch up with the students and staff who I met and talked with last time around.

As with the 2021 event, the Thursday show featured up-and-coming Canadian artists. I particularly enjoyed the sets from Anthony OKS, Tallies and Samantha Savage Smith (and her ‘cupcakes’, you really had to be there), seen here from in the collage that follows, SSS on the bottom right.

Also delivering commendable performances were Ghost Woman, JayWood and Altmeda. Same deal with the collage thing, this time from top to bottom.

The town part of proceedings first saw me head over to Old No. 7 to watch C7s do his thing. I saw a young MC climbing his own personal mountain to success and delivering lyrics from the heart.

And then the ladies – as stated in my previous post – took centre stage.

First of all, Foxxglove at The Royal Oak. I saw her play last October, so expectations were high. She didn’t disappoint.

And then a first music related visit this year to Tŷ Pawb to see Ani Glass, whose music I discovered in the planning stages. She’s got the vocals and the moves.

Unless you’re one of those people who are reading this thing like one of those adventure game books prominent in the 80s (to kill the dragon with the sword you just picked up, turn to page 68), you will have already read my take on TeiFi over at HWB CYMRAEG. If not, go back a few paragraphs and pictures and read, it’s waiting for you.

Prior to all of that, I paid a return visit to The Royal Oak for a personally highly anticipated set from Mali Hâf. Another cool discovery from the planning stages, I particularly enjoyed listening to her song ‘Mamiaith’ on Spotify (check it, y’all), and I was lucky enough to tell her this in person when our paths crossed later on over at CENTRAL. Her performance was top notch.

I got over to CENTRAL a little earlier than expected after TeiFi, so I was thus fortunate enough to catch the tail end of Baby Brave’s set. I’ve seen them before, they’re ace.

Unfortunately no YazMean set, it was my understanding that she withdrew owing to illness. If true – and if she happens to read this – get well soon. And I will definitely see you play again someplace, somewhere.

And so a gentleman was able to secure a spot in LG’s Ladies Night at FOCUS Wales as a consequence. If you’re going to do that, do it right. None better to do so than Skunkadelic who leads Afro Cluster (they played last year’s FOCUS) as well as performing solo. He got the crowd in CENTRAL’s Room 2 going, and I love this shot of him and Kaptin Barrett.

After heading back to Tŷ Pawb and quickly gobbling down some food (must schedule proper meal breaks when I do these things!), I then went to go and watch Peaness. (Be VERY careful when you pronounce their name, be sure to place great emphasis on the ‘ness’ part.)

I have been a fan of theirs since the early days in 2015, and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching them grow and mature as a band over the years. So many people will be so proud of them as they release their debut album ‘World Full Of Worry’, out TODAY! Count me amongst them. The best thing about their set was seeing the joy on their faces how much fun they had on stage.

Back to CENTRAL for my second day one spell. So Sister Wives are a bilingual (Cymraeg/English) Welsh band based in Sheffield? And who lives in Sheffield right now? Oh wait, that would be me. From what I saw here, a repeat performance will be required viewing. To the right are Ava In The Dark, they did good too. They’re based in Leeds, and I find myself over there a lot these days, so seeing them again is also highly likely.

Ladies Night had a finale that was truly epic. If you’re going to go out with a bang, you might as well do it properly, right? After years of trying, I finally got my opportunity to see the living breathing icon Gwenno do her thing on stage. To be honest, she could have been up there burping the alphabet in Cornish and I would have lapped up every second. Yeah, she was amazing. I definitely need more at a future date.

A change in the running order saw me head over to The Parish for what ended up being my final act of the day. Benji Wild, he’s in there somewhere, honest. I love his flawless and easy ability to connect with a crowd, and he drew a huge following. Someone else who I saw last year, good to see him continuing on with things and doing it right.

So all in all, a great day. I don’t believe in doing events like these halfheartedly, and I thoroughly enjoyed my personal day one from beginning to end.

But wait, there’s more! Just one third of the way in folks. You ready to see my day two preview which will just about hold up given the time that this will FINALLY go out? Then please read on.

Top tips for today are CHROMA (2245-2315, CENTRAL Room 2), and Beija Flo (1920-1950, The Parish). I’ve been a fan of CHROMA and their alt rock since 2016 when I travelled over to Cardiff’s iconic Clwb Ifor Bach on one of my many trips over from Swansea when I lived there, and saw them play a set in support of VANT. I’ve since seen them play many other times in Cardiff, and in cities and venues all over England. And my friendship with them over the years has grown, top people all of them. If you’re out in Wrexham tonight, you will definitely want to consider seeing them in action.

And should you wish to head over to The Parish a little earlier to see Beija, she will charm you and captivate. No point in trying to put her in a genre box, just go and be entertained, m’kay? She is a performer in every sense of the word, and she’s bloody good. After making her acquaintance some time back over the socials, I finally got the chance to see her perform not long ago at Future Yard in Birkenhead, and she put on quite the show. If you see her, you’ll be talking about her performance for weeks afterwards.

I’m also excited to see Goat Girl for what would be my third time, and I am so looking forward to seeing Aleighcia Scott for the first time. I also would have added Super Duty Tough Work to the sentiment of the previous sentence, but I’ll have already seen them by the time this goes out. Read my opinion on them tomorrow.

What follows below is the full schedule for day two. 21 acts. Once again, no half measures.

Long piece, I get it, but I write from the heart and you get the full meal, no snacks. If you got this far without skips, thank you and I hope you enjoyed reading. And please come back tomorrow for more.

‘Til next time

LG

 

Hello there!

My name is Leo (friends also call me LG), and I am delighted to accept Unity’s kind invitation to be a guest blogger here on her site for the duration of FOCUS Wales 2022! Yes, that’s me up above.

The main thing you need to know about me is my passion for live music. Sure, you might know someone similar when taken at face value. But I truly mean it. I’m that guy who will travel for tens and sometimes hundreds of miles at a time to watch an up-and-coming band play at a small venue in the middle of nowhere. I’m also that guy who will think nothing of going out to as many consecutive nights out at a gig or festival, when I’m done with FOCUS here in Wrexham I’ll be out for a further 10 straight nights for a total of 13 overall.

I’ve been to many festivals over the years, but last October was my first ever time coming to FOCUS. Needless to say, I wish I’d been able to come here sooner! Such a great and friendly atmosphere, and I enjoyed the many random conversations that I had with fellow fans and performing artists as much as what I saw when stood in front of the many various stages. I’m definitely looking forward to experiencing more of that this time around.

My first time encountering Unity came at last year’s FOCUS event when I saw her perform at Old No. 7. I had the pleasure of meeting her shortly afterwards, and other fellow artists also part of the Ladies of Rage Cardiff collective, amongst them Luce Kanon, TeiFi and TrishnaJaikara. And this collaboration you see here with Unity has come as a result of staying in contact with some of them over the intervening seven months.

For the next few days I’ll be letting you know my top bands and artists to see on each day, as well as give you a recap of the day’s previous events from my perspective. As there is nothing to recall in terms of action right now (I wasn’t at the launch event last night due to not being a delegate), let me tell you instead about a stretch of Thursday’s planned action that I’m simply referring to as ‘Ladies Night’.

Now I plan to be relentless on Thursday, taking in as much music as I can between 1100-0140, but there’s a stretch between around 6pm and midnight where the ladies will take centre stage.

Foxxglove, Ani Glass, Mali Hâf, TeiFi, YazMean, Peaness, Sister Wives, Ava In The Dark, Gwenno.

Quite the run, huh? Each and every one of them comes highly recommended by me, and if you’re out and about in Wrexham yourself, anyone of them would be worthy of your attention.

And if you’re not able to be in Wrexham in person, I hope that my daily writings will give you the sense of feeling as if you were.

‘Til next time

LG

PS Here’s my full planned schedule for Thursday. Many other cool acts are also available to watch, it’s a shame that I cannot be everywhere.

Saint BernadetteLast weekend I painted a mural of the amazing Cardiff singer/songwriter Saint Bernadette. Turns out the timing was pretty fortuitous because on Saturday I had the pleasure of performing alongside Saint Bernadette and some fellow Ladies of Rage (LOR) members, as part of Trishna Jaikara’s DJ set for the BBC6 Music Festival.

When the festival was announced I was very late to get on the hype-wagon… nowhere in my head was this going to be a space where I would perform, or have that performance played on the radio! The main conversation in our house was about how mean it was to bring these amazing artists to Cardiff but not to let under 18’s go to any of the gigs…

Immersed Fringe Festival (Tramshed)

I was grateful to be included on the Immersed fringe festival line-up as a visual artist. Because I was painting I didn’t catch much music, but I did see Monique B kicking off proceedings. Accompanied by her Baby Queens bandmates Cara Elise and Leroy Rahman, with some solid collabs with Reuel Elijah, Monique’s beautiful vocals and easy crowd interaction cement her as a solo artist who I look forward to seeing again.

I was gutted to have missed Miss Faithee, who smashed her set for the LOR IWD celebrations last month. This woman has an amazing stage presence and strong, catchy tracks – there is simply no reason for her name not to have been in large font alongside the other Immersed headliners.

The only other artist I did manage to catch was my Bard Picasso label-mate the Honest Poet. I’ve seen him a few times and his performances always blow me away – lush vocals, deep lyrics and an honest, poetic, heartfelt delivery.

Big up to Bard Picasso for securing a last-minute takeover and offering half of it to Ladies of Rage. Bard Picasso aspire to have gender equality on their future line-ups, and Immersed was the beginning of this. The bar area takeover was an intimate affair, where we were blessed to have two legends from Cardiff’s Hiphop scene hosting. Dregz is probably Cardiff’s most experienced Master of Ceremonies, and Cara Elise’s band Baby Queens were one of my first inspirations in the Cardiff scene. I was lucky enough last week to hear Dregz speaking on a panel discussion about black music in Wales hosted by Dionne Bennett – an overdue conversation, and one that needs to continue.

BBC6 Music Festival

Another discussion panel that Dionne was on, as chair of LOR, in conversation with Afrodeutsche. Myself, Trishna Jaikara, and Teifi joined Dionne to speak about LOR and parts of the conversation were played back on Afrodeutsche’s show with Huw Stephens (2:09). Trishna Jaikara followed up the discussion with a DJ set with live tracks, some of which was AIRED LIVE! (0:54)

Afrodeutsche panel

The festival has definately shone a light on the Cardiff music scene – Missy G was interviewed by Mary Anne Hobbs (0:36), and I also heard Leighton Wall speaking about the Welsh Ballroom community. It was great to hear DJ Jaffa on Huw Stephens’ show (2:13), dropping some Hiphop history and playing tracks including Juice Menace, who I’m so glad I caught at Porters. Alex Jones has been absolutely smashing it at her events role for Porters, creating a lively, exciting melting pot of Cardiff’s musicians and students. In true Hiphop fashion, Juice brought on a couple of unknown artists for her set, and I am very excited to see more of Mercy Rose in particular.

A coupla gigs that would have broken me if I had tried to cram in, were The Shutdown Show’s Moon gig with Eadyth and Izzy Rabey headlining, and Sound Progression’s Fringe takeover at CultVR where I was hoping to catch a young rapper called Truth – look out for him…

I have to give props to Minty who I’m pretty sure went to every single event over the festival! He was also interviewed on Politics Wales, BBC One Wales! Please take a few minutes to have an explore of his online gig guide map, which is a stunning piece of digital art, and will only serve to enhance and grow our blossoming music scene.

I rounded off the week with a long overdue night out with my husband, where I discovered Jam Supernova – HYPE!!! Much love to BBC6Music for bringing such an eclectic mix of music and people to our city – I met people who I was surprised to hear had travelled from Liverpool and as far up as Edinburgh, how lush to show our city off in this way. Onwards and upwards – let’s keep building together!!

Catch me painting:

Her Mark launch event: April 9th, Spit & Sawdust (also catch Missy G, Mercy Rose & Teifi here!)
(7) Her Mark launch event | Facebook

Bring The Paint, Leicester: 28-29th May
HOME | bringthepaint

Cheltenham Paint Festival: 30-31st July
Home | Cheltenham PaintFest (cheltenhampaintfestival.co.uk)

My solo exhibition runs at the HeARTh Gallery, Llandough Hospital until April 18th.

And performing:

Supporting Lazy Habits: 22nd April, Tramshed, Cardiff
(4) Lazy Habits – Vermillion Sands Album Tour | Facebook

Supporting The Scribes: 29th April, Le Pub, Newport
(4) The Scribes / Blue City CDF / Unity – Newport | Facebook

Focus Wales: May 7th, 4pm, 7Bar, Wrexham
FOCUS Wales 2022 » Unity

Ci Annwn (Bard Picasso): 11th June, Moon Club, Cardiff

EVENTS TO LOOK OUT FOR:

Baby Queens at Focus Wales: May 6th, 7pm, Penny Black Room2, Focus Wales, Wrexham
FOCUS Wales 2022 » Baby Queens

Monique B at Focus Wales: May 6th, 11.40pm, Penny Black Room1, Focus Wales, Wrexham
FOCUS Wales 2022 » Monique B

Honest Poet at Focus Wales: May 6th, 8.45pm, Old No7, & May 6th 11.20pm, Penny Black Room1
FOCUS Wales 2022 » The Honest Poet

Bard Picasso Presents: Barred#1: May 14th, Moon Club
(7) Bard Picasso Presents: Barred#1 | Facebook

 

I’m excited to share with you details of my first solo exhibition!

From 2nd March until 18th April you can view my work at the HeARTh Gallery at Llandough Hospital.

The Plaza exhibition space is through the main entrance, straight down the corridor and through two sets of double doors. It’s the small exhibition space to the side of the main gallery, open 9am-8pm.

exhibition flier~In 2017, Unity began creating work around ‘nature’ words that had been removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary, replaced with ‘technology’ words. Words for things that are commonly seen by children – bluebell, ivy, acorn… what happens in the future if our children don’t have language for the natural world? This developed into a cross-artform installation ‘Landmarks‘.

In 2018 Unity created artwork used by RSPB Cymru to lobby Welsh Government during policy creation. Some of the work in this exhibition is a follow on from these pieces.

Self-taught, with a background in ‘break’ dance and DJ-ing, Unity is known for her murals (you can see one in the courtyard just outside the Plaza), and more recently as a lyricist and founding member of Ladies of Rage. Invited to sit on discussion panels for ‘Festival of Voice’ (Cardiff), University of Bristol, and as far afield as Hong Kong, she is ‘thinking very progressively about the application of graffiti as a means of community engagement’.

Unity aims to challenge public perceptions of ‘tagging’ and graffiti by presenting it in newly accessible ways, remaining true to the community-based culture. She grew up in Mid-Wales and now lives just outside Cardiff. Unity set up Cardiff’s Millennium Walkway legal graffiti wall and currently has a petition to get Cardiff Council to come through on their promise of creating more legal spaces to paint in the city:

Petition · Create legal painting option on construction site hoardings · Change.org

 

 

 

exhibition flier

 

Cardiff Council made a promise five years ago and there has been no movement on it – please sign the petition to get them to come through on the tickbox to give permission for artists to paint on hoardings around building sites in Cardiff:

SIGN NOW!

Diolch!

photo credit: @cardiffstreetart

In 2017 during discussions about the use of the Millenium Boardwalk behind the Stadium for painting, Cardiff Council offered to put a tick-box on the form that construction companies use to apply to erect hoarding in the city. The tick box would give permission for artists to paint the hoarding, paying for their own paint, and carrying out the work for free, in their own time.

5 years later, and this still hasn’t happened. This petition is to request that Cardiff Council up-hold their promise.

SIGN NOW!

Painting murals is a social activity, good for physical and mental wellbeing. If artists have permission to paint, the artwork pays for itself, and provides residents with a constantly changing canvas rather than a plain, blank wall.

This petition is co-authored by Unify, who have been working hard in Cardiff Bay to commission artwork to inspire their local community. Creators of the ‘My City, My Shirt’ campaign, Unify aims to showcase the multiculturalism of Cardiff, and in particular, minority communities. They have been granted permission to paint hoardings opposite the police station in Cardiff Bay, and have been working with local artists to create pieces here.

By providing legal places for artists to develop their craft, Cardiff Council have the opportunity to contribute towards a truly inclusive, creative Cardiff.

My debut album, released through Bard Picasso is OUT NOW!

PURCHASE
(bandcamp)
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LTD. EDITION LYRICS BOOK W/DOWLOAD CODE
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STREAM

Watch the video for the first single ‘Boundaries’ 

Watch the video for ‘Dinner on the Table’ 

Read about the ‘Dinner on the Table’ video