16th Annual Artist Survey: Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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16th Annual Artist Survey: Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals

Rhys on 2018’s Best Albums, Stan Lee, and His Rapper Name

Mar 25, 2019 16th Annual Artist Survey
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For Under the Radar‘s 16th Annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year, plus some fun personal questions. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2018 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Gruff Rhys.

Rhys is the Welsh frontman of Britpop outliers and survivors Super Furry Animals. He released a new solo album, Babelsberg, back in June 2018 via Rough Trade. Babelsberg was recorded with the 72-piece BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The album’s songs were originally recorded in a quick three-day session in 2016 at producer Ali Chant’s studio just before it was demolished and featured drummer Kliph Scurlock (ex-Flaming Lips), along with multi-instrumentalists Stephen Black (aka Sweet Baboo) and Osian Gwynedd. Then 18 months later Swansea-based composer Stephen McNeff finished orchestral scores for the songs and the album was completed with the 72-piece BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Super Furry Animals, meanwhile, haven’t released an album since 2009’s Dark Days/Light Years, after which they took a hiatus. They did reconvene in 2015 and have been touring and reissuing their old albums, as well as putting out 2016’s one-off single “Bing Bong.”

For our annual Artist Survey we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the midterm elections, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, Kanye West visiting the White House, the #MeToo movement a year later, mental health conditions in the music industry, whether or not they have Flossed, childhood birthday parties and vacations, which Muppets character they are most like, whether or not they are going to The Good Place after death, and much more.

Top 10 Albums of 2018

In no particular order (or logic).

Kate NV: для FOR
Gwenno: Le Kov
Don Leisure: Shaboo
Hen Ogledd: Mogic
Honnda: Maraschino Mic Drop
Kassin: Relax
Domenico Lancellotti: The Good Is a Big God
En Dag: En Dag
Group Listening: Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works, Volume 1
Ursula K. Le Guin & Todd Barton: Music and Poetry of the Kesh
DRINKS: Hippo Lite

Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee also passed away this year. Which of his characters (Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, etc.) meant the most to you/did you most identify with?

The Hulk. As a singer, picking up the microphone gives me a completely distorted scale to everyone else in the room. My voice is 100 times louder than any one else’s. It’s completely unfair. On the plus side the microphone can give a voice to someone who is never usually listened to. Transforming them instantly just like the Hulk (in audio terms) but not necessarily green or angry.

If you were to have a hip-hop side-project, what would your rapper name be?

I was credited for a collaboration once as G.Ruff. I’ve also been named on a poster as Ruff Greece.

[Note: This interview originally appeared in Under the Radar’s Issue 65, which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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March 27th 2019

An interview with two questions…