Focus Wales 2023: A Preview | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024  

Bethan Lloyd, Cloudsurfers, Campfire Social, Chroma, tAngerinecAt, HMS Morris, Dactyl Terra

Focus Wales 2023: A Preview,

May 01, 2023 Web Exclusive
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​Under the Radar makes its annual pilgrimage to Wrexham later this week for the 12th edition of Focus Wales. Having first opened its doors in 2010, Focus Wales has grown in both numbers and stature to become one of Europe’s leading showcase events. Not only when it comes to highlighting the very best in Welsh music, but also by showcasing some of the finest talents from around the globe. This year’s event features artists from as far afield as Madagascar, Taiwan, Japan and India, as well as the UK and Europe. While also hosting a full schedule of interactive sessions, conferences, arts events and even a film festival, making Focus Wales one of the most essential music industry gatherings on the festival calendar.

As with previous years, Under the Radar has chosen two artists to play the event; Welsh electronic multi-instrumentalist Bethan Lloyd and Netherlands based noise rockers Cloudsurfers.

Bethan Lloyd

(Saturday 6th May, 1510 @ The Parish)

Bethan Lloyd is a unique entity; a one off whose layered vocals and multi-dimensional way with sonics has seen her music compared to the likes of Bjork, The Knife, Lana Del Rey and Goldfrapp without sounding like any of them. Originally trained as a classical singer, Bethan’s time spent in Berlin’s experimental music scene broadened horizons to new possibilities, learning with shamans, masters and ancient teachings of the ancient world. It’s this paganistic approach to creating music that sets Bethan apart from her peers and contemporaries, culminating in this year’s excellent Metamorphosis long player which came out on Berlin independent label Soulpunx last month.


(Saturday 6th May, 1920 @ Penny Black Room 1)

Cloudsurfers are one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the Dutch underground scene in recent years. Hailing from Nijmegen in the Netherlands, their twin guitars and two drummers assault has drawn comparisons with the likes of Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, The Oh Sees and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. The quintet’s debut album Don’t Know What Hit Me came out in 2021; largely as a vehicle for singer/guitarist Thom Liesting’s expressive musings. However, this year’s long awaited follow-up Subhuman Essence - due out in September - is almost certain tobe the record that takes them to the next level. Brutal, incisive and steeped in the same boisterous dynamics that makes their live shows deliriously engaging events.

Taking place between Wednesday 3rd and Saturday 6th May, Focus Wales also hosts performances from household names like The Coral, Squid, Billy Nomates, The Joy Formidable and Dream Wife, alongside some of our favourite up and coming artists such as ACID KLAUS, Opus Kink, Adwaith and Shelf Lives. In total, over 250 artists will play over the course of the festival’s four days to approximately 20,000 people, making it Focus Wales’ biggest event yet.

Here’s five more Welsh acts we’re really looking forward to seeing :-

Campfire Social

(Thursday 4th May, 2240 @ Wynnstay Arms & Saturday 6th May, 2130 @ Old No. 7)

Campfire Social are like a Welsh Broken Social Scene but heavier. They play wholesome pop with a gritty lo-fi edge that makes them one of North Wales most enticing musical ensembles.

HMS Morris

(Saturday 6th May, 2130 @ Ty Pawb)

Cardiff’s HMS Morris are a breathtaking anomaly in the nicest possible way. Fusing sounds and ideas that’s seen them compared to Talking Heads, Stereolab and Sparks among others, current single “Family Souls” sets the scene intently for the band’s imminent and as-yet untitled third long player.


(Friday 5th May, 2240 @ Wynnstay Arms)

Manic Street Preachers bass player Nicky Wire is one of Chroma‘s many avid devotees and it’s easy to see why if you’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing them play live. Singer Katie Hall is a formidable presence that’s part Karen O, part Kathleen Hanna and part Beth Ditto and while such lofty comparisons might make lesser bands shudder, Pontypridd trio Chroma just get better and better with every passing show.


(Thursday 4th May, 2145 @ The Rockin’ Chair Room 2)

Having originally formed in Kyiv before moving to Wales in 2015, tAngerinecAt are an exhilarating duo whose music has been likened to Nick Cave, My Dying Bride and Fever Ray among others. Last year’s Glass long player was one of 2022’s most intensifying listens, telling the story of singer, composer and producer Zhenia Purpurovsky’s Ukrainian background as a multi-ethnic queer refugee.

Dactyl Terra

(Saturday 6th May, 1840 @ Penny Black Room 2)

Hailing from the valleys of South Wales, Dactyl Terra make psychedelic rock music but not as we know it. Fusing an array of influences and ideas from jazz and funk to forays into metal and shoegaze territories, theirs is a sonic maelstrom that should make Saturday teatime a beguiling experience.

For more information on who’s playing when and where this year visit the official Focus Wales website.

See you down the front!


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