Grimelda (SK, Canada)

Grimelda (fka The Faps) has re-birthed as a really really really good band with unhinged rock songs that take art and punk to weird levels of amazing awesomeness. While their “New Daft Punk” EP (2021, Transistor 66) highlighted collaboration and genre-bending like the world had never seen, “It’s So Feeling When You Rock” (2023, Transistor 66) is a collection of absurd classics inspired by the need to claw your way through the dumpster fire in search of F U N.

Wow. Just wow. Is this the future of music? Could these two skids from the Canadian prairies be transcending sound? Or is this a regression into dank riffs? Find out by catching this ineffable aural monster in every single town on Earth for the rest of eternity.

Tara Bandito

The daughter of the legendary wrestler El Bandito, Tara descended into the world that we call entertainment, without the opportunity to wonder exactly why performing was such an integral part of her personality. She didn’t ask herself that profound question until 2009 after the loss of her father, her hero and inspiration, which led her on a journey, symbolic and literal, to discover herself.

Performing continued to be a big part of her life, as she joined the incredible ‘Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon’ as a singer, and though she realised in doing so that performing was a vital way of expressing herself, it took one extra twist of fate before Tara realised that writing her own music was the way to truly understand herself.

Cara Hammond

Cara Hammond is a singer-songwriter, originally from North Wales, now based in London, blending RnB and Pop, amongst other influences. Following a huge year for her career in 2022, which saw Cara embark on her first shows in the US around SXSW, 2023 is set to be Cara’s biggest year in music to date.

Denuo

Denuo is an alternative, dreampop band from Conwy in North Wales led by Welsh multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Tom Mason. Blending dreamy soundscapes, ambient pop, and shoegaze elements, the sound is defined by Mason’s wistful vocals and a fascination with film soundtracks.

Inspired by a trip to Japan in 2017, Mason explores the influences of the country and its music on his latest album ‘Through Life’ – released in late 2021 via Twin Moon. Pitched somewhere between melodic city pop and the sighing beauty of Roxy Music’s ‘Avalon’, the beautiful indie-pop of 2019 single ‘Lucid’ (which was included on Spotify’s ‘Dreampop’ playlist for over a year) presaged the sound of the record perfectly. Outside of Denuo, Tom can be found performing guitars/vocals on tour with fellow Welsh artist Novo Amor.

Hazmat

HAZMAT are an alternative rock/grunge band from Wrexham, Wales. After venturing from their hometown, they find themselves currently based in Liverpool. The band consists of Iwan Douglas (vocals/rhythm guitar), Luca Visetti (lead guitar), Owen Brown (bass guitar) and Matthew Birnie (drums).

Heavily influenced by an array of iconic artists such as Slowdive, The Smashing Pumpkins, Deftones and Radiohead; HAZMAT showcase elements of dreamo/shoegaze guitar tones, intertwined with overdriven fuzzy riffs. After travelling across the UK playing shows off the back of their debut EP ‘DOOM’; the band look forward to big plans in 2023.

Wedance (South Korea)

Wedance. It’s a statement and a warning. The duo spends a great majority of their time on stage living up to the name wearing outfits that might be described, with the greatest amount of love possible, as retirement-community-inspired. Wedance, is a singularly difficult band to describe.

With songs about everyday life, a penchant for banging on a single cymbal in between dance breaks, dissonant vocals and dissonant guitars it’s hard to talk about this band without any musically-seasoned listener narrowing their eyes sceptically and possibly thinking they don’’t know well. But these features come together to form a glorious confluence of a-tonal, spasmodic pop bliss that can feel at once anthemic and, of course, make you move in whatever weirdo way these unique compositions compel you.

There’s not enough proudly odd stuff in this world, and so a Wedance set seems to speak to that feeling and acts then as a challenge and invitation; Wedance, do you?

Carlota Flâneur (Catalonia)

A little less than two years ago, Carlota Flâneur burst into the music scene with ‘Brains’, a debut EP that presented her tender and colourful pop in a timid, but convincing way. Only a few months later she released her particular vision of Tyler, The Creator’s ‘See you again’, a song with which she definitely proved she was pop in capital letters. With these precedents, it was clear that their first album could not disappoint… and so here it is. ‘Uncertainty’, Carlota Flâneur’s first album, explores all the shapes, paths, angles and colours of pop music, giving us an extraordinary and brilliant result, with songs that border perfection, that stick in the brain and introduce us to a fantasy universe, where all the dimensions of Carlota Flâneur live. It is unquestionable how Carlota Flâneur has evolved in just two years. Counting on Ferran Palau again for the production of ‘Uncertainty’, she has kept her chromatic proposal and the soft cadence, but now her music emanates a unique personality, totally recognizable, making clear that her capacity to create round songs is infinite. Welcome to the Flâneur universe.

Sad Boys Club

Sad Boys Club return with playful, tongue in cheek single ‘Ignorance Is Bliss (Haven’t You Heard?). Partnering with world renowned artist Josh Parky Art (Action Bronson, Gerry Cinnamon & more) on an entire new cartooned aesthetic / imagery for the single, it’s bold statement with their catchiest single to date.

Hannah Grae

Sending bulletins from the aftershocks of her school years in South Wales, Hell Is A Teenage Girl exists as an exorcism of upset and anger, created mere months after Hannah Grae escaped it all. Merging the comforting childhood sounds of musical theatre scores and Taylor Swift’s storytelling with a lineage of emotive, rage-fuelled female voices from Alanis Morrisette to Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell -the result is a cross-genre bite ripping the head off pop culture lies. Turning the studio into a playground and gaining a new education in pop punk and 90s grunge away from the softer soundtrack of her Port Talbot home, the Hell Is a Teenage Girl sessions gave Hannah a vehicle to finally vocalise years of bottled-up feelings.

Ynys

Ynys (Island) is led by Dylan Hughes, ex-Race Horses and Radio Luxembourg. The songs of Ynys are rich collection of melancholic harmonies, over a soundtrack of 80’s sequencers, 70’s string machines, and fuzz guitars.

From Aberystwyth, Ynys released their debut album on Libertino Records in November 2022.

Their ambitious sound palette journeys from Big Star power pop to Beach House via cinematic strings, sung in Welsh and English. Their adventurous playful song craft and off-kilter psychedelic pop songs have led to singles of the week on Amazing Radio, BBC Radio Wales, and live sessions for BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley show and Amazing Radio.

Will Joseph Cook

The songs of Will Joseph Cook are recognizable for their enticing vocal hooks, summery melodies, and a bright, quirky pop production evident across his recordings. He made his full-length debut in 2017 with Sweet Dreamer.

Hailing from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, Cook developed a taste for music in his early teens when his interest was spurred by the enthusiastic nature of his father, who took Cook to as many live gigs as he could. From performances by Vampire Weekend and MGMT to Everything Everything, the shows soon inspired the young creative to pen his own lyrics and tunes. After some time teaching himself music production basics with MIDI systems and figuring out a specific sound palette for his work, Cook eventually shared his first EP, You Jump, I Run, online in 2015. Littered with charting-single vigor, the release soon topped a million streams, attracting the attention of Atlantic Records.

After some sold-out shows across London and an appearance on the BBC Introducing stage at the Glastonbury Festival, he delivered his second EP, Proof Enough, on Atlantic in mid-2015. Cook soon drew comparisons from critics to everyone from King Krule to Talking Heads and was praised for his affinity for fun, summery pop anthems. The track “Beach,” in particular, began to receive widespread airplay in both the U.K. and the U.S., earning Cook a place at the SXSW festival and a support slot for one of his inspirations, Everything Everything. This resulted in members of the latter producing remixes of some of the tracks that appeared on his Proof Enough EP. The following year, he co-produced his first full-length for Atlantic with Hugh Worskett (Birdy, Rae Morris) and Bombay Bicycle Club’s Jack Steadman. The album, entitled Sweet Dreamer, saw release in early 2017.

Parting ways with Atlantic, Cook started his own label, Bad Hotel, which delivered his second long-player, Something to Feel Good About, in 2020. It was produced with Matt Parad (Max Pope, Olivia O’Brien).

Band Pres Llareggub

Owing to the age-old tradition of brass bands from the slate mining villages of North Wales’, Llareggub Brass Band ascend from the ashes of the past and bring with them an immense dose of heavy brass! Their music invokes the sumptuous flavours of New Orleans marching bands, together with Bronx-inspired Hip Hop and Welsh language pop music.

Formed by their bandleader Owain Roberts back in 2015, the band has released four studio albums and numerous EPs and are quickly making their mark as Wales’ best live (brass) act. Their live sets often feature guest vocals by the likes of Mr Phormula (Welsh Beatboxing Champion), Lisa Jên (9Bach), Alys Williams (BBC’s The Voice), Tara Bethan, Mared Williams and many more.

A Guy Called Gerald

An iconic name in dance music, A Guy Called Gerald stands out for consistent innovation, excellence and refusal to compromise. A Guy Called Gerald kick started Europe’s acid house frenzy releasing the first UK acid house record, the ’88 classic ‘Voodoo Ray’ and ‘Pacific State’ and went on to lay down the blueprint for jungle / drum n bass.

Nine albums and 30 years of independence later, he continues to push the boundaries of electronic dance music touring worldwide bringing his “true school” flavour to a world overloaded with pop pap.

Although his remixes are relatively enviable including the likes of David Bowie, Cabaret Voltaire, Black Uhuru, Finley Quaye, Lamb, Tricky and The Stone Roses, it is Gerald’s own productions and refusal to plough anyone’s furrow but his own which has marked him out. A Guy Called Gerald is responsible for the birth of British dance music as you know it today and continues to explore what is possible both in the studio and in the club with his “Live in Session” performances.

Since 2012 he has been working on a side project with Graham Massey (808 State) called REBUILD performing live jams on the Roland machines. “How Long Is Now” was released on Bosconi Records in 2012. A live album Silent Sound Spread Spectrum followed from the Society of Sound Series – a collaboration between Bowers & Wilkins and Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in 2013.

He continues to be in demand worldwide with his Live In Session shows using a vast patchwork of past, present and future experimenting effortlessly between early acid house through abstract tech breaks into dreamscapes of futuristic oscillations.

At Glastonbury Festival this year he will return to perform with Funktion One’s Experimental Soundfield – a six stack Ambisonic full-sphere surround sound technique that is ‘capable of recreating accurate three-dimensional sound stages from original recordings’.

In the studio he is busy recording a steady stream of releases on his own digital label.

“UK club culture has many people to thank for transforming the imported sound of America into the biggest youth movement my generation has experienced, but nobody else has redefined it so much with the character and soul of Britishness, creating music for both the feet and the head, and indelibly altering our cultural landscape.” DJ Magazine

Dream Wife

Dream Wife, formed of vocalist Rakel Mjöll, guitarist Alice Go, and bassist Bella Podpadec, will make their FOCUS Wales debut in 2023 and we couldn’t be happier to welcome the band to Wrexham, following the release of the band’s second album ‘So When You Gonna…’, which earned both a No. 18 UK Album Chart debut and a No.1 placing in the Official Record Store Chart of Independent Retailers.

The album was the only release in the top 20 to be produced by an all non-male engineering team; as well as the only non-major label release, was subsequently named one of Rough Trade’s Top 10 Albums of the year. The Marta Salogni (Bjork, M.I.A., Bon Iver) produced and mixed record dealt with topics such as miscarriage and gender equality.

The band have an exciting new album in the works, and their recent single Leech has seen rave reviews from across the music world.

Dilettante

Dilettante is the art-pop brain-child of multi-instrumentalist Francesca Pidgeon. Live shows are a genre-phobic loop-fest, featuring everything from fuzzy guitar licks to 5-part saxophone harmonies. When not making music (or hyphenating words) Francesca moonlights in Bella Union’s BC Camplight and enjoys slamming into people on skates (roller derby). Her debut album ‘Tantrum’ was released October 2022.

The album tour saw sell out and over capacity shows at Gullivers (Manchester), Sela Bar (Live at Leeds) and Windmill Brixton (London). Previous shows also include support slots for Self Esteem (Belgrave Music Hall), 6Music’s Tom Robinson (The Trades Club), BC Camplight (YES Manchester) and Caribou (Sage Gateshead) plus festival appearances at Kendal Calling, Manchester Jazz Festival, This Must Be The Place and The Great Escape (Online 2021).

FFO St Vincent, tUnE-yArDs, Dirty Projectors, Kate Bush and Fiona Apple.

Neue Grafik Ensemble

Composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Neue Grafik has been building a strong rep for himself over the past few years. His sound is a hybrid of jazz, house and hip hop, all with his unique geographical flavors of African ethnicity, Parisian roots and a love for London sounds like broken beat & grime. Having been first properly introduced to the community of Total Refreshment Centre, home to London’s flourishing jazz scene during an after-hours jam, it was decided that he would form a band, the Neue Grafik Ensemble. Then, the group got in the studio and ‘Foulden Road’, the EP taken from those sessions, came out in 2019. In the beginning of 2022, Neue Grafik released ‘Foulden Road Pt. II’ — a new record entirely dedicated to Adama Traoré and Assa Traoré, their community and more largely to all Black people around the globe.

The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable head “Into The Blue” for their very personal new record. Into the Blue is about opening your eyes to beauty & love again. Making it to the other side. Whilst not conceived as a metaphor for the times we all live in now, it certainly turned out that way – Ritzy, Rhydian & Matt – The Joy Formidable

Here are some songs the band would like you to start with – in their words:
The title track Into The Blue is about surrendering to love and magic. Having the courage to enjoy a new journey and the mystery and excitement of something unexpected.

Back To Nothing takes a stance on self-compassion, realizing your worth, your boundaries and deciding not to give your love to an undeserving other.

Chimes is a based on a true story of serendipitous events that “felt like something or someone is looking after you. The wind chimes that my grandfather made me when I was a kid. I felt his presence when I was feeling lost at the start of making this record. Weird little happenings that shake a cynical soul like me to believe in some higher power of guardianship, trusting in life and the love that you put out will come back to you” – Ritzy Bryan

Sevier “The river Sevier runs 385 miles through Utah – close to where I live. It’s like a metaphor for love & it’s journey. Are you staying in it, following it through all the seasons, cutting through mountains and canyons through all the hardships, or cutting (severing) loose?” – Ritzy Bryan

Gotta feed my dog “I choose the dog”- Ritzy Bryan

Into The Blue by The Joy Formidable was released digitally and on limited edition vinyl August 20th, 2021 via Enci Records in North America, Full Time Hobby in Europe and via Soundly Distro in the rest of world.

The Joy Formidable are originally from North Wales. Today they split their time between there and the closest thing they could find in the U.S. – “In the middle of nowhere” Utah. We invite you to hear a band that reflected on where they’ve been, and where they needed to go for their next chapter.

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