Once upon a time in Brighton there was a make believe band called The Pipettes. There were three of them, and they all wore polka dots, did some pleasing choreographed dance routines, and attempted to recreate a 60s girl group aesthetic but with a modern twist. To some extent it was an experiment in manufactured pop (masterminded by one Monster Bobby), that resulted in a couple of albums and even a hit, in the form of ‘Pull Shapes’. They were much fun to watch, and their songs were strong on classic pop melodicism and structure.
Written entirely in Cornish, Gwenno’s new album Le Kov is an exploration of the individual and collective subconscious, the myths and drolls of Cornwall, and the survival of Britain’s lesser known Brythonic language. As one of the language’s few fluent speakers, Gwenno felt a duty to make her second album entirely in Cornish: to create a document of a living language, explore her identity and the endless creative possibilities of a tongue that has a very small surviving artistic output, despite having been around for at least 15 centuries.
Not only can she speak fluent Cornish, but also fluent Welsh and English, making a very rare thing indeed. Some will remember her as a member of the polka-dot dress wearing The Pipettes, the Brighton formed, kitsch meets 60s-influenced indie-pop band who were making some waves at the tail end of the last decade.
She is certainly an interesting artist, and she took some time out to have a chat with an intrigued Brightonsfinest.
Gwenno’s first record, Y Dydd Olaf, was an experiment by the Welsh artist to incorporate her political beliefs with sounds she grew up with, and was moderately motivated by a dystopian sci-fi book of the same name by Owain Owain. The album was principally sung in Welsh, except for one of the most interesting tracks on the record, and concluding song on the album, ‘Amser’, which was a musical depiction of a Cornish poem by her father, Tim Saunders, sung in Cornish, the first language Gwenno ever learnt.