Creativity should always be a matter of expression and trying something new, and yet most of the time, we're lucky to experience one of those two elements; particularly when it comes to entertainment. It's that sad truth that partially makes Gwenno's album, Y Dydd Olaf, such a triumph. I say partially, because though those convictions of expression and experimentation are strong, there's also a stronger element at play: and that's of a human being at the helm of their output.

Listening to Gwenno is to listen to an artist who is in control of their creativity in a beautifully concise way. Y Dydd Olaf doesn't have many commercial elements to it, and when you listen to it you can tell that those ideas never came to mind. It's an album that's just as much a statement of artistic expression as it is a pure example of someone creating art in its purest form. To find out more about how this album came to be, I met with Gwenno while she came to visit my city, and I'm glad to report she had no desire to hold back on how Y Dydd Olaf came to be.

Right off the bat, what struck me with your music was how boundless the sounds felt. Does it feel that way for you when you're creating music? That there's no limitation to the songs you can create?

Definitely, I'd definitely agree with that. We were trying not to restrict ourselves. I definitely got to a place where I began to feel a sense of real freedom. After landing there, and understanding what creative freedom can be... it's brought about a real sense of self-awareness; awareness that I did feel freer. It's interesting as well because we all strive for creative freedom, but it's not an easy thing to achieve, whether it be because of the outside factors that might influence and limit you.

Looking back on it all, I'd also say that moving back home to Wales definitely gave me a strong sense of creative freedom as well, because I didn't have any expectations on myself apart from creating. It's funny... it should be like that all the time, but in a society such as this, a capitalist run's easy to lose sight of that, to forget why you create art in the first place. Creativity can easily become a commodity, and I needed to be removed from that and in a place where I could truly be creative.

Would you say that there's a contrast to when you start making music to when you've been doing it for a couple of years? I mean it's interesting how going into a field like this, the aspect of release is the main drive, but the deeper you go into it is when it becomes a career and then with that a sense of obligation.

I think that's right, but I also think that there's a reflective aspect to it all with the times that we're in. Like right now, the way we artists go about creating can be a lot more fulfilling because a lot of the older models no longer work. The world has changed so much, and I think that allows for creative freedom to be so much more prevalent. When you have freedom like that, the freedom to express yourself, it opens you up so much and removes the aspect of expectation, to a degree. I think this is a really good time to make art and music; there is so much to say about society, and the things going on right now. I feel like technology is allowing us to evolve faster, and I think a lot of people are having that discussion, the aspect of boundaries and questioning where humanity begins and stops. I find all that fascinating, and at times, it feels as though artists are the last bastions of emotional expression, within the context of a world that's becoming rapidly globalized. Again, I do think it's a very exciting time to be creating.

What I got from your album is it felt like you didn't care how people were going to react...

I was thinking about this, this morning actually. I was thinking about the justification for using the language (Welsh) in the songs, and what might've brought that on. But the more I thought about it, and again, the homogenized nature of society, it almost felt vital to have voices that are heard that represent more than just one voice. It's important to have different cultures echoed, and what's been amazing has been touring the east coast and seeing the different perspectives that have been taking in my music. It's really made me think about the value of cultural significance, and how that's affected in a society. For me, it's crystalized my belief that different forms of expression, especially cultural, are important towards having a society. It doesn't matter what the language being used is, but it does bring about an important level of respect.

I think that naturally... it's funny, because Wales' story is that of a minority culture that it's a story that's happened in many other civilizations. It's that same story of having a dominant culture, and then having these smaller minorities around it. But I'm sure that's been the case for so many for so long, there have always been smaller areas around a dominant empire.

You could also say that places such as Africa and Australia have similar stories as well.

Yes, exactly! My god! That is almost a different thing in a way because... it's a very different conversation. Because the colonization of Wales was so early on, but if you think of Australia, America, and South America.... the aspects of their history is very dramatic. Though Welsh history is very dramatic as well...

I suppose I mean those places in the context of how if an outsider were to visit a place like Australia, they'd be shocked to see how different the other cities that aren't Sydney and Melbourne would be. How there are other places with different dialects, ways of life, and things of that nature. Whenever I've talked to an American, and even European friends about Wales, that sentiment has been echoed quite a bit. That genuine ignorance and confusion towards what Wales is. I imagine it makes Wales seem quite exotic towards people who come to Britain for the first time.

I suppose it would be that to some, exotic, though I think what's interesting (from my Welsh point of view) is how the people of England all spoke a version of Welsh at one point and time, before the Anglo-Saxons turned up. To me, it highlights a lot of cultural fluidity as well. There is no separation between us, because... I find it very dangerous when it becomes an aspect of nationalism and purity of race, and with my music that's not something I'm really talking about. For me, it's much more about the observation of culture, but also how culture can be so fluid, and all-inclusive. And something else I find very interesting about Britain is how it can be multi-cultural within the different cultures as well. To me, you can get an understanding of how tied up we are in culture, and with that you can see the unity rather than the differences.

A big takeaway I had from the album, was how even though you were singing in your native tongue, it didn't feel like a big statement. In a reflective sense, I also noticed that many didn't pick up on that when I did some reading about you and saw other interviews. For me, it felt like the opposite of a statement... it felt very natural. It didn't feel like you were trying to say a particular thing by singing in Welsh.

You're right in that, honestly, and again, I think we're in a... we're in a dominant English-speaking culture, even though there's as many Spanish speakers in the world. But it just so happens that English is the dominant language. When it came to this record, it was important for me to do the most natural thing that I could do, and expressing myself in a way that would just be natural to me on a very base level. I'm not writing songs about my personal life, but I did want this to be a natural exertion of my ideas. Because when you do that... at least I suspected it, but when it happens there's a freedom that comes with that. You feel a sense of freedom when you're being your most natural. I felt the need to utilize instinct, and there's something to be said about that.

Also, I was encouraged by the experiences I had traveling with my previous band, where we'd sing in English. During our travels we'd see loads of other acts singing in their native tongues and being really blown away by it every time. It always brought a room to a silence, and you always felt like it was amazing and that it affected you. When you thought about it, it'd hit you the reason why was because that person was singing in the way that was most natural to them. There's a lot to say about how you can't hide behind a voice, because it's the most expressive portion of you, the trait that has your character embedded in it the most, and most of that relies on instinct. The most instinctive thing you can do is using your voice, so my mindset with all that was simply: your voice will be at your best if you're utilizing it as it's most natural level.

When it becomes clear just how often we don't utilize our own natural voices, and how seeing another human do so can be so... it can be so out there, really.

And until you see that, until you experience it, you almost have no context for it, really. To me it comes down to multi-culturalism again and again, because I want to be part of a world where I can hear multiple cultures, multiple voices, and not have it be so radical, or be so rare. For example, if a Russian artist is putting out an album, I'm more interested in hearing them sing in Russian than in English, I just am. I just find that more interesting sonically, and I find it so intriguing to hearing something that'll be familiar to the person singing it, but not familiar to me. We have so much examples of that Angelo-centric pop culture, and it affects so much within Western society, but when you hear other languages you feel as though you're getting a window into another perspective.

Do you feel that decision to sing in Welsh, and the thoughts behind it, were informed by experiences that you had on your travels? I'm intrigued how you brought up earlier that you found yourself writing whilst in Wales. I've found over the years that many of the albums artists make tend to be about experiences they didn't expect to write about, so I wonder how relative all of that is within one another.

I think once I became confident to use the language was when it started to make more sense to me as a whole. When you want to utilize a language that's a minority language, within the context of a westernized-society, it can be quite a delicate thing to do. You don't want to do wrong by it. English is so big that it belongs to everybody, and you never really feel self-conscious because the aspect of ownership doesn't really exist, whereas with Welsh you feel a lot more protective and scared using it. But what helped me get over that was realizing that if you have a language, what's the point of using it if you can't use it the way you want to. I really connected with the fact that in Wales, during the sixties, the Welsh language was often used as a tool to express the battle of getting recognition from the rest of the world from a political point of view. So that confirmed to me my own political voice as well, which was very important to me. I come from quite a politicised background, and it's taken me a long time to understand how I wanted to express that.

I think politics can be a difficult thing to touch on because I mean, I remember driving around America earlier and thinking about that 'Universal Soldier' song by Buffy Saint Marie. It's one of those songs that make you think of the mood of the time, and all the events leading up to it. People like Joan Baez, and those types... it was the most natural thing for them to sing about the issues they were facing and to them it was a day-to-day aspect of their lives. And we don't have that now; it's a different world now. It feels that since we've been in this zombified state of not needing to express ourselves due to consumerism... it's like waking up from a deep sleep. I think when it comes to a creative standpoint, it's possible to get lost in all that and to find yourself waking up from it and trying to figure out how you want to express yourself from the world around you.

But there are people who are coming around to it, the protest song is becoming quite more of a thought-out, almost nuanced thing. Looking back on my musical history helped me find my own voice and it helped, learning about what people had done before me, and it gave me confidence is being able to sing about my views myself. So there is a context to finding my own voice in a way.

I feel that your music goes beyond political statements as well. This leads me to wonder about the live component of the album; there's many different sounds going on, and I've seen some recent live videos where you're super focused on what you're doing.

When we were making the album I would start songs off and my producer, Rhys Edwards, I really need to give him a lot of the credit because he'd be able to create a world around my songs. I come from a pop perspective really. I'm a huge, huge, huge fan of a verse/and a chorus, but I think that sort of layered-sound, along with the aspects of outros and intros, I think all of that was such an important part of what we were trying to do. We really wanted to create a world which you'd find yourself in. There's something to be said about albums where yes, the vocals are prominent, but you also get breaks from the vocals.

That aspect, of creating the world, was so important to us, that we really hadn't thought about how we were going to play it live, to be honest. But to me, they're two separate things really. I find that as much relation as they have, they can also exist on two different spectrums. There's a format and a structure that's inherent in execution at times, and I love playing live, but with this album I just very much had in mind what would serve the album as a whole.

Do you feel that you can almost run the risk of overthinking an album, then? I sometimes find that certain artists are hesitant to do something on an album that they wouldn't be able to do live.

You should never limit yourself. I do think performance is such an important thing, and I would like to work it out more. With this album I found myself thinking more about the format and the soundscapes, and that's where my head was at.

That said, as your career advances do you feel your live performances will evolve quite naturally?

I think so. At the moment we're writing songs for the next album, and I'd like to have more of a visual component to the live show. It is crazy though, when we made the album...I mean I never expected I'd be sat here in New York talking about it [laughs], so it would be really nice to think...I'm going to sound contradictory to what I said on the last question [laughs] but yeah I'd love to have a bit more coherence to everything, particularly to the visual elements of the album and live show. It'd enhance what I'm doing, especially when it comes to conveying a language that people might not be familiar with. But that's brilliant, isn't it? It's just part of the challenge really.

Has the response towards the album been a shocking one for you?

Yes, completely! We were just at Moog Fest, and we played at the First Presbyterian Church, and I was first on [laughs]. But my whole feeling was 'wow, I'm so happy to be here! Here I am in North Carolina!' and it was packed! People were dancing in the aisles, and the tours gone great.

You played Rough Trade in Brooklyn as well?

Yes! And that was great as well! The response here in the states has been so great, so welcoming. It's been very warm. To me, that's the best thing really about doing something creatively, where you have to travel a lot to bring your music to people and you get to meet so many different people along the way! I feel that if you're honest with yourself, it'll help you attract people who might feel similarly about things to you, and that's quite a nice place to be really.

I love the simplicity of the 'Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki' video! What was the process like to create this video?

It was directed by a man named Jacek Davis, who we found on a website for artists, specifically photographers. I love that video so much because it has these trashy qualities to it but also these really beautiful qualities as well, just a fantastic combination. He's moved to London, but now lives in Cardiff actually! What's really good about Jacek is that he's very DIY, but he's still glamorous, it's a great marriage of the styles. It felt like his aesthetic and approach would perfectly fit the album well, especially that song.