Gruff Rhys: On My Culture Radar
Former Super Furry Animal on visiting Paisley Park and tuning in to Raidió na Gaeltachta
Former Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys: “I think all cities are worth exploring, to recommend one place over the other seems weird to me”
Current favourite book?
I’ve been touring recently, so I’ve been reading Joe Dunthorne’s The Adulterants. It’s a slim, short novel for taking on the road, and it’s very funny. It’s set in the backdrop of the riots that took place in the UK a few years ago, so it’s light and grotesque at the same time. The last book I actually bought was The Hip Hop Never Stops, a combined biography of MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. I think combined biographies are the way forward, just get some random people together and splice their lives together. It’s a whole new publishing bonanza. Who would I combine biographies with? Probably Gigi Hadid.
There’s a video artist called Takeshi Murata. Psychedelic is a lazy word, but he makes disorientating video pieces that interfere with the real world, or create a super-real disturbing world. He’s got a piece called Infinite Doors, which is disturbing animation involving a weird wolf riding a motorbike, it’s a nightmarish scenario. The most recent work I saw was Donuts, where he filmed his family walking around a regular American street past a doughnut shop, but he’s distorted the video so it’s deeply disorientating. He explores new technology – he pioneered pixel-mashing a decade ago. He has an Instagram account to show clips, but it doesn’t do his work justice, you need to see them in a gallery.
I think all cities are worth exploring, to recommend one place over the other seems weird to me. Like I played in Folkstone in England the other day and I walked to the venue and accidentally came across a record shop that stocked the works of Orange Milk Records from Columbus, Ohio, so I was introduced to a whole new world of music. I enjoy coming across things that I wouldn’t do otherwise. But I did go to Paisley Park, Prince’s estate, in Minneapolis, and that was almost spiritual to me. It felt like a pilgrimage in some ways.
One of the albums I bought from the record store on Orange Milk Records was Nico Niquo’s In A Silent Way. It’s quite meditative and it has quite an echo, you can get lost in it. There’s great sound design and a deep bass.
Totoro, the animated owl. It’s all about the economy of his action – he says a lot with very little words or movement.
An Taobh Tuathail is on weekdays 10pm to midnight and they play underground and instrumental music from all over the world. It’s one of the most radical radio shows in the world
Podcasts are also a good source of news because you get a larger variety of voices, and more radical thoughts, but recently I’ve been listening to a podcast called Ghibliotheque where they discuss the films of Studio Ghibli. I’d recommend that. I also listen to Aquarian Drunkard which is a good source of music – mostly music from the past but some new stuff as well.
Social media profile
I’m politically in tune with @IndigenousTweets, to keep native languages surviving in the age of homogeny.
I live in Cardiff now, but when I go back to northwest Wales to see friends, we pick up RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta. An Taobh Tuathail is on weekdays 10pm to midnight and they play underground and instrumental music from all over the world. It’s one of the most radical radio shows in the world. For years I didn’t know what it was and just tuned in to this esoteric music. Now I can listen to it on digital, but there’s a magic to driving through the mountains on a dark night, listening to this unusual esoteric music.
I took my kids to see Yellow Submarine, so it was a chance for me to indoctrinate them to psychedelic sounds and visuals.