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Interview with Patrick Rimes of Calan

Calan bring together the remarkable talents of 5 young musicians giving a fresh and vibrant sound to traditional Welsh music. With a contemporary and lively approach they breathe new life into the old traditions through their sparkling melodies, foot tapping tunes and spirited and energetic performances of Welsh step dancing. They blast their way through some of the old favourite reels, jigs and hornpipes with fast paced and uplifting arrangements before melting into some of the most beautiful and haunting songs. -The Calan Website.

Visit www.calan-band.com and listen to streaming music.

Calan. I like the name. It possesses that pagan  sound  which calls to mind dragons, druids and the beauty of the Welsh mythology. It is also a term associated with Welsh feasts as in Calan Mai (1st day of May) which is the equivalent of  Gaelic Beltane.

Patrick Rimes plays for this band. He has mastered the fiddle, bagpipes, pibgorn, whistle and trombone . Calan approach the Welsh traditional music scene with freshness, vigor and a fashion sense.

Like the power of the fire-breathing dragon, these guys swoop down to the scene with such intensity and hypnotic grace. I saw several videos of their performance and they always leave the audience with jaw dropping impression. Calan have joined the ranks of top Celtic players all over the world and Wales is once again at the center stage of the music scene. Like any knight haunting for the mythical dragon, I got help from their manager Huw Williams who helped me get in touch with Patrick Rimes. Now we will know Calan at this point and I am sure people who read this will want to know and listen more to this band.


Patrick Rimes – fiddle, bagpipes, pibgorn, whistle, trombone

Angharad Siân Jenkins – fiddle

Bethan Rhiannon – main vocal, accordion and step dancing

Alaw Ebrill Jones – harps

Llinos Eleri Jones – harp, triple harp

Sam Humphries – guitar

Alex Moller – percussion, drums

Promo band picture

Promo band picture

What were the challenges faced in making a sophomore album?

It wasn’t exactly the usual affair of “2nd album syndrome” where you
have to cobble something together dead quick – Sain records were
obviously keen for us to release it sooner rather than later but we’d
had plenty of time since ‘bling’ so the majority of the tracks were a
part of the regular set.

Bling was highly successful and it received a lot of praises. Has this experience made you guys feel that it was a tough condition trying to live out to the debut’s success?

I don’t think we felt too much pressure from others – but for
ourselves we wanted to create something that demonstrated how much
we’ve developed since then. Bling came out when we were still surviving
on the cute factor to some extent, and I think it reflects that – quite
rough in places and full of fun. We’ve grown up a bit now (but not too
much!) and needed something that we could look back on in 20 years time
and hopefully not cringe too much!

The pibgorn in Wales

The pibgorn in Wales

I describe your music as vibrant and stylishly appealing. Are you guys aware that you are contributing something fresh to the traditional scene?

It’s great to be able to take Welsh traditional music to English
festivals maybe 20 minutes drive from the border and play this stuff to
people who’ve never heard anything like it before. We’re always in
search of that ‘Welsh sound’, to which the harp contributes an awful
lot, but the tunes are really distinctive. Bizarrely, it seems that
Wales itself is the least keen appreciate its own music – people are
just so determined to listen to crap all the time.

You play different instruments with the band. One of them is the pibgorn which I find fascinating. How did you master this instrument.

The pibgorn was a 10th birthday present, which I nagged my mum into
getting for me after seeing acts like Crasdant and Pibau Bach – I
paraded it round school the next day and could only make a horrific
whining sound! As an enthusiastic member of the schools recorder
ensemble, it was only really the breath control that was a problem
(fingering patterns are almost identical), and that’s always a constant
battle. Trombone playing certainly helps, but I really wish I could
circular breathe like Crasdant’s Stephen Rees.

 How smoothly did the recording of Jonah go and why the title?

Since we’d been playing most of the stuff live for about a year, some
tracks went down very easily indeed, however it wouldn’t be a proper
fortnight of recording without the panic meetings and hasty preparation
of extra numbers in the studio lounge! Me and Alex the drummer also
spent several nights sleeping in the studio, which was pretty rock ‘n
roll – comfiest place I’d recommend is Dafydd’s (the boss) office!
After we’d finished recording and listened back, the song Jonah stuck
out as one of the flagship tracks and seemed an obvious choice for an
album name. We still had a longwinded discussion over a pizza and came
up with some very naff alternatives, but I’m pleased we made the right
choice!

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