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Cardiff Music Awards: Three must-see acts in the Welsh capital

The unique sounds of the city were celebrated last Friday at the fourth annual Cardiff Music Awards. Here are three acts and where to find them this Spring!

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MADI accepting the award for Best Solo Act at the Cardiff Music Awards 2019. Photo courtesy of Nadine Ballantyne.

Artists, venues, promoters and producers converged on the Tramshed on Friday night to honour the best and the loudest from the Cardiff music scene.

The ceremony presented awards across 22 categories, showcasing the breadth of talent thriving in the city. Here are the artists that took home the top trophies and a few honourable mentions for you to find this Spring.

1. Best Group, Best Album & Best Live Act: Boy Azooga

This Cardiff indie band scored a hattrick at the CMA’s this year, with their debut album ‘1,2, Kung Fu!’ taking the top prize.

“It means a lot to be recognized amongst such amazing music in Cardiff,” says Boy Azooga lead Davey Newington. “We’re looking forward to putting some new music with you soon.”

Newington wrote and recorded the album on his own — yes, playing all instruments — and now performs with friends Daf Davies, Dylan Morgan and Sam Barnes.

Newington was born to a family steeped in musical gifts, with both his parents having performed for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales— you can even hear his father playing violin in three of the album’s tracks.

The premiere album flows through different genres, from classicism to synth-pop and disco-rock. One of their most popular singles, Loner Boogie, was filmed in the Transport Club in Cardiff.

Some of the biggest influences to their sound are Ty Segall, The Beastie Boys, Sly & the Family Stone and Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor.

Fun fact: The man heckling the group at the end of the Loner Boogie video is The Flaming Lips’ drummer, Kliph Scurlock, who lives near Cardiff.

Where to find them: Cardiff Castle on May 24, 2019, with Gaz Coombes and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

2. Best Single & Best Music Video: ‘Girls Talk’ by CHROMA

CHROMA taking home two awards on Friday night. Photo by Nadine Ballantyne.

CHROMA is a three-piece band from Pontypridd that formed in 2015, fusing garage rock and pop-punk to create what they describe as a “melting pot of alternative rock.” A strong feminist message booms out of their track ‘Girls Talk’, which scored hottest single of the year.

“We worked so hard on Girls Talk because the song and the message means so much to us,” says Hall. “It means the world to us that people love and appreciate the song as much as we do, and we’re so grateful for the amazing strong women and men who helped us create it!”

The group has grown up in the Cardiff music scene, selling out popular (and CMA 2019 award-winning venue) Clwb Ifor Bach. Their musical influences include the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Rage Against the Machine and Gossip.

Fun fact: Liam Bevan (guitar), Zac Mather (drums) and Katie Hall all grew up speaking Welsh and have made both of their EPs bilingual.  

Where to find them: At the Pwer Festival on May 4, 2019, at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff.

3. Best Solo Act: MADI

Successful local musician Maddy Jones transformed into experimental performer MADI in 2018 and is already racking up accolades. She describes her alternative, genre-bending electronic as as ‘weirdo pop’.

“Since my new sound and look is pretty weird and experimental, it’s really gratifying to see that it’s had an impact, and there’s support for what I’m doing,” says Jones on winning Best Solo Act.

MADI released three singles in 2018, including the dark fem epic ‘Dirty (Word)’ whose lyrics read “I wish you wouldn’t tell me what I believe. / Do you think you have the right to touch me? / I’m not a dirty word.” The video, below, was produced by exiled Turkish artist and Cardiff resident Pinar Ogun.

Fun fact: The sophisticated costuming and stage design at MADI shows is done by her mother, the local Welsh landscape artist Gigi Jones.
Where to find her: At Focus Wales 2019 International Showcase Festival in Wrexham, England on May 18, 2019.

4. Honourable mentions

Of course there was more talent on display Friday night than this top three can handle. We would also like to shout out to the Best Local Promoter, Liz Hunt, who consistently books stellar acts at The Moon. It’s never too late to swing by the small underground venue (that rarely charges a cover) on Guildford Crescent and hear from the rock, hip-hop and punk artists that tear it up.

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Performer from Ladies of Rage at The Moon on International Women’s Day 2019.

Finally, taking home the award for “Champions of the Under-Represented” this year are the Ladies of Rage. The platform is pushing for womxn to break into genres that we have historically been shut out from, including rap, grime, and drum’n’bass, to name a few. Keep on keeping on!

To check the full list of winners and nominees from this year’s Cardiff Music Awards, click here. And to find your most local of local venues, see the map below!

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