Melys - biography


Last updated: 24 September 2009

The Melys story began in the summer of 1996, when Paul and Andrea met in the picturesque village of Betws-y-Coed. They became a couple, and began making music together.

Paul passed a tape of their recordings to SFA producer Gorwel Owen. He loved it and passed it on to Ankstmusik. Paul's brother Gary was recruited to play drums, and their long-term friend Carys Jones played keyboards.

Ankst released two EPs, Cuckoo and Fragile. These brought their brand of fragile pop with a spiky underbelly to a wider audience, and they moved to Pinnacle to release their debut album Rumours And Curses. With their advance from Pinnacle, Melys built a recording studio in their town, which gave them more musical freedom and saved them having to travel.

Relations with Pinnacle were often strained, and in late 1998 the label went bust, leaving Melys without a deal. But the band used it to their advantage, and the following year set up their own label, Sylem.

In the transition Carys left the band to work with John Lawrence and his Infinity Chimps, and in her place Melys recruited Rich Eardley, who had previously been their tour manager. The changes to the band allowed them to go from strength to strength.

The first Sylem release was the Baby Tornado single, which reached the indie top 20. This was followed by the Slagging Off Tourists EP (containing live favourite Disco Pig), Melys' second album Kamikaze (8 May 2000) and the Un Darllenwr Lwcus single.

In October 2000, Radio 1 came to Cardiff for the One Live urban festival. John Peel introduced the band at their Clwb Ifor Bach gig (supported by Gorky's Zygotic Mynci). Peel had long been a Melys fan, even describing them at one point as "part of the family". They recorded a number of sessions for him, including one at Maida Vale with the London Welsh Male Voice Choir, singing You'll Never Walk Alone on his birthday.

Peel also introduced Melys to a Dutch band called Seedling. The two bands gigged together in Holland and Britain, and released a split single in May 2001, featuring I Dont Believe In You by Melys, together with Cool Baby, My Hips Go Woo by Seedling. And another high point came for Melys at the close of 2001. Their single Chinese Whispers, released in October, was voted to the top of John Peel's annual Festive Fifty countdown of the year's best songs.

Melys appeared to take some time out after this success, retreating into their Betws studio. But they came back in 2003, with the release of the album Casting Pearls. Another single, Eyeliner, came out in May 2004, followed by a fourth album, Life's Too Short (dedicated to John Peel) in March 2005.

An extended period of inactivity followed, but in 2009 it was announced that the band would reform for the John Peel Day festivities on 13 October, with a warm-up gig at Bangor's Hendre Hall on 30 September.

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