Originally from North Wales, Papur Wal are a slacker-pop trio who were formed in Cardiff after they, “arrived as stowaways on the capital city’s streets”. While the band’s influences seem to come from across the planet, it was writing in their native Welsh that inspired the rich vein of creativity that produced their debut album, Amser Mynd Adra. Translating as Time To Go Home, the album is set for release next week via Libertino Records, and today the band are sharing the video to the latest track lifted from it, Brychni Haul.
Brychni Haul is a track that in many ways showcases the progression in Papur Wal’s music, as their influences shifted from 90’s slacker-rock to a more retro-pop feel, incorporating the gargantuan choruses of Big Star with the wistful melodies of early Beatles’ records. Vocalist Ianto’s easy melody and prominent guitar twang are accompanied by the crisp, almost militaristic drum-beat and the steady walking-bass, reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub or fellow Welsh-wonder Sweet Baboo. With a title translating as freckles, Papur Wal describe Brychni Haul as a reminder, “no matter how bad it can get, you’re often having a better time than others and you should be counting your blessings for that”.
Check out the new video below, recorded on a vintage Elmo Super 103t and described by the band as, “a glance at the start of the summer”. Then read on for our Q&A with the band where we talk about the Welsh music boom, working with Libertino Records and how they “went into the pandemic still feeling like students, and came out of it feeling like boring adults”.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Papur Wal?
We are three North Walians living in Cardiff who love melodies.
FTR: You’re premiering your new single Brychni Haul today, what can you tell me about the track?
When we wrote this song we had just moved out from living with each other and into separate houses. That period that preceded it was awful for most people, but it was one of the best times of my life, definitely. The comedown from that was quite depressing, and I’m sure we were depressing to live with after it! So this was written at the end of summer 2020, in lockdown, so there wasn’t much to except reflect and write music. This was an attempt to make light of the situation and keep everything in perspective,
This song documents that time and the adaptations that one has to make when moving out from living with your friends. There’s a lot of stream of consciousness, and a lot of observational bits in this song of things that were happening, but the main message is that there are worse things happening in the world than me not being able to live with my friends anymore!!
FTR: The track is lifted from your Amser Mynd Adra, what can you tell me about recording the album?
The album was recorded with our producer and widely-regarded-best-guy-ever Krissy Jenkins. He did Cate Le Bon’s early stuff and H Hawkline’s stuff and does loads of stuff now. We recorded the majority of the album in his old place, and the finishing touches at his new place. I think the more we work with Krissy the more he gives us, he’s the kind of producer/engineer that just gets better and better the more he gets to know you and what you’re into etc. He’s also quite a nerdy guy at heart and always wants to try new things out, and we really enjoy that. Beyond that he is our mate and we just love shooting the shit with him, he has lived and has a story about everything. We probably took about a year to a year and a half to finish it. It was an amazing time spent with our mate Krissy.
FTR: Did you go into recording these tracks thinking it was going to be an album? Or is it more of a collection of songs?
The goal was always an album, but they weren’t recorded in one block in a studio like the more traditional approach. It was 3 or 4 songs per weekend slot booking time off work and without gigs.
FTR: I’ve seen this record described as being about moving, “away from the carefree abundance of young adulthood”. Have you found that transition difficult?
I touched on it on the question about the single. It was definitely difficult, but the more I talk about it in interviews and such, the more I think maybe we’re making a bit of a fuss, it pales in comparison to the problems other people have faced over the last 18 months.
It was weird, we went into the pandemic still feeling like students, and came out of it feeling like boring adults I think. So it’s as if we’ve left one period of our lives and entered another. The name of the album ‘Amser Mynd Adra’ (Time to go home’) touches on that.
FTR: The album is coming out on Libertino Records, how did that come about? Are record labels still important to you?
Gruff from Libertino loved a couple of our early demos we recorded in 2017 and came to meet us and it just made sense. It’s such a stacked roster and such a pleasure to be a part of it.
FTR: There’s a lot of very creative music coming out of Wales at the moment, does it feel like a good time for Welsh music to you?
Definitely, we just played a double header this weekend with label mates Bandicoot, and played with Clwb Fuzz and Shlug on both bills. We hadn’t played with any before this weekend, which shows you the depth around Wales at the moment. We’re keen to expand beyond Welsh language audiences too – who are still obviously so important to us – but it was amazing to have a room full of people who don’t know what the words mean loving your music.
There are loads of other amazing welsh language bands too like Los Blancos who have just released a new EP, Mellt who are about to release their second album, Y Dail who beyond their years in terms of incredible songwriting, and Pys Melyn who released an amazing debut album recently and have some more incredible songs on the way.
FTR: Who are the influences on Papur Wal music? What were you listening to when you wrote thare record?
We’re predominantly into music from the 60s and 70s. Early Beatles, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, CSNY, Big Star, Townes Van Zandt, Todd Rundgren. A bit of a mix really, but generally anything with a good melody.
FTR: It’s obviously a strange world to be releasing the album into, how has the pandemic affected your plans?
The pandemic was a bit of a blessing for us really. Before it we were playing every weekend, and didn’t have time to practice, demo or write enough due to other commitments so we were a bit burnt out and unsure what to do. It was a bit of a reset for us, we had time to reflect, we wrote loads together, we developed our production and songwriting, and after we finished the album we started practicing consistently to make sure we were ready when gigs came back.
FTR: What’s the best way for people to support musicians at this time?
Buy directly from us through the Libertino Records store or through our Bandcamp. We actually keep more of a % from Libertino than from bandcamp.
FTR: What’s next for Papur Wal?
We have 6 or 7 shows in October, and a few more on the horizon leading into the new year, so touring the living hell out of the album and getting this album out to as many people from as many different background as possible really.