Cardiff-based musicians commissioned to create new ‘Sound of the City’



Four talented Cardiff-based musicians have received ‘Sound of the City' commissions to support the creation of experimental new work, some of which will be presented later this year as part of the recently announced Cardiff Music City festival.

The ‘musicians-in-residence' awarded commissions are N'famady Kouyaté, Natalie Roe, Eugene Capper and Gemma Smith.

The commissions, which are supported by Welsh Government, Cardiff Council and Cardiff Music Board, form part of Cardiff Council's music strategy and aim to nurture and sustain development in the city's music sector.


N'famady Kouyaté

N'famady Kouyaté will merge his traditional West African musical heritage with the classical European instruments of Sinfonia Cymru, in what he describes as a "unique collaboration bringing together different musical cultures to create something new and exciting."

Born in Guinea into a ‘djeli' family with hereditary responsibility for preserving traditional Mandingue culture through the sharing of ancient rhythms, songs, and stories, master musician N'famady is a virtuoso on the balafon (a traditional, natural wooden xylophone) as well as a singer, percussionist, and multi-instrumentalist.


Natalie Roe

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama graduate, Natalie Roe will fuse sounds collected from around the city with her electronic compositions, to paint an audio picture of Cardiff. Natalie has previously written concert music for BBC National Orchestra of Wales and The Band of the Welsh Guards. Her electronic compositions include a 16-speaker dome installation displayed in Helsinki and a live immersive electro-acoustic concert, titled ‘MINDSET'.

Collaboration is key for Natalie and as part of the commission she plans to work with a visual artist to create an immersive experience. "I have always felt incredibly welcomed as a composer and musician in Wales, and in particular Cardiff," she said. "Projects like this one only strengthen and fuel the energy of creatives and I'm so thrilled to receive a Sound of the City commission."


Eugene Capper

Musician, sound designer and sound artist, Eugene Capper has worked and performed with the likes of Richard James, The Gentle Good, Girl Ray, Ivan Moult and Teddy Hunter. Their album ‘Pontvane' with Rhodri Brooks was shortlisted for a Welsh Music Prize and last year they were commissioned by the Greenman Trust to score a film with artist Kathryn Ashill titled ‘Gunsmoke City.'

Back in 2015 Eugene also built a studio in Riverside. Made from recycled materials, the studio hashelped numerous artists, including two Greenman Rising winners and multiple Welsh Music Prize nominees, develop their practice. Now as part of his ‘Sound of the City' commission he aims to collaborate with some of the bands and musicians who have recorded and rehearsed at the studio, to create a compilation of new material about the local neighbourhood. Speaking about the commission, Eugene said:"I value the support our music community and I have received so much. It's made an opportunity accessible that otherwise wouldn't be there: to create something special for us."


Gemma Smith

Founder member of Ladies of Rage network, Gemma Smith (aka Missy G) was once Wales's only female drum n' bass MC. Now, with the help of a ‘Sound of the City' commission, the DJ, rapper, producer and singer - who also runsan organisation that mentors local young people in developing music creation skills -is creating a new multi-genre album. Over ten tracks spanning grime, R&B, hip-hop and soft rock, she hopes to tell her own story and "show other people who face barriers, with lived experience & who live in poverty, to never give up."


A council spokesperson said: "Cardiff's music sector is worth in the region of £100 million annually to the economy and the wealth of talent in the city was evident in the strength of the applications for these inaugural ‘Sound of the City' commissions.

"Through its music city development work the Council aims to support the city's musicians and music professionals, and create the conditions that will help the music sector to continue to grow and flourish."

The commissions were open to applicants with at least two years professional performance or production experience, working in any musical genre and applications were assessed by a panel made up of representatives from Cardiff Music Board, Clwb Ifor Bach andTŷ Cerdd - Music Centre Wales.