Gwenno on working with Manics and the “debauchery” of “indie sleaze”
Gwenno has spoken to NME about her 2022 Mercury Prize nomination, as well as working with Manic Street Preachers, the chances of a reunion of The Pipettes, and memories of the “debauched” indie sleaze era. Watch our video interview with the artist above.
- READ MORE: Mercury Prize 2022: why each nominee deserves to take home the coveted award
The Welsh singer-songwriter was speaking to NME from the London launch event for the prize earlier this week (Wednesday July 27), where her acclaimed third album ‘Tresor’ was named as one of the Albums Of The Year alongside records by the likes of Sam Fender, Self Esteem, Nova Twins, Harry Styles, Little Simz and more.
“It’s very surreal,” the previous Welsh Music Prize winner said. “It hasn’t sunk in quite yet. I’m just trying to soak it all up.”
Asked why this album had made such a connection and ultimately landed her the nomination, she replied: “That’s a hard one to judge. You make something with no control over any of it. I know how much I meant when I was making it and putting every single drop of effort and love into it. What’s beautiful is that it has translated. You just don’t know. You could put your life’s work into something and it might not see the light of day.”
Gwenno, full name Gwenno Saunders, said that this was the seventh Mercury nomination for her esteemed label Heavenly Recordings – the former home of the Manics. Back in 2020, to mark the release of Believe in Magic: Heavenly Records by Robin Turner (named as one NME‘s Best Music Books Of The Year), Gwenno joined the band on a new version of their classic Heavenly track ‘Spectators Of Suicide’. She would also later be asked to remix ‘Orwellian’ from their latest album ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament‘.
“Beyond them being an incredible band is how supportive they are – of me and so many other artists,” Gwenno said of her love of the Manics. “You really need that. It feels really nice to have those acts who are bigger and more successful but still looking after everyone who’s coming through.
Asked if they’d likely work together again, she replied: “I’d love to! Any opportunity. I love the Manics.”
Speaking of the future, Gwenno told us that she had already been “talking about” her next album.
“It brews for a really long time and then something else happens,” she said. “I’m excited for making another record, but it feels like we’ve only just started and found our feet. We’re just working through our creative process.
“We’re really interested in industrial, heavy, Celtic noises. We sort of touched on that with this record. We also made this record at home with no one else involved. We’re doing a tour in September and I think that will have a big impact and influence on the way we’ll do things as well because I haven’t played with a live band since 2019.”
You may also remember Gwenno from her time with The Pipettes. From 2003-2011 (with Gwenno joining in 2005), the indie-pop-meets-doo-wop trio released two albums through the ‘MySpace’ years, at a time that is now being looked back upon by many online as the “indie sleaze” era.
“I think I did read an article about that!” Gwenno told us. “I remember those fishnet tights and all those ripped band t-shirts.”
Asked about why the indie sleaze phenomenon might be catching on now, she replied: “I don’t know because it was very debauched, and probably the last moment where kids had been able to do whatever they want.
“The post-90s was that, and the ‘00s were the last moment where you could go out five nights a week and maybe survive. It’s so hard on young people now. I wouldn’t think you’d even want to risk it! Maybe it’s a nostalgia for the flippancy of life.”
Could we ever see a Pipettes reunion tour?
“Do you know what? I loved being in The Pipettes, and it was very much of its time and place,” she replied. “I almost feel like there’s some music and art that just reflects very specific moments and that’s what’s brilliant about it. I don’t know what the context would be for it to make sense. That doesn’t denounce it in any way, because it really reflected the time – of me at 23! It feels like a really long time ago, because it is!”
Watch our full interview above, where the artist also tells us who she’s tipping to win the prize. The Mercury Prize will reveal the winner at a ceremony on September 8 at London’s Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith.
For tickets and tour info on Gwenno’s upcoming shows, visit here.