Meilyr Jones
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Meilyr Jones

Aberystwyth, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | INDIE

Aberystwyth, United Kingdom | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Alternative Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Guardian Interview Feature"

Meilyr Jones stands on a street corner not far from Pigneto, wearing gold trainers and a long belted overcoat, his face lit up by the day. It has been, he explains, quite an experience: shooting a video for his next single, watching the sun rise, kissing a stranger and riding shotgun on a Vespa around the backroads of Rome.

He leads me through the evening streets, warm with early spring, and is seemingly carried by a kind of buoyancy: talking about the sea, poetry, his childhood in Aberystwyth, his flatshare in London, heading down quiet roads, around corners, doubling back, until we find the bar he has been hunting: a narrow corridor where the wine comes served in plastic cups and the stereo plays opera. At the next table a man is giving a guitar lesson while a small boy plays hide and seek beneath the chairs.

Meilyr Jones: 2013 review – beautiful chamber pop from Wales via Rome

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Rome is where, three years ago, Jones felt his life begin to change. For eight years and three albums he had fronted the band Race Horses. When they split in January 2013, he found himself cut adrift, 26 years old, questioning the direction of his life and his relationship with music. “It was a messy break and I felt that I’d lost friends,” he says. “I felt I’d developed a fear of committing to anything. I didn’t feel at all ready to think of myself as a solo musician. I just felt like being normal.”

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He began investing his time into other artforms: he was dating a sculptor at the time, and his brother gave him a book on sculpture written by the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder. He read Byron and Berlioz’s memoirs and Goethe’s Italian Journey. “All these signs were leading me to Rome,” he recalls. “And I had an intuition that I should go there, that something good and magical might happen if I just looked the other way a little bit and let things happen.”

Jones tries to explain the excitement of that time. “I started to feel a new life force,” he says. “It didn’t feel like an academic pursuit, it just felt like how it did when I discovered the Beatles for the first time.” He was weary, he adds, of a world that was “too knowing, and too niche”, of the “cool, affluent-sounding music” that seemed all-pervading. By contrast, he says, “[classical] sculpture and Renaissance music felt like a really living thing. I was enjoying Byron and Don Juan in a really vivid way. It didn’t feel exaggerated or put on – Byron and Keats were what felt real to me. And a love of nature, and my serious feelings of love.”

Jones performing at the End of the Road Festival 2015.
Jones performing at the End of the Road Festival 2015. Photograph: Burak Cingi/Redferns
Speaking with Jones is much like this: a tumble of enthusiasms that can encompass Bel Canto and Let’s Wrestle in a single breath. In seemingly one conversational strand he’ll tell you of his love for children’s literature (his father was a children’s book editor), Fellini and the plastic floral arrangements you often find in Italian churches. It’s a quality his album 2013 captures, too: Scottish choirs lie down beside karaoke bars, Japanese buskers, orchestras, bursts of David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel. “That feels like modern life to me,” he says by way of explanation. “You can place the cheap next to the expensive thing and not put the emphasis on the expensive thing. You can like pop culture, and you can like recording with an orchestra, and just let them live together.”


Jones always loved music and performance. “I remember coming home from school one day and saying to my mum: ‘I really want to sing in the Eistedfodd,’” he says. “And my mum was really shocked. I started singing duets with this guy who was really tiny, and I was really tall. But I loved it, I absolutely loved it. I just felt like I could do it, and all my feelings could go into singing.”

A few years later he began learning the tuba. “And I got quite good at the tuba, I guess,” he says. “I loved it, I loved playing solos on it. I felt I could just close my eyes and swim in the sound. It felt really colourful and sensitive – like singing, where my feelings would just come into musical sound.”

The love for the tuba persisted, even after he got madly into the Beatles, learned bass and started a band. And it was his love of the tuba that led him to study at the Royal College of Music, an experience he describes as “making me more excited about rock’n’roll”. He dropped out before graduation. “I thought it would be a really creative place,” he says, “but it was just dull.” He recalls the confusion of that first term, of not understanding how anything worked. “I didn’t come from a music college background, or private school, I was from a comprehensive,” he says. “And it kind of meant they all knew what to do, because they’d been in a younger version of that.”

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We move on to a cinema bar a few streets away, sit on a sofa and watch the room. Jones spent six weeks living in Rome, though it felt longer. “Time seemed to stretch,” he says. “Nights felt really exciting and wild and free. And in the days I’d go running and go to churches and look at frescoes and lie down in the park and feel really happy. It was kind of a recovering thing. But it did feel like a new life.”


He lived in a flatshare he found on Craigslist, staying up until the small hours with his flatmates, trying to follow their conversation though he had no Italian, trying to learn the language through reading Dante. He remembers one evening taking a copy of Tasso’s poetry to a bar, and a group of actors trying to translate it for him “til four or five in the morning”.

He fell in love with the city’s looseness, he says. With the fact “you can’t apply a logical light to a place that operates from a place of faith and blood and lust”. He did not think about music. “I thought about other things,” he says. “But then nature just led to tunes starting coming into my head, and I started to write them down.” They did not sound like Race Horses songs. “I didn’t imagine playing them in a band, it was just that music was coming. It felt like a new way of writing music for me – light and balanced and not intense, but beautiful.”What he wanted, he says, was “to speak from a place that felt like it was dying, and that comes from music that was recorded in one room around one microphone, when people were closer, when people didn’t contrive themselves into versions of themselves when recording.” He craved something that was “gentle and dramatic and lovely and sweet, not crude”.

I wonder how deliberate his intellectual nods are, how audiences might respond to songs that reference DH Lawrence and Berlioz. “There’s almost been a generation robbed of intelligence,” he says gently. “I think we live in a time where it’s so the wrong balance, where any whiff of it is seen as stuck-up. Everyone’s like: ‘Ooh, Byron, posh, fucking weird.’ And yeah, true, but essentially also really brave and human and easy to read – so easy to read! I can read it! It’s not psychological Russian stuff. It’s beautiful, effortless. And I think my criticism of now is the fact there’s not enough roughness. Things aren’t sexy enough, genuinely sexy. Things aren’t wild enough, things aren’t erotic enough, things aren’t gentle enough, things aren’t light enough, things aren’t fun enough.”

Jones performing with Race Horses at Latitude, 2010.
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Jones performing with Race Horses at Latitude, 2010. Photograph: Andy Sheppard/Redferns
In the bar a film club presentation is beginning and we shuffle our way out into the street, to the sound of music and motorbike engines, of busy restaurants and laughter spilling from nearby bars. Jones stops and beckons me down to where a window is all lit up and inside a room full of men and women are dancing the tango, their bodies studies in poise and flex.

Jones looks enraptured. “That’s amazing!” he says, half to himself. I think back to something he told me earlier, as we left the bar. “In a way this is an exciting time to live in,” he said. “Because sex has turned into such a casual whatever, and the mind is neglected as well. And both those two things, they’re the best things, and they’re together hidden somewhere.” Just for a moment, looking at Jones’s face pressed up against a window in a backstreet in Rome, I wonder if we might have found them.

2013 is out on Moshi Moshi - The Guardian Newspaper

"2013 Album Review"

In 2013, after the breakup of both his relationship and his band, Race Horses, Meilyr Jones went to Rome. That visit helped inspire his first solo album, in which euphoria and despair sit side by side. 2013 It fits snugly into the line of cosmic Welsh music, alongside the work of Gruff Rhys and Euros Childs, although its weirdness comes not from it being mindbendingly psychedelic, so much as it being completely unexpected.

Meilyr Jones: ‘Rome is a place of faith and blood and lust’
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After the Dexysish indie-soul of the opener, How to Recognise a Work of Art, the bulk of the record consists of orchestrated chamber pop – harpsichord is prominent – at times reminiscent of the Left Banke, at times of the early-90s cult hero Eric Matthews, with lyrics that sometimes tip over into florid (“Wavy hair like Byron / Big nose, Berlioz / He was tall and thin / Nothing troubling him / And what he said / I feel / For stars to shine takes loving and time,” he suggests on Return to Life). But Jones’s insistent tenor changes the tone and texture of the words slightly: he sounds not like a man wallowing in self-pity, but someone trying to scourge his soul in search of a different life. What a lovely record this is. - The Guardian

"NME Interview feature"

What do you do when everything you’ve known for almost a third of your life comes crashing down? For Meilyr Jones, the former frontman of Aberystwyth psych-poppers Race Horses, who split in 2013, the answer was to gather up his things and head to pastures new.

Jones chose to move to Rome for six weeks with little to no knowledge of the language or the city. “Everything was drawing me there,” he says, now back in London, referring to his growing interest in the likes of romantic poet Byron and 19th-century French composer Hector Berlioz, both of whom had significant experiences there.

In Rome, Jones spent his days exploring the city, walking for hours, visiting churches and looking at art. He didn’t know whether he’d ever write music again. His intention wasn’t necessarily to find inspiration for a new project – he just wasn’t sure what to do next, full stop.

Although Jones says he “didn’t want to try something just for the sake of it”, the trip did end up producing his first solo album, ‘2013’, which came out last month. A record based around that year of his life, with its endings and new beginnings, it has Rome at its core and marks the renaissance of one of the UK’s most original artists.

Full of baroque orchestration, giddy choirs and pop hooks, ‘2013’ sounds unlike anything else that’s been released in recent times, seemingly refuting the notion that it’s not possible to make anything original in indie any more. “I moved away from fashion,” Jones says of how he ended up with a sound so striking. “There’s not a lot of confidence [in the music world] to say, ‘Let’s just see what happens.’”

‘Don Juan’ (one of the record’s highlights, named after a poem by Byron) has Jones commenting on the safeness of current mainstream culture, singing, “There’s a band on the radio singing politely/‘Is this my generation?’ again and again”. By ripping it up and starting again in his own distinctive way, Meilyr has struck gold and found something magical to counteract the bland and the beige.
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"Live review from London"

It’s safe to say 2016 has been a very good year for Meilyr Jones.

After teasing us with a handful of tracks written in the wake of the break-up of his former band Race Horses, Jones unleashed his explosive debut full-length 2013 back in March, and from then on he’s been on a steady rise. And it’s clear Jones is aware of this fact, as his confidence exuded through London’s Village Underground during tonight’s show (6 October).

After strutting on stage in an all encompassing red, faux leather jump suit he broke into 2013’s stellar opener “How To Recognise A Work Of Art”, backed by a five-piece band with trumpets in tow.

But the strength of Jones' charisma ultimately lies in his subtlety. This was borne out as the band left the stage to give him space at the keys to perform an intimate rendition of "Refugees", the delicate melody resonating through the cavernous space.

What followed was a slew of 2013 stand-outs, including a blistering rendition of "Strange Emotional", it's inspiration laid bear by a faithful retelling of the intro to Bowie's "Rebel Rebel", and a full-on version of "Featured Artist", during which Jones hit apex gesticulation, perfectly echoing the tongue-in-check, burned out has-been lyrics of the song.

When most artists return for an encore, they up the pace and crank everything ‘up to eleven’. But Jones ended his set by doing exactly the opposite. Calling for the mics to be turned off, he stood centre stage accompanied by only two violins to end the set with a tender rendition of album closer "Be Soft".

This has to be the first time I've ever stood in a genuinely captivated and completely silent crowd in a London venue. It was a beautiful thing. And that's something that can certainly be said for the entire show itself. Move over Morrissey - Meilyr Jones is the new king of ostentatious pop.


How To Recognise A Work Of Art
Passionate Friend
Don Juan
Strange Emotional
All Is Equal In Love
Return To Life
Featured Artist
Be Soft - The Line of Best Fit


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy