It’s Men Of Harlech – but not as you’ve ever heard it before
It’s an epic Welsh song that has reverberated though the decades – but we are betting you’ve never heard it like this before.
Men Of Harlech, the stirring, defiant anthem which which dates back to 1794, has been reborn as a brilliant reggae/jungle/crossover track by Welsh band Ystyr.
The song gained international recognition when it was featured in the 1941 movie How Green Was My Valley and the 1964 film Zulu – but now, the Welsh standard, which is a favourite at Cymru internationals has been given a startling makeover.
“A couple of us are huge footy fans and remember with great pain our failures in the 1990s,” said the band. “We also remember singing Yma o Hyd as kids in our Welsh language schools and feeling like we were being tasked to guard the Welsh language and culture due to the extreme strain that they were under at the time – so seeing Dafydd Iwan singing that with all the Welsh fans 25 years later in a stadium is actually a bigger moment than the football itself for us.
“It feels like being Welsh and speaking Welsh is a positive thing and not something to be mocked for – as it was when we were kids.
“We wanted to contribute to the World Cup fever, and felt that the Men of Harlech chant in the games is the coolest one because it is originally Welsh in every way, and unique to football (not sung in the rugby).
The band say they are undergoing a change of direction at the moment to a hip-hop/electro/dance style for their next album. They also say they are obsessed with an idea of making a genuinely Welsh hip hop album which incorporates Welsh culture and history.
“To weave this into our change of direction we sampled a choir and tried to make a dub version of Harlech – however, it felt that it needed a lift to match the energy of the football campaign so we drove a jungle beat into it, and in particular in the middle the ‘Amen’-style cut.
“So I guess you could say that it is a tongue-in-cheek Reggae/Jungle version of Harlech. It’s very difficult to make a reggae song not sound cheesy so we concentrated on the old-school Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry type sound, kept it simple, didn’t take it too seriously, and tried to give it a proper Welsh flavour. The bassline is probably most important and then we built it from there.”
Find out more about Ystyr HERE
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