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Ren – the Welsh musician attracting millions to his extraordinary music

08 Mar 2023 5 minute read
Welsh musician Ren Eryn Gill, known as Ren (Credit: Ren YouTube)

Lowri Llewelyn

Welsh musician Ren doesn’t have a major label backing him, nor a big team of people promoting what he’s doing, yet he’s attracted millions to watch his music videos thanks to word of mouth and the sheer quality of his songwriting.

He’s also in possession of a backstory that will stop you in your tracks.

Since its release on YouTube two months ago, ‘Hi Ren’ – a song which has been described as a masterpiece, has amassed 6.8 million views.

The nine minute video sees Ren in a wheelchair wearing a hospital gown, the lyrics giving a fascinating insight into his tortured relationship with a reproving voice inside his head.

Despite his talents Ren, who is from Anglesey, remains unsigned, citing on social media that he’s too ‘physically and emotionally unwell’ to commit to a label.

He speaks candidly with fans about his battles with illness, autoimmunity and psychosis.

“I spent years trying to get answers, bouncing from doctor to doctor, only for them to scratch their heads and leave me with a diagnosis of M.E.,” he says.

“During this time I tried countless medical treatments, and when they failed, resorted to alternative health practitioners, spiritual healing practices and thousands of supplements, but just kept getting sicker and sicker. With each treatment that failed, my hope for a normal life would die a little more.”

Lyme disease misdiagnosed as M.E. has caused irreversible damage to Ren’s immune system.

He developed PTSD, while brain damage misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder saw him passed between therapists and trialing myriad unnecessary antidepressants, ‘all the while getting worse and worse’.

This drove Ren into a state of stress-induced psychosis. “My mind’s only rational explanation for the level of suffering I was enduring was that it was some kind of demonic intervention, or that I was part of some twisted experiment or study,” he says.

Writing about a place of such darkness has not been easy, but he takes inspiration from one of his heroes: ‘Nina Simone said it was an artist’s duty for their work to fearlessly reflect their life circumstances. I wanted my next piece of work to fearlessly stare my past in the face despite the trauma of doing so.’

Ren is currently receiving treatment in Canada and keeping fans up to date on his progress. A Go Fund Me page has so far raised in excess of £100,000.

Writing on Facebook, he said, ‘Today I broke down and cried… I think the hardest thing is the inability to create. I am definitely obsessed with creation, and when I can’t create I feel impotent.’

Ren says he dreamed of being a musician since the age of 12, when his parents took him to festivals where he’d sell ‘CDs of beats I made on an old shitty PC’.

A still from the video of ‘Hi Ren’ (Credit: Ren YouTube)

Before leaving for Canada – a trip two years in the making – Ren produced a wealth of content he could periodically release during his time in treatment. “I had an idea to create two albums for 2023 ‒ one dark, one light,” he says.

‘Hi Ren’ is the first release from the album ‘Sick Boi’, with plans to release another in the second half of the year.

Ren told fans, ‘The response to Hi Ren has been phenomenal. It was probably the most nervous I’ve been about releasing a track, but I was really proud about putting out something that felt like hopefully closing a chapter on one of the darker periods of my life.’

The release has promoted a slew of YouTube ‘reaction’ videos, including one titled F**in’ Hell, This Is Mind-Blowing by Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins.

Following the success of Hi Ren, he has received offers to play Glastonbury and other major UK festivals.

“Gratitude isn’t a big enough word to express how I feel,” he says. “This kind of traction would usually only come with a major label and big teams of people promoting what I’m doing, but the fact it’s been done with no massive budgets, no songwriting teams, no corporate sponsors or regular radio placements feels incredibly rewarding.”

He continues: “It’s also a testament to grassroots sharing. I hope it gives anyone pushing independently hope that with perseverance you can get to where you want to be without waiting for a gatekeeper to hand you a golden ticket.”

In February he also released a retake of The Verve’s Britpop anthem ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, with Verve bassist Simon Tong himself getting in touch to express his excitement and even gift Ren a guitar.

Ren averages more than half a million monthly Spotify listeners.

His 2016 album Freckled Angels was named in memory of Joe Hughes, who disappeared off the Menai Bridge in the early hours of December 28, 2010.

Today the Menai Bridge restaurant Freckled Angel is one of Anglesey’s most acclaimed.

Listen to Ren’s music on Spotify and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube.

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Dai Rob
Dai Rob
6 months ago

Didnt know he was Welsh!
Discovered him recently…he is massively talented!!!!!!!!

Paul Hoskins
Paul Hoskins
6 months ago

His performance of ‘Hi Ren’ is slightly disturbing, but truly original and attention grabbing!

Roger Harrison
Roger Harrison
6 months ago

I’ve been obsessed with Ren over the last three months. The depth and range of his talent is extraordinary. Not just his recent videos but his back catalogue, on his own and in collaboration with people such as Sam Tompkins, Chinchilla, Bibi, Eden Nash, Liv Sanger and the Big Push. The Jenny and Screech trilogy is incredible. A bona fide genius.

Laura Cornelius
Laura Cornelius
4 months ago
Reply to  Roger Harrison

discovered him a couple of months ago and TOTALLY obsessed for all the same reasons. WOW. what what life before Ren? The depth and richness he brings is astounding.

RC tattoo
RC tattoo
5 months ago

Amazed by this young man as well as his band the big push! Onward and upward!

Dic Sion Dafydd
Dic Sion Dafydd
5 months ago

Can’t quite believe this guy is from Anglesey. I came across his ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony,’ cover the other day on you tube. Check it out . This kid is a genius

4 months ago

He’s from Dwyran, Anglesey.

3 months ago

Yes, he’s Welsh and it’s where he started at the tender age of 12. He’s been through some serious sh*t ( and is still going through it) and managed to come through it with so much Grace that it’s poured out into his music and mastery of storytelling. His resilience and attitude towards life is inspiring without being hyper saccharine or having any of the “ toxic positivity “ that has taken a foothold as of late. As for The Big Push , they are an incredible band of talented musicians who have a way of seamlessly blending songs and… Read more »

Chris Lawton
Chris Lawton
2 months ago

This man is a genius and a wonderful human being. He’s back in Wales this week making a donation to the RNLI. He deserves more coverage.

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