Ben Rhys

This is the second time that Gwilym, lead singer of the group Y Bandana, and his mother, Siân, have reached the Cân i Gymru final. They also competed in 2012.

What inspired your song?

Gwilym: The song is about my great, great, great grandfather who died in an explosion at a coal mine in the Rhondda in 1856. His name was Ben Rhys and that it the title of the song.

It's been written from the perspective of Ben himself and talks about the fact that the coal pit owners went unpunished for their failure to ensure the workers' safety. The song has a strong folk influence and I co-wrote it with my mother, Sian Harris.

Why did you decide to compete in Cân i Gymru?

Gwilym: Although I competed two years ago, the change in the competition format drew me back once again since it offered the composers/performers more freedom.

In which studio and with whom did you prepare the song for the competition?

Gwilym: The producer was Robin Jones, my Y Bandana co-member. It was recorded at LIPA, the college in Liverpool where Robin is studying.

If you were able to perform with any artist/artists who would they be and why?

Gwilym: A few months ago I would have said Arfon Gwilym, but since then I have had the honour of performing with him at a few Plygain evenings as part of a trio.

What is your favourite song and why?

Gwilym: My favourite song changes all the time, but one of the songs which has influenced me most over the past few years is 'Can y Capten Llonga' by Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog.

Cowbois have this gift of being able to compose timeless songs which sound as if they could have been written two centuries ago but at the same time, they still sound fresh and current. And, in the same way, they can sing old folk songs as if they had been written yesterday. They make the new sound old and the old sound new: This is the measure of truly great folk singers.

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