“What if your mother tongue is an ancient language of a land that you’ve never lived in, whose native speakers have only recently broken 200 years’ silence? What if the only place it has ever existed over the years is hundreds of miles away, in your home and your heart?”
We’re delighted to announce Gwenno’s return following 2014’s critically acclaimed Welsh language record ‘Y Dydd Olaf’. Gwenno will release ‘Le Kov’ in the spring of 2018, and like her debut it’s a bold statement on the importance of protecting minority languages & has come about with long term collaborator Rhys Edwards.
Where her debut had nine songs in Welsh, the last track ‘Amser’ was in Cornish, and this is where Gwenno continues her trailblazing mission, picking up exactly where ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ left off. Written entirely in Cornish, ‘Le Kov’ translates as “the place of memory”.
WATCH GWENNO’S TRAILER FOR THE RECORD HERE:
The album’s title crystallises Gwenno’s relationship to the language—a fluent speaker of Cornish who has seldom ventured south of the River Tamar, let alone lived there. As a child, she imagined that Cornish held similar cultural weight to the Welsh language: a living, spoken tongue that coursed through everyday life. “How wrong I was” she admits.
Yet the Cornish language has experienced a notable revival since the turn of the 20th century. There are now around 1000 fluent speakers, locals were encouraged to claim Cornish identity on the 2011 census, and in 2014 the Cornish people were granted minority status within the UK. It’s huge progress—but Gwenno wasn’t sure how she fit into all this. Could she lay claim to any kind of Cornish identity? What she did know was that as one of the language’s few fluent speakers she felt a duty to make her next album entirely in Cornish: to create a document of a living language, to explore her identity and the endless creative possibilities of a tongue that has a very small surviving artistic output, despite having been around for at least 15 centuries.
The result is an exploration of the individual and collective subconcious and the ‘dream state’, the myths and drolls of Cornwall, and the survival of Britain’s lesser known Brythonic language. More than that, in the age of Brexit, isolationism and hostility towards the rich cultures that make up modern Britain, Le Kov takes on an unexpected wider resonance, and contains bold messages about the importance of respecting and forging links with other cultures—no matter how small.
In this spirit, Gwenno will debut ‘Le Kov’ at two special with two special intimate shows in towns with a rich Brythonic heritage in early December: