Preview : Ymuno 2016 : Denuo
We caught up with North Wales singer songwriter Tom Mason, who records and performs as Denuo, just before he was due to see local favourites Campfire Social and Peaness on the same bill at Chester Live ("It'll be an awesome night!" were his parting words).
Denuo is one of the mid-bill marvels at this year's Ymuno (another is Nia Wyn, who we have already profiled) - his was the first track on our Ymuno playlist - and he also has an unexpected link to the event.
Despite the length of his recording career, and its undoubted quality, it was his last release that first drew our interest ("a remarkably accomplished and engaging EP"), and so we started the interview asking how its complex title track had worked at his recent festival appearances:
The song Frozen Lake captured quite an epic, layered sound; it's a great track, but how does it work when you play it solo?
A lot of the songs are written on an acoustic guitar, and from there I'll start hearing parts and arranging them in my head until I go to the studio. Being responsible for all those parts in the studio is fun but can be quite an intense process, so when it's all done it's quite nice to play solo gigs sometimes to strip the songs back to their original form.
Of the events you are playing locally this year (Focus Wales, Chester Live and Ymuno) the last one has a special link for you?
Yeah, Ymuno is a great little festival in Rhyd-y-Foel in North Wales. It's a really exciting gig for me, as I grew up in a tiny village nearby called Betws-yn-Rhos. It's a beautiful area in the countryside, surrounded by hills and fields. I used to daydream about playing at a festival there one day, so it's quite amazing that it's actually happening!
You are playing with a full band at Ymuno, are they people you have worked with before or is it a new project?
I've got a great new group of musicians joining me for Ymuno. There's Rob and Mike from an awesome Chester-based band called Sustinere and Russ Hayes, who you might know from Orange Sound Recording Studio in Penmaenmawr. He's an incredibly talented producer/engineer/musician with whom I've made Denuo records for the past 9 years, yet we haven't had the chance to play a gig together until now. I'm really excited to have these guys on board for Ymuno.
You are playing a good few local festivals this year - is there anyone you are sharing the bill with you are particularly excited about seeing live? How was Focus Wales?
Focus Wales went really well; the organisers did a really great job booking bands this year - I particularly loved seeing The Joy Formidable again. (It was at this point he also mentioned Campfire Social and Peaness who he had seen at Focus Wales, and was en route to see play again) With Ymuno, I'm excited to discover some great new music. The Renegade Brass Band sound like they'll be a lot of fun. It's my first time at the festival, but I can already tell I'm going to love it.
And finally ... what are you planning the rest of the year?
The plan is to keep playing, keep writing, and then start recording the next album. I'll always love recording and thinking about the next release, but I'm feeling excited about playing live again and getting out there. I've got a few ideas and more gigs to announce soon too. This year is actually the 10-year anniversary of when I began recording under the name Denuo. The timing works out really well with Ymuno - it feels like the perfect way to celebrate.
Celebrate he should - even amongst Ymuno's especially well curated music roster Denuo deserves particular attention.
DENUO I Frozen Lake