A band consisting of two local performers, who both attended Coleg Menai in Bangor, has become the first to hit one million plays with a Welsh language song on the streaming service Spotify.

Former students Dion Jones of Llanrug and Sion Land of Ceunant studied the Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Music at Coleg Menai, completing their course in the summer of 2018. During their time at college, they formed their band, Alffa.

Released in July 2018, Alffa’s track ‘Gwenwyn’ (‘Poison’) was instantly added to some influential Spotify playlists, and has since been streamed across the world.

As part of their swift rise to success, Alffa was also chosen by the Horizons project as one of their artists for 2018. Delivered by BBC Cymru Wales in collaboration with the Arts Council Wales, the aim of the project is to develop new, independent contemporary music in Wales. It gave the band the opportunity to play summer festivals and events, as well as signing up to Welsh record label Côsh.

The founder of Recordiau Côsh and Welsh singer-songwriter, Yws Gwynedd said he believed that the band’s success had proved that “language barriers are being blown wide open.”

Alun Llwyd – who previously managed the Super Furry Animals, and now runs independent distributor Pyst, specialising in Welsh artists – also had a hand in helping ensure Alffa’s track got the music industry’s attention.
He said, “The most exciting thing to come out of this is how it reflects the output, work ethic and abundance of Welsh labels and artists in Wales. This is just the beginning.”

Using the income generated by their hit single to cover recording fees, the band are currently working on their very first album, with a view to releasing it in time for the 2019 Eisteddfod.

Guitarist and lead singer Dion Jones said, “We weren’t expecting anything like this, but it has been a huge boost for us as a band, and we’re obviously really proud.”

Coleg Menai Music lecturer Rhys Parry said, “Dion and Sion have worked hard on their songwriting and performance. They have already played many gigs and, through this, gained valuable experience. To succeed in the music industry, you have to be out there doing it and these two are. I’m very happy for them both and wish them every success.”

For more information on Music courses at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, please visit www.gllm.ac.uk/music

Photo: Rhys Wyn Parry