The Joy Formidable by Carter B Smith for The Untitled Magazine

The Joy Formidable’s philosophy toward music is as layered as their distorted string and choral arrangements, stating, “We love how fun and poignancy collide…We love to dance and have a leaning to melancholia.” The band was founded by vocalist Ritzy Bryan and her childhood best friend, bassist Rhydian Dafydd. The two met in their hometown of Mold, Wales, and first played together in the indie rock project Sidecar Kisses before it disbanded. Soon, through a message in the wind, they found drummer Matt Thomas. “We heard Matt beating his drums across the border in Wolverhampton, and the following week, we were playing our first show in Paris. The Joy Formidable was born.”

In July of 2013, the band released a four-track EP titled Silent TreatmentThe group has since been busy with performances and creating new music, as March 2015 they released the video for their new single, “Y Garreg Ateb.” The song comes from their new vinyl Aruthrol, out March 30.

The Untitled Magazine sat down for an exclusive interview with The Joy Formidable for the Music Issue 6 (available in print and App editions). Check out the full Q&A below:


The Joy Formidable by Carter Smith

The Untitled Magazine: How did you all meet and decide to start playing together?

The Joy Formidable: 

Rhyds and I are school friends. We were reunited in Manchester. Long story, but things got a bit crazy with a previous band we had going there. We moved back to North Wales, and that marked the first time we’d written together. The Joy Formidable was born. We heard Matt beating his drums across the border in Wolverhampton, and the following week we were playing our first show in Paris.

UM: How did you come up with your performance name?

JF: When we moved back to North Wales, we wrote a lot, demoed and found our groove, if you like, before worrying about giving ourselves a name. It came to us in the same way as a song lyric or a title, only it spoke to us differently, evoked more about the band we were becoming.

UM: How long have you been performing?

JF: Just celebrated our fruit and flowers anniversary.

UM: What is the music scene like in Wales?

JF: It’s great. There’s a lot of talent and some exciting bands coming out of Wales. We have 2 brilliant North Walian bands joining us on this tour, We Are Animal and Denuo.

UM: Which is your favorite city to play in?

JF: That’s a tough call. We always enjoy being back home for shows, in either North Wales or seeing family in Manchester.

UM: What was your breakthrough moment?

JF: I don’t think it ever boils down to one definitive moment.

UM: Do you have a favorite band or musician?

JF: I always cite Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen as being the reason why I picked up a guitar and started to write songs.


Who is the most inspirational person in the music industry?

JF: Collectively, our crew. They hold the fort, they look out for us and they’re a great bunch of guys and girls.

UM: Do you have a mentor?

JF: Rhydian and Matt are the closest thing I have to a mentor. That’s quite a scary admission.

UM: If you could be any other band, which would it be?

JF: Pulled Apart by Horses know how to have a good time!

UM: If you weren’t in music what would you do?

JF: Can’t even fathom, but if pushed, maybe a zoologist. I do like biology.


What was the most difficult performance in your career & how did you handle it?

JF: Playing in absolute pitch darkness (because the lighting guy had gone AWOL) on a stage with a leaking roof in Brighton was an interesting challenge. That was a test of the night vision, or the lack of it. I bumped into a massive pillar that night and almost fell into a bucket.

UM: How did you come up with your “look” for the band?

JF: Got to be intuitive, nothing stylized here.

UM: Do you have a favorite designer?

JF: I like charity shops and vintage. Sister Jane fits me great and Dahlia have some lovely pinafores.

UM: Who is your favorite artist?

JF: At the moment, I’m really enjoying the paintings of Liu Baomin.

UM: Do you have a motto or words of wisdom you live by?

JF: I like this by Carl Sagan; “Far better to look death in the eye and be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.”

UM: What is it about music that you love?

JF: How fun and poignancy collide. I love to dance, and I have a leaning to melancholia.

UM: What is your favorite song you have ever produced?

JF: Possibly “The Turnaround.” It was a labour of love composing all the string and choral sections. There’s a lot of layers on that track, and it’s a very personal song. I wanted to get it right.

Photographed by Carter B Smith for The Untitled Magazine
Stylist: Erin McSherry

Hair by Kristen Bode
Make-up by Andie Markoe
Photographed at Shangri-la Studio, Brooklyn

Don’t miss The Untitled Magazine Music Issue 6, now available in print and App editions!

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