Q&A: The Joy Formidable on U.S. tour, beginnings in post-punk music scene

Darren Puccala, Life and Arts General Reporter

The sonic blend of indie dream pop and the experimental nature of post punk instrumentals dominate the soundscape of England’s music scene. For Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan, Rhydian Dafydd and Matthew James Thomas, that eclectic musical combination molded the three artists from Mold, Wales into The Joy Formidable. 

With nearly 15 years in the music industry, The Joy Formidable continues to steadily expand a loyal following from Wales to the United States, where members of the band currently reside. After adjusting to live music restrictions during COVID-19, the band set out for a U.S. on Sept. 4 to tour their album “Into the Blue.”

The Daily Texan sat down with The Joy Formidable’s lead singer Ritzy to discuss the evolution of the band and their return to the stage. 

Daily Texan: How has your experience performing in Austin treated you? 

Ritzy Bryan: It’s a great music city — we’ve always had lovely gigs, actually, in Austin … Our first South-By, we threw ourselves into lots of different situations. I suppose because we’ve been in lots of uncomfortable situations as a baby band when we were getting going in Wales, so it didn’t feel that uncomfortable. We just really enjoyed that experience. 


DT: How was writing and producing Into the Blue and then having to deal with COVID derailing the release? 

RB: We were demoing in late 2019, then COVID hit, so it changed our plans quite a lot. … It’s been so strange … having an album out and not actually taking it out on the road or playing songs from it live. We were doing these online shows for the music club, so versions of the tracks living there, but it’d be nice to take it in front of some audiences. We wanted to re-release it. We had these other two songs from the same sort of chapter, so it felt right. We got beautiful artwork for it as well, which I really like. A friend of ours from Mexico did the artwork — an illustrative version of the original photographic cover. It’s nice to not forget about it and being able to tour it properly.


DT: After such a long absence, how has returning to live performances been? 

RB: Our first show back, very fittingly in Wales about two weeks ago, was quite a different set. That was a completely Welsh language set. It’s the first time we’ve ever done a fully bilingual set before. It felt like its own thing in itself, but it was wonderful. That was at Eisteddfod, which is a National Welsh Festival … that celebrates Welsh language and the arts and culture. We had an absolutely lovely show there. If that’s the start of it, I hope it continues like that. 


DT: How do you feel about The Joy Formidable’s beginnings as a band compared to your success and touring now?

RB: The important things haven’t changed, which I’m so happy about. We still like making music together, and we still really enjoy touring together … We still feel really inspired when we get in a room together, especially when we’ve had a moment apart. All those things anchor a 10 year career … I think if anything has changed, it’s probably been for the better. Our team has evolved. … I love what we’ve done over the last 10 years, and we’ve still got lots more that we want to create.