I thought I’d share this Daily Express article by Ruth Hughes on The Good Life Experience, in case you were thinking of joining us this September in Flintshire,nr Chester.
“Cerys Matthews: Former Queen of Britpop enjoys the simpler things in life
SHE captivated us with her powerful voice and free spirit during her time in 1990s rock band Catatonia but these days Welsh wonder Cerys Matthews is even cooler than ever.
With her eclectic digital radio show on BBC 6 Music and her annual festival The Good Life Experience, plus a regular presenting slot on The One Show and a string of BBC radio and TV documentaries to her name, she is a master of reinvention.
When I meet her to discuss this year’s festival line-up Cerys clearly hasn’t lost the lust for life that rocketed her to fame and the top of the charts with hits including Road Rage and Mulder And Scully.
Now a mother of three, Cerys, 48, is bubbling with excitement as she fills me in on the event in Flintshire, north Wales.
But don’t expect Glastonbury-style VIP areas… Cerys says her event instead puts the spotlight on music, art, food, culture and nature: “It’s a cross between the Great British Bake Off, the Bear Grylls programme and The Tube television show.
“This is the kind of festival that I was desperate to have. There wasn’t a festival out there that I felt would interest every generation.
“I wanted a festival where I could allow my children to make the memories that I made when I was their age. Really simple things like climbing trees, lighting fires, using knives, abseiling, all those physical things.
“All those things that are so simple and yet we’ve come so far away from.
“Our focus over the past 10 years has been so much on the virtual world and the internet, which is great and I love it, but I also want my children to be children.
“Also, for me as an adult, I want to be able to have that real time in the world as well, so I get my hands dirty and dust in my hair.”
“There’s no VIP area in the festival. I just think that the whole concept of celebrity is outdated. That’s actually how I’ve always thought.
“I find the most important people are friends and family and people that are like-minded. The people that I like hanging round with are passionate and can impart some information.
“As far as I’m concerned, to learn something new is what life’s all about. Once you stagnate you’re not living life to the full.
“I would be much more excited to meet somebody who’s spent their entire life fixing Stradivarius violins rather than any of the so-called celebrities that are just there because they happen to be headline-makers because of their looks.”
Cerys now lives in west London but she was born in Cardiff and lived in Swansea and later Pembrokeshire. She is a fluent Welsh speaker and is the 2017 official ambassador for Wales and its Visit Wales tourism campaign.
Once dubbed the Queen of Britpop she was a familiar face on the party circuit, but her life now is far removed from rock star excess.
She is mother to daughter Glenys Pearl y-Felin, 13, and son Johnny Tupelo Jones, 12, with ex-husband Seth Riddle, an American music producer.
She has a seven-year-old son, Red Owen, with her husband and manager Steve Abbott.
Despite her rock-star credentials, Cerys, who was appointed MBE for services to music in 2014, says that to her children she is just “Mum”.
“It doesn’t matter if you were in Nirvana, or The Doors, or The Rolling Stones, to them you’re just Mum or Dad, and that’s how it should be.
“I don’t think they are particularly interested. What’s cool is what’s cool in their generational group. Not what you think is cool.”
She reiterates: “I don’t believe in the whole celebrity thing. I don’t think it is very healthy or interesting. I haven’t brought them up to be that bothered with it, to be honest.”
Cerys now focuses on championing a new generation of talent and her award-winning Sunday morning BBC 6 Music show, which began in 2010, is the most listened to digital show in the UK.
“I write songs and I sing at home, but I don’t do it commercially because I have so much creative output programming the radio show and the festival that I don’t feel the urge.
“Also, if you’re putting out a record you’re going to have to support it by touring and promoting it and I’m much more happy now promoting youngsters coming through and music that I feel people need to hear. I’m much happier in the background.”
Cerys admits she once relished life in the spotlight: “There was a point where I loved it and it was something very, very special and I’m privileged to have spent most of my adult life being a performer.
“It’s just now it’s a different time of life for me.” Does she miss being on stage? No,” says Cerys firmly, with a giggle.
“It’s funny, but that’s the truth, I don’t miss it. I miss playing with musicians; there’s a camaraderie and there’s a joy – I miss that element of it.
“But it’s a whole different mindset to be able to go on stage and do that night after night after night, and I’m just not there now. I might yet return to it when I’m in my 60s or something.”
She stops and adds: “I don’t like to live in the past and I don’t like to live so much in the future. So I’m going to stick to doing what I’m doing now. This festival is an absolute joy.”
Which leads me on to her 2007 appearance on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! These days I can’t imagine Cerys on a reality TV show. Does she regret it, I ask.
“No, not at all. You live one life and live it as fully as you can. The reason I did it was because I’d never done it before and I wanted to experience it.
“I’m A Celebrity was 10 years ago now and that’s also in my past.” Cerys, also a magazine columnist and a children’s author, says her diverse career is a perfect fit for her enquiring mind.
“I was in Hastings recently meeting Quentin Blake. I meet scientists, politicians, chefs, poets… I find the entire world so interesting.
“There are so many wonderful people and I get to meet them, so I wanted a place where I could bring them and then invite other people to come to the festival to meet them as well.”
Cerys adds: “There is so much pressure on young people, particularly girls. It’s all about presentation.
“How you look, what you like, what you’re dressing in, what your make-up’s like, what your manicure, pedicure and eyebrows are like.
“My favourite moment [from the festival] was my 13-year-old saying she’s had the best weekend of her life and she was filthy, straw in her hair and hadn’t been on a hand-held gadget for a few hours.
It sounds really basic but it is actually quite radical in the modern world – to get close to nature again and just be a bit wild.”
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