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Coming Swn to a venue near you... One of Wales' biggest live music events, the Swn Festival, kicks off in Cardiff next week. We quiz co-founder John Rostron about the major celebration - from its roots to what fans can expect this year.

Q: The Swn Festival was launched in 2007 and is now a major event in the music calendar. How did it initially come about? A: Myself and Huw Stephens (Radio 1 DJ) came up with the idea. We just went to a lot of festivals around the world. A lot of them take place in cities, particularly abroad, but also in the UK, like In the City in Manchester. We thought there was nothing going on in Wales and nothing going on in Cardiff and thought it was a shame. Cardiff was ideal for it, it is small but there are lots of venues and it is flat, so easy to get around. We just wanted something to happen here. We got back from South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, that is quite similar, and decided we were going to do it.

Q: What can festival goers expect this year? A: There will be 150 bands, playing in 16 venues over three days - from big names like Swans, Paul Heaton from the Beautiful South and Clinic, to up-and-coming bands like Perfume Genius, Egyptian Hip Hop and lots of great Welsh bands like Cate Le Bon and Sweet Baboo.

Q: How do you select the line-up? A: Me and Huw start writing lists of bands we are listening to and liking. And it grows from there. Then we merge our lists and get on the phones to the agents, and the bands themselves if they don't have an agent to see if they are available. One of the things about Swn is it is mostly about new music. We are not competing for big names. There is a band called Books from Manchester. Someone asked me if I had heard of them, but they didn't even have a link, a blog or anything. It was just someone said they had heard them and they were good. I managed to find one track on a blog somewhere and we booked them on the basis of that track.

Q: You have a good track record for securing some great musicians. How many bands that have featured at Swn have gone on to do quite well? A: The Yeasayer played in our first year in Buffalo bar to 100 people. We paid them pounds 50 or pounds 100 and we are now promoting a show with them to 1,000 people. The first year we had Beirut, who are now very successful. Our second year, there was a young singer called Clare Maguire and it was her second ever show. There were only 40 people in a small venue downstairs in what is now Wow bar. Loads of record people who came up from London were there and on the basis of that show, she got signed for a million pounds and is now doing shows like Jools Holland and other big things.

Q: Where do you want to take Swn during the next five years? A: We never thought we would get here, so each year that we do it we are delighted that it happens. It grows every year, more people come and the more people that come, the more it can grow. I'd like to think we can keep doing it and keep the quality of bands as high as we think it is. There is no reason why not in 10 years time for a weekend in October that every venue in Cardiff could be full of music.

The Swn Festival takes place at venues throughout cardiff from October 21 to 23. For full details of the line-up and how to get tickets, visit John Rostron
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 15, 2010
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