Arts & Health initiative commissioning a cohort of artists to make bespoke music and sound installations for the multi-faith chapel at the Grange University Hospital in Llanfrechfa. Funded by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, in collaboration with Studio Response.
Glaw – Shoda
Photograph: Suhmayah Banda
TeiFi is a chameleon, producing and performing soul-folk, rap and spoken word in English and Welsh, about nature, body image, motherhood, Wales, colonialism, language, death.
She released her debut single Precipice in 2019, and debut EP Then We Came Into a Myth in 2020. She was nominated for Best Actress by the Theatre Critics Wales Awards for her one-woman show WiLD.
Listen to 'Glaw – Shoda'...
Glaw – Shoda – composer's note
The first half of the piece features a call to the rain “Rhowch y glaw i fi“ (Give me the Rain), the rain as a source of softness, change, water washing our feelings, loosening and healing us.
The second song features spoken word/rap in Welsh, exploring the dark feelings and mental health struggles that come at night; rain connecting heaven and earth, the feeling of gripping on through the dark night of the soul, an expanding and dissolving consciousness – all of this leading to a longing to be more embodied, to not rush up to heaven, and instead enjoy the small pleasures of life.
The second half of the piece – Shoda – features a poem in Bengali by Modina Ferdous. Shoda translates as "the smell after the rain" – a word that does not exist in either English or Welsh. The Welsh words of the song that follows are based on her poem, and based on the feelings of renewal, freshness and change following struggle. I picture the life of the garden, blooms exploding, rain drops, soil and fresh air.
This piece brings together two different cultural attitudes to the rain – Welsh and Bangladeshi, both nations have been shaped by water. Every year in Bangladesh there are festivities with traditional dishes celebrating the return of the rain. Ferdous (who migrated from Bangladesh to Newport) is following the great tradition of Bangladeshi poets writing about the rain.
I am honoured to include some Bengali in this piece - a language that has faced violence and erasure and a fight to keep the language alive. Bengali is now a language which is spoken by many people in South Wales.
As a part of making this piece I worked with the Sanctuary refugee centre in Newport, which is how I met Ferdous, a volunteer at the centre, and heard her poetry. Working with the Sanctuary was a personal choice – my grandparents were Jewish refugees to South Wales and it felt like making the right connections for me: connections through time and place to my ancestors and also connections to future families arriving in Wales.
We caught up with TeiFi to find out more on her creative processes and inspiration, and about connecting with local communities.