How We Met: Kieran Evans & Huw Stephens - 'It was a euphoric moment seeing him punching the air with delight to Design for Life'
Kieran Evans, 44
A music video director for many years, Evans' (left in picture) first feature film, 'Kelly + Victor', won a Bafta earlier this year. He has since worked on a series of documentaries including the upcoming film about Dexys Midnight Runners, 'Nowhere is Home'. He lives in London.
I'd known about Huw for a long time before we met, as the youngest DJ ever on Radio 1 –and for being Welsh. We met about seven years ago through a fellow Welsh chum as he was sorting out his music festival, Swn, and he wanted to screen some of my films. We met properly in [London bar and music venue] The Social at a music night he was doing there. We had similar music tastes and were both passionate about Wales. The media is populated by arseholes but he is a shining example of how you don't have to be a wanker.
Music brought us together really, as we'd go out and discover music together at gigs. One day I got a call from him saying, "Fancy coming out tonight? I got tickets for few gigs." That night we hit five; I remember jumping around in the middle of a bar to New York City punk band Cerebral Ballzy at 1am. His enthusiasm for music draws you in; he must do that two to three times a week
He was a presenter of a great Welsh TV music programme called Bandit, so when I was commissioned to do a music show for Channel 4 I thought, Huw can do it. But he's not done a lot of English presenting so when I went to pitch him, I took a whole pile of Welsh-language shows he'd done, with me doing translation. It was like, "Now he's talking about this band… and just look at the enthusiasm!" I persuaded them and we worked on this fantastic show CTRL together, and became close friends from it.
I took my girlfriend to Huw's wedding about three years ago, in the Welsh hills. The ceremony was all in Welsh so I was translating everything to my girlfriend. And for the first time I saw Huw getting emotional; I like how he has such a love of his homeland and language. Though I'm more political about Welshness than Huw is; I get irritated by the lack of recognition of Wales – and where is Wales represented in the Union Jack?
I think he could be on a bigger stage than he is for some of the gigs he does. And why he's not presenting more music on television is a puzzle. He's the closest radio comes to John Peel and he carries on that legacy of championing eclectic music. He will go to watch a band playing to 20 people; he doesn't just look at a YouTube stack and Twitter followers, he uses his ears and sees how they play, and that's important in this day and age.
There's plenty of festival moments that we've had, usually staying low-key at the back. But one of the best nights I ever had him was watching Manic Street Preachers in Brixton; I don't think he'd ever seen them live and it was a euphoric moment seeing him punch the air with delight to "Design For Life", with everything that song means to fellow working-class people, and seeing Huw Stephens going nuts.
Huw Stephens, 33
Upon joining the BBC at the age of 17, Stephens became their youngest ever DJ before gaining a national slot in 2005. He currently presents shows on Radio 1 and BBC Radio Cymru's C2. He lives in London
Originally he was this tall, dark Welshman who came to my first Swn festival in Cardiff seven years ago. But we've got a lot of mutual Welsh friends, and I also knew some of the Heavenly Records crew who run The Social. I'd done a monthly free night for several years there when I spotted him again, at the bar.
After that he kept coming to the nights. Initially, I wasn't sure what to make of him; he was this serious Welshman from Pembrokeshire, and I knew he'd directed a film about the folk singer Vashti Bunyan so initially I just though he was a folk head. But he had this huge interest in Welsh music and we bonded over our love of music – turns out he loves techno – and Welshness. The Social became a meeting point for us.
We're both very proud of our Welshness and being in London we think about it even more: on St David's Day he got myself, [the Welsh artist] Pete Fowler and [Social owner] Robin Turner to DJ at The Social and he created the Welsh House Mafia playing this techno-house and electro. I think, though, that we have different ideas on Welshness: he's very political.
Kieran is an artist and the more I know him the more I realise that; he gives so much of himself to a project that when I go off to DJ in a club in Leicester it sometimes confuses him, perhaps he finds what I do a bit populist at times.
I'm in awe of his work, and when he won a Bafta for Kelly + Victor I cried – I knew how much he'd worked on that film and the fact that it won, up against Hollywood and directors with large budgets, was fantastic. It's a dark story but a great film; his directing work has great attention to detail and he has a good pace for a director; it's the same with his Manic Street Preacher movies, which also won awards. Kieran gets to put his own stamp on things, while my job is to reflect things rather than put my own mark on them.
He's made me think about what I do, what everyone else does and our place in the world. Our political chats are always really interesting; he's so strong willed. I've worked for the BBC since I was 17, so I'm very good at sitting on fences, whereas Kieran is running through fields, liberated to express himself.
Huw Stephens presents Lyricism at Dinefwr Literature Festival, Carmarthenshire (20 to 22 June), dinefwrliteraturefestival.co.uk. Kieran Evans' film 'Kelly + Victor' is out now on DVD; he will be at the Sheffield Documentary Festival, with his new film, 'Nowhere is Home', 11 June, sheffdocfest.com
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