SAIN : The Company’s History
FROM CARDIFF TO LLANDWROG
SAIN was founded in Cardiff by HUW JONES, DAFYDD IWAN and BRIAN MORGAN EDWARDS, and the first record was released on October 9th, 1969. But Huw and Dafydd wanted to locate the company closer to its natural audience, and wanted to bring up their children in a Welsh- speaking community, so they moved to the Caernarfon area, and set up their office in the village of Llandwrog.
In 1973, the head office was moved to Pen-y-groes Industrial Estate, and additional staff were recruited. For the first three years, the releases had been exclusively vinyl EPs and Singles of original songs in Welsh by young singer-composers. But now began the age of the LP.
SAIN at first recorded at various studio locations, and especially the famous Rockfield Studio in Monmouth. But 1975 saw the opening of the first SAIN studio – a converted cowshed on Gwernafalau Farm outside Llandwrog. HEFIN ELIS joined the staff as resident producer, and between 1975 and 1979 over a 100 albums were recorded at the 8-track studio.
1973 had seen the emergence of a vibrant Welsh language rock scene, led by the band EDWARD H. DAFIS but the albums produced by SAIN during this period were by a wide range of folk, rock and MOR harmony groups and artists: HERGEST and DELWYN SIÔN, GERAINT JARMAN, HEATHER JONES, MEIC STEVENS, TECWYN IFAN, MYNEDIAD AM DDIM, TEBOT PIWS, ENDAF EMLYN, BRÂN, SHWN, AC ERAILL and SIDAN.
A strong political theme ran through many of the songs, as SAIN was closely allied to the Welsh language movement and the emerging campaign for Welsh self-government, but the general mood of the music was up-beat, displaying the natural exuberance and optismism of youth.
The best-selling SAIN artists however had first recorded for other labels, but who now took advantage of the improved recording and distribution facilities provided by SAIN: TREBOR EDAWRDS, HOGIA’R WYDDFA, HOGIA LLANDEGAI and TONY AC ALOMA. These, and the ever-increasing catalogue of MALE CHOIRS were the mainstay of SAIN sales, and other SAIN best-selling artists of the 70s and 80s are TIMOTHY EVANS, BRYN FÔN, AR LOG, PLETHYN and DAFYDD IWAN. There has always been a keen market for Country music, featuring artists such as DOREEN LEWIS, IONA & ANDY, BROC MÔR, BRENDA EDWARDS, ROSALIND & MYRDDIN and DYLAN & NEIL. The same is true of the contemporary folk scene, with groups like 4 YN Y BAR, GWERINOS, ABERJABER, JAC-Y-DO, PIGYN CLUST and IGAM OGAM.
The 80s saw a very significant milestone in SAIN’s story, with the opening of the new 24-track state-of-the-art studio on the present site between Llandwrog and Caernarfon. The offices were moved from Pen-y-groes to the same site in 1982. The staff compliment by now was 15.
Huw Jones, who was the MD and mainstay of SAIN since 1969, and staff producer Hefin Elis both left to work in Television during the early 80s, though Hefin has continued to produce albums for SAIN as his work allowed. His place as staff producer was taken by GARETH HUGHES JONES and later by EMYR RHYS. Others who have produced for SAIN are Simon Tassano, Donal Lunny, Tudur Morgan, Les Morrison, Euros Rhys, Stephen Rees, Gareth Glyn, Geraint Cynan, Myfyr Isaac, Peter Williams, Annette Bryn Parri and Gareth Mitford Williams.
FROM VINYL TO CD & DVD
Vinyl LPs and cassettes had been the main formats of SAIN releases during the 70s and 80s, but with the digital age the CD began to replace the LP, and with the turn of the century, the cassette too was phased out. Now the main physical formats are the CD and DVD.
1987 saw the opening of SAIN’s Studio 2, now mainly used for digtal editing and mastering and voice-overs. The early 90s saw two further major developments:
1. CRAI was founded as a label for young and more experimental music, and among its early artists were CATATONIA, BOB DELYN and MIKE PETERS and his band THE ALARM.
2. SAIN’s Video department was set up by O.P.Huws as the market for video cassettes grew, and characters like Wil Cwac Cwac, Sam Tân and the Beatrix Potter creations showed that Welsh was a natural language for cartoons!
The ease with which TV programmes can now be recorded has undermined the video/DVD market, but it still remains an important strand of SAIN’s product. Two of our engineers have set up their own company OMA, using SAIN facilities, to do contract work for SAIN and other customers in the multi-media field.
BRYN TERFEL is the best-known of our classical artists; he released his first two albums on the SAIN label, and since then he has recorded two further solo albums (Schubert’s “Schwanengesang” and The Songs of Meirion Williams) and the best-selling album of duets with Rhys Meirion, as well as several charity singles. Other SAIN male singers are GWYN HUGHES-JONES, ELGAN LLŶR THOMAS, STUART BURROWS and JEREMY HUW WILLIAMS. Our female artists include REBECCA EVANS, ELIN MANAHAN THOMAS, GWAWR EDWARDS and SHÂN COTHI.
The SAIN catalogue also includes some outstanding Welsh singers from the past, such as DAVID LLOYD and LEILA MEGANE, and the current favourites THE THREE WELSH TENORS (Rhys Meirion, Aled Hall, Alun Rhys Jenkins). Another all-time favourite is ALED JONES, whose first albums were on the SAIN label; his best tracks are still in demand on two SAIN CDs.
THE HARP is Wales’ national instrument, and SAIN has a comprehensive selection of harp music in its catalogue, ranging from the Celtic harp to the Triple and the full concert harp. Harpists include CATRIN FINCH, GWENAN GIBBARD, OSIAN ELLIS, ELINOR BENNETT, MEINIR HEULYN, ROBIN HUW BOWEN, NANSI RICHARDS, DYLAN CERNYW, DAFYDD HUW, ROBIN JAMES JONES and DELYTH JENKINS.
CHOIRS remain the best-known feature of Welsh music, and the traditional domination of the Male Choirs is now being challenged by new and younger Mixed and Female choirs. SAIN is proud of its record as the main label for almost all leading Welsh choirs – Male, Mixed, Female, and some excellent youth and school choirs, as well as a great choice of massed choirs recorded in venues such as The Royal Albert Hall, on DVD as well as CD.
THE DIGITAL AND INTERNET REVOLUTION CONTINUES
2003 saw the creation of SLIC, SAIN’s library music label, run by harpist Gwenan Gibbard. She now also runs our music publishing arm, creating arrangements of SAIN songs for choirs and various ensembles. Both the library music for TV and Film, and the “sheet-music” is now all available on-line for down-loading.
In 2004, Dafydd Roberts (of Ar Log fame) was appointed MD of SAIN, and he has continued with the restructuring of the company, each department with its own Manager, and has developed SAIN’s presence on the Web and its use of digital media. The label RASAL was created for new music, and a further two sub-labels COPA (Indie music) and GWYMON (singer-songwriters).
In 2007, O.P.Huws retired as head of Sain Multimedia, but remains as Director, alongside Dafydd Iwan and Hefin Elis.
2008 saw the opening of SAIN’s Studio 3, now largely used for dubbing cartoons such as Kung Fu Panda and Octonauts into Welsh for S4C, and preparing material for DVDs, as well as TV ad film post-production.
SAIN has a retail shop (Na-Nog) on the Caernarfon Maes (Main Square), which is Wales’ most successful specialist Welsh shop. 20 members of staff are employed at its Llandwrog HQ and at the shop, and many more employed occasionally as session musicians, producers and technicians.
The most successfull artists currently are GEORGIA RUTH, who impressed at WOMEX in Cardiff, and is nominated for two Radio 2 Folk Awards, and Phantom/Les Mis star JOHN OWEN-JONES who has released two albums with SAIN, and has a Christmas single of “O Holy Night” for downloading. The Rasal labels have attracted some of the most popular bands currently on the Welsh Rock Scene (YR ODS, SŴNAMI, BANDANA, AL LEWIS BAND).
Artists established and new who perform and sell regularly are BRYN FÔN, ELIN FFLUR, CALAN, GWIBDAITH HEN FRÂN, HOGIA’R WYDDFA and GWENAN GIBBARD , and box-sets have become an established part of the Welsh record scene: GERAINT JARMAN, MEIC STEVENS, STEVE EAVES, EDWARD H. DAFIS, DAFYDD IWAN, TRIBAN, TECWYN IFAN and HOGIA’R WYDDFA.