Interview with Gilles H (Daonet) for the album “Donemat”

Plus: Lúnasa video and new releases fromAndrew “Slim” Black,  Michelle Mulcahy and Eliseo Mauas Pinto.

Gwendal Meillarec, Herve Briand and Gilles Bogzh-daonet.

I am glad to discover the band Daonet from Nantes. They are a fine addition to our ever growing collection of Breton artists. They play catchy rock oriented music using Breton language. It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak the language. The music is fun, catchy with just enough loudness to awaken your caffeine deprived family members. The lead vocals of Gwendal Meillarec (he also plays the flute) is strong but not imposing which is a good thing. He sometimes mimics the sound of the bagpipes with his guitar tuned in a unique fashion using great effects.

My guest Gilles H  mostly plays bass guitar. He explains : “I personally mostly play bass guitar except on O’surfin on which we play with 2 guitars (Gwendal on chorus me in rhythmic guitar and after we exchange the roles). On stage I also play synth sounds controlled by my bass (organ, guitars sounds etc.) or my guitar on “O’surfin” (upright bass sound) but on the CD, I’ve used this sounds on “Marv Ponkalleg” intro and one effect on “Nerzh-kalon”. The drums of Herve Briand make the crunch! If you read further,  Gilles gives us an in-depth look at the Celtic music scene in the whole of France not just in Brittany. Here, Gilles uses the terms Breton and Celtic to differentiate the specific from the general.

You made a different treatment of Tri has a  more energetic and punk feel. What are your expectations in terms of people’s reactions to this song and those who are loyal with Alan Stivell’s version?

Yes we play Tri Martolod on stage in our way since 2003, 2004 I think. The reactions to our interpretation of this traditional song are always good, never any complaints 😉 people sing and clap their hands every time 😉

Daonet means Damned in English. Why did you choose that name for the band?

We are from the town of Nantes = Naoned in Breton language and there is an expression from Brittany “Mont da Naoned da c’hortoz bezan daonet” = going to Nantes waiting being damned, an expression referring to people from west part of Brittany who had to go to Nantes to get a job in the 19th century. The 12th track of Donemat album, “Mont da Naoned” is a folk-rock style song based on this expression with a parallel on  nowadays people who have to migrate to find a job … Paris or elsewhere on the planet …

 How about giving us a brief background of each band member?

Gwendal founded the band in 2000. He is an electric and acoustic guitarist. He also sings, and plays tin whistle. He writes lyrics mainly in Breton or in French.

I (Gilles) have joined the band in 2002. I play bass guitar, upright bass, synth guitar, and I also sing.

I’ve played in the late 80’s and early 90’s in a Celtic rock band from Vannes called Tan Flam. I’ve also played, wrote and sung in rock, rock’n roll, blues-rock bands  ….for example Bogzh ! with Hervé on drums …

Hervé has joined Daonet in 2006,  he plays drums, derbouka, djembe, cajon etc. He played in different music styles band before Daonet : rock, punk-rock, blues-rock …

 What can we expect from the band this year?

We have recorded “Donemat” with guests’ participation on violin (Frédéric Bouley) and bombarde (Olivier Arz). We have played some concerts with Olivier. We also played in acoustic configuration (acoustic guitars, upright bass, cajon and voices). These different configurations may be developed in the future for live and recording events …

Booking / tour +33 628 362 994

 Where can listeners purchase their copies of Daonet CDs and mp3s?

The latest album “Donemat” is distributed by Coop Breizh, so dealers may have access to this record. It is also available on Daonet’s website as the previous CD “Rok a raok”, the different albums are also available in numeric version on .

Donemat is also available in MP3 on itunes, Amazon platforms … It is also possible to discover the album through Deezer, spotify …

What are the festivals around France that you guys have been to?And what  memorable things  happened during these shows? 

We played for the “Festival des filets bleus” in Concarneau (Brittany) 1 year ago opening for Gilles Servat with 10 000 people attending, we were announced as the “coup de coeur” of the festival… It was great. We’ve also played for “Celtival on the rock” in Guemene-Penfao with Dom Duff and Muray Head, for Festival des nuits salines in Batz-sur-mer …

It is not a festival, but a fest like the St Patrick fest for Ireland, in Brittany around the St Yves day / Gouël Erwann may 19th there is Brittany Fest organized since several years and promoted by Brittany region, we play during this period in different contexts. We played for example, few years ago in Rennes with traditional music bands, “Les Ramoneurs de menhirs” with their special recipe mixing traditionnal music and punk music and also a punk-metal-fusion band singing in Breton … This year we played for one of this concerts for the Brittany Fest in Nantes for or the first Breton language fest in Loire Atlantique. We are also asked for playing every year for the St Patrick day with Irish music bands (traditional or rock bands). We also play sometimes our music in concerts with no Celtic, or folk theme, with rock, blues-rock, punk bands etc. for concerts organized by bikers that sometimes are a little afraid of songs in Breton but when we ask if they understand the lyrics of English singing bands this stops their fear and they often recognize that  even some French  singing bands are not so easy to understand ;-).

Tell us about making the album Donemat. How do you gather materials etc. Can you tell us the procedure down to the final mixing?

Most of the songs were played on stage several years before they were recorded but in the beginning of the new record project, we’ve selected the songs (with 2 traditional songs “marv pontkalleg” and the Brittany anthem “Bro gozh ma zadoù”) and we stopped playing others songs, new songs replacing the previous ones. We worked the titles adopted in studio versions exclusively with the strict tempo of a metronome on every rehearsal during at least one year. We recorded with Arthur Lauth, who manages when this is possible our sound on stage, in a one day captation + mix, a pre-production recording of the 12 titles. With this pre-production CD, we met several sound engineers to find the studio allowing us to get the recording we were expecting with an agenda matching ours ;-).

At this point of the project, we had the agreement of Coop Breizh for the distribution of our album in France. We also had a contact with a painter / illustrator Brucéro to order him a drawing for the CD.

We chose to work with a brand new studio : Woodbox Studio near Nantes – managed by Jeff Ferrand that worked before in others studios.

We began the recording in the end of may 2011 with drums and bass tracks (electric basses and fretless bass) in 2 week-ends.

Followed later by Gwendal during a week electric and acoustic guitars parts, a keyboard track on the slow song, tin whistle, and we recorded voices.

Two guests recorded after then theirs parts in other sessions :

– Olivier Arz (we played together in Tan Flam group long time ago) played bombarde on three tracks, we worked together for several rehearsals with Olivier with the complete band, or with guitar, bass and tin whistle/ bombarde.

– Frédéric Bouley who plays violin in numerous bands (Breton, Irish music) recorded on the song “Mont da Naoned”, we worked with him and Gwendal in rehearsal (acoustic guitar, upright bass, violin), and with a first mix of the tracks already recorded of this title.

We finished the choirs, Hervé recorded Derbouka and Djembe, I recorded upright bass licks with the bow on “Mont da Naoned”, synth guitar on “Marv Pontkalleg” intro and my rhythm and chorus guitar parts on O’Surfin …

Jeff did the mix with some adjustments after listen sessions with the band. We defined the final order for the titles and then the mastering process was done in a specialized company.

My brother Lionel took pictures of the band for the CD and newspapers, he also did the graphics of the Digipack including the booklet with lyrics etc. with the character Brucéro drew for us.

The CD was then manufactured in the first week of January 2012 and sent to stores in February by Coop Breizh, we also sent CD to fans who pre-ordered and organized a concert in Nantes to invite fans for this disc availability.

Do you think Celtic Breton is stronger now than before?

I suppose that you ask the question of Breton music . Is it stronger ? It is always present. In Brittany there are many bands playing traditional music : bagadoù created on the model of pipe bands. There are fest-noz bands (fest noz can be translated in night fest) and they play music to make people dance traditional Breton dances. They are very active. There are also Celtic rock bands and some Breton rock bands. They play songs written in Breton, in Gallo with or without traditional, Breton or Celtic music influences. The success of Celtic music and of Breton music for masses is cyclic in France. Alan Stivell, Tri Yann, Soldat Louis, Manau (Celtic rap), Armens, Dan Ar Braz, Matmatah (their first album), Merzhin etc. had a very good success in some periods, Nolwenn Leroy with her cover album of best of traditional songs in Breton had been a big success recently.

The scene for Celtic music and Breton music is always present here, especially in Brittany, where the festivals are very popular and numerous (Festival interceltique de Lorient, Nuits salines in Batz sur Mer, Filets bleus in Concarneau, Festival de Cornouaille etc. In the Festival des Vieilles Charrues in Carhaix-Plouguer  it is much more rock and pop oriented,  but a stage is reserved for Breton music). But bands playing Breton music are not only present in Brittany. In every region of France there are Breton associations including a bagad, a “cercle celtique” (breton dance group) promoting Breton music and Breton learning in the region where they live. There are also Celtic rock, folk-rock bands in the different regions playing Breton, Celtic inspired music…

A band like Daonet mostly plays rock sung in Breton language to promote its use, its learn that was in the past reduced in use by the action of France (interdiction in French schools).

Daonet band is based in Nantes, a town that officially is not a part of administrative region Bretagne, the department of Loire Atlantique was in fact removed from the historic Brittany to create an artificial region called “Pays de la Loire”. Numerous songs of Daonet are based on Brittany and Nantes history, and the use of Breton language for a band from Nantes in this context is of course a  symbol. Others bands from Nantes that don’t still exist played Breton rock sung in Breton, EV and Tri Bleiz Die for example, (EV guitarist-singer Gweltaz ADEUX plays now pop-rock songs in Breton), the band Tri Yann that exists since the 70’s, plays Breton and Celtic music with some songs in Breton language is also based in Nantes.


Featured Video: Lúnasa”The Merry Sisters of Fate”

Called “the hottest Irish acoustic band on the planet” by the Irish Times, Lúnasa performs live from the intimate confines of The Burren Irish Pub in Somerville, Massachusetts. Named for an ancient Celtic harvest festival in honor of the Irish god Lugh, patron of the arts, Lúnasa is made up of some of the top musical talents in Ireland. The current lineup includes:

Seán Smyth — Fiddle, Whistles
Kevin Crawford — Flutes, Whistles
Trevor Hutchinson — Double Bass
Cillian Vallely – Uillean pipes, Whistles
Ed Boyd – Guitar

The Burren Backroom Series is hosted by Brian O’Donovan of A Celtic Sojourn on WGBH Radio.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel WGBH Music:

Audio Engineer: Antonio Oliart
Camera/Editing: Greg Shea
Camera: Annie Shreffler
Producer/Host: Brian O’Donovan

My big thanks to Greg Shea for this one.


New Releases:

Slim’s forthcoming LP, ‘Gallows Tree Tales’, is a barn-storming folk-rock romp through tales of love, loss, booze, laughter and madness. With big productions, there’s everything from americana rock, celtic folk, country balladeering, and even a gospel choir thrown in for good measure. Once the record’s released, you’ll be able to buy it here, and there’ll be a full band tour, gigs-aplenty, and of course, a fair few ‘Gallows Tree Tales’ to tell. Get it here:


Michelle Mulcahy, Suaimhneas (Cló Iar-Chonnacht)

Read the wonderful review here:


The Celtic Harp  By Eliseo Mauas Pinto

“The Celtic Harp” is a very interesting quick guide not only approaching to questions regarding the origins of its name, its history and revival, but also to the surviving types, suggested Celtic Harpists, and a list of related external links.



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