Bryde grew up in the Welsh seaside town of Milford Haven, and plunged straight into the world of music the moment she hit double-digits. Being from a fairly sleepy town, Bryde – or Sarah Howells, to her friends – made their own musical entertainment growing up, out of necessity. “Musically, my influences were determined by what I could get my hands on CD-wise,” she says. “I was endlessly scanning the racks in shops seeking out pictures of women on the front of CDs, to try and track down female singers I could identify with.” “In my teenage years I played way more gigs than I went to see,” she adds. “When I was about 16 my dad drove three of us to see Radiohead at Cardiff International Arena. I lost my friends and shoved my way to the front with my sharp boney elbows and stood a few rows back from Johnny, getting thrown about in this weird crowd sway. My pink Adidas gazelles were completely black by the end of it.”
Many of Howells’ earliest gigs were played alongside Nia George, her band-mate in the four-piece JYLT. Early recordings were promising, and the band had signed a record deal when tragically Nia passed away from Leukaemia at the age of 20. Then, in 2008, Howells formed Paper Aeroplanes. The indie outfit quickly built up an ardent live following and released four albums; their final record ‘JOY’ was nominated for the Welsh Music Prize. When the duo decided on an indefinite hiatus, Howells says, it felt like the perfect time to step out alone under her solo moniker Bryde. “It was more exciting than daunting,” she says, “like being given a pass to run the halls. I had ideas that I wasn’t previously able to fully realise, just because it’s always a slight compromise to be in a group of any kind. And I was able to embrace the electric guitar again too which was the beginning of a bit of a love story between me and my Burns guitar.”
Bryde’s debut album ‘Like An Island’ followed in 2018 – written amid a break-up, it was a record about emancipation and learning to exist alone again. The album was nominated for the Welsh Music Prize. The musician is also active on the live circuit, playing alongside the likes of Fatherson, Rufus Wainwright, The Joy Formidable, and joining the bill at Dot to Dot, Green Man, Sen, Live At Leeds, The Great Escape, Latitude, Boardmasters and 2000 Trees.
In the year after ‘Like An Island’s release, “I learnt a lot more about myself,” Howells explains. “I had my first real experience of emotional burnout and quite a paradigm shift experience in terms of how I treat myself.” All of these paths led her to ‘The Volume of Things’. Written and recorded between London, and various friends’ studios in Berlin, the album is produced by Thomas Mitchener (Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, The Futureheads and BlackWaters). Howells describes the record’s expansive feel as being like “the calm before the storm – before the true calm that I’m working towards.”