Sian Evans’ family have a long musical history. Her mother was a singer and Sian herself began singing from an early age. Her grandfather was a composer and conducted for male voice choirs and by her teenage years she was following in his footsteps providing vocals for numerous jazz and r&b bands, as well as immersing herself in the music of female singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell. A hip-hop enthusiast from an early age, it was perhaps inevitable that the young Sian would be caught up in the energy of the fledgling dance scene. Sian had her first encounter with drum & bass courtesy of the seminal Roughneck Ting parties. She had left home at 16 and moved to Cardiff to escape, living in squats and friends’ houses while working several jobs at once and travelling to parties and festivals all over the country.
“I always got in” – she recounts proudly. “I was never refused entry and I rarely had any money. I was top blagger” Having moved through the free party scene, Sian found her musical tastes radically altered by a change in her personal life. At the height of the rave scene, in 1991, she gave birth to her son, and was forced to reassess her priorities. ‘I had a baby at the height of the rave scene which obviously puts a stop to going crazy. It started me thinking a lot more about songs and the music, and at the time I also got full on into jungle.’ With a strong foundation in her mother’s collection of Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell LPs, Sian began applying her combined tastes to a variety of dance music and funk/jazz projects, before retreating up a Welsh mountain to raise her little boy in a teepee.
For the next four years, Sian and her son split their time between environmental protests like Newbury and working at summer festivals. It was all she needed to give her a taste for living outdoors and so in 1996, Sian moved into a tepee on a traveller’s site in the Brechfa Forest for nine months. At night, after her son went to bed, Sian passed the time by writing songs. Despite being brought up writing poetry and listening to Welsh folk music and Joni Mitchell, it was the first time Sian had felt moved to create music. Realising her future lay with these songs – in fact, most of them went on to form the tracks on Kosheen’s debut album, ‘Resist’ – she soon moved back to Bristol to find someone to play them with.
Whilst most people might find this a rather daunting experience, Sian was only driven back to regular life in Bristol by a growing collection of songs, and an increasing frustration at having nobody but a few sheep to play them to. Darren Beale and Mark Davies first heard Sian singing on a track by a friend of theirs, but – deciding that all’s fair in love and war. Their first studio meeting yielded instant results – ‘I hadn’t even taken my coat off when I heard their music and we started working. And it hasn’t changed since then. We still fling things down that fast, it’s a lovely chemistry. I still love what they do to my songs that I wrote up the mountain. I’ve been so encouraged to write by them I’ve been really prolific’.
As a trio, the band learned they could combine their respective loves of rock, hip-hop, jazz, drum n’ bass and folk. The debut single ‘Hide U‘ grabbed hold of the dance circuit in mid-2001, later earning honours for Best Single at the Drum & Bass Awards in the UK. ‘Hide U’ reached number 6 in the UK, while ‘Catch‘ hit number 15 and ‘Hungry‘ reached number 13. The accompanying album ‘(now platinum–selling) went on to reach number 8 in the UK album chart and made the top 30 in Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Greece. It has since sold half a million copies, making it the most successful drum & bass album at that time. In the summer of 2001 Kosheen further cemented their reputation as a world-class live act by performing to a 20,000-strong crowd in Serbia, the first international band to do so since the trouble in the Balkans.
After touring extensively, Kosheen had become a successful live act and festival favourite. By 2002 the band had recorded enough new material for their second album. ‘All in my head‘, the first single released from ‘‘ went straight into the charts at number 7. After ‘Kokopelli’ went gold in the UK, Kosheen left BMG in the midst of the Sony/BMG merger, signed to Universal Germany, and returned to the studio, with a new drive and vision and worked on their third album, ‘‘ for the next two years. ‘Damage’ featuring ‘Guilty‘ & ‘Overkill‘ was released in Europe in March 2007 by Moksha/Universal GMBH. ‘‘, Kosheen’s fourth studio album was released in October 2012 and their fifth, ‘‘, in December 2013, both on Kosheen Recordings.
Early into the following decade, as Sian remained in the group, she made a name for herself as a featured vocalist. She had also worked on a side project with Simon Kingman as . After a reunion gig in aid of the Tsunami disaster, Sian and Simon began writing songs in the winter of 2006 and in 2007 began developing Melo Park. They later played festivals in Russia and Glastonbury in 2008.
In 2011, Sian Evans teamed up with Dj Fresh writing and featuring on the number 1 smash hit ‘‘. It was released on 3 July 2011 on Ministry of Sound. The song debuted at number 1 in the UK Singles Chart, UK Dance Chart, UK Indie Chart and the Scottish Charts with first week sales in excess of 140,000 copies. In its second week, the single shifted an additional 80,000 digital copies. The song also peaked at number 4 in the Irish Singles Chart. ‘Louder‘ is considered an important landmark for dubstep music as it was the first of its’ genre to reach number 1 in the UK Singles Chart. The song was featured on the soundtrack to SCE Studio Liverpool’s Wipeout 2048 and used as the promotional theme for Fox8’s reality program Cricket Superstar. The song serves as the theme for the Lucozade Sport Lite campaign. Sian also wrote ‘Hot Right Now’ for Rita Ora.
She also appears on several tracks on Roger Shah‘s artist album ‘Openminded!?‘. A new version of ‘‘ along with two other original tracks ‘‘ and ‘‘ all appear on the album. Sian has also collaborated with many artists and producers such as , , , , , , , , Lee Dagger, , and .
Currently Sian is in the studio working on new material with various producers such as the Stanton Warriors, Danny Wheeler, Kid Crème and Jolyon Petch. Sian has also been working closely with Petch on a remix album featuring all of her hits getting a fresh touch for her Live PA shows.
Taking a step back from the world of electronic music, Sian has teamed up with her long term writing partner Ron McElroy for her new solo project. Their partnership has lasted almost two decades, but a one-off show in provided an opportunity to arrange their songs, old and new, in the simplest form possible: one guitar and one vocal.
Sian and Ron formed a band to complement their songs and support them on a bigger stage. Their UK debut sold out Camden Jazz Café. Bookings for Glastonbury, Boomtown and Sunrise Festivals followed. They have also performed in Salzburg, Belguim, Ukraine, Russia and sold out the Roof Music Festival in St Petersburg, this time performing with the whole band. Mixing new works with their substantial back catalogue (including Kosheen and DJ Fresh), they make a compelling and dramatic live partnership.
Ron has said being around Sian is like having the weather indoors; together they have brought about a perfect musical storm, with rays of sunlight shining through.