Any music producer who’s had the privilege of working with the likes of Madonna, the breakbeat hardcore pioneers ‘4hero’ and Siouxsie and the Banshees collaborator Talvin Singh, will certainly be worth their weight in skills at the mixing desk.

But these are just a few of the names which local producer and composer Branwen Munn has worked alongside during her inspirational journey in the music industry.

“It was via Talvin that I had the chance to work with Madonna after she’d already recorded some songs back in the '90s and wanted Talvin to recreate one of the tracks completely,” she says from her home near Newcastle Emlyn.

“Talvin sent me the vocals and having that opportunity to work with Madonna, even though it was only for a very short space of time, was mind-blowing.

"I managed to keep calm because she really is such an incredible artist who really knows her stuff. She can spot tiny little things and suddenly asks questions like “Have you changed the level of the high hat?"

"Madonna's musical insight and understanding is tremendous."

Branwen’s career began in the ‘90s when she did a degree in popular music and recording at Salford University.

“This was back in 1991 when Salford was the first university in Europe that did this degree.  And to have that sort of knowledge at the time was incredible. It was a unique and really well-designed course that set the blueprint for what all the other universities are doing today, and it really helped prepare me for the music industry.”

Branwen left Salford in 1994 and spent the next eight years in London.

“I found myself working with people who were either really brilliant music producers or really brilliant performers and I was left feeling in awe of everyone around me. And I’m still in awe today.”

Branwen moved to Wales in 2002 and for the first four years continued commuting back to the London recording studios once a month for six-day sessions.

“They didn’t seem to want to let me go,” she laughs.

But then, quite by chance, she was given the opportunity to teach A level music tech at Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn, Newcastle Emlyn, and remained there for the next 17 years.

“The team there was fantastic, and together we helped change the face of the school’s performing arts department, and it gave me a tremendous sense of fulfilment to see so many pupils get so much satisfaction from their music.”

But as the pull back to the cutting edge of the recording industry got stronger, Branwen knew that it was time to get back to the studios on a full-time basis.

“During lockdown I got lots of theatre-related work from various people I knew in Cardiff and I started to build a name for myself.

“And I suppose this was when I began to realise that I could potentially do this as a full-time career, rather than subsidise it with classroom teaching.

“That moment of realisation was two years ago and now I’m back doing what I was doing in London all those years ago which is a lot of mixing for different artists and a lot of producing.”

These include several key Welsh performers including the actress and vocalist, Carys Eleri.

Tivyside Advertiser: Branwen Munn and Carys EleriBranwen Munn and Carys Eleri (Image: Branwen Munn)

“I met her around eight years ago on a play at Chapter in Cardiff where she was doing the acting and I was doing the composing and sound effects.

"The following year she told me she was writing a one-woman musical about love and loneliness - ‘Lovecraft (Not the Sex Shop in Cardiff)’ – and she asked me to produce and arrange the music.   It was really successful, it toured around Wales and even won an award in Adelaide, of all places.

“Carys Eleri is very brave about taking new ideas on, just like me, so working with her has always been hugely rewarding.”

Last year they wrote a song together entitled ‘Diolch am y Tân’ (Thank you for the Fire) which was shortlisted for the Cân i Gymru competition. The song was composed on the day that Carys’ father would have turned 70 after losing his life to Motor Neurone Disease in 2017.

Earlier this year Branwen was asked to produce the Welsh Rugby World Cup duet ‘Byd o Heddwch’ (World in Union), sung by Sian Cothi and Trystan Llyr Griffiths.

“The arrangement was by Rhys Taylor who had scored the entire song in Sibelius and sent it to me to produce. The aim was to create a song that combined ‘Queen’ with musical theatre. It was terrific fun and working with Sian Cothi was wonderful. She’s such a communicative person and extremely humble, despite her incredible experience as a performer.”

Branwen has also launched GoldHill Disco which she streams online most Sunday evenings between 7pm and 8.30pm.

“Yes, a great deal has happened in the last two years and I can’t quite believe that I’ve got myself back to being a producer and an engineer and being able to create music again.

“It’s been an exciting journey but looking ahead to 2024 and starting to plan new works with other artists, I know that the journey is going to just keep on going.”