The Joy Formidable — from left, Matthew James Thomas, Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan and Rhydian Dafydd— have reissued 2009’s “A Balloon Called Moaning” in a 2019 edition accompanied by a newly recorded acoustic Welsh language version. (Courtesy Timothy Hiatt)

Joy Formidable’s Ritzy Bryan hides out in U.S.

Welsh songwriter uses time off tour to reflect in Utah

Ritzy Bryan can hardly believe that 10 years have passed since her wily Welsh power trio The Joy Formidable issued its unassuming debut “A Balloon Called Moaning.” But once it sunk in, she decided to mark the date in an idiosyncratic way — by reissuing the record with bonus disc of every track beautifully reimagined acoustically and translated to her native tongue, with a celebratory world tour to promote it. “It was something that moved us into the future that didn’t change the original charm of the material. It was a bit of a challenge, but really exciting for me,” she says.

You started out working as an au pair in America. Where do you live now?

I’m not quite sure where I live at the moment, to be honest with you. You’ve caught me in a truly unusual spot. I was living in Utah for a little while, so I’ve just flown my dogs back to the U.K. And where I’m going to unpack the case for a little while next has yet to be decided.

Wait. You said Utah? Why?

I was in hiding, basically. I just needed some time for reflection, away from other people. I mean, touring is really great because there’s all that stimulation. But off tour, it’s more about hiding out, so there’s always that sense of balance. So I was really far away from the city in Utah. I was living literally two hours from any major city, in the high Colorado plateau out with the Joshua trees.

How did you find this place?

Funnily enough, I just passed through on a road trip with my mum in 2013, just before our album “Wolf’s Law.” And in 2015, I kind of needed somewhere to live for a little while. We had some time off tour, and I just thought that the desert there looked pretty nice, so let’s try that for a bit. And in the five years I was there, nobody ever really recognized me. There were national parks nearby, and a lot of tourists, so people would hear my accent and just think I was there on vacation — even though I’d been going to the same grocery shop for the whole time. But I liked it like that. I used it as a sanctuary to write the last album, and it served me well.

Any scary moments out there alone?

I feel like when you live somewhere that’s very isolated and where nature is very powerful, you have to be prepared. You can’t just wander out with no water or sustenance. I think it makes you very respectful of mother nature, and the tiny little part you play in it.


The Joy Formidable

Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.

When: 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20

Tickets: $25 to $55

Contact: (415) 551-5157,

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