Musician and radio presenter Cerys Matthews shot to prominence in early 1998 with her band Catatonia’s single Mulder and Scully. But while Cerys and the band followed up that success with the equally popular Road Rage single, her driving style is anything but angry.
These days she prefers the serenity of electric propulsion. She recorded her latest single, Float on Down to Monte Carlo, in a moving electric car, and is an ambassador for the Go Ultra Low campaign to promote zero-emissions vehicles.
As well as presenting weekly radio shows on BBC 6 music and the World Service, Cerys is a cultural roving reporter for the One Show and presents documentaries for BBC radio and television.
Tell us about your first car.
I learned to drive in an old Land Rover in the fields where I lived in Wales, before I was legally allowed to drive on the roads. My first car was tiny canary yellow Suzuki jeep, in the late Eighties. They had a reputation for tipping over - and I managed to prove that was true when driving it on farmland.
How old were you when you first became interested in cars?
I’m not really a car head, but I like the freedom they afford us. I had a really nice Aston Martin Matchbox toy car. It was the Seventies, and there were lots of car-related films and TV shows such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Knight Rider. I loved the mechanical feel of changing gears so I was keen to learn to drive properly as soon as possible. I love a good gearchange, it’s especially fun when driving on country roads.
What was your first crash – if you’ve ever had one?
My first crash was actually the first time I drove properly, during my first lesson on my 17th birthday. I was out with my dad, I felt confident having driven on the farm for years but I hadn’t counted on the feeling of driving on proper roads for the first time. I was pulling out from a junction and lost my nerve, braked hard and the car behind hit us. It put me off for a bit.
Which car do you currently own?
I’m in the process of buying a BMW i3. Electric cars have progressed so much and I’ve become enamoured by how quiet they are. I’m also aware of man’s impact on the environment - I think it’s time to start waving goodbye to petrol and diesel.
What’s your biggest pet peeve when driving?
When you stop to let someone out of a parking space, then they drive a few yards and do a three-point turn to go the other way. I dislike inconsiderate driving in general, and when people drive too fast for the situation. Speeding is stupid and selfish, as well as dangerous.
Which car do you most regret selling, and why?
I’ve not regretted selling anything, I rarely look backwards.
What’s the worst car you’ve owned, and why?
Probably that canary yellow Suzuki jeep because of the ease with which it toppled over, although we were young and just messing around on the farm.
What is your dream car, money no object?
I’d like a large electric car, it’s the future. But I’ve got five kids so my ideal car hasn’t been built yet. I use my car for practical reasons, it’s my office.
What are your thoughts on electric cars?
I love the quietness inside electric cars, plus I’m passionate about our impact on the environment. In a car there’s a feeling that you’re in a cocoon, similar to a recording studio. That’s where the idea of recording a new song and video came from. While I was recording the video I was worried about singing on an uneven surface - I thought my voice would jump but it was fine.
What’s your most memorable experience in a car?
That will be my first ever memory of being in a car, in my parents’ Vauxhall Viva driving around country roads in Pembrokeshire. We were behind a tractor when an 18-stone sow jumped out of the trailer and hobbled off along the road. We always used to sing while we were driving, and we started singing a song in Welsh that’s called The Black Pig. We always seemed to be in the Vauxhall Viva. I used to get car sick, and I remember I used to bite the back of the plastic seats. I have lots of memories of the Viva, lots and lots of memories.
Tell us about your current projects.
Well I’m still doing radio, with a weekly show on the BBC’s 6 Music from 10am to 1pm on Sundays, as well as a monthly show on the BBC World Service. I also run a festival in Flintshire called the Good Life Experience which is all about music, family and connecting with the outdoors. It’s a small, intimate festival which takes place this year from September 16-18. We will be using electric cars to ferry people about the festival site.
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