Filed under: Interview
Swayzak consists of James Taylor and David “Brun” Brown, one of the driving forces in electronic music from the U.K. Through their releases on !k7, they’ve skyrocketed to international recognition. Especially their albums “Snowboarding in Argentina”, “Himawari” and above all “Dirty Dancing”, are their most highly praised albums. On Swayzak’s second Japan tour (featuring Richard “Paul” Davis and Kenny Pattison), they’re promoting their new album Loops From the Bergerie and we caught up with Brun.
Interview by Laura Brown (Arctokyo)
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Your Japan visit this time will include the !K7 stage at Metamorphose. Is this your 1st time to be at Japanese festival? How do you feel about it?
Swayzak : We’re really looking forward to it
HRFQ : How did you initially connect with the !K7 label?
Swayzak : We have a connection through someone we know working at K7 in Berlin and was really into our music, and just kept telling us that we should be working with !K7 and we eventually sent them some music and they liked it, and we did a record deal with them. But he now works with the Sonar Kollektiv, but he was a big fan of ours.
HRFQ : Regarding the structure in your live sets, you’ve used Traktor in the past. What new technologies are you currently using?
Swayzak : We’re using Ableton Live, AKAI MPC-2000, a vocalist called Richard Davis, a mackie mixing desk, using various outboard effects. Keeping it pretty basic really, but we’ve got a more structured live show now.
HRFQ : Brun, you live in London and James in the south of France, how do you two usually collaborate? By sending files to each other over the internet, or how exactly?
Swayzak : No, basically we collaborated by Kenny and I drove to France and stayed there for a month and wrote the album there, or the basis of the album was written there. And then we went back to London and finished it in London, produced it. We didn’t really want to send files back and forth, I don’t really like that idea. It’s good for sending rough ideas but not for actually writing songs.
HRFQ : Where do you play most often? Where is your music most warmly received?
Swayzak : Probably Germany… France was good on the last album. We sold a lot of records in France. Pretty much a third of all our records were sold in France. We play there a lot too.
HRFQ : The title of your latest album is “Loops From the Bergerie”, which is named after Serge Gainsbourg’s film “Les Loups dans la Bergerie”. Does it mean the album has much influence from this soundtrack made in 1960s?
Swayzak : Just because it’s a place we went to record called Bergerie. We did a search on the Internet and we came up with this film — “Les Loups dans la Bergerie”, and it seemed quite a nice connection. We played with the words a little bit. We went there with basic drum loops and samples and we came back with an album. And there’s a bit of Serge influence in there. (We actually didn’t see the film yet, so if anyone has a copy, please send it to us. It’s a hard film to find… 🙂
HRFQ : The album has featured some live instrumentals. What kind of new elements has this brought to your album’s sound?
Swayzak : It brings a lot interesting musicianship to it. We experimented a lot more. We used live drumming, live percussion, live bass, live guitar, live vocals and live keyboard/synth playing. There was a lot less sampling in it — it was interesting. I think it gives it a more mature feel to it, and it should because we’re all quite mature – physically anyway. Ha.
HRFQ : How does the music-making process start for you? For a new album, for example, you begin with a concept or you have some tracks that you put together?
Swayzak : With this album, I had a bunch of loops, James had a bunch and Kenny had a bunch as well. And we put them all together. We made a list of all the people we wanted to work with, and one of them was Richard “Paul” Davis here, and we managed to rope some people to come sing with us and play. Which was good. There was no great concept besides, get out of London, have a nice time in the French countryside. That was the concept. And make some nice music hopefully. I think it worked really well. Although we put a lot of work into it, back in London. But all the expression was done in mainly in France. There’s much more time. There’s no time in London to do these things. You lock yourself in the studio and you know it’s costing you a lot of money to do.
HRFQ : Were all the vocals done in France?
Swayzak : All the vocals were done in France, so all the musicians came. We had Paul, Francesco Brini drumming, Claire Dietrict, Matilde Mallan, Carl Finlow as well, Geza Schon, Roger 23 — the critic and executive producer — “No, I think it’s shit, you know.”:)
HRFQ : Can you talk about your future plans a bit? What are you highest priorities (in terms of projects) for the near future?
Swayzak : Getting paid. HA. Going on tour to promote the album a bit, hopefully make it to S. America when it is winter in Europe. And Australia hopefully. Just kind of do that for the next 4-5 months. Then we’ll go back and have a rest and begin thinking about making the next album. And hopefully we’ll be able to do that quite quickly.
HRFQ : The itune store in UK started in July, and coincidentally, two influential British labels, Adam Freeland’s Marine Parade and React went broke, following the bankruptcy of 3MV distritbution. Do you think these two incidents are somehow related to each other? What is your view on this?
Swayzak : In a way, itunes is quite a good thing and a new interest to people who have lost interest. Because the quality of CDs has really gone down, you know? You buy an album now and it’s only got two tracks that are really good. At least in itunes, you don’t have to buy the whole bloody album. Obviously people like ourselves, like Richard Davis, we try to make quality albums, but there’s a lot of people out there who don’t really care about that. They only want to make one hit song, and that’s all the care about.
HRFQ : What new labels have caught your attention recently?
Swayzak : I really like Eskimo records from Belgium, Tigersushi is really nice. I listen to a lot of Italo Disco stuff from the ’80s, I’ve been getting into. Get Physical from Berlin. There’s a lot of good labels coming up, but it’s difficult to be consistent as a record label I think.
HRFQ : What new artist have you been listening to recently who has inspired you or challenged you?
Swayzak : There’s a guy called Richard Davis (singer from Swayzak) coming out with a record on KEO next year, that’s really hot. Also Mathew Jonson, Konrad Black, Mocky, Abe Duque, Dexter, Lopazz, Pintronix are all good.
HRFQ : Any messages to Japanese fans?
Swayzak : It’s really nice to come and play in Japan. It’s an honor. Hopefully we can come and entertain some people.
End of the interview
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