People’s favorite thing to do these days is claim to make genre-bending music, something that leads to a whole lot of posturing and a whole lot the same … but then there’s Swindle, whose sounds ooze and simmer like a musical melting pot. The UK-based artist takes notes from jazz, hip hop, electronic genres, and world music to combine them in an unprecedented soundscape. It’s original, genuine, and if you’re in LA, you’re in luck: He’ll be playing this Thursday at ClubIHC with Kastle and Plastician (tickets here – go, go go!).
In the meantime, we had the opportunity to pick Swindle’s brain and ask how he’s gotten his creativity levels over 9000. Read on, peeps.
You made your new album, Love, Peace & Music on a round-the-world trip, collaborating with artists in various countries along the way to do so. How did that end up influencing the sound of the album?
I mean, it is the sound of the album! We used traditional Chinese instruments, there’s a song in Zulu, and crowd samples from Denver. My travels directly help write the album.
You recently released a track titled, “London to LA” that sort of feels like a grime x LA beat-scene hybrid.
Can you speak to the inspiration behind this track and where the title and hook came from?
We wrote that in LA. I spent a bulk of last year living in LA and I just needed to make a piece of music to document my time there. Shouts to Ash Riser! A lot of good memories and people attached to that track!
You have a more elaborate approach to live sets than a lot of other producers these days, and it’s one that often includes live instrumentation, which is ultra-rare for a hip-hop artist. Can you explain your set-up and why you choose to play with a less-than-simple one?
Live music is music played live on instruments. For me, there’s nothing “live” about laptops. That’s cool too, but for me to play live and feel like I’m contributing something real, I need my band.
Being that your music incorporates so many different genres and musical categorizations, have you found it difficult to find a ‘scene’ within which you fit into? Is developing a scene something that matters to you, or would you rather be the guy who defies definition?
Music is music. I’ve never been that interested in a scene, or genre, or following a current trend. I just wanna make honest music and make people dance.
You’re known far and wide for creating a wholly unique sound. How do you stay ahead of the curve in order to continue putting out highly original music?
I just stay honest. Music presents opportunities for me and I follow the path! I let the music direct the business, not the other way around.
What advice would you give someone who’s looking to break out of genre constrictions and diversify their sound?
Just be you!
A lot of U.S. producers are looking to different phenomena from the U.K. (i.e. grime, PC Music) for inspiration right now. What are your thoughts on this and how do you think these sounds will respond to a growing American audience?
What about going the opposite direction … what American musical trends are U.K. artists really grasping on to right now?
I have no idea, lol. My head stays in the sand.
You’re a huge jazz fan. Can you tell us how you got into it and a little about the importance of incorporating it into your music?
I went from hip hop, to G-Funk, to P-Funk, and then Jazz Fusion. It sounds mad, but that journey was made easy for me through my dad’s record collection. He plays jazz guitar and taught me a lot of what I know today.
Who are three jazz artists we should go listen to right now?
Jeff Lorber, Herbie Handcock, and Hubert Laws (might as well keep it old school).
Alright, Drake vs Meek Mill, what’re your thoughts?
Lol none. I really don’t study all that.
What’s the worst/ weirdest American food you’ve encountered touring the US?
I love food in America. I don’t know how I don’t burst at the seams! Don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal … Actually, I tried alligator in New Orleans and didn’t like it.
What’s your song of the summer this year?
You’ve spent a considerable amount of time in L.A. already. What are some of the best parties/ shows you’ve been to while you’re here?
LBC a couple years back, and Echoplex to play … When I was there, I’m sure we were at some kind of party every night!