We stumbled upon SWIMM in 2013 when they released Feel, their first EP. We were hooked straight away to their psychedelic and colorful pop, a true testament to American road trips. After the release of Souvenir I, photographer Sara Sani had their photo taken and we were able to ask the questions we had in mind. Interview.
To start, a question that you must have answered a lot: explain us why did you choose the name "SWIMM"? Where does it come from?
Fluidity is a common theme with our band. We grew up next to the Atlantic Ocean, have surfed since we were kids and still try to spend a lot of time in the water so I think it was natural for us to want to create something artistically that would speak to that. The feeling of weightlessness, the effortless sway from one emotional sphere to another all while feeling supported by something bigger than yourself is the inspiration for what we dream to convey musically. Haha.. for talking about such a light feeling that got pretty heavy sounding... sorry.
Adam you play the drums and the harmonica, Chris you play the guitar and you are the singer; what are your musical influences ?
Chris: Creativity is my favorite thing in music. I never thought I was a great guitar player or a great singer so I knew I would have to be creative in order for people to want to listen. In that regard, bands like Sonic Youth, the Pixies, Blonde Redhead, Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem make me want to make music more than anything. On the other end of the spectrum, there are bands that feel so good to listen to and they inspire me to want to write music that is easy and fun to listen to. For example... Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Arcade Fire, Delta Spirit, War on Drugs, Fleetwood Mac... the list is kind of endless.
Adam: I'm also influenced by most of the bands Chris mentioned, but I'd say my biggest influence is our friends. We have quite a few extremely talented friends and seeing them work hard and kill it at what they do is a huge inspiration to me.
You come from Florida, that’s where you met, can you tell us how did it happen?
Where we come from surfing is really a big thing. Adam worked at a surf shop that I used to go to and there were these pro surfers that had sort of a youth group thing at their house every week that everybody went to. That is how I met Adam. We were never super close but always kept in touch. When I started making music I would show him and eventually I was playing with a drummer who left unexpectedly. I asked Adam if he would learn the songs in a week and play the show we had scheduled. He did and it was super fun playing with him. I wouldnt be able to play with another drummer after that. His energy is unreal.
In your Twitter bio we can read “Psychedelic Booty Shakin Rock n' Roll”, we can guess this is how you describe your music; what’s the magic recipe to achieve this?
Haha... well I think that described our first band a little more. We used to play as a two-piece in a band called Le Blorr that was a little more party and straight forward. We are so all over the board now with our songs. I think the recipe to that is having ADD when it comes to musical tastes. We would never be able to pick one single thing and only create that.
Do you think some groups use mushroom in order to achieve their purpose?
Yes I do. Mushrooms aren't for everybody and I would never want to insist anyone I didn't know to take them. But I know for Adam and I it has helped view and appreciate music differently. Personally I've never written music on them... mainly cause I can't be that focused during that kind of an experience but I have written music and searched for sounds that express how I felt during those moments.
We’ve really been bitten by your “Feels” song; who wrote the lyrics and in general what’s your method to compose? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Thank you! Usually I will write the skeleton of a song which may start on guitar or bass and then I will come up with a melody to sing. Then when I feel good about it I will show Adam and tell him what kind of a vibe I am thinking for the song and we will play together on it and see what works. Then I will usually write the lyrics last.
But lately I have been more inspired to write the lyrics of a song first. I listened to an interview with Neil Young and he talked about being more of a medium or a channel for music that needs to come through him to exist... but he feels like it already exists. One thing he said that I like was that whenever lyrics or a musical idea will come to him he will stop whatever he is doing and write it because it more so chooses when it comes to him than him choosing to write something. I feel a connection to that because good lyrics rarely come to me when I am sitting there thinking... "ok now I have to write some lyrics to this song." The good stuff comes when you least expect it and you have to capture cause it leaves just as fast.
I remember writing the lyrics to "Feels" as sort of an homage to Michael Jackson. I love his music and simple pop elements of romance in that kind of music. I myself feel a little funny writing that kind of stuff usually but its fun to just not care about being profound every once in a while and write a song like "Feels" that is simple and straightforward. I wrote it about watching my guitar player at the time falling in love with a girl. It was fun to watch cause they were in that exciting first period where you are wondering what the other person is thinking and all the butterflies are there. Man I sound like a pansy. I'll stop blabbing now.
Who are you listening to at the present time?
I have been listening to War on Drugs, Kevin Drew's new album, and my roommate (who also plays guitar for SWIMM) has a new band called Sego. It's rad. I look up to him a lot.
Among the cities you’ve played in, which scene got your attention?
Playing in New York always gives you a crazy feeling. Its at the same time magical and such a hard place to exist so when you have a good show there it feels like you have really achieved something. Denver, Portland and Winston Salem seemed to have really enthusiastic music lovers. But the scene in Provo, Utah is maybe the most surprising. The venue is called Velour. It is a dry bar because most of the people are Mormans. Initially as an outsider I think there is a perception that it will be very boring or too calm but its the opposite. There are kids of all ages and they are so pumped on music. We've had some of the best shows there for sure. LA really has some rad stuff going on too. I love some of the bands we have played with there.
Your are in LA actually, the city of angels, have you experienced exuberant things in that city?
Moving to LA has shaped our full length album a lot (which we just recorded in March!). We started writing demos right when we moved there for it and I kind of felt like a sponge for all the, as you said, exuberant things I am experiencing there. We grew up in a quaint beach town so city life is a big change for us. Exuberant things... well we have been dancing a lot to these soul nights that certain venues have that play really obscure soul records from the 70's. That alone has made me fall in love with the bass and groove as an elemental part of music. We found ourselves going to a lot of these wild all night raves in really seedy parts of LA that we live close to. That in itself is a subculture of awesome weirdness. We started throwing parties in our warehouse too. That is really fun because we can control the environment. We wrapped our walls in reflective mylar and made it feel like a spaceship inside our warehouse. By the end of the nights it turns into a full dance party and everyone is ripping the mylar off the walls wrapping themselves and each other in it. LA is really fun.
Is there something that intrigue you about french people? (attitude or expression)
I have only been to Paris once so I don't know if I have the right to speak about French people without making wrong assumptions. But in my experience of being in Paris and getting to know some French people during a week of hanging and playing with La Femme in California... It seems to me like it is natural for French people to be cool. Like its just built in or something. A certain casual coolness. Ya I like that.
When are you coming to Paris?
Paris was the most beautiful place I've ever seen. I am not just saying that because this is a French website. It was larger than life. I didn't expect it to be what it was. I want to come back to Paris so bad. I am not sure when we will... can you make that happen please?? :)
Indiscreet question: what is your secret to have such a nice hair? ;)
Haha... I am pretty sure the secret to any good hair day is DON'T WASH IT... EVER.
When you are not playing, where can we find you on a Saturday at midnight?
Hopefully sweating a lot on a dark dance floor with our best friends.
To conclude: 3 words to define your state of mind?
Floaty. Float. Floater. //// Mega. Hella. Chill. //// Super. Fuckin. Dank.
Credits Photo : Sara Sani
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Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/swimmmusic
Twitter : https://twitter.com/swimmmusic
Tumblr : https://swimmmusic.tumblr.com/
Bandcamp : http://swimmmusic.bandcamp.com/
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