We recently caught up with up and coming producer, vocalist, rapper and engineer, Swan Sounds to really understand what drives his great productive power. SS has been setting pace over the last year or so with some banging releases that have clocked up thousands of views collectively from ‘Gasolina’ to ‘Yeah Yeah’ and very recently ‘Want Too’ feat. Infrared – the guy’s work rate is simply nuts and he’s got the quality to back it up. We sat down to talk about his creative process, his dream collab and what he’s got planned for the future…
Hi Swan – thanks for taking some time out to speak with me.
OK, let’s get straight into it. If we take it back to your early experiences with music – were you around it much growing up?
I was around music the whole time whilst I was growing up man, like listening to it in the car with my pops just jammin’ – some Barrington Levy on – something with soul to it, even like the Isley Brothers kind of vibe.
So what’s your set up studio wise?
Swan proceeded to take me on a quick Skype tour of his extensive home studio set up, from his Logic Pro software to his 3 separate sound cards. He was especially gassed to show me his sound-proofed voice booth complete with a Neumann U87 microphone and his large Yamaha studio monitors. The guy is certainly well set up and it really didn’t surprise me. Swan isn’t just a vocalist, he’s a writer, mixer and engineer so all of his work comes straight from that room.
I was then briefly introduced to Thai, Swan’s co-creator and friend. He runs the creative music platform Archive which has also aided Swan in the smooth production of some of his videos such as ‘How I Stay’ .
How my videos come about is me and Thai will be in this room and we’ll just be listening to the song, playing other videos and piecing together what we feel and executing it, simple as that.“
From listening to your tracks it seems that you are developing something really quite original. Personally we hate the ‘genre type’ question but what is the ‘Swansounds’ style for you?
It’s a mixture of loads of genres bro, I do everything – it’s a mixture of R&B, Trap, Soul, Grime – it’s really like a big melting pot of them all put into one.
OK, so tell me about your approach to writing lyrics? Do you tend to write them specifically for a beat or do you write when you’re inspired and lay them on a beat later?
My process is kind of weird, I always have a beat before – I never have lyrics and then the beat, it never goes that way for me. I produce most of my music, like 90% of it so I’ll be making the beat and the beat will tell me. It will depend on what kind of mood I’m in. If I’ve just had an argument or I’m upset or angry I will make a certain type of beat and that will relate through the music and translate through what I write. The beat tells me what to do –I don’t have any says.
You produced you fairly recent track with producer Honeywood Six. How did you both come to work together on music and what different elements do you both bring to the table production wise?
This is a funny story actually – so one of the House of Pharaohs, Kevin Taylor dropped something produced by Honeywood Six on Instagram. I followed him and he completely blanked me. I was like nah this guy’s a weirdo aha but then he sent me a screenshot showing that he’d been trying to follow me back but couldn’t. The next week we were in the studio and it all started from there.
Moving to your work with Dappy co-writing ‘All we know’ – how did that come about?
So I was in the studio with Fazer working on one of his projects. Then literally Dappy just pulls up. We were playing some beats and he picked three out, one of them was ‘All we Know’ – 2 weeks later we recorded it and you can see me chilling in the back of the video haha.
The UK scene is very healthy right now but you can also hear a lot of US influences in your tracks, if you were asked to make a trans-Atlantic track with one US and one UK artist who would you recruit to do it alongside you?
I’ve actually thought about this question already man, my dream collaboration would be Mike Skinner and Mike Posner. Imagine ye, Skinner, Posner and Swan – that would be mad!
So what would be your key contribution within that legendary trio?
If you see me in the studio I’m a madman bro, I’m involved in everything there is to do with music. If we take All we know for example I produced it, co-wrote it and I’m skanking through the entire music video haha.
Ok, so touring – have you got any touring plans upcoming in the UK and what’s your ideal touring destination?
Not yet but it’s all in progress. London man – I want to fill up Wembley – that’s the dream bro!
OK so, to give an example ‘Gasolina’ is definitely a ‘turn up’ tune for us. When people listen to your music, what’s the expression or feeling you want to give them?
That’s a good question. When I’m in the studio and I’m making music I’ll always be telling people around me when they hear this I want them to stop and listen and say “damn what is this?” Every time I want a wow-factor. I think Wiley said something to this effect – if your records taking too long, mine’s going to get straight to the point and it’s gonna blow yours out of the water.
That second beat that comes at about 1min 20s in ‘Yeah Yeah’ and ‘Gasolina’ made me think that the slower, low-res vibe really worked for your type of sound. Give us your thoughts.
Oh the slowed down ting? I want to play homage to that really quick. It originated from Houston Texas called ‘screw music’ – RIP DJ Screw. So Screw would actually put a screw in the tape to slow it down. So because they all used to be so f*cked up on drugs that was the kind of tempo that they wanted to listen to. You can hear it in music nowadays the whole time like A$AP Rocky with his low voice adlibs and that – It’s a really sick style.
And finally let us know what we can expect from you for the rest of 2019, you’re working on a mixtape with HoneyWoodSix is that right?
Yes, man this summer! Expect good music man, we’re just going to flood flood flood everyone with good music. That’s all I can give you guys!
We wish you the best of luck Swan, and very much look forward to hearing your future projects!
Bless man, thank you!
Interviewed by James Collard and Horatio April (14.06.19)