Swindle has been somewhat of an unsung hero of the UK scene during his stellar career. Having received producer credits across a host of critically acclaimed albums from the UK scene, his career as a solo artist provides intriguing soundscapes that go against the grain of traditional UK genres. We sat down with him to discuss his new album, The New World.
You’ve released three new singles ahead of the release of your project. Are you happy with the reception they’ve received and has it made you more excited to give the project to the masses?
“Yeah, it’s been amazing. It’s just great to finally share music that, you know, means so much to all of us. So, yeah, it’s been great. And it’s also exciting because I know that there’s so much more on the album that people haven’t heard yet, So it’s encouraging.”
As always, your work on both the project and singles bases itself in collaboration. How difficult has that been over the pandemic?
“Well, we made this in the pandemic. We got together for a week on the first season of the lockdown. So all these tracks were recorded in the same room, as a kind of first opportunity. I would say that it actually took a global pandemic to actually enable this to happen. So this has been the silver lining for me over the last kind of 18 months of whatever it is we’ve been going for.”
We see a lot of familiar faces you’ve worked with before across the tape. Was that a conscious decision?
“It was a conscious decision to have like a lot of familiar faces across the table for that week.
“We didn’t go to make an album, but during the pandemic, we were all so separate. I basically kind of called on people that I knew personally, to get away and kind of have a musical retreat. No one had seen each other for months after the first lockdown. So it was kind of like an emergency meeting really. It was very organic. This is not contrived in any kind of way, and the album was kind of gifted to us as a result of that, you know. We never set out to actually make this.”
On the song “Blow Ya Trumpet”, you manage to gather faces from the old school and the new gen to create something fresh. Do you see yourself as possessing a talent for A&Ring when you put together a track like this?
“I guess A&Ring in the in the original sense of the word, Yeah. I’m a fan of the idea of the kind of the old school A&R being a producer, or being someone who has their hands on music. So what was important for me on that tune, and it’s like, putting Knucks at the beginning, kind of the youngest from the camp, passing the baton to Ghetts and then into Akala and Kojey kind of carrying that message through to the next song for me is kind of a celebration of generational greatness you know. I knew it was a special moment as soon as they were all in the room together.”
On the topic of “Blow Ya Trumpet”, what has it been like working with Ghetts recently? It feels as if he has reached another level in terms of musical output.
“It was amazing, but you know, we’ve worked together for so long now. And, you know, working on Conflict of Interest was amazing. On the same day that he came, and we did “Blow Ya Trumpet”, we were actually working on strings for Conflict of Interest as well. So to see him reach the height that so many of us knew that he deserved, It’s just refreshing. I think it speaks to where we’re at in in the game now, you know.”
How difficult is it to find a working chemistry when you get artists to collaborate?
“It can be difficult, but I think that if you concentrate on people who have like a mutual love for music, then it becomes much easier. I tend to collaborate with people that I have personal relationships with, who I know we share a certain musicality.
“I mean that me and Ghetts always geek out over funk. Like I saw him the other day we’re talking about jazz samples and jams, so that that then takes away all the barriers. You know, when you’re put in a room with someone at random, which generally I don’t do, that’s when it’s difficult. But when you work with people with a mutual understanding and mutual goals, then that becomes much easier.”
What have your musical influences been when making the tape? The song with Greentea Peng on your tape feels like it has a Fugees influence in the back up vocal.
“I never actually thought about the Fugees with that one. That one for me, when I was making the beat, I was calling the beat Brixton in the 80s. You know, that’s where I was born and where I lived as a small child. I guess like my influences are just like the breadth of amazing traditional black music over the last 100 years and the UK underground scenes that have emerged over the last 20 or 30 years.
“They’re always there, but the music really came quite naturally, and we just made what we felt makes sense. We never thought, ‘let’s make a chain like this or make a chain like that.’ We just press record and what happens, happens.“
Your single “No Black, No Irish” puts together Maverick Sabre and Joel Culpepper. What was the concept behind this pairing?
“I thought it was interesting and clever as well. I invited them both to this New World session. And that song was born from a conversation between the two of them you know? We went away as the conversation of race and equality and Black Lives Matter was kind of at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. And, you know, a conversation between those two led to the song. It’s a conversation of understanding, you know, listening, and brotherhood as well. And that’s what really led to that song. That song is like an audio representation of the conversations that were had around the dinner table and, you know, in between sessions and whatever else.”
Would you say you’ve got like a dream collaboration for a future project?
“There’s so many people that I would I would love to work with. I’d like to kind of get my teeth into America and start building some relationships with American artists. And there’s also so many great people here as well. People like Kambu, you know, lots of new emerging artists. But again, I just look for those natural situations and those organic situations with people that I know love music for the same reason I do. And those are the people that I’m going to continue to work with.”
What can we expect next from Swindle going into 2022?
“Once this album comes out, it’ll be the first time in a few years that I haven’t been working on someone’s album or my own, So I’d like the opportunity to build another artist’s up kind of from scratch and see someone through their debut albums, shows and stuff. Then, also just keep contributing as much as I can as Swindle with my own projects. Yeah, and just just keep exploring the possibilities of music, really.”
We can thus see that Swindle’s musical output is thoughtful with an emphasis on musicality, which is refreshing to hear when it seems many in the UK scene are focussed on short term, viral success. Swindle has created an album that aims to stand the test of time, and with his stratospheric level of musical talent, it will be no surprise if it does.