05 November 2012

Fresh Meat Monday - How to Swim

 Would you care to introduce yourself?

We are a pop group called How to Swim.

How would you describe the music you make?

We make sometimes simple, sometimes ornate pop music. When we play it live, it's sometimes loud and chaotic and sometimes less so.

How did you start out making music?

Gregor: Around the turn of the century, a bunch of musicians (some more musical than others) and I got together to try and make improvised music in the vein of the Beta Band or Beck. Crucially, none of us knew what we were doing.

What process goes into the way you write songs?

Gregor: I believe not knowing what I'm doing is still an important part of the process. On this new record, for instance, I've been learning about writing for groups of instruments and the perils of too many counter-melodies. There are ways of making sure every melodic line is visible, but you have to be prepared to throw some out if things get too cluttered. I think one of my problems, historically, has been an unwillingness to do that. I'm changing my habits as I go along. I think the point I'm making is that learning on the job can sometimes bear tasty, unexpected fruit.

What can people expect from your live shows?

We've stripped back the live line-up recently, so that we're more flexible for smaller venues and less of a pain for hungover sound guys. At our largest, we've been a 14-piece, which can mean that from gig to gig the sound can differ substantially. We're a six-piece now, which I think means people won't feel that every time they see us they're seeing a different band. It's still a big sound, though.

What are you all listening to at the moment?

Gregor: We've got a Christmas album coming out shortly, and I've been listening to some cheesy old Christmas stuff for inspiration, like Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby. Other than that, the new Grizzly Bear is good and I've been listening to the first Justice record again, and trying to reverse engineer silly synth bass sounds with no hardware or know-how.

What can we expect to see/hear from you in the future?

The Christmas record will be out in the first week of December - it's a compilation of our last couple of Christmas EPs, along with a handful of new tracks. We're still in the process of finishing Niagarama, our next record proper, but we've basically run out of money, so we're not sure how we're going to finish it... We may have bitten off more than we can chew with that one. Elsewhere, we're going to be providing the instrumental score for a short film called Mission, which should be shooting in November. If there's enough music on there, we'll probably release it as a stand-alone EP. There's also the possibility that we might do something theatrical in the summer of 2013 at the Edinburgh festival, but that could be a bit of a pipe dream... We've always got a million things that we'd love to do, that, to be honest, are usually scuppered by us not having any money or a label behind us. We already have most of the material written for the follow-up to Niagarama - it's just the time and resources to record it that we're lacking...

How to Swim - It Doesn't Even Have To Be You


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