CookiesWe use cookies to make it easier for you to browse our website. If you, as a user, visit our website, it is our understanding that you are granting your consent to the use of cookies. You may obtain more information on cookies and their use hereOK
New release The Hard Way smirks at youthful mistakes and leans right into pleasing synthed-out chords and vocals that sound like they make themselves to us through a fan – in a really good way. This duo’s production is tight and tunes are catchy. Swanes got our attention with Dreams of Iceland, which made it through the Spotify algorithm and some big playlists as well as Radio 1. Michael and Stefan Bildy are switched-on dreamers who whilst producing groovy tracks also share fears of a global monoculture and the encroaching digital world reconstructing our economy from a computer.

As brothers, you started out young, writing together at 12 and 14. What did your youthful experiments in music consist of?
We actually started making music together even younger than that – closer to 10 and 12 years old. At first, we played as a guitar and drum duo, and sometimes both played the guitar, learning songs we heard on the radio or from family members. In high school, we formed a few different bands and ended up recording some EPs. Through all our different iterations, we’ve remained experimental with our production and recording process.
Your recent release Dreams of Iceland sounds more ‘pop’ than previous hazy, lo-fi tracks. What prompted this shift to a more commercial style?
That’s funny because Dreams of Iceland is actually one of our oldest Swanes songs. I believe the “hazy, lo-fi” aesthetic has more to do with a lack of mixing skills than intention. I’m always striving to improve my craft so it’s possible that Dreams of Iceland is a product of linear progress and as a result sounds more ‘pop’ or hi-fi. That being said, we’re both hugely into pop music from all decades and always have been. We also find the more we hone in on our roots and style, the more accessible it becomes.
BPD is one of your most listened to, as well as most intimate, tracks. It joins what seems to be an international shift in opening up about mental health, but (in the United Kingdom) governmental investment in healthcare remains insufficient. Does your music ask for political change?
We leave it up to everyone else to interpret the message however they want, although it’s impossible to not see the social issues as well as the problems with the current system. Personally, we’re behind raising awareness and funding for mental health (funding is also an issue in Canada). We’re the kind of people who disregard the stigma completely and put it out there.
Dreams of Iceland takes notes “from ancient Nordic song forms, recorded folklore”. Tell us more. 
That’s another subject I could go on about, so I’ll mention what I think is most interesting. We had written the music and figured it was going to be about a dream getaway to somewhere like Iceland, as opposed to a tropical paradise. Then one night, I was listening to an Icelandic folk song and it was in the same key. The bass line hit the main notes, so I knew we were onto something. It was also partially inspired by the oldest known song recorded in Nordic history, where the writer talks about something they dream and long for. There are various interpretations, so it went from there. The reference to the tree is significant and also the idea of overcoming something and being the master of your own destiny.

Swanes is the middle English word for ‘swans’, and your music traces ancient musical structures. What inspires you about the past? And the future?
The Renegades of the past who created their own style and changed things up are the ones we tend to look back to. It can be tough as a newer artist, but it’s also an exciting time for experimentation. We’re looking forward to the possibilities with music and technology, which have always gone together. We’ve got a lot lined up for releases in the future so that at least keeps us busy.
Your music has been accepted by the Spotify algorithm featuring you on impactful playlists. How do you feel about seemingly post-human streaming services?
Our feelings are mixed. The shift towards big data and algorithms allows for even more concentration of wealth and private power not just in the music industry, but everywhere online. We think the lack of human curation is definitely a valid concern as it may lead us further down the road towards a global monoculture where art becomes even more homogeneous than it currently is. Conversely, most music fans discover new music through streaming. We also know lots of people who enjoy the surprisingly accurate recommendation feature of Spotify’s algorithm – which is great at helping music lovers discover newer artists.
How do you prefer to access music?
Ironically, mostly streaming at the moment. In an ideal world, we’d purchase the music from the artist, like on Bandcamp. The odd time we’ll buy an LP and listen to it in one sitting. For the most part, streaming is more convenient with our working lives, especially if you’re commuting a lot, which we do. It’s also another example of the digital and real world shifting towards a rental economy.
Today, nostalgia-inducing music remains popular – you’re featured on Compact Cassette, an online playlist by David Dean Burkhart. Calling an online service a cassette and reproducing lo-fi sounds with modern equipment is ironic. As musicians, how do you navigate these modern ironies?
Good question. There are some modern ironies that we try to incorporate into our music. Some are purely creative and function as an aesthetic choice, like what you mention above. However, I feel like irony can also serve as a way to distance oneself from an honest discussion about a record or art more generally. For example, the discourse on commercial pop music is completely skewed because of this way of thinking. On one hand, you have an artist making some very compelling music in their bedroom with practically no resources, and on the other, you have a corporately-backed artist with major funding for clever marketing campaigns, top mixing engineers, songwriters, and producers. Yet, these two artists will be judged by the same critical metric – which is a totally unbalanced approach. We do our best to navigate around this type of postmodern irony, which we find leads to a certain feeling of hollowness.
Do you plan on writing whilst touring the United States (or Europe, or somewhere else) later this year?
Definitely, we’re constantly writing and becoming more proficient with respect to output. We have tons of new material, which will be released into the world sooner or later.

Bella Spratley
Stefan Bildy

ic_eye_openCreated with Sketch.See commentsClose comments
0 resultados