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First Listen: Swindle – ‘Smash And Grab’ (Brownswood)

We caught up with everyone’s favourite Jazzstepper for quick chat, before premiering the second cut from his new EP.

Already a popular figure in the underground, 2013 saw Swindle breakout and enjoy the recognition he’d always deserved. Anchored in bass but hugely ambitious, his debut full length – ‘Long Live The Jazz’, caught the attention of many and was even considered by some as an outside bet for a Mercury nomination. Its been full steam ahead for the South Londoner ever since, with endless touring as well as the chance to collaborate with Acid/Fusion Jazz legend Lonnie Liston Smith.

Now with his first solo release of the year, he’s hooking up with Mala’s Deep Medi and Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood for the three tracker ‘Walter’s Call’. A storming return to the fold, its got everything that made his album a winner – but with the added zing brought on by another year of experience. Check out ‘Smash and Grab’ from the release before reading our chat with the man himself below…

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, what have you been up to today? 

Today I’ve been running around. I’ve been packing for America, I leave next week for months. I left my laptop charger at radio though the other day so I actually spent about two hours going to get it – that’s been my day pretty much!

Yeah actually, I saw on Twitter today that you’d left it at Rinse…

Yeah man, well annoying! You know I really needed to use it and I only had 20% battery so I had to dash out and get that. But all is well, I can get back on with working and I’m nearly all packed and ready to go.

Its been about a year since you put out ‘Long Live The Jazz’ – for those who’ve not been paying attention, what have you been up to over the last 12 months? 

Since the album came out I’ve just been gigging and gigging. We launched the live show, which has been a great deal of fun – playing around Europe and England mostly. Other than that I’ve been exploring new sounds, recording new material and hooking up with Brownswood.

Well its on Brownswood that the EP is coming out – lets talk about how that came together? Was there anything in your writing process that’s changed since you put the album out?  

After putting out ‘Long Live The Jazz’ and then going on the road with players, I was kind of forced to explore recording with live instrumentation. That’s the sound I’ve tried to create, but I haven’t always had the facilities to do it. Playing live has given me that option, and so I guess that’s the main change between my previous material and this new EP.

All these three tracks were recorded with a horn section, which is pretty new for me – there was none of that on my last album. There was a little bit of live instrumentation, but not as much as people think – I kind of faked more than people know.

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What about ‘Smash and Grab’ in particular? 

Just to give a bit of background information on the whole thing: I move around a lot, because I’m noisy and I’ve got a big studio. My grandparents went to Jamaica for about a year, so while they were gone last summer I took their front room and turned it into a studio, invited a horn section there and recorded this release! (laughs)

‘Walter’s Call’ was the first track we did and ‘Smash and Grab’ was actually the third. It was funny because me and my trumpet player Neil Waters spent all day going round in circles and not coming up with anything that really stuck. It got to about half an hour before he needed to go catch his train back out of London and then something just dropped – I put down the chords, we voiced it out for the horns and it was just one of those tracks that kind of fell into place by accident after hours of not coming up with anything. It was like pure fluke I guess…

Or being an artist? 

You know what it is? You can’t force it. Sometimes you’ve got everything you need, you’ve got the kit, the instruments and you sit there and you’re like, “let’s make it!” – but nothing really comes out. Sometimes when you stop putting pressure on yourself to write music, something amazing happens.

So like you said, you’re off to America for two months – that’s a bloody long time. How are you looking forward to that? 

Just packing up loads of stuff really! I’m looking forward to it a lot. I’ve been to America to tour a couple times now and I’ve always come home and thought its great that I can do so many shows there, but it would be really nice just to chill there for a bit and write some music. So that’s what this is about – although I am doing shows. For the most part though I want to go out there to try and finish an album, soak up a vibe and just be inspired by a new place for a few months.

On that tip,  is there anything you’re especially keen to check out there or anywhere you want to go – outside of gigging? 

South America! I’ve always been desperate to go to South America and it looks like I could be going. I’ve always seen South America and Africa as the home of rhythm, or the two places that have inspired the rest of the world rhythmically – even if people don’t really appreciate the full extent of it. I just really want to be in the place that comes from and I’m hoping I can buy a load of drums and collect little bits of percussion. So yeah, South America – that should be the vibe.

‘Walter’s Call’ is out on all formats 20th October, you can pre-order it here. You can also catch Swindle playing in Providence, Brooklyn, Oakland and Denver at the start of next month – keep up to speed with his tour dates here.

Interview: Christian Murphy