Interview with Swim Deep

Brum-pop band Swim Deep have risen out of the Birmingham music scene this summer, I interview their frontman Austin Williams about their experience of being a newly signed band as they prepare to leave Birmingham behind for their first long-term tour supporting Spector. Swim Deep have gained attention in the music industry of late, leading to their singing with Sony RCA’s “Chess Club Records” in August. Under Chess Club Records they released their second single “Honey”, and recorded and released their music video at the beginning of this October.

After playing exclusively in their local music scene in Birmingham Swim Deep find themselves in a transition to playing in foreign cities, staking out new territory. I ask Austin about his feelings on the up coming tour, and what it’s like to leave their hometown fans. “Very excited and scared” he confesses, “It’s thirty days long; It’s quite scary that we’re going to be on the road for that long […] we’ve been on the road once or twice, for no longer than four or five days. It’s weird. You don’t know if you’ll have fans there or not, sometimes definitely not. But it’s pretty cool to go out and play cities you’ve never played at and new towns, that’s what it’s all about for me.” We talk about gigs in different local scenes and venues, “I really like real small venues if you’ve got people there anyway. We had this gig in Sheffield, there was just so many people there at 2am, it was one of the best gigs and I don’t think we even played that well, but it was one of the best gigs, everyone just went nuts, it was a small venue but it was really big.”

Austin and I discuss their experience of looking for a record deal, “I didn’t know who I wanted to go with, we just thought we’d meet as many people as we can […] we were lucky enough to have the choice I guess”. In early August Swim Deep signed a record deal with Sony RCA’s ‘Chess Club Records’: “Yeah, they’re a part of RCA, Will Street runs Chess Club Records and he works for RCA. He released our first single ‘King City’ on Chess Club. […] We did that with him, then he was interested for more. We just kept talking and stuff and it worked out really nicely. It’s a really good team we’ve got, RCA are good.” Swim Deep are currently recording an album under the label.

Using the new resources provided by Chess Club their new single ‘Honey’ is a whole new sound; Austin tells me about their new studio, “a whole different level of production”, which really reflects in their new single. ‘Honey’ opens and closes with an infectious melody and chorus. I ask him if it was a conscious decision: “Yeah! The loop starts, it’s just quiet and the track’s started, I just wanted something that came in with a bang, like when people hear it, it really feels like you’re listening to it.” I tell him that the chorus riff has been lodged into my head all day, “Yeah, that’s exactly why! You’ve proven my point”.

Austin goes on about the band’s process of making a new track: “I write the songs and take it to the guys, they either like it or they think it’s shit. They have input as well, we kind of write it together, it works well.” Having recently changed their line up, I ask Austin about the new bass player, and whether having another member in the process has developed their music. “Yeah we added Cal to the band a few months ago, he couldn’t play bass when we added him which is quite funny, but now he can and it’s all good. Yeah it has, because there are more people there is more interaction. It’s really good”.

There’s a lot of attention on the Birmingham music scene right now, with bands like Swim Deep, Peace and Troumaca being noticed and signed last summer. Austin explains “Basically if you’re in Birmingham and start a band, even if it’s shit, you’ll probably get noticed anyway right now because there’s a lot of shit going on.” I ask if he’s picked up any tips on getting signed he could pass on. “I don’t think I can give any more advice than write a good song in order to get noticed. And you really have to listen to what’s going on as well, you can’t ignore anything that’s going on and get stuck in the past.” At the beginning of the year, it was their first single ‘King City’ that got them noticed. It gained popularity on their SoundCloud page, scoring them attention in the summer 2012 mentions in the NME and the Live Session at BBC Maida Vale studios on Hugh Steven’s new music show.

Although their beginnings are in Birmingham, their lyrics reflect a theme of escapism and leaving their hometown. “It’s about getting away. I’d rather go places and travel than stay in one place.” They seem well on their way to doing just that.

Ben Gibson