Swingrowers Interview (10 Questions to…)

Swingrowers… Any fan of Electro Swing music is surely familiar with this band, and their iconic tracks such as ‘Butterfly’, ‘Midnight’, ‘Dreamland (Say Goodbye Bye Bye)’ and ‘Educated Feet’ have hundreds of thousands or even millions of streams on Spotify! Now it’s time for you to go behind the scenes for a moment and get to know more about this incredibly talented band from Sicily. This interview contains a wealth of details and I guarantee that nowhere else will you read so many interesting facts about your favourite Electro Swing band. It is with great joy and pleasure that I present to you… 10 questions to Swingrowers! :)

01. LadyDot: I think you know that you are one of my favourite Electro Swing bands, right? :) All the more why I am incredibly excited about this interview and thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Please tell me, how did your adventure with Electro Swing start? What made you start the band? When and under what circumstances did you think that Electro Swing was the music genre that fascinated you and at the same time inspired you to create your own original songs?

Swingrowers: Thank you so much for your kind words and support! Our adventure with Electro Swing began around 2009. The idea of starting Swingrowers came about when Roberto (Pisk), the founder and current producer of the group, began experimenting by sampling old vinyl records inherited from his grandfather. With years of experience in electronic music production, this new blend worked very well. Later on, he met Loredana (now former singer) and proposed that she write and record on some of his productions. They decided to share these tracks on Soundcloud, working towards creating an international fan community. Giulio, who was already the manager of Pisk for his previous electronic music projects and was living in London, observed the early electro swing movements. He worked effectively to enter this early electro swing scene, and they started touring across Europe right away!
Our blend of vinyl samples, gypsy sounds, clarinets, synthesisers and electronic drums were noticed by Freshly Squeezed Music label, who invited us to fly to Brighton (UK) to record with international musicians. Back to Palermo, Pisk met Alessio (current Co-producer and guitarist) in a jazz-manouche jam session and invited him to his studio. In 2012 we released our debut album “PRONOUNCED SWING’ GROWERS”, which was highly appreciated, expanding our popularity throughout Europe. As we continued to explore and develop our sound through subsequent albums like “REMOTE” (2014), “OUTSIDEIN” (2018), and “HYBRID” (2021), we found ourselves pushing the boundaries of Electro Swing while staying true to its core elements.It has given us the opportunity to express our creativity, experiment with different musical elements, and reach audiences worldwide. In essence, our journey with Electro Swing began as a fascination with the genre’s unique blend of past and present, and it evolved into a passion for crafting original songs that capture the spirit of both eras.

02. LadyDot: It’s hard to believe that time passes so quickly, but since the release of your debut album, “Swingrowers (Pronounced Swing Grow’ers)”, it has already been… 11 years! What was it like working on that album? Did you have material ready for a long time that was simply waiting to be recorded in the studio and released? Or was the creation of the songs spontaneous and did you get carried away with Electro Swing spontaneity?

Swingrowers: Most of the musical ideas were born one to three years before the album’s release. Pisk had already begun experimenting with an electro-swing sound, collecting many drafts that he later selected and completed through studio sessions with musicians. Other songs, however, originated from Loredana’s vocal lines, on which Pisk built the entire production. It’s always a thrilling experience to see the songs take shape and come to life in the studio. Looking back, it was a beautiful period marked by a sense of discovery. We were very young and full of energy!

03. LadyDot: I really like the fact that you release songs both in English and in your mother tongue, Italian (I also read once that your song “Senza Ciatu” from your first album was written in… Sicilian dialect!). Please tell me if you are going to keep up this trend, or are you planning to release songs written only in English already?

Swingrowers: Yes! We’ve released songs in both English and Italian, including the Sicilian dialect in the case of “Senza Ciatu” and “Chiovi”. Our choice of languages reflects our desire to embrace our cultural roots and create a unique musical experience for our audience. As for future releases, we don’t have a strict rule about using only one language. We love the flexibility and richness that different languages bring to our music, and it’s likely that we’ll continue to explore and experiment with both English and Italian (maybe also in Japanese?) in our songs. The choice of language often depends on the theme and mood of the song, and we find that different languages offer unique nuances and expressions.

04. LadyDot: I guess that after Loredana, the co-founder of the Swingrowers, left the band, you had to take quick action to form a new line-up. Did you immediately have the idea to expand the line-up to six people? How did you come across Arianna, such a great singer?

Swingrowers: The idea of expanding the band actually originated many years ago. Although it’s easier to travel with a smaller lineup, we felt the need to cover stages at larger festivals and to work on a more powerful show,leveraging the interaction among musicians to foster greater engagement with our audience. The departure of Loredana prompted us to take action and reevaluate the lineup of Swingrowers. We knew that maintaining the essence of our sound while bringing in new members was crucial. Expanding the lineup to six people was a great decision to enhance the band’s dynamics and introduce new elements, to create a big complete live show.
Arianna, our current amazing singer, was discovered through a thorough search for a vocalist who could not only complement our existing style but also bring her own unique qualities to the table. The process involved months of auditions and collaborative sessions to ensure a good fit both musically and personally. Arianna’s exceptional vocal talent, her positive energy and her ability to seamlessly integrate into the Swingrowers’ vibe made her the perfect choice. Her dynamic and charismatic stage presence, coupled with a voice that resonated with the spirit of our music, convinced us that she was the ideal addition to the lineup. Arianna’s arrival marked a new chapter for Swingrowers, and the expanded six-piece formation allowed us to explore new creative avenues while staying true to our Electro Swing
roots. The transition was a very thoughtful process, and we’re grateful to have the new band ready for touring all over the world!

05. LadyDot: You recently released the excellent dance single ‘Educated Feet’ after a break of more than a year (in two months since its release, this song has already been listened to more than 160,000 times on Spotify, congratulations!). How long did you work on releasing this single? I am very curious to know what the general process of songwriting and composition is like for you? Who are the main thinkers? Or do you brainstorm together and each musician adds their part to the track?

Swingrowers: Thank you! The process of creating a single can vary for each song, but generally it starts with Pisk and Alessio, who have historically been the main composers of our songs. Usually they compose and produce various drafts, which they then revisit after months or even years. When a draft sounds good after a few months of a break, perhaps it’s the right one! After, it’s a collaborative process that involves input also from all band members, through record studio sessions. Regarding “Educated Feet,” it remained in a folder for almost one year. When we decided to revisit it involved several weeks of collaborative work with Vincent, the songwriter who worked several years with Caro Emerald and more artists, who now is collaborating with us for future tracks!

06. LadyDot: We all know that you love Electro Swing, but I am sure that it is not only this musical genre that influences your work. What kind of music do you listen to on a daily basis?

Swingrowers: While Electro Swing is undoubtedly a significant influence on our work, our musical tastes are quite diverse, and we draw inspiration from various genres. Each member of Swingrowers brings their unique musical preferences to the table: Punk, Rock, Classical and Orchestral Music, Hip-Hop, Contemporary pop and Indie, Balkan, and obviously Jazz, Swing, Blues and many more vintage styles! This openness to various genres allows us to experiment and evolve our style while staying rooted in the core elements of Electro Swing.

07. LadyDot: Pisk, now I have a question directly about your solo work. In my opinion, you are one of the most talented and creative producers. You are excellent at selecting samples and giving new life to old swing tunes and Electro Swing songs. You excel at both remixes (I personally love the remixes of ‘Say What’ by Cut Capers and ‘You Don’t Love Me’ by Caro Emerald) and collaborations (you teamed up perfectly with Jamie Berry and Octavia Rose on ‘Morning Light’). Please tell us who else you would like to create a collaborative track with?

Pisk (Swingrowers): Here Pisk! Thank you very much for your lovely words! After almost 15 years, this world represents a significant part of my life. I have delved into it thoroughly and fully internalised it, always seeking that magic to make each song unique and singular. While remaining anchored to the genre, I draw inspiration from the world and strive to integrate these influences into my productions. ‘Caro Emerald’ is a project I have followed since its debut in 2009. She has always worked in an original and surprising way, being a big source of inspiration for me. Working with her team was a crucial step in my career, from which I learned a lot. The Electro Swing community is so tight-knit that everyone knows each other, but for many years now, I have sensed a flattening, with productions sounding too similar and lacking innovation. This is also why prominent names like Parov Stelar and Caravan Palace have shifted toward other influences. It’s complicated: straying too far might disappoint loyal fans, while without evolution, we risk boring the rest of the audience.
Today, staying within the swing/jazz realm, a great dream could be collaborating with Haley Reinhart. Still, I would also be content with remixing for Daft Punk or producing an album with Mark Ronson, perhaps even just an EP!

08. LadyDot: Pisk, one more question. Your contribution as a music producer in the Swingrowers has always been characterised by innovation and experimentation with different sounds. What specific challenges have you faced in creating new songs for the band, and is there any track that you consider particularly revolutionary for the success of Swingrowers? How do these experiences influence your personal solo projects, or do you have any more specific inspirations or concepts that you wanted to explore outside of the band framework?

Pisk (Swingrowers): The main challenge is that of originality. In every album, we have had to face this enormous challenge. To meet the need to distance ourselves from previous works, we always seek to evolve in the quest for originality. After “Pronounced Swing’ Growers” (2012), we gave great importance to the recording of musicians. In “Remote” (2014), we explored the swing-manouche sound inspired by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, but we also introduced Rockabilly and Punk elements, as in “That’s Right”, which continued to inspire us in subsequent works. Indeed, “Outsidein” (2018) represented a turning point in the sound with the introduction of the electric guitar, characterized by predominant distortions and meticulous production. Finally, the album “Hybrid” (2020) was the result of intense experimentation, with the creation of a story around “Butterfly” (2017), a projection into intergalactic space, and inspiration from every corner of the musical universe. This last one contains an intro, my favourite track to date (with fewer listens in our entire discography!): “In the Blink of an Eye”, a journey through space, a collage of sounds and emotions. All these journeys are part of my life. Naturally, they influence my solo project and vice versa, creating a constant exchange of creativity. I tend not to exclude anything between ‘Swingrowers’ and ‘Pisk’; they are both my children, so it’s normal for them to have similarities. Each of them, however, always maintains its uniqueness. An inspiration that has fueled my musical passion for years is teaching Music Production and Sound Design. Teaching requires a lot of study, and by transmitting that knowledge, I rediscover aspects that, perhaps due to the need for renewal, I had set aside during my artistic journey.
So, I find techniques and ideas to apply with the innovation I have matured in the meantime.
Furthermore, another indispensable source of inspiration is the connection with other people. Collaboration is the key to evolution and survival!

09. LadyDot: You recently played a couple of shows in the UK in November this year, supported by the band Swing’it. Share your impressions of this tour with us! Hopefully this is just the beginning of your live performances with the new line-up?

Swingrowers: The tour was nothing short of amazing – a whirlwind journey through many UK cities that left us exhilarated and inspired. The response from the audience and our fans was truly stunning, making every moment on stage a memorable one. There’s something incredibly special about returning to the stage after several months, feeling the energy of the crowd, and sharing the joy of music with our dedicated supporters. In the lead-up to this tour, we spent a lot of energy, we invested time and effort in crafting a show that truly reflects the evolution of Swingrowers with the new lineup. The past few months have been dedicated to building and refining our performance, and the result is a show that’s not only more structured but also more sophisticated. Each element of the performance has been carefully curated to create a captivating and immersive experience for our audience. The synergy within the new band has been a driving force in shaping the show. With fresh perspectives and collaborative creativity, we’ve elevated the musical journey to new heights. The incorporation of diverse talents and influences from each band member has added layers of richness to our sound, enhancing the overall quality of the performance.
As we stand at the beginning of this new journey with the reinvigorated lineup, there’s a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation. The tour has marked the inauguration of this chapter, and we’re eager to continue building on the momentum, exploring new sonic territories, and sharing our music with audiences around the world. It’s a thrilling time for Swingrowers, and we’re grateful for the support and enthusiasm of our fans as we embark on this exciting musical adventure.

10. LadyDot: The New Year is about to start! So I have to ask, do you have any New Year’s resolutions related to your musical plans? What would you like to achieve in 2024? Are you preparing any surprises for your fans?

Swingrowers: We’re thrilled to share that the upcoming year is set to be a whirlwind of musical excitement for Swingrowers! To kick off the year on a high note, we have plans to release a series of exciting singles in the first few months, each one carefully crafted to captivate our audience with fresh sounds and infectious rhythms. This release strategy is not only aimed at treating our fans to new music but also serves as a vibrant prelude to the dynamic energy of the summer festival season. Speaking of summer festivals, our anticipation is building as we gear up for a sensational Italian tour that will take us to several cities across the country. Italy holds a special place in our hearts, and we can’t wait to connect with our Italian fans in person, sharing the magic of our music live on stage. But our musical journey doesn’t stop there! Plans are in motion for an array of shows, including performances in Germany, with the prospect of spreading our musical vibes to Spain, the United States, Canada, and even the vibrant music scene of India. The global reach of our tour reflects our commitment to connecting with fans from diverse corners of the world and sharing the universal language of music. As the summer sun bathes festival grounds, we’re excited to bring our electrifying live performance to various summer festivals. The stage is where we truly come alive, and we can’t wait to create unforgettable moments with our fans during these lively and spirited events. But the excitement doesn’t end with the summer. Come September, we’re setting our sights on a return to the vibrant music scene of Japan! 2024 is shaping up to be a year filled with music, connection, and global adventures for Swingrowers. We’re counting down the days until we can share these moments with our fans, and we can’t wait to see the smiling faces and dancing crowds as our musical journey unfolds across the world. Stay tuned for updates and join us for an incredible year of music
and celebration! Would be amazing to speak again next year to tell you the evolution of this story!

Interview by LadyDot; Date: 2023-12-25


Electro Swing Radio