With 55 years of experience, an ever evolving line-up and a canon of tunes inspired by world music, The Swingles are heading out on tour, playing Manchester’s RNCM, 29 March.
What informs your music and songwriting?
For our new album Folklore we’ve been inspired by traditional music and stories from all around the world – a lullaby from the Philippines, a frenetic Bulgarian dance, an English ballad. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to delve into unfamiliar styles but also bring our own musical sensibilities to the project. As a group of seven our collective tastes are very eclectic, and that’s how we like it – we learn from each other.
How have you evolved as an ensemble over the years?
The group’s heading into its 55th year and in that time there have been 80-plus Swingles and a thousand different musical approaches. We’re particularly inspired by the innovative spirit that’s been present from the beginning, and we’re always looking for new ways to push vocal music forward. That might mean writing original songs, or using live looping to build up lush, textured arrangements, or just focusing in on a lyric and really trying to connect emotionally with an audience. As people get more savvy about what a cappella music is, it’s not enough to just be impressive.
What are you up to at the moment artistically?
We’re getting ready for the release of Folklore and the gigs around it, which will include loads of new tunes from the album and collaborations with a couple of brilliant UK folk acts, Twelfth Day and Effra. We’re very excited for this music to be out in the world! We’re also looking ahead a bit further, putting together a programme of reimagined early music, and starting to write some more originals.
What’s on your rider?
An iron, lemons and honey, Diet Coke. We will accept M&Ms or kittens of any colour. We ARE rock’n’roll.
Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal live experience.
We did a corporate gig on a beach in Dubai once. It was incredibly windy, there were melting ice sculptures everywhere laden with sushi, and the other act on the bill was Kelly Rowland. And we were delirious with jetlag. That was an odd one.
What song do you wish you’d written?
America by Simon & Garfunkel, which we sing a version of. The lyrics get more poetic every time I hear them.
What’s your worst lyric?
In one of my songs, Reservoir Kids, I tried to rhyme “see” with “weeds”. Our sound guy would always hear the second line as “wee” and giggle. It’s the simple things in life.