Swing ‘N’ Tingz 3rd Birthday extravaganza on the 9th December 2016 was a party to remember. With sets from Chris Tofu, [email protected] in the [email protected] and Boundary to name but a few, but the cherry on the icing was live performance from the Electric Swing Circus as part of their album debut. We chatted to guitarist Tom Hyland after their set about their newest album amongst other thing. Here’s what he had to say…
So it’s the third night of your album launch party how’s it been so far?
Tom – Really well, it’s been really fun, we’ve done Birmingham, Hampshire, this is Bristol and then we’ve got 4 more before new year’s eve. This is like a pre release for the album, it’s not actually out until January 16th, so this is like we’ve got the CD let’s let people come and hear it. So it’s really nice, it’s nice for people to be able to hear it because we’ve not really put anything out in three and a half years. The first album we just recorded it, the second one we recorded it, it didn’t sound right so we scrapped it, some tracks we recorded a few times and thought this will work we’ll get it when it’s right. We’re really happy with it, really really happy with it. I think to the people that have stuck with us till now, if you like the first album you’ll like the second.
How much time have you spent on it then?
Tom – Too much time, honestly like years. I mean actually the process, well we were always writing from when the first album was out the songs which were being written 3 years ago have obviously evolved, but actually in terms of intensive process was probably about a two year process, which started with our pre-production was two years ago from now. And then about one and a half years ago was when we went into the studio.
So obviously you spend a lot of time together as a group, has there been issues and how do you overcome those issues as a group?
Tom – It’s a funny one yeah like obviously no one always gets on all the time and these guys are like a family, and families do fall out but families also support each other. And I think that’s really important. I don’t think electric swing circus would work without that family thing. I annoy Chan all the time Chan annoys me…
Chan – Yeah I despise Tom (laughs)
Tom – But you know like, he’s my brother, and we’re always there for each other whatever, and I think we always know that. Also all the songs we work on together, there’s nothing that’s just one person or a couple of people. We don’t always work together all the time, sometimes it’ll just be me with someone, sometimes it’ll be Chan with Pat, and people will go and do little things and they’ll be like “Oh we’ve come up with this!” and will then plug that to the group, then Laura might say “Ah I’ve got this let’s try that” and it’s kind of like, I feel it’s a bit like you’ve got an idea and then you chisel away at it until you’ve got something that really showcases that idea. That as a group I think we’re really good at, I think it helps that all the credits are split there’s no one who’s the “songwriter” or anything like that so it means there’s not any egos, there’s no this is my song or that’s your song, everyone just mucks in and so the atmosphere when songwriting is really good.
So aside from recording and regularly performing you also have swingamajig, how do you do it all without going insane?
Tom – Well one, I do go a little bit insane. I am little mad, I am a workaholic but also I’m surrounded by amazing people. Really one of my skills when I meet a new person is I’m good at finding great people, and when you work with great people it makes everything easy. For example Rich who’s playing at the moment, Rich does all the DJ performances at Swingamajig ([email protected] In The [email protected]) so rather then me do it, I mean I’m a shit DJ myself I love DJ’s but there’s no better person to decide who should be playing and when they should be playing the Rich. So it’s using your mates, and there’s a family that surrounds ESC, there’s a family that surrounds Swingamajig, some are the same people, not all are the same people but we do work hard as well. So I wake up I work, pretty much through the day, I come home and then I’m working through till 2 at night, trying to work out which band you want on your art stage at 6 o’clock because you’re thinking, ok, that’s when the sun’s going to start going down, and it’s going to be this atmosphere and you think you know does that really work? But I love it I’d struggle if I didn’t. There’s the record label as well, so the three main things is Swingamajig obviously we’ve got the shows we do at other festivals as well like Shambala, and we occasionally do some programing for other people as well so like at Blissfields. Then we’ve got obviously ESC is the main bread and butter and so performing, writing, marketing all that. And then Ragtime Records which is a record label, we put out ESC, [email protected] In The [email protected] and also some other things that we like as well.
Tom – Yeah Father Funk has just done a remix of Electric Swing Circus, which we released and it got to number one in the new new jazz and broken beats chart. So it did really well, it’s the first thing we’ve put out in a while so it was like the advanced single to the album, people seemed to like it which is great. We’ve got a new video too. I was bit worried with the video actually because we’ve done really well through video with the other stuff and have spoken to people who’ve been like ah yeah we’ve put stuff out before it’s had lots of views and now like a bit of the novelty bubbles warn off. We’re kind of just into stuff rather than novelty and we’ve not put anything out for so long. But we got got 30,000 views in 3 days and it’s steadily going up and it’s people watching it all the time. So it’s good!
Well you guys kind of hit the electro swing scene when it kind of exploded.
Tom – Yeah we kind of did, I mean we weren’t the first people but we joined it at an interesting time. There were bands which were established, or at least semi established in the uk some of them still exist now, some of them don’t. We’ve done very well, I don’t know why we’ve done very well I couldn’t tell you, and lots of people ask, they ask what’s the secret and I genuinely don’t know, a lot of it is luck, and it’s finding the right gigs and getting on the right stages. Back when I was forming the band with the guys and you’d go to an electro swing night you’d know what tracks were going to be played because those were the only tracks that existed, and every night they’d play the same tracks there was basically just 2 compilations and that was it! And now look at it! There’s so much going on, look at what’s going on downstairs, there’s drum and bass but it’s still electro swing and I think that’s so important for the genre, it’s not just cheesy house electro swing, europeans are a little guilty for it, in France and Germany and it kind of puts people off it, but actually if you go and listen electro swing as a whole genre it’s a bit like reggae, there’s some awful reggae out there but just don’t listen to the shit stuff just listen to the good stuff and you’ll enjoy it. Maybe I’m a little bit on a mission, like Swingamajig right, so people say they don’t like electro swing i’m like wicked, come along you’ll have a great time because you kind of go well for one, Swingamajig isn’t an electro swing festival there’s loads of other stuff, but also people don’t realise that really when we say electro swing it means vintage remix, it’s anything from between 1900 and 1960 whether it’s blues, ska, swing, jazz I dunno, latin and adding something that’s different about it. It’s all it is so there’s loads of big technically electro swing tracks that you wouldn’t even have thought are electro swing tracks that are major releases. All jazzy drum and bass is, it’s not technically electro swing but you could totally play it an electro swing night. It’s trying to get people to realise it’s not just about that cheesy electro house thing there’s a lot more to it, particularly in Bristol, no ones doing the cheesy house thing, if you go out here and listen to electro swing.
Every time I’ve watched you guys and I’ve seen you on the Isle of Wight, I’ve seen you at festivals, I’ve seen you various different places it always feels as though I’m watching my local band, as you’re a very personable band, you’re a people’s band. But being such personable people did you decide when you started that was the people you want to be or are you all just super friendly people anyway?
Tom – Well there’s some conscious thought, there’s conscious thought that’s gone into all of it. A thing I really dislike is when musicians think they’re better than their audience. We talked about this right at the start and we talk about this still, we never consider ourselves better then the audience, we’re so grateful to all the people that listen to our shows and dance with us, because we need that to be honest with you, if we don’t it falls flat. If we don’t have a dancing crowd it’s really weird us bouncing about and doing all the stuff we do on stage so we need these people it’s really important to us. I never want to be that sort of band that just do our thing and fuck off, we’re often at the bar because we like meeting people, we like talking to people. We’re normally out partying after our shows. We like to meet people and say thank you. So yeah there is a conscious thought that’s gone into that, even when we’re doing the big shows, even if we’re playing to 8,000 people we’ll be there afterwards, we’ll be beside the stage and there to chat to anyone that wants to chat to us and that’s really important to us.
I’ll ask you what I ask all the bands I chat to, what advice would you give to new bands starting up?
Tom – Right, step one be awesome. Step two be different, and step three is work out what you actually want from a band. Just because you see this sort of progression doesn’t mean you want to get on the ladder. If you’re enjoying making music and people are enjoying making music with you and it’s all working, wicked, why do you need to change it. There’s a band, I won’t say who it is but they’re a little more developed then ESC and they’ve not hit the mainstream yet but they spent a lot of money going ok we’re going to break out from being a festival band and we’re going into the mainstream act and kind of do the radio and do the industry thing, it didn’t work out for them, and you know what we’re doing all right! This our jobs, we’re playing really good shows I’m playing the world with my mates and I’m playing wicked music to people. Does it need to change, do we really need to progress it? If people have got other commitments, and you know what bands don’t work unless everyone is committed, it’s simple as that, if you’ve got someone who’s like I’m enjoying it but I can’t drop everything it doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work. For us there’s 6 of us, and if there’s one person that holds everyone it back it really does hold everyone back everyone doesn’t earn it causes massive problems. We’re lucky we’ve got a good team, there was no thought into who became the members, it kind of just went ok cool it’s us then! But yeah be interesting and be awesome. If you go to a festival and you see a really good ska band, they’re just really good you don’t remember their name, you remember the awesome band or the different band you saw. It’s not good enough to just be good, I’m not saying that we are, it’s just if you wanna try and get to that next level you’ve got to be interesting. When people go to a festival you’ve got to be that band they go home and rave about not the headliners or anyone else, and if you’re that band, that’s when you can start progressing until you have that it’s all about music.
Electric Swing Circus new album It Flew By is available to buy as digital copy and also on CD using this link HERE.