SWIM, aka “Someone Who Isn’t Me” is a Vancouver, Canada-based musical collaboration composed of life-long friends, Chase (vocalist) and Nick (producer).
With a passion for music, the two joined forces to combine elements from a wide range of influences, carving out a unique identity in the realm of alternative R&B. Brooding vocals, ethereal melodies, and dark instrumentals layered over trap-oriented drums are the key sonic components that define the signature sound of SWIM. Check out the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
SWIM: We (Chase & Nick) both grew up in and still live in Vancouver, Canada. We went to school together and have been friends since we were about five years old. In early high school, we started jamming together for fun in Nick’s basement – Chase on guitar and Nick on drums. Years later, as our music tastes shifted, we bonded over a shared interest in alternative R&B music. Nick would send Chase beats he was working on, and Chase would get inspiration to write and record ideas over them. It didn’t take long before we both realized we wanted to commit and officially form a duo music project.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
SWIM: Chase took weekly guitar lessons for a couple of years as a kid and had a few vocal training sessions here and there, and Nick took drum lessons for about a year when he was younger. However, we are both mostly self-taught with everything. We both learned most of what we know about songwriting, producing, and mixing, etc. by analyzing our influences, watching many hours of YouTube tutorials, and learning tips from our musical peers.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘SWIM’?
SWIM: We have both had a wide range of musical influences throughout our lives. We’ve gone through phases of being into alternative rock, pop-punk, EDM, hip-hop/R&B, and commercial pop – and we still enjoy those genres. SWIM has been most directly influenced by the alternative R&B scene. Some of our favorites from this scene are Darci, Always Never, Chase Atlantic, Manila Grey, and of course, the Weeknd.
Our name, SWIM, is an acronym used on internet forums that stands for “Someone Who Isn’t Me.” The name really resonates with us because it allows us to write from a place of anonymity – the songs may be about us, or they might not be.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
SWIM: In our description, we say that the key sonic components that define SWIM are “brooding vocals, ethereal melodies, and dark instrumentals layered over trap-oriented drums.” However, our sound is still evolving and we aren’t limiting ourselves to that description.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
SWIM: We respect the artistic choice of using music to function as a political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicle; however, it is not our objective with our music. For a lack of a better word, we are primarily “vibe” focused in regard to songwriting and production. We want to create sonic atmospheres in our music that put the listener in a certain mood and can temporarily provide an escape from the stresses of life.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
SWIM: We are only a couple of years into our musical journey, so there is still a lot that we want to accomplish in the future, but we are both very fulfilled so far. We believe that the only way to stay fulfilled is by continuing to work towards and achieving the goals that we set for ourselves. The journey will never be over as we will continue to set the bar higher as we progress. We are both extremely motivated to keep creating music and building our brand, and we are excited about what the future has in store for us.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
SWIM: The process changes from time to time, but generally, Nick will begin by creating chords and melodies, and then he will produce and arrange drums to accompany them. The key to this process is sound selection as the drum samples, synth sounds, and guitars, etc. need to complement each other for everything to sound cohesive. Once the beat is mapped out, Chase will hum every melodic and lyrical idea that naturally comes to mind over the beat. After the ideas are recorded, Chase will narrow it down to the best ones, fill in all the remaining words, structure it into a cohesive song from beginning to end, and then produce and mix the vocals. The two of us always work together in the end to put all of the pieces together and make any necessary changes.
Occasionally, Chase will record guitar for the tracks, or we will collaborate with other musicians, artists, and producers.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your music career so far?
SWIM: Considering the fast-paced, content-driven online world that we live in now, we sometimes struggle to maintain an adequate output of content. This has been due to limited time, writer’s block, and over-analyzing while creating – which can lead to a loss of inspiration for a song halfway through the creation of it. We value quality over quantity, so we only want to put out our best work, which is both a blessing and a curse.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your music career so far?
SWIM: The first time that we experienced a significant moment of musical success was when Jay, the founder of the YouTube channel called Dynmk, discovered our song “Trust” and wanted to post it on the channel. We had been fans of his channel for a long time – before SWIM even existed – so that was huge for us. That day marked the unofficial beginning of our music truly finding an audience.
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