With bangers such as their debut ‘Tastes Like Money’ and recent effort ‘2 Kids’, Swimming Girls have caught the attention and hearts of many right from the off.
Describing their sound roughly as a concoction of The Cure, Cyndi Lauper, Lorde with “a dash of David Lynch for good luck”, Swimming Girls alt-pop gems have quite literally been music to our ears. It’s fair to say we’re in love, so we couldn’t help ourselves but grab them for a chat.
Individually they all have quite the background, with many stories to tell between them. For instance, lead singer Vanessa successfully auditioned for an ‘all female pop band’, curated by Louis Tomlinson (One Direction) before deciding that she wanted to pursue a future with Swimming Girls instead. Jay, the guitarist, designed the music-quiz app Face The Music, Max the drummer once extensively toured with heavy metal band Trigger The Bloodshed, whilst Roo, on synths, recently wrote the music for Honda’s new Type R advertising campaign… they have been busy, to say the least.
Other fun facts: Vanessa is half Spanish and can speak it fluently, Jay has two tattoos inspired by his favourite film ‘The Crow’, Max had his first gig at the age of 11 and Roo faints at the sight of blood.
Contrary to what their moniker suggests, they’re not a band of girls who really like swimming (we know, we know, it’s a shock), however, the name actually originates from a song Vannessa wrote in which she sings “I wanna be a swimming girl, a pretty swimming girl”. “The name represents an idealistic depiction of classic beauty/innocence whilst maintaining a darkness or cinematic element… an untold mystery” they explain, which is pretty in line with their sound, let’s be honest.
“In the beginning, we all saw music as a way to escape. Everyone’s lives are dark at times, and music is a way of adding colour.”
Their recent effort ‘2 Kids’, a song that was actually from the first Swimming Girls writing session, is “inspired by an early relationship of Vanessa’s, lyrically it scrutinizes the authenticity of young love. Naïve at an age of decaying innocence, you’re holding onto something/someone just because you’re scared to be alone, even though it may not be right,” they tell us.
“Although the song is the oldest, it’s the song that’s been through the most arrangements. Audio God Richard Woodcraft and incredible producer/mixer Marta Salogni helped us shape it into the Cocteau/Lynchian cinematic arrangement it now finds itself in” they reveal.
Meeting in Bath, although they have now moved over to Bristol, they found that they had the perfect opportunity to play gigs without too many people listening and making judgments, allowing them to develop and discover their sound very naturally. “It’s quite a tight knit musical community and everyone supports each others’ projects. When we moved to Bristol about a year ago, we finally started to unveil a more definitive representation of what we wanted to be to a greater audience.”
Taking a backseat from festivals this summer, so as not to jump in too soon and really focus on their live performance through gigs. They’ve supported The View in Cardiff and The Jesus and Mary Chain in Reading, very impressive slots, not to mention their London show for their label Yucatan Records. “People were singing along and stuff, it was wild! We’d been chatting to a few people on Twitter who bought our recent vinyl that we did through Flying Vinyl – who we can’t thank enough – and it was amazing to meet them.”
Blending brightness, darkness, the brash and the cinematic all with an 80/90’s twist, their debut ‘Tastes Like Money’ was the perfect introduction to Swimming Girls. “It really feels like the first chapter where we began with our sound” they explain, “it covers a lot of bases of what we are as a band at this early stage. The lyrics also reflect how we felt in the beginning.”
We want our releases to paint different colours and expand on our visual/sonic universe in the right way.
Drawing inspiration from a variety of sources, from cult 80s bands such as The Cure, female pop artists of the 80’s such as Cyndi Lauper and Madonna, with vocal inspiration coming from the likes of The Cranberries and Lorde, before taking subtleties from those such as Bon Iver and Beach House.
“Inspiration is a funny thing. It can really come from anywhere/anything/anyone and is a powerful feeling – like a spontaneous wave of bright colour. If something moves you and is able to change the way you feel, you can harness that and examine the details of it closely.”
Film soundtracks are another source of inspiration for all four members, specifically the accompanying music to the films of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, “we always write with an image in mind” they reveal.
“Visually we take a lot of our inspiration from 80s pop culture and films, such as Heathers or The Breakfast Club. The fashion, the colours, they all transport you to a world of hyper reality that is somehow intertwined with present day,” they explain. Which is exactly what they’re attempting to do with their artwork and the way they present themselves, “In essence, we’re all about mixing the surreal with the every day.”
So what’s next we hear you ask? Well, they’re heading back into the studio very soon, keen to step up the momentum… they just have to make the tricky decision of which tracks to record as their next releases.
Listen to ‘Tastes Like Money’ and ‘2 Kids’ above and keep your eyes peeled for more announcements coming soon.