As one of the most creative and innovative producers of his kind, Swindle has carved out a sound that knows no recognisable boundaries or limitations. Whatever you try to define it as, his funk-driven, jazz-inspired creations have made a sizeable impression on a whole host of scenes - this is undeniably music for the music lover. With one of 2010's biggest instrumentals, 'Airmiles', under his belt, forthcoming releases on the prolific 'Butterz' label and more bookings than ever before, Swindle is at the top of his game. I managed to catch up with him at Cafe Nero over a latte, a hot chocolate and some greaze on toast:
"I started last year with the 'Who Said Funk' EP which was my take on UK Funky at the time and then from there, it was the release of 'Airmiles'. Following on from that, I did the 'Zumpi Hunter' remix with Terror Danjah, the 'Air Bubbles' remix on Butterz and I actually started deejaying properly, joining up with Elastic Artists. Ah and I can't forget getting on 1Xtra either as part of the 'In New DJs We Trust' series - that was big. I did remixes for Estelle, Eric Roberson and Alesha Dixon too and the 'Playground EP' has literally just come out today on 'RWNA' and 'Mood Swings' is next! I guess it's just been a case of generally trying to get out there as much as possible. I'm just on making what I love about music and making it accessible to as many people as I can really. I want to show what I'm really into and what I'm really about - that's pretty much the fight at the moment, the fight for funk!"
With such a unique approach to his sound, it's no surprise that it was nicking his dad's vinyls as a kid that has had such a profound influence on Swindle:
"I just used to experiment really - I used to nick my dad's old vinyls, everything from 'Earth, Wind & Fire' and 'Roy Ayers', proper jazz champions like that. As I got older, I started to sample them and make beat tapes out of the tunes I'd make and eventually try and sell them on the High Street! From there, I started working with people locally, namely 'Take2Win' and it all just blew before long. I'm not actually sure how it came about but I somehow took on board all the old vinyl sounds I used to sample and integrated it into the music I was making, almost subconsciously. Now it's like second nature to make tunes with that sound you know? It's proper difficult to say where it all came together though really."
A member of the increasingly prolific, forward-thinking ' Butterz' label/collective since last year, Swindle's forthcoming 'Moodswings' EP is due for imminent release on the label. Also referred to as one part of the 'Butterz Trinity' alongside Elijah and Skilliam, Swindle is full of praise for the labels' endeavour:
"Butterz are the winners of grime in my eyes. People say they do things differently but I say they just do things properly - people shouldn't get confused by that. Elijah's a guy who can give me advice all the time - whenever I need to know something I can ring him and ask him 20 questions and he'll have all the answers, the guy's a genius really. As a label, they're getting everything they deserve through putting the work in - before them nobody was pressing vinyl, nobody was putting together nights and you've got to ask why not? They're just doing things professionally and as they should be. People complain like 'Oh it's so hard to make Grime and get it heard' but Butterz have proved that's bullshit - there's always space for good music, always. The thing is, there's not a lot of difference between the sounds guys like Joker and Rusty are pushing in relation to grime either - it's just professionalism that sets it all apart really."
With his first professional release, 'The 140 Mixtape', propelling Swindle into the spotlight, he was one of the most in-demand producers in Grime back in 2007. Despite moving away from the scene and developing his sound independently over the last few years, it's reassuring to know that Grime still plays a part in his thinking:
"The more people treat Grime as they do other electronic genres in terms of promotion and pushing the sound in the right direction, the more it's going to grow. It's when it becomes a bedroom-genre that it loses respect and to be honest, I saw it that way for a while but if you look beyond the surface, there's a lot more to it than that. I've never said, 'Hi, I'm Swindle and I do Grime' and I haven't got an 'I'm a Grime Kid' t-shirt but it's a sound I love and respect and will always be associated with."
Despite a comprehensive back-catalogue of production work, remixes and EPs, it was 2010 release 'Airmiles' that really cast Swindle into the limelight:
"I had no idea what it was gonna do to be honest. I knew it was good and I liked it and thought it could be popular but I didn't think it'd be able to land me a good booking agent - that tune pretty much landed me my thing with Elastic on it's own! A lot of people ask to be represented by them so I'm just so thankful it got so much love. It put me out there in deejay circles too - it got me on the radar of a load of big producers and deejays who I'd be still trying to holla at now had it not been for 'Airmiles'. I guess I can't say anything more than I'm just really thankful for all the support it got."
Now with more of the recognition he deserves, Swindle hopes his next release, 'Moodswings' can replicate the success of 'Airmiles':
"I actually made 'Moodswings' last summer. People were bugging Elijah, asking when my next tune was gonna come out and at the time, I just couldn't get my head around anything. I didn't make a tune for about two weeks and I argued with every single member of my family and everything was just so long, so for me personally, that tune is no joke! It just summed up where my head was at the time really. It'd be sick if it could be as big as 'Airmiles' though, that's the hope!"
As a deejay, Swindle has only really been on the circuit for the last 12 months or so but got the chance to fulfill a childhood ambition by playing the 'Butterz' takeover of Room 3 at Fabric on Saturday alongside Elijah & Skilliam, Logan Sama and Terror Danjah:
"Ah Fabric was wicked man - it was actually my first time playing there! the jokes thing is, the first time i ever heard 'Airmiles' out in a club was at Fabric - Starkey spun it in Room 2 and it got the pull up and everything so that's when I knew that tune was gonna be big. Anyway, as luck would have it I was with my manager at the time and I remember saying, 'I want to be playing here within 12 months' and now it's happened! That was definitely a 'Before I die' thing, one for the tick-list - hopefully it'll be Room 1 business soon!"
With that in mind, it seemed only normal to ask Swindle what makes a good night to deejay at:
"It's the crowd that make a set man, nothing more than that. Two of the best gigs I've played at were in Prague and Bristol and neither of them were particularly big or flash - it was just 100% the crowd! You can always tell by people's reactions to certain tunes you drop whether or not they've come out especially to see you. At those raves, people had come out to see ME and it's just a big thing you know - if you're booking Swindle, it makes sense that you've got to hear Swindle's stuff. When people know my tunes inside out and go nuts for everything I'm spinning, it just goes off - there's no better feeling!"
Taking everything into account and with releases galore on the horizon, 2011 promises to be onwards and upwards for one of the scene's most underrated producers:
"Basically, no gaps! I just want to be fully on everything, making sure i'm consistent and maintaining levels. It's only February and I'm already working on my 3rd release of the year and i've already chosen my next instrumental and vocal releases which I'm hoping to be pushing in the build up to the summer! I've got more bookings than I've ever had before too - I'm playing twice a week in April or something mad like that so that's gonna be big. I'm gonna continue working on an album too and just generally going in - I'm about to go bliiiiiiiiiind!"
LISTEN SWINDLE: http://soundcloud.com/swindleuk
DOWNLOAD SWINDLE: http://www.factmag.com/2011/02/11/fact-mix-221-swindle/
EVERYTHING ELSE SWINDLE: http://swindleproductions.co.uk/
And don't forget you can buy Swindle's forthcoming release 'Moodswings' directly from the 'Butterz' shop over the coming weeks: http://butterzrecords.bigcartel.com/product/swindle-mood-swings