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Original Swimming Party [Interview]

Their latest cut ‘Biggest Curse’ was recently our hottest new track of the week, so we jumped at the chance to catch up with electronic, experimental and all-round awesome duo Original Swimming Party, to talk about the new music, collaborations, songwriting and more.


So how did it all start for Original Swimming Party? How did you guys meet?

Way back in 2013 Jeremy was starting a new band and looking for members. At the time Tom was teaching electronic music production at SAE Institute in Cape Town and Jeremy got in touch through them. We met for a few jams and immediately hit it of musically. We decided that we wanted to add guitar to the mix as well and so we tracked down Greg, one of the best damned guitarists in Cape Town.

Initially we started making music as a different band with a very different style, kind of surf rock meets electronica but we very quickly discovered that we had this shared love for experimental and alternative electronica and ambient and drone music and came to a decision that we just had to follow this direction. Thus Original Swimming Party was born.

Ultimately Greg had to leave the band due to time commitments and starting a family but he still supplies guest guitar every now and then, as well as other amazing musicians from around the Cape Town scene.

Over the years our sound has evolved to incorporate our love for African music.


Original Swimming Party: Jeremy de Tolly & Thomas Glendinning


How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard you before?

Radiohead meets South African dance music. Ambient, dreamy pads and synths over the top of groovy african rhythms like Afrohouse or Gqom..


Tell us about your new track ‘Biggest Curse’. How did you end up collaborating with Moonchild?

We launched our album, Hypergiant at Design Indaba, Cape Town at the beginning of this year (2017) and Moonchild was one of the other acts performing. The organisers of Design Indaba asked if we could do something together with Moonchild so we took our song Undrum, an instrumental track from Hypergiant and sent it to Moonchild. We had one rehearsal with her the day before the show and she just brought the fire, I think we ran through the song maybe twice and we were happy and performed it with her the next day. We knew we couldn’t just let it be a once off thing so we decided to do a slight re-edit of Undrum and record Moon’s vox and release it as this new track.


Original Swimming Party - Biggest Curse (feat. Moonchild Sanelly)


The video for ‘Biggest Curse’ is incredible. What was the idea behind it?

The video is entirely thanks to the director Amy Allais and her team. She approached us wanting to do a video and we gave her the song and she ran with it. She really did an incredible job and deserves mountains and mountains of praise!

The song follows a young boy (with some serious dance moves), the son of a domestic worker, through the home of his mother’s employers. This is a very typical situation in South Africa where a domestic worker and her children will live in with the family they work for. The video asks the question of where this boy fits into the household and he appears to be invisible to everyone else around.


Radiohead meets South African dance music. Ambient, dreamy pads and synths over the top of groovy african rhythms like Afrohouse or Gqom


How was the experience of making & releasing your LP Hypergiant earlier this year?

Absolutely enjoyable -- we’re really proud of the material we came up with for the album so it was a joy to see it all come together. There are bits and pieces in there from across several years of us writing music. There are songs that were written 2 or 3 years ago and some that were written completely from scratch 2 or 3 weeks before we were due to release!

It was also interesting finishing the album remotely, Tom moved to London at the beginning of the year and so we finished probably the last 30% of the album remotely (using a tool called Splice). All the mixing and mastering was done remotely with us passing the sessions back and forth over the Internet and making adjustments.



How do you usually approach making music?

Unusually ?

We have a myriad of different approaches to getting started with tracks -- often we’ll just jam for 20min to 30min and there might be 1 or 2 bars that sounds great and we’ll take those and jam a bit more off of those ideas and repeat this process ‘til we have enough for a song.

Sometimes one of us might just bring in an idea, a single riff, a melody or a beat and then we’ll build a song around that.

Other times it’s just a matter of getting in a treating it like work and saying by the end of this session we’re gonna have the basis of a song. So we’ll start with nothing and then just try LOTS of ideas until we find something good and then run with that.


Who are your biggest influences? And who are you listening to at the moment?

African music; from afrobeat to kwaito and house, experimental / alternative electronica, shoegaze, Radiohead. Nigerian artists like Tekno and Whizkid are inspiration right now.

Tom: I’m always listening to a lot of Shigeto, Tycho and Brian Eno but at the moment I’m also listening to lots of post-rock; Explosions In The Sky, Godspeed You Black Emperor.


What’s been your most interesting or memorable experience as Original Swimming Party?

Our first EP launch was particularly special -- we hired a seated theatre venue which was built in an old church and did some really special projection mapped visuals using the old church’s big, tall windows. We had an amazing response from that show.

Launching our album at Design Indaba 2017 was also really specially. We hired in a team of dancers for the show and they brought such a great vibe to the set. People loved it!


Original Swimming Party: We wanted to start quite a weird band


Got any big shows lined up that you can tell us about?

At the moment we’re actually a long distance band -- Jeremy is based in CPT, Tom in London -- which makes it a bit difficult to gig. We’d love to do some shows across the UK and Europe though, so if anyone is looking for some alternative, live audio-visual electronica, get in touch!



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