London based production duo, Swayzak are two integral, irreplaceable parts of the fabric family - they're nearly part of the furniture. We look forward to seeing (or hearing, rather) what their sets this Saturday/Sunday will incorporate over the 30 hour birthday marathon. Embracing the musical landscape in full swing, Swayzak will be playing live and DJing, mixing up the electric to the eclectic in a spinning vortex of dub laced techno, house and...well, with five albums and over thirty releases, the musical directions they can take during any given set are virtually endless. Buckle up for the winding journey.
From their first 12” (Bueno/Fukumachi) back in 1997 to their debut album ‘Snowboarding in Argentina’ released on Pagan Records a year later, to the pop-laden ‘Dirty Dancing’ in 2002, the pair have been dropping timeless, compelling bombs in the midst of the electronic craze long before the buzz of minimalist techno even began. Their 'Snowboarding...' LP is a touchstone work, extended and remastered for 2009 on Swayzak Industries; it has a purely definitive vibe. Revolutionary at the time and still revered today, their steady 4/4 beat, standard three note patterns, luscious vocals and relaxing house groove all work the underbelly to their trademark dynamic sound.
We caught up with the Brun from Swayzak to talk about production mastery; celebrating our decade with us; and what they have in store for the weekend...
But before you dive in, set the mood with an exclusive mix from the Swayzak boys, created with the birthday spirit in mind.
How did you two meet?
We met as young wasters at a record label, not really very ambitious but we had a musical desire that wasnt really cutting it at the time as nether of us were good musicians...some years later we got together and made some tunes using samplers and drum machines! I had a Roland synth and James had an Akai sampler so we got working and got really into it. We stayed in most weekends working and 4 years later we released an EP on our own label...and with the response we got we never looked back :)
'fabric 11' is a unique and upbeat mix that we still love listening to in the office...
Well, if it's still relevant thats good! We threw some music on there that was our taste, not necessarily for the club but for the home or the after hours! Funny, we became so famous for the Louie Austen track but I had to tell many fans that we did not write that, so we do not play it live. But it's great we put MMM/LCD Soundsystem, Negativland, Metro Area, Konrad Black (at the time, a young upstart from Canada I'd met) together and the results were quite interesting! Not a DJ mix 'cos we arent really DJs!!
Is it fair to say you guys stumbled across the minimalist sound back in the 90’s? What are your thoughts on the genre today?
Yes - kind of! We were lucky, as many of our early gigs were in Germany, 1998 onwards...and in this time we mixed with Ricardo V, Ata, Michael Mayer, Perlon, and met a young record store employee called Roger 23, who I still, to this day, think was the first German to play at fabric! We were really into the sound from Berlin, Cologne and Offenbach, which many influenced minimal now. We also had 3 releases on Minus in this time, way before the real minimal craze began...
Today I think it's got good and bad elements. Too many trance-like records are called minimal now...and too many just sound lacking in soul. Minimal is a thought; it was our 2 meg sampler, a drum machine Roland SH-09, and a delay pedal. That was our studio set up...but now the records are overproduced!
Is it difficult to stay current? How do you keep in touch with new music sounds?
Yes quite difficult, but we do what we want and don't try to follow others. New music sounds influence, yes, but we take elements from many areas. I visit record stores and buy vinyl and check out stuff on Boomkat really...
What were your thoughts when you got the invite to our birthday party this weekend?
Err sure, why not - we are family innit! But fabric has done a lot for us and still SUPPORTS! Thanks to Terry Francis really for introducing us to Keith, Nikki and the team back at the beginning. It will be a great night/day/night/day...what a line up in the best club in the world! It's a pleasure :)
Have you got something special planned for the big occasion? Is there some new material ready to be showcased perhaps?
We have new material always but maybe some classic sounds will be resurrected! The main thing is to try to blow people's minds and show live is live and not preset...to make moments that people don't forget!
How has the live experience changed for you over the years?
We are still experimenting when we play, but we carry less gear and getting less drunk! We like to play with a randomness, unrehearsed - that keeps it interesting and we have crazy moments and we dont know how we got there! Lots of good toys to use now but I do miss the 909...we get used to the luxury hotels (not!) now but way back we travelled USA by Greyhound bus and slept in factory floors in Dusseldorf. We had a lot of fun!
What technical progressions have you made along the way, since your debut LP back in '98?
We now use more computer software which is super powerful, and the phone on my desk has more memory than our first samplers. 'Snowboarding' is just a quite innocent album, we didnt know what to expect and even now ten years on its still selling. We didn't even use a compressor on it. But we did master at Abbey Road through the same EQ's as the Beatles used! We are not technicians and have a unusual approach to making music that some people just cant learn easily. We cannot teach it, it's a feeling more than a skill. We were very surprised by the reactions it created in 1998 and probably did not realise that we had made something special , different...
Being London lads, what are you biggest/funniest/haziest memories of Fabric both on and off the decks?
Ah well, some things cant be said...I had food poisoning in Room Two one night - that wasnt pleasant! But we've had some amazing moments playing in Room One live, and Room Two DJing is a buzz! Seeing how people respond to fucked up records is always a blast!
Saturday's party is carrying through to Monday morning. How do you think the crowd will cope with all these extra hours to play with? What’s your advice for keeping going?
Tea and cake! Nevermind how they will cope - how will I cope?!