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How Swindail became one of Australia’s most in-demand producers

In our series Spotlight, DAVE RUBY HOWE is profiling the local electronic artists you need to know. Today, it’s Sydney producer swindail.

When you’re wowed by a new artist for the first time, you’re likely wonder where the hell they came from and how they got so good.

When it comes to Sydney dude-on-the-up swindail, the truth is that it took a lot of trial and error – he’s the first to admit that he spent the last few years tinkering away on his sound and sharpening his skills before his music got to where he wanted it to be. There’s a lot of early tracks that don’t exactly stand the test of time.

“I [think of] them as a sort of benchmark for bad music,” producer Sid says of his early aborted tunes. “They’re very, very far away from the stuff I’m doing now. Pretty despicable stuff; think badly produced hard electro with too much rhythmic stuff going on to the point where nobody gets it.”

These days, Sid’s output as swindail has earned him an enthusiastic group of followers – a squad that includes fellow producers like Cosmo’s Midnight, Basenji and Enschway.

“[Cosmo’s Midnight] teach me a lot of stuff about production and the music industry as well, so they’re just great buddies to have”

“I think they just hit me up on SoundCloud one day,” he says of how he first connected with Cosmo’s Midnight. “Nothing crazy, they just said they were digging my music so I forced them to invite me over one day so we could hang and write tunes. We’re chill now though, they live like 30 minutes away so we just work on tunes and go get food and stuff . They actually teach me a lot of stuff about production and the music industry as well, so they’re just great buddies to have.”

The fruits of those studio sessions come with the Cosmo’s x swindail remix of GoldLink’s Dark Skin Woman, out on the American rapper’s recent Remixes collection alongside versions from Brasstracks, Motez, Gravez and more. The Sydney triumvirate’s take must’ve struck a chord with GoldLink, as he and swindail recently caught up for studio hangs when the American rapper toured Australia over summer.

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“My manager got in touch with his team a little while after the remix I did with Cosmo’s dropped and so I just sent him a load of different things – turns out he loved one of those things so much that he recorded on it the following week. We got in the studio while he was in Australia for FOMO [and] hearing his new stuff and then our song together was pretty mind-blowing,” Sid says with a huge grin. “Other than that I think I have to keep quiet for now, watch this space though.”

With his list of collaborators continuing to expand at a rapid rate – swindail’s also just dropped his new original, jussrite, featuring Auckland production duo SACHI and vocals from Selection regular naji – the Sydney don reveals that he approaches each musical partnership with a kind of fastidious workflow.

“I hate ambiguity in the creative process because it usually ends in arguments”

“I hate ambiguity in the creative process because it usually ends in arguments, so when I work with others I like to get everyone to decide roles based on each of our strengths and weaknesses,” he explains. “That doesn’t mean we don’t give each other our input on things, but I think it helps people stay on task without worrying too much about other things. Kind of like a high school project or something.”

With jussrite foreshadowing an upcoming EP from swindail, the remainder of 2017 will be all about taking the producer’s music to the people. Having already toured with Basenji and Mr. Carmack, Sid says that swindail live setup is a jumble of gear, performance and DJing.

“I kind of do a glorified DJ set,” he laughs. “I play a lot of my own music – most of which is unreleased stuff – and play drums, keyboard instruments and other stuff over the top of it all. The only real reason I keep the DJing element in there is because I like to showcase all my friends’ incredible music too.” But there’s an evolution to that show still to come, with Sid’s ambitions involving a more multi-dimensional experience for punters.

“I’m working pretty hard on a strong visual component to the show,” he says. “[It will have] a bunch of dynamic and reactive animations and stuff to compliment the tunes and create a little more immersion.”

Dave Ruby Howe is a writer, broadcaster and music director of Australia’s largest independent music discovery platform. You can find him on Twitter.