Interview: Giant Swan (Keck, Mannequin)

Interview by Helena Markos

Giant Swan are a Bristol-based duo that has managed to rapidly seduce audiences with their explosive and powerful live performances. Giant swan are an atmosphere, filled with wires, distortion, sweat and punk vocals – altogether making the perfect recipe for dance-floor reverie. This interview happens a few days before the release of their upcoming EP, on their own label Keck.

Passionate about what they do and with a clear political stance towards current events, they spoke to Tales of Psychofonia about their relationship, their influences, the pandemic and the impact of Brexit on the UK scene. We hope we can soon experience live the inimitable Giant Swan ecstasy.

T.O.P: First of all, thank you very much for accepting the invitation.How is the pandemic affecting you? 

Trying to stay positive but life is full of lemons right now eh.

T.O.P: How do you feel the electronic music world will emerge in the post-pandemic era?

I’m not sure – with any luck all the upheaval that we’ve experienced means people will choose to operate the scene with a more open minded/open hearted attitude. Hopefully we won’t have to wade through the hierarchy and the social media one-upmanship that we found ourselves in at the beginning of the pandemic. Moreover, I hope people operating on the scene will take accountability of the imbalance that is pervasive throughout – we’d like to see less DJ worship, more investment in unknown artists and a fairer share of money & exposure to non cis/white/male performers. Time to open up this pit good and proper.

T.O.P: How do you see the Brexit situation and how do you think it will affect the electronic music scene in the UK? 

Not to get too heavy handed with it, but Brexit will amputate the industry. Loss of freedom of movement, loss of EU funding to numerous organisations in the UK, loss of a sense of unity and connection with our peers across the way…there’s always been such a thing as English exceptionalism, but this scenario is truly one of utmost bleakness…we’ve been taken out back and shot in the foot and then told to go and make the best of it. We’ll muddle through, but this generation of artists will need to have some bottle to work through the absolute shit show the Brexit crew have set us all up for. Michael Gove is truly a human maggot.

T.O.P: Tell us a few things about yourself and your journey into music? 

We’ve been hanging out with each other for the best part of eighteen years at this point so we’ve shared the journey a lot of the way. We’ve been moved in so many directions by each other’s taste – like a lot of the music we listen to now probably stems from the intimacy with which we treat it between the two of us y’ know? For example, the influence of dub on us as artists is instrumental to the ‘journey’… beginning to understand the contexts of the music and art we love so much and how interconnected all these factions are, how certain styles can be traced back to a particular dub bass line or how a specific venue or shop or website was instrumental to the development of such and such a style. We take that stuff super seriously lol, as well as being keen on smoking weed and watching football hah…it all goes a ways to mould us into who we are.

T.O.P: What are your main influences, in terms of your production and live acts? 

Errrr I’m not sure…we take a lot of INSPIRATION from everything going, but actual influence is harder to say. Like I said, Dub music has had a v profound influence on us; it’s a common thread throughout a lot of our favourite music and our experiences of attending sound system events as youngsters, made such an indelible mark on us that it probably couldn’t be overstated haha. We also take a lot of influence from Pop music and culture – the mobius commodification of music and its sub-cultures are things we keep an eye on, more as a point of discursive interest than anything else, but particularly Janet Jackson and Madonna have guided us through the sunlit uplands of ingenuity, both live and in the studio. Names that immediately come to mind in terms of direct influences on us, would probably be Chris & Cosey, Vatican Shadow, Wire, The Locust, British Murder Boys…but aye mainly Dub and Pop lol.

T.O.P: How would you describe your creative process? 

Delicate and furious.

T.O.P: Any upcoming releases to announce?
Yes! we have a new EP coming out on our label Keck in February! Sadly the network of postage between us and the EU has been severely affected by Covid and Brexit so we’re facing delays on deliveries 😦 but aye, its called ‘Do Not Be Afraid Of Tenderness’ and it’ll be released on our label Keck! 

T.O.P: Which piece of music or album would you suggest as a mind/soul healer?
The Gerogerigegege – >(decrescendo)  

Thank you very much!