Swoll shares ‘Haydee’s’ official video

Swoll press photo
photo credit: Kevin Chambers

Swoll have shared the official video for Haydee’s, which is lifted from their sophomore album ‘Unwound’ that’s out now via Blight Records (order). The video for Haydee’s was directed by Drew Hagelin and you can check it out via YouTube below.

Swoll’s Matthew Dowling says: “Haydee’s is a Mexican restaurant in Mt. Pleasant Washington, DC where I lived for many years. I found myself going there a lot because it’s one of the only places in the city that serves food really late, and my life lends itself to not having any time until sometimes midnight or later to eat. I also love the place; beautiful, low-key setting, awesome people that work there. As the lyrics to the song started coming together, I realized it made sense speaking from the perspective of me sitting down to eat at Haydee’s on a Tuesday night after midnight. Late night musings about life, existence, beliefs, what it all means, etc. If you’re there eating dinner at that time, you’re a little bit of a freak in a certain sense. In another sense, it’s totally normal, chill and cool. People do Karaoke there, and the 3-4 people there that late on a weekday night are just pleasantly hanging out. It’s a great place to think, and I was thinking a lot of the many paradoxes of existence; mainly those that are both deep and humorous simultaneously. So, I found it perfectly fitting to shoot the video for the song Karaoke-style, at Haydee’s. Enjoy

Swoll is the Baltimore-based electronic project of Matt Dowling (vocals), Ben Schurr (bass), Erik Sleight (baritone guitar), Zak Forrest (lights). Matt Dowling has previously played bass for a handful of bands over the last decade: Deleted Scenes. the EFFECTS, Paperhaus, Joy Buttons, to name a few. 

SWOLL’s sophomore album was influenced by Unwound, the post-hardcore Olympia, WA act which was active largely in the 90s, but never received or desired MTV-level commercial success. “Unwound is my favorite band,” says Dowling. “In the last few years, I’ve thought about them a lot, and I’ve also thought a lot about how wider musical tastes have shifted in such a large way in recent history. A lot of what SWOLL is about is embracing an electronic/rap framework of producing music, but weaving in the power of rock, primarily as performance art back into it. I feel like a lot of electronic music loses that edge live. To me, Unwound were masters of rock as a performance art form, and that makes me hope people remember them as we forge on into a deeply electronic universe.”

SWOLL began releasing music in 2018 before playing any shows. That collection of recorded material comprised the self-titled debut LP which largely began as a collaboration between Matt Dowling and Ben Schurr (Br’er, Luna Honey), who has produced numerous acts under his label/collective Blight. Dowling, who existed almost exclusively as an indie rock bassist in his previous musical life, had began writing songs in full, but was unsure of how to move forward with them. “I felt like what Ben was doing with the Blight Collective was a really good fit with the direction of my songs, and once we started tracking, everything just snapped in place. Even though singing felt super weird to me, the momentum allowed me to get over that and just use my voice as my new weapon.”

After touring in 2018 in support of SWOLL with a bass and a baritone guitar churning next to heavy drum tracks coming out of a wall of amps, SWOLL began to be more a band, and less a bedroom recording project. They recruited synth savant Erik Sleight, with whom both Dowling and Schurr had played in previous bands. Also, Dowling brought in lighting artist Zak Forrest to raise the visual stakes from the very first performance. “I’ve never been in a situation where the music was made first and the live element was second. That sequence was frustrating for me initially, but it also gave me the space to think about presentation way more so than I ever have. And Zak’s my not-so-secret weapon for the live presentation. I think of him as a bandmate.”

In the context of the album, ‘Unwound‘ unfolds into a deep, eclectic soundscape textured in resonating melodies and honest lyricism, blending together part psychedelic rock with dark electro synth pop. Like the previous record, Dowling deals a lot with philosophical themes which often manifest themselves in the context of modern relationships. Songs like Setting Sun and Deep Fake evoke themes of longing for a world without the over-communication and smoke-and-mirrors that the internet allows. Save Face angrily confronts gentrifiers who complain about the “noisy” conditions of their urban neighborhoods while having minimal understanding or respect for the historical context of those neighborhoods. “I had to learn to scream a bit from playing out live, and that ended affecting my delivery on record, as well as the material that was most effective in this batch of songs.”

Swoll Unwound cover artwork

‘Unwound’ track list

1. L4F
2. Setting Sun
3. Unwound
4. Deep Fake
5. Save Face
6.  Shudder to Think
7. Waves
8. Where You Go
9. Haydee’s