Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ SWF

SWFSWF is “here to fuck up your unhappiness.” Within my first listen of SWF’s debut album Let It Be Told, the artist did just that. Full of emotion and lively vocals and a hint of a relaxing 60’s groove, Let It Be Told is an album you should listen to if you want to experiment into some fabulous indie-meditation rock. To our pleasure, AMBY had the opportunity of venturing further than just the music as we spoke with SWF’s own Stevie Weinstein-Foner about his unapologetic rock & roll, inspirations, and Let It Be Told.

AMBY: Hello SWF, what have you been up to lately?

SWF: I’ve been listening to Robert Bly read Kabir poems on YouTube.

AMBY: How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with your music?

SWF: I’d say it’s raw, warm, unapologetic rock & roll.

AMBY: You debut album Let It Be Told is incredible. Which songs are your favourite off the record?

SWF: I have a soft spot in my heart for “Saturn Returns”, especially the way it turned out on the record – it’s like a sweet Grateful Dead windjammer.  But “Warrior” and “Let It Be Told” are my favourite songs to play live.  I love how you guys spelled “favourite” here, too.

AMBY: What’s the story behind Black & Golden?

SWF: The defining moment for “Black & Golden” came when we were recording in the studio in Memphis.  I was playing a totally different version of the song live, to a beat I had made on an SP-404 sampler, that was weird and syncopated, inspired by a Haitian drumming class I was taking at the time.  When I sat at the kit to lay down the drums, Jake Rabinbach, who produced the record, asked me to instead play a super simple, Moe Tucker-inspired beat, digging into the floor tom instead of the hi-hat.   What we ended up with was a driving, rock & roll rhythm that really captured the sound and spirit of the song.  Dropping out the beat at the end was always how I heard the song in my head, with the harmony lines coming in one at a time, but adding that big kick drum really brought the song home.

It took us an entire year to shoot the music video for “Black & Golden”, starting on Chinese New Year 2012 and ending on New Year’s Day 2013.

AMBY: What are the main inspirations behind your indie-meditation rock sound?

SWF: Inspiration is all about feeling the Spirit.

AMBY: We’re always looking for bands to share with our readers. Have you come across any Brooklyn bands you’d like to share?

SWF: I have been playing shows with my friends Bob Doto & Melanie Moser, they’re both amazing, check out their BandCamps. Spirit Family Reunion is a great old-time non-denominational spiritual bluegrass band from Brooklyn that I also really love.

AMBY: Which three of your influences would you love to hang out with for a day?

SWF: Leonard Cohen (I hear when you come to visit him at his house he’s in his underwear when you show up, then goes upstairs and changes into an immaculate 3-piece suit), Stevie Wonder, and Neem Karoli Baba.

AMBY: What did you listen to growing up, and what have you been listening to lately?

SWF: I listened to a lot of music growing up – when I was young it was Bob Dylan, the Beatles, The Band, “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight & the Pips, old Motown stuff, Roy Orbison, the Traveling Wilburys, “Little Creatures” by Talking Heads, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, soul stuff.  When I was a teenager I started listening to a lot of reggae – Bob Marley in particular – and indie rock, like Pavement, Mercury Rev, the Flaming Lips, Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth.  I got into some hip-hop too, went through a Lil Wayne phase.  Now I listen to a lot of Indian music, especially devotional chanting, and some Native American stuff too, particularly Joanne Shanendoah’s album Matriarch.  I got really into Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros album Here.  Iris Dement’s album “Lifeline”.  This album called “Kneelin’ Down Inside The Gate: The Great Rhythm Singers of the Bahamas”.  I’ve always had really eclectic taste and a passion for all kinds of music.

AMBY: Where would you go in a time machine?

SWF: I think you mean WHEN would go in a time machine…

AMBY: What’s the best song of 2013?

SWF: I’m going with “Walking on a Pretty Day” by Kurt Vile.  But the year ain’t over yet.

AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about SWF that nobody knows yet?

SWF: I don’t think that anyone really knows anything about SWF yet.

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Thank you SWF, for giving us your answers!

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Alicia Atout

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