Interviews

Q&A: ALICE JOHNSON FROM SWIM SCHOOL

Swim School, an Edinburgh-based four-piece band, has a passionate and engaging sound you’ll surely enjoy. Compared to the likes of Wolf Alice, Swim School’s ethereal melodies will take you by surprise with their new single ‘Anyway’ And you should make sure to look out for their new EP in August! We had a conversation with frontwoman Alice Johnson and spoke about their new single, how it all started, and their announcement for the latitude festival.

Can you tell me a little about the writing process shown in your most recent single “anyway”?

“Anyway” was the song that changed the most in the studio. The original demo is a lot slower and very shoegazey. It wasn’t until we went in to record it that we decided to change it up. We liked the idea that instrumentally, it would be a very happy and upbeat song which would contrast with the sad and deep lyrics.

The writing process of “anyway” started by Lewis randomly playing the main riff and we worked around that. When he played it, I fell in love with the sad but happy sound that those three notes represented. We built the song around those three notes, the melody in the chorus follows it actually.

And how did the inspiration for this track come about?

Lyrically, the song is about the struggle to open up about your mental state. When we were rehearsing the song, one line that came to me for the chorus was “feel like, I’m running scared”. I thought about what that line could represent, which eventually led to the whole song being about not being in control yet struggling to tell anyone. I love the contrast of the song – how different the true meaning of the lyrics are compared to the overall sound of the song, it perfectly represents how it feels to suffer mentally, on the outside you appear to be fine but inside you’re not.

Your band will be performing at Latitude. How does that feel?

Feels so amazing and we can’t actually believe that it is happening. Not only is it going to be our first gig back, it’s going to be our first ever live gig with Billy and also our first taste of live music in over a year as music lovers. When we aren’t playing shows, we are always at gigs as we love music so much so the whole weekend is going to be so overwhelming but me and the boys honestly can’t wait – finally getting to do what we love again.

Are there any dreams you have as a band about what you would like to accomplish in the future?

Oh god where to start. I feel like the main one would be to support Wolf Alice, and we are kind of doing that at Latitude as they are headlining the same day that we are playing. Playing massive festivals like Glastonbury is an obvious one, getting to travel the world and experience different things in different countries whilst doing what we love, but overall we just want to be full time musicians – that’s our biggest dream. The thought of doing what we all love every single day and constantly working hard is something that we dream of every single day.

During the band’s formation, how did everyone get to know one another?

Me (Alice), Lewis and Matt all met at college and collectively we were all massive fans of Billys previous band, Indigo Velvet. When we asked if Billy wanted to join the band we were so nervous as we had always been a massive fan of him and now that he’s in our band it feels like he’s always been our drummer. We all get on so well, we are literally a group of best mates that love music and that is why it works so well.

Why did you decide to become a musician in the first place?

After high school, I studied music because it was the only thing I was good at/enjoyed. I had always dreamt about being a guitarist in a band but never really knew anyone until I met Lewis at college. He’s the one who pushed me to be the singer in swim school. I was never a confident singer but I’m glad that he pushed me as it’s something I really enjoy now. When we first started out there was hardly any female singer and guitars to look up to which is why Ellie from Wolf Alice is such a massive influence – at one point she was the one female singer and guitarist that I knew of, she motivated and made me believe that I could also be in a band and do both.

And finally, what inspired you to create your upcoming EP, and what does it mean to you?

We never set out to create an E.P. when we started writing the first couple of songs but after a while of writing some of our best work yet, we decided that all the songs should go onto an E.P.. We started writing more in lockdown as we had so much free time which resulted in us improving our sound and seeing our sound evolve. Over lockdown, we all started listening to more shoegaze/grunge bands, basically we fell in love with the idea of swim schools’ sound becoming a lot darker. “making sense of it all” is a collection of  5 songs that each represent an experience that has happened over the last year. Each song has a different memory and it shows how much we have gone through and grown as a band and also as individuals over the last year. We have worked so hard on it and this is definitely the happiest we have been as a band, and it shows in the E.P. – I think we have finally found our sound and we can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us!


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Q&A: ALICE JOHNSON FROM SWIM SCHOOL
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