In an ocean of genres, SWIMM is crafting a buoyant, fluid sonic universe that defies categorization. Steering clear of the mainstream tendency towards emotional indifference, the band pours heart and soul into their music, creating an auditory experience that’s as profound as it is kinetic. SWIMM’s talent for intertwining celestial hooks with irresistible grooves sees them rapidly ascending, edging closer to the stratospheric echelons occupied by dance colossi such as Jungle and Caribou.
Uprooted from Florida to the neon-lit sprawl of Los Angeles, SWIMM has been curating homegrown gigs, garnering a notoriety for climactic, mylar-spangled dance frenzies that leave every participant drenched in sweat and satisfaction. Weightlessness and fluidity are not just attributes of their name, but an accurate reflection of their genre-melding, transformative sound.
Today marks a significant milestone for the dream-laden pop quartet as they unveil their latest single, the effervescent “Used To Saying Yes,” plucked from their eagerly anticipated album, Best Comedown Ever, set for release on August 10. The song is a shimmering homage to different eras and genres, echoing the funk-infused riffs of the 70s, paying tribute to the neo-psychedelic vibrations of MGMT, incorporating the adventurous experimentalism of early noughties Beck, and sliding into the irresistible groove reminiscent of Scissor Sisters. This intoxicating amalgamation crafts a potent invitation for your feet to surrender to its rhythm. It’s not just a track, but a siren call to dance, beckoning listeners into SWIMM’s kaleidoscopic sonic realm.
With “Used To Saying Yes,” the band pokes fun at the people-pleasing ambition ladder many Angelenos attempt to climb, as well as the vapidity and artifice of ‘pick-me’ culture. Sometimes, you really are better off chilling at home with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s than getting sucked into the void. After all, not everything in this life has to involve a networking scheme. And sometimes…declining an offer could save your life, or at least not waste your time and energy. There is an art to the no, exalted by this track.
“Hoping to usher in my ‘No’ era with this one,” quips singer Chris “Cookie” Hess. “Not in a negative or pessimistic way, but I think being a ‘Yes person’ is an exhausting trope. ‘Used To Saying Yes’ is my reaction to an addiction I’ve had to the pace of Los Angeles. By all means, if a summer of toxic fun is what you’re craving—go to your friend’s show, hit the clurrrb on a Tuesday, get on the apps, or scope out that weird sex party in the Hills—just remember you might feel happier and more like yourself if you say no sometimes.”
Post-Punk.com spoke further with SWIMM’s Chris “Cookie” Hess about their songwriting process, the significance of the track, and what makes the upcoming album tick:
How would you explain the songwriting process credited to the ‘Best Comedown Ever’ sessions? And what did the behind-the-scenes for “Used To Saying Yes” look like?
This song started with a recording of the groove that Hany (our bassist/keyboardist) sent me. Very stripped coupling of the bass line over some sampled drums, and then the one change with some added Rhodes. Hany has a penchant for creating a whole world with just the grooves he writes. I instantly see a specific character, how they walk, and even what the street looks like that they’re walking down when he sends me recordings.
From there, I built the song’s structure and wrote the melody based on some lyrics that I’d started weeks before. I loved the simplicity of the groove so much that I wanted to be deliberate with building the song out. When I added keys or guitar, I only wanted them to step into the spotlight momentarily and then recess, keeping the focus on the groove. The sounds Hany used made me feel like it was something that had been unearthed from some old tape reel, so I used an old Yamaha keyboard I’d bought from Best Buy like 15 years ago to add the organ stabs (which sounded like tones from an old Peter Tosh record to me) and even the ridiculous sounding saw synth–which was an ode to the hyphy-ass first band Adam and I started (BLORR.) I played the guitar solo on my Jazzmaster–felt like the song’s composed nature should build to that moment and lash out with some teeth before reverting to the tightness.
We eventually went into the studio with David Davis, one of my favorite humans in music, and added Adam’s real drums and other touches like the perfect ‘pop of a beer can’ (I believe we used 4 beers to get the perfect one, and Marto’s Prince-like chirps.
Can you describe the significance behind “Used To Saying Yes,” and what pushed you to confront this habit of being a “yes-man” and turn it around?
The concept of ‘Used to Saying Yes’ goes in different directions. The first stanza refers to a woman being pressured into something as serious as a relationship that she’s not excited about and likely tortured in, simply out of the habit of accepting the aggressive kind of love that men “offer.” Then on a less disturbing note, the song reckons with the epiphany that people aren’t going to get mad at you if you don’t show up at their birthday party. More likely, they won’t even notice. So if you need to stay home, jack shack, make nachos, and watch Zodiac for the 417th time, do you, boo.
How does this track fit into the overall narrative of your forthcoming LP (in terms of sound and theme)?
Thematically, it is essentially the build-up to what will be your best comedown ever. The party before the hateful morning. After all, you can’t be spiraling, face buried in your pillow, whimpering pleas of regret without a few epic yes-es.
SWIMM are set to release their second full-length album in conjunction with their main-stage slot at this year’s CRSSD Fest, as well as a three-week European tour supporting Lauren Ruth Ward.
Hot on the heels of an extensive six-week North American tour alongside Crooked Colours, and a flurry of highly acclaimed singles finding their way into the spotlight (featured in a Kelly Slater documentary, the Hulu feature film ‘The Unicorn,’ a national Progressive Insurance commercial, and a Juneshine commercial and ambassador event), SWIMM is treading some shimmering waters before their album release. Enjoy the ride.
Listen to “Used to Sayiing Yes” via the streaming platform of your choice here.