Some bands over-produce their music to a point where nothing unique is left, either adding too much or stripping too much away, resulting in a bland, unappealing, overworked mess. Others release music which is pleasant enough, but rather than holding your undivided attention, it is more suited to background listening while you go about doing something else. But then there are a special few who impress your ears with their captivating sound, those whose music is too good, too engaging and too powerful to ignore. Welcome to the world of Midnight Swim.
With the release of their latest EP in 2005, Midnight Swim has provided listeners with a fantastic range of music which is not bound by any one style. ‘No Future’ has an intense sultry rock sound. With its strong vocal and powerful lyrics this is one rock song which does not allow its full bodied sound to overwhelm its lyrical meaning. In other words, this is not just rock for the sake of rock. ‘Show Me’ on the other hand slows the pace, and displays a purer more soulful style. The lyrics are achingly beautiful and perfectly complement the initially spare musical backing. As the song’s emotive atmosphere builds, so does the musical accompaniment, building to a richer all encompassing level which reaches out to listeners and pulls them in.
The EP’s title track, ‘The Greatest Phoney’ demonstrates a more melodic folksy sound with an almost country twang. The lyrics are poetic and wonderfully dialogue rich, woven together to create a genuine story set to music. This song speaks to the heart, but not in a light way which is easily dismissed, this song goes much deeper and is powerful in its directness. ‘Your Money’s No Good’ features awesome guitar work and distorted vocals, changing the style up yet again with its rougher, rawer sound.
Some musicians hide behind their music, holding some of themselves back. But not Midnight Swim, these guys give themselves freely and completely to their music. Do yourself a favour and accept the gift.
Speaking to band member Cameron Potts recently, he spoke about the band’s artistic influences, creative processes and musical style.
TS: You seem to have been doing a lot of touring recently. Is being out and about performing where you prefer to be?
CP: It’s always a hard question to answer as we all love being in the studio and arranging the songs, throwing ideas to each other trying to realise the full potential of the song. I think the studio is a place where you can really refine your art as a songwriter and producer. However when we’re out playing live its so much more personal and the ability to connect with our audience and also to have them connect with each other is an amazing experience and in truth is why we continue to play as much live as possible.
TS: Your lyrics sound like poetry for the real world. Do you think this genuine sound is what gives you such wide appeal?
CP: Sean is basically the lyric writing force in the band but I will try my best to answer from my point of view. The lyrics are near conversational which I think relates easily to everyone. Although they may be personal experiences for us, the themes and poetic flow are what people identify with so well across the board. In our musical scene there is a large emphasis on authenticity and genuineness and I believe Midnight Swim’s lyrical content reflects and accommodates that.
TS: Your music demonstrates a real diversity of style, everything from heartfelt soulful ballads to harder, rock sounds. Does this represent the different musical influences of each of the band members?
CP: We all share similar influences but I guess you could say that we all push it a little in different directions. Our core shared bands would be your larger acts such as Coldplay, Radiohead etc. but then we all have our own genres from alt country to hard rock to indie pop. I will not specify who is more into what…that is for you to find out.
TS: Is your songwriting process quite an intensive experience, or does it ebb and flow over a longer period of time?
CP: Our songwriting comes from Sean. He is the chief writer and will bring us ideas to work on periodically. We sort through a large amount of songs and find the one we can see best potential in and work on those. Usually this will be after a weekend away at his farm writing songs. We have written songs together in the past and we are looking to involve that process more in the future. Sometimes we will have 4 new songs in a week other times in will be 1 in 4 weeks.
TS: Are you constantly trying to challenge yourselves by experimenting with different styles and different sounds?
CP: We are now at point where we feel comfortable with experimenting and like the challenge of seeing how far we can push and idea before it becomes ridiculous. We do however keep in mind our overall artistic vision and aim to involve those ideas in what we are playing.
TS: Do you find that critical acclaim tends to add pressure to the creative music-making process?
CP: It did in the past because we were constantly comparing our new songs to our older acclaimed ones and so there was pressure in that always thinking “is this good enough”. But I guess you just have to realise that the critics will write what they have to get a reaction, they are just doing a job trying to get paid too. If they like the songs then that’s great. If they don’t then we can’t really help that. We’re not going to spoon feed them what they want to hear. We will continue to make music that pleases us and our fans.
TS: Which of your songs means the most to you and why?
CP: Probably a question again for Sean but I’d say the song that all of us are so close to would be ‘Show Me’. It’s music is quite beautiful and epic and it lyrics are direct and fierce. It’s probably all the things you want to say to a lover who is distancing themselves from you.
TS: Who would be your dream artist to perform with and why?
CP: If it’s a dream then Jeff Buckley. If we are talking in the physical world we would love to see ourselves share a stage with Radiohead if not for the sheer brilliance of their songwriting but for the way they constantly push the boundaries of their music whilst keeping their integrity.
TS: How would you describe your music to other people?
CP: We always get asked this question and I guess it’s possibly too big for us to answer. We don’t like to compare our music to others or suggest a genre for what we do as it immediately gives a pre-conceived notion of what it should sound like. Alternative-Death-Metal-Electro-Screamo-Emo-Pop-Rock?? We are probably none of these…or maybe we are all.
TS: Dog or cat people?
CP: A bit of both really. If you tally it up the whole band has 3 cats and 3 dogs. I think I still have a few mice in the cupboard too…