Richard Swift

Introducing himself at last year's Latitude festival, American tunesmith Richard Swift now looks set to truly make his mark on the UK - to the point where you might find him camped next to you at Glastonbury...

American tunesmith Richard Swift admits he neither looks or sounds the part when it comes to this fickle music industry malarky, hence the name of his new album 'Dressed Up For The Let Down'. Let it trickle over your ears, though, and you'll almost certainly agree he sounds the part.

After being dropped by his former record company, Richard Swift spent a number of years depressed and contemplating suicide. But now it seems that what may have almost broken him will be the making of him. The album explores the rejection he's experienced throughout his career but in a true sense of irony it's the vert songs on it which landed him his record deal with Polydor.  

Calling on influences from Neil Young and Bob Dylan, Swift's new album earns him his place amongst the most melancholic of musicians. But his introspective lyrics have a dark sense of humour and he's now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. If justice exists the record will storm the UK and free us from the mediocre bore of Blunts and Morrisons but he doesn't really care of it doesn't. He told us: "Ultimately I have my lover, my friends, my children, that's all I need in life."

We caught up with the acclaimed singer/songwriter to talk rejection, Klaxons and camping…

Virtual Festivals: How is it being back in London?
Richard Swift: "I love it. I'm a big tea drinker and I listen to a lot of British music.  Mainly old school stuff like The Cult, Kinks, Beatles but I'm not really into the modern scene.  The A&R guy that signed the Klaxons also signed me and they sound good. But I'm just not really a modern rocker.  It's not a snobby thing because I respect a lot of bands around at the moment, but I just don't know whether I'd necessarily play them driving around in my car."

VF: Do you feel like you fit into the British music scene?
RS: "I hope I do. In fact, I think I do fit in because what I do is the antithesis of what I see in a lot of British music.  There seems to be a lot of style over substance and I try to be the opposite of that.  It's not that all modern music is bad but I think that every generation has a couple of people that aren't concerned about the bullshit I suppose.  I don't look the part and I don't sound the part but I think there's an emotive quality to my music and genuine honesty that's hard to find. I just don't have a gimmick."

VF: Maybe that's your gimmick?
RS: "Yeah, I think my gimmick is not having a gimmick!"

VF: Tell me a bit about the album 'Dressed Up For The Let Down'?
RS: "I turned 30 this month and I'm happy that I can release pretty mature sounding records.  And it comes from the blues, from not being able to pay my rent for years and years. A lot of the record is about life and death. Without meaning to sound cliché, I think all of my records have a mixture of bitter sweetness. I went through a couple of really tough dark years where I didn't really care too much about living.  And once you go through that stuff, you find life has a completely new flavour.  I'm really happy that I can now wake up every morning and just wanna live. For a couple of years it was the opposite. I went through years of anxiety and panic attacks and I think 'Dressed Up For The Let Down' captures a lot of the darkness of that."

VF: This is your third album. Is this going to be your 'break the UK' album?
RS: "I think other people are hoping that more than I am. Part of me doesn't give a shit to be honest. But I'm quite aware that it could all change on my next record and I could get loads of bad press. I've seen it happen to lots of artists I respect. So I don't put too much weight on that, if any at all. If I were to die next year and never be heard of, I think that somebody 30 years down the line would probably stumble on my record and enjoy it. It's always great when people appreciate your work… but I don't take it too seriously…"
VF: Are you looking forward to seeing how the album is received by British fans?
RS: "Well I like it, my friends like it and people who's opinion I respect like it. So I think other people will like it too. If people don't like it now, they might like it in a couple of years time. And if they don't like it… I think they just don't get it!"

VF: Are you planning to play any festivals this summer?
RS: "Yes! So far Wireless Festival and Glastonbury are confirmed. I haven't been to Glastonbury before and I'm going to show up with an empty stomach. I'm really looking forward to it.  I think we're playing earlier in the day so I'm making sure I spend the whole weekend there and get into the vibe. And I love camping…"

VF: So you won't be staying on the tour bus or in a hotel?!
RS: "No way! Sometimes when I was younger, we didn't have a house and my family had to camp a lot. So I'm completely comfortable with camping."

VF: Will this be your first festival experience?
RS: "We played a couple of festivals last year.  I really love seeing music performed outside.  The only other festival I've been to was Coachella with Pixies, Radiohead and Kraftwerk. I couldn't miss that for 75 bucks! I'm definitely a nature boy and I love being outside, so anytime I can get out of a stuffy club and see a band, I will!  That's the other encouraging thing about festivals cos there's like 10,000 people there to see the same kinda music you're into… and you're like… 'Oh… other people like this too! I'm not alone…!"

Richard Swift's new album 'Dressed Up For The Let Down' is out now.  And if you want to see him outside of a stuffy club, don't forget to catch him at Glastonbury and O2 Wireless Festival this summer.