We’re sad to announce that our wonderful Sara has decided that the time has come for her to move on from The Swingles. She will be leaving at the end of May 2018 after nine years as the group’s high soprano, crafter-in-residence, southern belle and diva extraordinaire. Her one-in-a-billion sound, radiant stage presence, kindness and silliness will be missed more than we can express here, but we intend to make the very most of our last months touring with her.
Please join us in sending Sara all the love and luck in the world for whatever comes next… starting with her birthday celebrations tomorrow!
The Swingles are very proud to be part of the new film Downsizing! Along with composer Rolfe Kent, our own Joanna Goldsmith-Eteson and Edward Randell co-wrote a new song called ‘A Little Change in the Weather’, which you can hear us sing over the film’s closing credits. Directed by Alexander Payne and starring Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau and Kristen Wiig, it’s an enchanting, hilarious movie that’s already attracted some fabulous reviews as it does the rounds of the major film festivals. We had an amazing night at the UK premiere last Friday and even got to strut our stuff on the red carpet in London’s Leicester Square. The film hits cinemas worldwide in December: be sure to catch it, and stick around for the credits!
Our alto Clare is going to be a mother! We’re so excited for Clare and Nick as they get ready to welcome their little man into the world this October. We can’t wait to meet him and find out what kind of musical superhuman these two can produce ;-)
Clare will be performing with The Swingles until the end of August before taking some time off. While she’s on maternity leave, we’re delighted to welcome back our former alto Lucy Potterton. Lucy has gone from strength to strength since leaving the group in 2011, as a solo artist (Lulah), sought-after backing vocalist (for Florence + the Machine) and session singer – we’re so happy she’s agreed to come back for a few more months of Swingledom. We’ll also be joined for several shows by the multi-talented vocalist and choir director Liz Swain (SOUND, Voicelab, London Voices), who has done a wonderful job depping for us over the last year. We’re excited and honoured to be working with these brilliant musicians!
Ladies and gentlemen, it's here! You can grab your digital copy of Folklore from iTunes right now. If you're in the UK and want to get your hands on a CD, we'll be selling the first batch at our three launch shows next week, in Manchester (29th), London (30th) and Buxton (31st). As for the rest of the world, we're working on setting up physical sales via Amazon, so watch this space. We're very proud of this album and we hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we've loved making it. We've also put up the full album credits HERE along with the stories behind the songs.
To celebrate the release, here's a live video of Unmade, recorded in session at The Yard Theatre in east London. Thanks to the brilliant folks at The Hideout for their gorgeous video work, and to Hugh Walker for recording and mixing the sound.
In preparation for our Folklore album coming out officially at the end of March we had to have a photoshoot. Not only would these photos end up in our album art but we had not had a shoot for about 3 years – we needed to get our new guy, Jon, in the spotlight pronto!
One of the things I love about having a photoshoot is finding the right venue. Suddenly you are not just a singer any longer: you are an explorer, archaeologist, and (judging from your sometimes apocalyptic surroundings) possibly the last human on earth. Depending on the vibe of the shoot you could find yourself in a squeaky clean, sterile office building or an old abandoned public bath surrounded by dead birds, ancient cobwebs, and with paranormal echoes bouncing off the old tile walls.
This photoshoot was in a church hall in Hackney that looked like it was being used for storing shop goods and odd baseball caps. We were lucky enough to be working with Nedim Nazerali again so we knew the day would be organic and full of creativity and laughs. We wanted to incorporate the idea of folk, ancestry, and heritage into a typical musician’s line-up photo, a more editorial look, and some funky and fun shots so we had our work cut out for us.
I was particularly excited because the Swingles, at their own peril, allowed me to create a little costume accent for each person. My goal was to try and evoke dark dreams of past lives, of secrets and stories. It was great fun collecting all the bits and pieces to make the items with, Kevin found some great charity shop items I could rip apart and re-assemble, and Joanna just happened to have two stunning feathered collars and of course several large amulet-style pendants for us to use. That girl has got style.
We decided to stick to a mostly black, gold, and iridescent green/black feather look. I kitted Kevin out with two Spanish-style epaulettes and made Oliver several medals and chains to attach to his black wool coat – think Cornish fisherman crossed with naval officer. Joanna and Clare’s look, involving those gorgeous feather collars, was reminiscent of fine court ladies with a little Moulin Rouge flair. Jon’s feathered ear piece and chain dickie were inspired by the ceremonial attire of tribes in Africa while Edward’s cravat spoke of Dickensian London. My own gold-tipped feather crown was what I’d imagine a gothic island princess might have worn.
It was an absolutely freezing day, but good company and pizza go a long way to making time fly by. We cannot wait for the album to come out and we hope you enjoy the photos!
When she's not singing, Sara sells her craft pieces through her Twinkling Traveller site – check it out! Folklore, released on 24 March, is now available for digital pre-order through iTunes and Amazon.
Folklore is now available to pre-order in digital form! Head over to Amazon or iTunes and hit "pre-order" to hear the album as soon as it's released on 24 March. Pre-orders really help us to make a splash online too, so reserve your copy today!
And here is the full track listing for the album... we can't wait for you to hear all 12 of these beauties!
- The Undutiful Daughter (feat. Twelfth Day) – UK
- Lovers’ Desire – Afghanistan
- Bonas Dies, Comare – Sardinia
- Ili-Ili Tulog Anay – Philippines
- Unmade – Original
- Nem Às Paredes Confesso – Portugal
- Mo Li Hua – China
- Bučimiš (feat. Trichy Sankaran) – Bulgaria/India
- Nochen’ka – Russia
- Malaika – Tanzania/Kenya
- Sinä Täydennät Minut – Original
- Hard Times Come Again No More – USA
Our album Folklore comes out this month! We're so excited to share some music with you ahead of the release on 24 March and our UK launch gigs in Manchester (29th), London (30th) and Buxton (31st). Hit up those links for your tickets!
The album is a diverse collection of music from all around the world, from the USA to Afghanistan, Portugal to the Philippines. We've loved delving into unfamiliar musical languages to find the melodies and stories that spoke loudest to us. Along the way we've been struck by the universal themes we found – birth, death, love, adversity and hope. And in the year since we embarked on this project, world events have made it seem particularly timely. The idea that our common humanity defines us more than the country we call home – this is more important to us than ever.
Although most of the album is made up of traditional music, we wanted to include some folk-flavoured originals too. Unmade was written by Ed and features a gorgeous lead vocal from Jon. The old-world intimacy of the handwritten letter was the starting point for the song, which speaks to a timeless worry – that a relationship might be just a few ill-chosen words away from ending. Our co-producer Nick Girard and mixer Jon Cotton did a fantastic job juggling the different elements of this track, with hints to Celtic folk and bluegrass as well as some backwards tape loops finding their way into a contemporary sound world. Enjoy!
I laboured long to write my love a letter
In gloom of night it sped through silent streets
But something in those words I chose upset her
Now all I have are crumpled sheets
Unmade, unmade by this rough hand
In lines that can't be blotted
The bonds I thought I made so fast
So fast became unknotted
I waste each night with hours of wakeful turning
And turning over all I wish I'd said
The shame that lingers keeps my blushes burning
With crumpled sheets upon the bed
Unmade, unmade, this world we built
All swathed in down and cotton
The pillow holds her head's fair mould
Once gone, not soon forgotten
Once gone, not soon forgotten
We are thrilled to announce that Jon Smith will be joining The Swingles as our new second tenor from the end of March. We had the pleasure of performing with Jon for a couple of shows in January, and he is an outstanding vocalist, superb all-round musician and outrageously nice guy. We can’t wait for you to get to know him too.
Jon hails from Long Island, New York and already has a wealth of experience as a singer, arranger and recording engineer. He studied Vocal Performance and Music Education at the University of Delaware, where he directed the 2014 ICCA finalists Vocal Point. He is also the former musical director of Hyannis Sound and an arranger for The Vocal Company, with a musical background that includes pop, jazz, opera, gospel and choral music. You can find out more from his website jonsmithmusic.com.
We also want to say an enormous thank you to two other superstar vocalists whom we’ve been lucky enough to work with in this transitional period. Nick Girard and Andrew Bateup have both done an extraordinary job of nailing our music and and we’re delighted that they’ll each be joining us for trips to Asia this spring: Nick for Taiwan in March and Andrew for China in May.
We are delighted to announce that The Swingles have signed with IMG Artists as our worldwide booking agents. As we begin a new year, we are thrilled to have IMG on board to help us reach new audiences and realise the creative projects we are cooking up for 2016. It has been a pleasure to work with IMG’s New York office over the last year, and they have put together a packed tour of the US for us this spring. We can’t wait to build on that relationship as part of their global roster, and look forward to concerts in Europe, Asia and beyond.
For information about upcoming tour dates, see our shows page.