In a world were there are so many bands to keep track of I want to bring my two cents in pre-senting you to this interview with SWAN VALLEY HEIGHTS. Anders Ekdahl ©2019
We all come into music with our own baggage. We want different things from the music. How does the vision you had for the band when you started compare to the vision you have for the band today? What is this band really all about? What do you want with your music?
-We started out with a vision of free floating swimming pools and free catering. Once we were faced with the reality of no pools and real bad catering (with a few exceptions!), our vision started to be shaped by less shallow things like sharing a vibe with people and craft something beautiful because there’s so many ugly stuff going on these days. It’s irresponsible not to try to be part of the people that wanna outweigh all the negativity in one way or the other. But now that we had a great run of real good catering, we are back to the basics.
Is there a difference in people’s attitude towards you if you don’t come from a cool place like LA or NY or London?
-On the contrary! We find it to be a big advantage to come from shitty places like Berlin or Munich as people expect way less from us – and are therefore even more excited when they find out how cool we really are.
When you release an album that get pretty good feedback, how do you follow up on that? How important is that I as a fan can identify album to album?
-If you liked the first record and then end up liking the second one too: absolutely fantastic. If not, well, we can’t force you. In the end the only thing you can do is to write an album that you enjoy yourself. Some people might jump off the boat, others might get on the boat later. Boats man.
What is the biggest challenge in the creation of an album? How do you write the really cool songs?
-For us the biggest challenge surely is the long distance between the three of us, so if we want to write songs, we have to meet up and lock ourselves in a basement somewhere for some days. Which is necessary though to get the right vibe for the songs, to make them actually sound like Swan Valley Heights.
I saw Dave Grohl’s documentary about Sound City and it made me wonder what it is about analogue recording that you don’t get with digital? Have you ever recorded analogue?
-We recorded our first album pretty much all analog. Our engineer used a computer, but in such a restricted way that it felt like analog. While we played the songs, he live-mixed them on an analogue desk into a stereo file. And although having all the single tracks too, he refused to work with them. The mix was the mix, pretty much. There’s definitely something to it, mostly because you work more efficiently and have more immediate results. As for the sound, we can’t tell. It’s mostly about the process and not having a screen and tons of options in your face all day is nice.
What is it like to sit there with a finished album? Do you think much what people will think of it?
-Straight after recording it you don’t really wanna touch it at all. You’re just glad that it’s done and you have space for something new. Before releasing you think way more about the perception of the album, once it’s out, it’s out. Of course very negative and very positive feedback has an impact. But it doesn’t push you into a space where you get existential about it. If you just gave birth to a child and someone says that it’s fat and ugly, you don’t throw it away either.
How important are the lyrics and what message do you want to purvey?
-The lyrics and the vocals in general have always been an essential part of Swan Valley Height’s identity, even if there are way less vocal parts on The Heavy Seed as on our debut album. The lyrics give the vocals their right to existence, so they are super important. And they don’t want to purvey anything, just tell stories, personal stuff.
Ever since I first got into metal the art work has been a main motivator in buying a record. What part does art work for album covers play in the world of the band?
-A very mixed role. The cover artwork is important and it must have a vibe that everybody in the band likes, but the most important thing is that it comes naturally. It has to fall out of the sky and just be there, and then that’s it. We had a couple different ideas on who should design the cover artwork and how it should look like and all those things failed and it took a long time until we figured out that they failed. And then suddenly we hit up Eden and within a few days the artwork was just there.
When you play live do you notice a degree of greater recognition from the fans with each new time you pass through town?
-We definitely feel that in places we played before, the shows get more engaging every time we come back.
What do you see in the future?