With the rise of the UK’s homegrown genre Afroswing, 22-year-old Swarmz emerges as a prominent new artist contributing towards the genre’s come-up. Afroswing’s development in the UK music scene represents a unique incorporation of Afro-Caribbean identity through music, showcasing what it means to be Black and British. As an artist of Jamaican and Bajan origin, he effortlessly incorporates a blend of Dancehall and Afrobeat melodies to compliment his choice of UK Rap beats. Having already worked with a diverse collection of UK artist including the likes of Russ, Cadet and Tion Wayne, Swarmz highlights his fearlessness in exploring all genre.
Currently in an early stage of his career, Swarmz has already secured two hit singles, ‘Lyca’ and ‘Bally’ featuring Tion Wayne which have made their appearance in the UK Top 75. His upbeat and catchy testimony to his personal life in his breakthrough track ‘Lyca’ produced by PA Beats instantly caught the attention of his current supporters. The South-East London raised artist paid homage to his home borough of Greenwich or as Swarmz labels it; the ‘9 side’.
The unexpected support from the public and industry including artists such as Krept and Konan, after taking to social media, foreshadowed a potential welcoming for him into the music scene. As no stranger to the realm of music which he pursued alongside his prior status as a professional footballer, his transition from the pitch to the studio was one that is steadily resulting in nothing but success. We caught up with Swarmz to uncover more about his journey into the music scene.
As a fairly new artist to the UK music scene, how did your emergence come about?
In 2017, I kind of did music as a joke like I was doing music and football combined together. I dropped my first song on link up TV called ‘Money’. In 2018, I started taking music more seriously and laid off football a little bit more. I met Abdi Tv at an event where I performed one of my songs when I was rising up and showed him a clip of my song ‘Lyca’. He told me to slap it up (on social media) and I slapped it up and it went on from there.
Lyca wasn’t your first song but was a song that stimulated a turning point in your career. Break down how ‘Lyca’ came together and the unexpected reaction from the public?
I was just there; I was just in the booth and I was just writing about what was happening in my life at the time. I just wrote ‘Lyca’ but it was a thing where I got told to put the clip up, I didn’t think nothing was going to come from it. So, when I’ve put the clip up, the numbers it was doing on my Insta were crazy and my followers literally went up from 5k to 20k. I was just getting mad reception from everyone and had a crowd of people saying, ‘release the song’. People like Krept and Konan and that started shouting me telling me I need to release the song and I released this could be bigger than I thought.
How have things changed since the release of your breakthrough track ‘Lyca’?
A lot of things have changed. Now I have a lot more music, I’ve been hitting the charts, when I go out now, a lot of people notice me and take pictures with me. I travel abroad to do shows. My whole life has changed. I’m busy every single day.
What genre would you identify your music to? Your sound seems to be unique in hovering above a mixture of UK Rap beats and Afro swing melodies. How would you personally describe it?
I’d say Afro swing combined with the afro element and Caribbean sound. I do both and use both languages, so I mix it up. I 100% agree with you.
Your heritage and how that’s inspired your sound?
100%. In my household, I listen to Vybz Kartel, Sean Paul, Wayne Wonder, all that stuff. I try to use the way they rap; I use that in a lot of my songs.
What UK artists would you say have inspired you and influenced your current sound?
I listen to a lot of Giggs and I also like Stormzy. Right now, I think he’s the best. I like Dave as well because he’s around the same age as me and talks about things that relate to what mans doing. I respect Dave.
You’ve collaborated with a few artists, and how did you go about choosing those you collaborate with? To mention a few; NSG, Tion Wayne and Cadet; you’ve managed to cover a variety of sounds and styles.
It wasn’t even a thing about choosing them, it just happened naturally. It would have been a thing where we would just be in the booth at the same time and heard the song and it just happened. Or it’s a thing where we just vibes together and feel each other pieces. I don’t think it’s ever a thing where we’re forcing anyone or picking. Just like ‘Pumpy’, Me, Cadet, Deno, AJ, Da Beatsfreakz were just chilling in the booth, I laid that hook down ages ago, everyone heard it and wanted to jump on it and then we just made it into a song.
How was it working with Kwengface, 23, JayKae and Geko on Bally remix?
It was cold because I always said I liked Kwengface doing his drill thing, he’s cold. Jaykae, I like him; cold and from Birmingham. Geko, I’ve always listened to Geko and he’s been doing his thing from time; Manchester. 23 as well, from London like myself, he’s cold as well. I was a mix of all cities together combined and everyone brought something different. I brought my Afro swing, 23 kind of has the Afro swing but Rap as well, Jaykae has got Grime, Geko has everything. Kwengface has Drill. It was different genres into one, so it was good.
Bally has now been in the UK Top 40 for three weeks, was this an achievement that you envisioned would happen so soon?
I didn’t think it was going to happen so early. It just happened tanks to everyone supporting me. When it did happen, I was shocked and didn’t expect it but now I’m just pushing for more; trying to go forward.
What’s your relationship with football? How much did it impact and influence your life growing up?
When I was younger, I was so hyper, so everyone used to tell my mum to get me involved in football to release my energy. Started football when I was eight. I got into Charlton Under 9’s professionally. From there, U16’s I was at Charlton, got released, went Southend, got a Scholarship and Pro contact there, got released from there and went non-league. I went on something called Jamie Vardy on Sky and then I went on trials with a lot of Prem teams like Crystal Palace, Stoke and then I played non-league again. Straight after that, I started doing music and laid off football for a bit, but football changed my life. It was a hobby that kept me out of trouble, kept me up to scratch getting paid good, so I was living good. It didn’t really kick off the way music kicked off for me right now so I could’ve done both but I was to put more work into one so I can get more out of it.
You were a semi-professional footballer for some time, what did you learn from that period of your life?
I learnt a lot of things. Don’t take nothing for granted. Also, when you’re doing something whether its football or music, your talent alone isn’t always going to get you somewhere, It’s the attitude as well. I learnt a lot, it made me a lot more mature and see a lot of things.
What position did you play? What modern day player would you liken yourself to?
I played Right-Mid and a winger and I’d say Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace.
So, how did you make the transition from ball to the studio?
It was a thing where I was doing it [music] already so I would have been training and after that, make my way to the studio. I was used to doing both anyway, so it was really about which pops off first.
Having established yourself as an artist amongst the UK’s top artists, what next steps or plans do you have for 2019?
I’m trying to take it international right now man. I have a couple collaborations with international artists so hopefully that gets dropped soon and we get going.
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