Folk Fest 2014 promises to be nothing short of fantastic with a sunny forecast ahead and a line up that’s as colourful and diverse as our wine and beer selection. Last week we shared our folk and wine pairings with you but this week we chatted with Matthew Swann a.k.a. Astral Swans, a rising local musician whose style is one-of-a-kind. Swann’s music draws on folk from another era while taking cues from psychedelic rock and no wave. If you had to sum it up best you’d call it Experimental Pop.
Before playing at Folk Fest this year Matthew took a few minutes to tell us a little bit more about what inspires him and how he warms up before his shows:
VS How did you get into music?
My older brothers Larry and Travis taught me to play guitar at a young age. When I was five, my young voice and exuberance helped me to win a talent contest singing the popular song, “Have You Ever Gone Sailing”. In 1952, I met Bob Montgomery at Hutchinson Junior High School. We shared an interest in music, and teamed up as “Buddy and Bob”. We sang harmony duets at local clubs, and high school talent shows. Later on I would help invent Rock n’ Roll, and die in a fiery plane crash at the tender age of 22. It’s also possible that I took this information from Buddy Holly’s Wikipedia page. The End.
VS When it comes to songwriting what kind of themes do you like to focus on?
I’m pretty fixated on absurdity, vulnerability, sexuality, sorrow and death. I love outsider art/art brut. I’m obsessive about, what we deem as ‘perceptual aberrations’ … ecstatic experiences and religious states. So that’s informing a lot, but I also love melody, and pop.
VS Do you have any specific influences?
I have many. Here are some that I dig: Willie Nelson, (smog), Eric’s Trip, Sonic Youth, Vashti Bunyan, Sibylle Baier, PJ Harvey, Syd Barret, Skip Spence, Jandek, Suicide, Niko, Royal Trux, Chad VanGaalen, Fugazi, Grateful Dead, Guided by Voices, Neu, Nick Drake, Bert Jansch. And I like Hip Hop too, like quite a lot.
VS What’s your drink of choice?
I’m a beer drinker but I do like wine
VS Do you ever drink anything before going on stage, you know, to help lessen the stagefright ?
Usually beer, or wine. Spirits are too dangerous before you play. During my last tour I was drinking red wine at shows. It felt pretty romantic – I think a lot of people were probably comparing me to a French poet, like a youngish Paul Verlaine, or a Stéphane Mallarmé.
The shows had intimate settings but most people mostly talked while I played. That can be tough on a romantic, French, poet type.
You can catch Astral Swans at this year’s Folk Fest. For the full schedule details you can visit the Folk Fest website.
This week we’ve decided to pick out a beer that pairs specially with the music of Astral Swans and we had to go with the Innis and Gunn from our Balanced section. This craft choice is the perfect combination of old and new, employing retired scotch casks with a beer that has big flavours. This pairing will be well received by anyone who likes to try something a little out of the ordinary.