9 Nov 2016

NAOTD #5: SWEAT Want To Make Music Better Than Abbey Road

SWEAT are Dante Traynor (vox), Gamaliel Traynor (keys), David Noble (bass), Joe Minden (guitar), Matt Barnes (drums)
In a year of division and upset, Brexit, Trump and more, one South London quintet are making music to soundtrack the apocalypse. From Peckham, SWEAT are pioneering a new movement in independent dance music, bringing elements of pop, rock and more with every ear-melting belter they release. It's sexy and sultry, but with industrial themes that conjure images of glitter and grease, spilt perfume and androgynous strangers being filthy in shady looking night clubs. Backstage on tour in October, we got the low down on their inspirations, aspirations and everything in between. 

How did the band get together?

Gamaliel Traynor: We all just kind of met playing in a few bands in London. Dante and I are brothers, we’ve known each other a long time! We were just in different bands and started working together. Simple as that. 

What kind of music are you all into?

Joe Minden: I think, broadly speaking, we like smooth things and we like rough things in equal measure, and trying to make them somehow coexistent.

Dante Traynor: And also groove-heavy music of any kind. It’s quite important with us that there’s dance, and even world music. I use that term kind of ironically because it’s a bit stupid. But anything which makes you groove really. We produce all our own music so we’ve worked with a few people but ultimately the sound is totally ours, and I guess we try and make a new kind of music, bringing together new things. Everyone says that probably. But to us it doesn’t really matter if it sounds good, it’s about sounding new and interesting. And good [laughs].


There's a strong essence of that 'do it yourself' attitude that comes when listening to your songs. What's your creative process like regarding that ideology?

David Noble: We’ve got this little lock-up in Peckham where we’ve got loads of equipment, and a lot of our equipment we’ve built or cobbled together or modified. So sometimes people have said things like "I really like the sound of that guitar solo", but like it’s impossible for us to tell them how to do it because we’ve run the guitar through the side of a filing cabinet or something. The sound is always physical because it always goes through real materials, rotating speakers, springs, tape. It sounds like dance music which is often made on laptops, but made in a physical, maybe old fashioned way.

You were in the news recently after Lady Gaga made a surprise appearance at one of your London gigs. What happened that night?

DT: We had a headline show at Moth Club in Hackney, and at about 4pm one of my mates called me and said "I think Lady Gaga’s playing with you tonight". Obviously I thought he was having a laugh. But it was true! She just came down and played a couple of songs. We did a couple of duets… it was pretty intimate. We are fans, she’s got massive hits and she’s doing exactly what she wants to do which is great. 

GT: It was very surreal, but fun. Mark Ronson DJ’d. He played Uptown Funk at least twice. I’ve never seen a place so packed in my life, it was so sweaty.

PLW VIP is the song I first heard of yours. What's it about?

DT: PLW VIP is about the idea of a deserted, dilapidated kind of nightclub scene and just basically losing it. Losing the people you’re with, losing your environment, losing any kind of meaning and trying to find it. Spiritually it’s a real place. There is one and everyone has access to it. It doesn’t have a front door. Maybe we’ll help you arrive there tonight. The thing is it’s perpetually shut, it never opens. But it’s a club, basically.

GT: We shot the video in Peckham. It was edited by Dante’s girlfriend Beatrix, who helped us out on the Acid Rainbow one as well.


It has a kind of Mighty Boosh vibe to me.

JM: I don’t know if that’s what we were going for! But that’s kind of the vibe of the song. It’s the outside of a club, the diminuendo, the onset of exhaustion but the remnants and flickers of sex.

GT: To come back to the groove thing, I think that’s quite important in our music. It has to be sexy. 

What other material should people hear?

GT: Be Complete and Tambourine are the first songs we put out and they’re actually really good. But we put them out ages ago, we just kind of flopped them onto the internet, when we didn’t have an awful lot of momentum.

JM: They’re all part of the same world, where there’s an outside-ness and where the personas in the songs come from. Not an outsider or loner type vibe necessarily but a sense of potentially slightly sinister craving or attraction or longing. Situations of decline and decay. We want to make groovy and sometimes euphoric music in an environment we find basically very depressing.

GT: It’s very difficult because we’ve got no money, life is a struggle to be completely honest. Comparatively. On a global scale it feels like life could be tipping towards the beginning of nothingness, potentially. Russia are going to shoot loads of nukes at us or something, we’re going to kill all the animals or cut down all the trees and suffocate to death. That is the context of the music and essentially that’s what the music’s about. We want to make our favourite album, but better than all our favourite albums. Abbey Road, Purple Rain, all of those records in one but a hundred times better! The thing is we’ve got to do it fast because in a few years albums won’t even exist.


What can we expect from you guys next?

GT: We’re about to put out another single really soon. It’s basically like a country song if you listened to it remixed in a club toilet. The singing is maybe from some guy who’s stuck on the bog just whining to himself.

DN: Try to imagine hearing your favourite country and western song whilst having a shit in a club where Kylie Minogue is playing, with some lunatic in a cubicle next to you doing the backing vocals.

PLW VIP/Acid Rainbow by SWEAT is out now.
Catch them on tour supporting Hinds from the end of this month.

November
Manchester, Academy 2 (26/11)
Glasgow, St Lukes (27/11)

December
Bristol, Trinity (01/12)
London, Kentish Town Forum (02/12)

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(Words: Alex Cabré)