Dream pop is back and dreamier than ever with new band on the block, Swimming Girls. The band claim they’re from Bristol but the music they produce tells a completely different story; making them less from Bristol and more from some far-off fantasy land where the sky shines pink, the hills a covered with a haze of ecstasy and everyone happily vibes to their mellow dream pop beats.
The band, (made up of Vanessa Gimenez(Lead Vocals), Jay Oz Bell(Lead Guitar), Roo Primrose(Synths) and Max Blunos(Drums)) recently released a 7” in collaboration with Flyin’ Vinyl for the July edition of their monthly subscription service, the A side of my favourite record in my collection is inscribed in such a way that it makes up the track ‘Taste Like money’, a happy sad kinda track with The Cure vibes and Lorde undertones. The song starts very softly with a simple drum beat which is then accompanied by a melody that could calm the worst of situations, Vanessa’s voice then takes it to a complete new level of tranquillity that comes to an end all to soon, warranting the replay button to be a very viable option.
The flip side plays the song ‘2 Kids’, a song fills you with a feeling of content and rebellion that puts you into a separate hazy reality where you and your partner are on top of the world with the world being your oyster unfortunately this is slowly shattered as the song slowly fades out into silence leaving you wondering about the meaning of life its self.
After drunk messaging the band several times and over sharing way too much I finally got in touch in a good state of mind asking if they’d be aright with a quick interview to which they were only too happy to oblige. It went as follows;
What was the reason you formed the band and when?
“The band evolved out of two separate solo projects, one between Vanessa and Roo (where they wrote an early electro version of ‘2 Kids’ and also a minimalist alternative project between Vanessa and Jay (guitarist). This was back when we had all just started university in Bath. Vanessa brought the two together, and shortly afterwards, Max joined to replace the drum machine. After experimenting/perfecting our sound through songwriting and gigging for about 2 years, we released our first single ‘Tastes Like Money’ through Yucatan Records. One of the main reason we started the band stemmed from a deep love of writing and performing music on all our parts”
Where does the name Swimming Girls come from?
“The name Swimming Girls came from lyrics that Vanessa had written. The song itself was called “Swimming Girls” and thematically covered issues of anxiety and image. The lyric itself stated “I wanna be a swimming girl, a pretty swimming girl”. This image of girls swimming in water saw Vanessa comparing herself to a classic ideal. An ideal of innocence, nostalgia and classic beauty. This is where the darkness of the name comes from. This image frozen in time can never truly exist. Perfection is not real.”
As a band where do you draw your sound and influences from?
Our influences we feel are at the surface polarised. While we all love classic music of the 80s, Roo songwriting-wise obsesses over the pure pop aspects of the era, and musical age now. Jay’s influences are deeply rooted in alternative guitar music of the 80s, particularly The Cure. Vanessa brings a whole new dimension with her Cocteau-contra-alto voice. Deeper female singers are coming to prominence in pop, and we want to be a part of this movement. Max influences subtleties within our music, takin inspiration from torch-bearers such as Bon Iver.
In the studio is their one person directing what’s happening and writing the songs or is it a group effort?
Songwriting almost always starts with Roo, but almost never ends with him. After a perfectly polished baby pop song has left his grasp, it grows and morphs through Vanessa’s unmistakable audio vision. This often includes lyrical changes, reshaping of melodies and sometimes extensive re writes. Jay and Max’s arrangements transform the song again and bring it into our dark world.
Can you tell me more about your aesthetic?
Aesthetic wise we want to hang on the brink of real and fake. On the cusp of film and reality. All our songs are written with the intention of accompanying moving image, and we want to be that real life film wherever it goes.
Moving on from the aesthetic is there a bigger picture behind Swimming girls, like a message you’re trying to push?
I think the bigger picture is up for interpretation from listeners, as all art is. I’d say the name and the meaning behind it are a good place to start however.
And finally what does the near future hold for Swimming Girls?
Near-future-wise, we’re working on our next releases and touring where we can!
After talking to band and really finding out more about them as a whole, it completely changed my perspective on them; going from just a band to a whole art form that is only just starting out and is just going to continue to grow and grow.
For sure check out the band and definitely make the effort to go see them if they ever tour near you soon as I think it would be an amazing and spiritual situation.
Tom Bufton x