- Words Notion Staff
Notion catches up with Swim Deep's Austin Williams, who lets Notion in on some of his musical firsts, from the first time he knew he wanted to perform to the first time he was starstruck.
Following the release of their first single in two years back in November, dream-pop quintet Swim Deep is firmly back on the radar, teasing more music off their collaborative EP ‘Familiarise Yourself With Your Closest Exit’.
Born out of boredom of his own voice, Austin Williams reached out to friends and musicians all over the world from Bristol to Brisbane to see if they would guest role on the upcoming project. The project snowballed into the band’s first release (and first-ever EP) since their third album Emerald Classics. Their latest song, “World’s Unluckiest Guy”, features ethereal vocals from Australian artist Hatchie and production from Dreamtrak.
Speaking on the track, Williams explains: ‘“After being a fan and then friend, I reached out to Harriette asking if she would do us the honour of featuring on our then unfinished song. What came back was something far grander and more magical than I could ever imagine…”
In celebration of the new EP, Swim Deep’s frontman sits down with Notion to discuss an array of musical firsts from meeting Mike Skinner to jamming on his first drumkit. Dive in!
First song you ever made?
The first time I got a guitar when I was 9 I wrote songs/riffs on it, but my first proper song song was made by passing notes writing a line of lyrics each in history class with my best mate Iuri. We were 14. Then we’d go to the music block (which was a ‘temporary’ shack thing that’s still there today I think. I’d write most my songs on piano. We were in a band called ‘farewell celebration’ (lol) and that was our first song, it was called ‘eyes’. Iuri lives in Bristol now so whenever we play a gig there we meet up, last time we did we actually recited the whole song. it’s like, pure cheese, but also actually quite massive.
First song you released officially?
If officially means Soundcloud then ‘Santa Maria’/‘Isla Vista’ in 2011. These were made in the first incarnation of Swim Deep (Me, Higgy, and Wolfgang) and were a proper statement of intent from us. Everyone else was making angular guitar stuff tryna be Arctic Monkeys. We just wanted to sound like the American dream/beach fossils and move to the beach. I love these two songs with a passion. We used to play ‘Santa Maria’ along to the music video for ‘Lust For Life’ by Girls and imagine we were a great band like them.
First CD or record you owned?
It was a tape single, (I’m not that old but they did have tapes in HMV when I first went). ‘Another One Bites The Dust’.
First time you realised you wanted to be in the band?
I was about 5 and had been a pretty successful show off for about 3 years already. We had a supply teacher in our reception class, who came in wearing a cowboy hat, and when he got his guitar out everyone just ran to him and sat around in a big circle in such awe. I remember seeing everyone listening to him sing and play, and thinking, I want that.
First gig and first festival you saw? And the first ones you performed at?
We got asked this before and me and Cav both answered the same gig without realising. We were both at ‘Five’ @ Party in the park in Brum. Funny that. First festival was Reading Fest. It was my first taste of proper freedom I think. It felt wild. First gig was @ Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath. First festival was Knee Deep festival, 2011. Us and Wolf Alice were on the bill, totally unknown to the world and each other. So many amazing and important friendships came from that and I’ll always mark it as a very important chance moment in my life. It’s all a beautiful blur.
First time you faced an obstacle in your career?
We were lucky in the way that people seemed to get us and like our songs from quite early on, so we had the backing of the core fans and a label etc. I’d say the ‘sleeves rolling up’ moment was after we got dropped by Sony after our classic mind bending second album which I guess was a lot when they were expecting ‘Make My Sunshine’ pt. 2 lol. It’s been super hard work but it’s proved to us that we’re in it for the good music, no matter how grim it can get.
First instrument you owned?
I think my dad got me an acoustic guitar and a hand drum from the car boot when I was about 8. He took us to a party and some people were jamming on drums so I joined in, I was pretty good which came as a surprise to everyone including me and I remember loving the attention.
First time you felt like giving up?
I’ve never even considered giving music up. Career wise maybe it’s a lot to try and make it work but I’ll be making songs till I’m gone.
First time you felt starstruck?
This isn’t the first time, but I always have such a mare when I meet someone I look up to. When I met Mike Skinner, I was with Cav and I got introduced and said my name and then asked him “And what was your name?” Cav was in bits, we were at his gig… in his backstage room…. and I’m asking what his name is.
First time you ticked off a bucket list goal?
Hearing our song being played by Zane Lowe on Radio 1 without knowing he was going to play it was the first mental moment. It was ‘King City’ and it was just on Soundcloud. We were actually picking up weed in our dealers kitchen and heard it come on his radio. We ran all the way home so fast, we were screaming all the way back.