In anticipation of the release of Freedom Or Death‘s new album Ego this past Tuesday, I got the chance to catch up with Sway, one half of the Toronto duo. The official release party for the album is taking place tonight at the Steam Whistle Brewery, so make sure to reach to catch Freedom Or Death in the flesh. Interview and a couple of streams from the album below.
Rich: How does it feel now that Ego’s finished?
Sway: Anxious. There’s not much you can do as you release your baby that you’ve worked so hard on out into the world to be judged, and for people to form an opinion on. The pre-release stage brings about a lot of questioning.
R: What’s one element that really acts as the foundation of the album?
S: Ah tough one, but definitely lyrics. Throughout the whole process lyrics was the part that came last as we would start with a beat and work it into a melody. The lyrics act as the glue that ties everything together.
R: What do you feel you improved upon the most between the Freedom Or Death EP and Ego?
S: Singing, production, performance. We stepped up our game in all facets for the record. I also feel that we had a greater work ethic, we were a little more directed, or concise I guess you could say, in what we wanted to accomplish.
R: Explain to me a little bit about the origins of the track ‘Inside’?
S: It all started with a riff that Fernandez sent me, which worked itself into a melody. The track itself deals with being in a dark place and coming to accept the terms of that place. Like coming to be comfortable with where you are is the only way to deal with it. At the time there was the story of the homosexual kid that had been bullied in the U.S., so I think that influence the song a bit as well.
R: Your favourite track from the album?
S: Personally, I’d go with Human.
R: You guys played SXSW last month, how did that go?
S: It was a shitshow. You really don’t have any time to see anything other than what you have scheduled. Luckily we were fortunate enough to play five awesome showcases, but other than that it’s really become an overcrowded and over saturated event.
R: Looking around at the music business in 2011, what do you see? What’s the current state of music?
S: I honestly think that music right now is how it should be. We went through a period where there was a lot of safe music, but right now is good.
R: Odd Future?
S: Merely the Wu-Tang Clan of the 2000s, that’s all they are really. People right now seemed to be more inclined to move away from that safe brand of music, more willing to seek out something different.
R: I give $500 to blow on a night on the town. Where are you going and with who?
S: First stop LCBO then most likely a jam at my place.
R: If you had to go out though, where would it be?
S: I’d round up some friends and I guess we’d start at a local bar first. We’d probably blow through the $500 in a couple of hours, so back to my house to party. Either way, there’s going to be a house party.
R: Rum or vodka?
S: Gin. I guzzle that stuff like an old Englishman.
R: You watch any of Toronto’s sports teams?
S: Not in particular. I’m a big futbol fan, so I follow what goes on in Europe a bit more. Real Madrid is definitely my team if I had to pick.
R: Favourite food? Place to get a good eat?
S: Julie’s Cuban Cafe on Dovercourt. I like it more for the atmosphere but I’m also a big fan of Cuban food.
R: Dream show, who and where?
S: Freedom Or Death playing an empty coliseum with all our fans. That or a super intimate setup would be really cool.
R: Who would be in your iTunes Top 25 if we were to check right now?
S: Been spinning some Frank Ocean of late, he’s ill. But um, CEO, Robyn, Glasser, Wild Beasts, Wild Nothing, Asher Roth, Cee-Lo Green, Theophilus London, Major Lazer, Broken Social Scene, The Folds, Adele.
R: Artist or band that I should check out?
S: Robyn’s new record. It’s something that both Fernandez and I like at the moment.
R: What drives you to make music and perform?
S: Other music, art, culture. It’s all really inspiring, but the fact that I’m good at making music makes me want to pursue it more.
R: What do you think is the one thing that you’ll take away from this project?
S: Patience. You definitely have to be patient with you art as there’s no guarantee that it’s going to coming out exactly as you had planned.
R: What do you think sets you apart from other acts in 2011?
S: The technicality of Freedom Or Death, the fact that there’s two of us writing and just one performing is pretty unique. We also get a lot of people telling us that they find it hard to place our music in a specific genre. I feel like we bring a fairly diverse offering to the table; like Ego has tracks that are acoustic and other tracks that are suited for more of a club or social environment.
R: What do you guys have planned for the rest of 2011?
S: Touring, songwriting, writing for a new record. In August I’ll be touring in Europe, so yah some fun times ahead.