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Off The Record With: Swing City

Graeme Watkins, Nathan Ro and Loyiso Bala are respected artists in their own right. However, their love of jazz and swing has brought them together to perform as Swing City. Now, after months of performing together, the three have come together to record their debut album as a group. Swing is a sexy genre and we can’t think of three better guys to give us the tracks we know and love. I caught up with Graeme and Nathan and got the lowdown on the new album, the genre and the group’s future.

You guys all come from different genres. Where did the idea of Swing City come from?

Nathan: Graeme and I were at a braai one night and we were discussing how much we love the swing genre. Turns out both of our fathers played in swing bands so we both grew up with the music. Luckily our managers overheard us talking and put plans in place to make it what it is today.

What is it about swing that you have identified with?

Nathan: My father played in a band when I was a kid and he used to sing songs like In The Mood and On The Street Where You Live which I loved. I lost him when I was 6, so the recordings of him singing allow me to spend time with my dad.

You played these songs at functions around the country. Where did the idea of an album come from?

Graeme: We got requests for an album over social networks and after every performance so I guess it was the next logical step.

You’ve collaborated with a few artists on this album. Tell us a bit more about that.

Nathan: Well Lloyd Cele is basically part of Swing City as he fills in if one of us is unable to make a gig. He has also become a close friend. Then there is Shoowop Shop who are basically a much sexier version of Swing City with siren’s voices from the 50’s era and then there is Chianosky.

What do you want listeners to take away when listening to this album?

Nathan: This genre of music existed to bring smiles to the faces of people during slavery, the great depression and war. We still live in times where all these things are prevalent in one form or another so it is still relevant to shed a little light on dark days. If we can put a smile on your face… then we have succeeded.

How did you decide on the album’s track listing? Did you test the songs out at your shows?

Graeme: I guess you could say that. We also have some new ones that we can’t wait to share with you all. I’m just sad we could only fit a handful on the album. If I had it my way, the album would have resembled an iPod playlist

What one unique trait does each of you bring to the plate?

Nathan: Loyiso is the most experienced so he handles a lot of the vocal arranging and brings his smooth R&B voice to the mix. Graeme is the passionate one that keeps us in check if we become complacent or lazy, perfection is the name of the game and his voice could make a wolverine purr.
Graeme: Jono is incredibly funny and brings a lot of life to the party.

What can we expect from Swing City over the next few months?

Nathan: Well after Well Swung launches I think we really need to focus on becoming a household name that people associate with warmth, smiles and nostalgia. Definitely more public shows are in order.

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