Q: What do you get when you mix Disco Gypsy, The Hard one, SS Outcast, Weekend Offender, and a Colourful Parachute?
A: The fellas of Swim Deep.
When asked about their take on fashion and its influence on their identity as a band, all five members were animent that each had their own specific identity, ''I like the idea that we all look like we could work somewhere''.
The collection of descriptive personas above are the self coined names of said specific identities. James is the Disco Gypsy championing flowing button ups and tight flared pants. Tom aka Higgie is The Hard One courtesy of the school yard scowl despite being describing as 'the softest'. Zack's attire is apparently war centric with a dash of Hitler and topped with Hugo Boss. Ozzy claims his tight female shirts create a Weekend Offender 5 Day Bender aesthetic. And finally, Cav's persona is torn between a colourful parachute because of his overly large cotton underpants, or, according to his band mates, a parrot thanks to his facial features. Pants trumped foul so he was dubbed a Colouful Parachute.
I met the boys in the rambunctious mess that is the Nomadic Community Gardens in central Shoreditch. Canadian Photographer, Jenn Five, was finishing up but not yet complete so I loitered around and practiced some small talk. Between talking about Louis Theroux and the friendly sausage dog named Alan who decided to hang with us, Jenn picked them off one by one for some final shots and whether it was due to unwillingness to part with Alan, the energy draining heat, or just a simple disinterest in this side of making music that sells, interest in being in front of the camera disintegrated quickly and was replaced by thirst.
An hour and one off license stop later we were all sitting in the shade ready to get a discussion going.
Ozzy: What are these questions going to be?
Ozzy: Well I'll find out in a minute.
Kaya: So how was the shoot?
Ozzy: Yea it was fun
James: Nice little day out
Ozzy: With the boys together
Kaya: So who lives here now?
Zach: Me and Ozzy
Ozzy: Me and Zack
Ozzy: Yea, we live in Seven Sisters in a warehouse up there with two others mates of ours. It's really nice being up there cause it's like a warehouse community and everyone's doing something, everyone's like arty.
Kaya: Just vibing off each other
Ozzy: Yea I dunno. We kind of keep ourselves to ourselves. I don't think anyone likes us.
Ozzy: I dunno, cause everyone just throws these massive crusty parties but we don't ever open our door.
James: You throw parties as well though.
Ozzy: Yea, we throw parties as well, but we don't have open parties. It's nice to be able to have a studio there and make noise and shit and do what we want. You don't get that a lot. It's like a dying thing around London. All the warehouses getting pushed out I guess.
Kaya: Well that's gentrification.
Ozzy: Yea, I mean that will happen to ours and in a way its our fault because we're making the area, or the landlords think we're making the area more attractive or more cool.
Cav burps as trying to say something
Cav: I was gonna say a Bob Dylan quote but.....
James: What one was it?
Cav: 'Times, they are a changing'.
James: It's because he just turned in his grave and made you burp.
Having recently split with their label Chess Club, a subsidiary of RCA Records and Sony, the guys express interest in working with an independent label for the impending third album. As a band that only formed in 2010, despite multiple line up changes, the ride to popularity seems to have been relatively smooth. Having signed to a major label for a debut album with absolute creative freedom is an uncommon luxury for young upcoming bands. After Where the Heaven Are We came their sophomore album, Mothers, in 2014. It was noted for a strong change in musical direction with having traded in indie pop for psychedelic pop, and when questioned if listeners can expect another change in sound, Ozzy explains.
Kaya: So that change in direction, is that to be expected again?
Ozzy: No I think we did that now.
Zach: We've made our Pet Sounds.
Ozzy: We needed to do that change otherwise we wouldn't have carried on being the band that we wanted to be. It just seemed like everyone was doing the same, following the same path ,but we didn't have that in us to be honest. I think now that we've done that, we've done that explorative.
Kaya: And you've found your sound?
Higgy: We found A sound.
James: A lot of the new music has just taken from a wider spectrum of both of these albums, rather than being the first one and then there was the second one, now it's like mushing.
Ozzy: I think we're in the same position as we were on the first album where its like we're all quite skint and we're not happily in love and shit, ya know? And we're just a bit this and that, we're dreaming, we're hoping more for bigger things. I think the second album was quite a luxurious album. We were very content in our lives and it's a heavily influenced album as well. I think this one's again going to take influence from within the band rather than from our surroundings and we do feel a lot more free on this album.
Kaya: But you already mentioned you had freedom with the other albums?
Ozzy: Complete freedom.
Zach: Whatever we want.
Cav: Off you go. Go do your thing
James: But that's the same thing that we're at now except we don't have to show it to the same person, we can just show whoever we want. So in that way theres a greater sense of freedom for us because since the last record we've got our hands on loads of equipment that we wanted to use and now we've just sort of got it. We've got all the tools to do whatever we want. We're just incredibly poor.
Kaya: So no more major label cash?
Ozzy: No, I think we want an indie this time. I mean major labels are great, I thank Chess Club and Sony for everything they did, I think for us now though we can do what we want and we don't really need a big offer from a major label anymore. Its all changing now. The golden era of music will not come from the big factory, the thing that's churning out stuff for the charts and stuff. It will come from the indies again, and hopefully this time the majors wont fucking buy all the indies and make it shit again.
Kaya: Monopolise the industry?
Ozzy: Like the 90s. I think everything just comes back around doesn't it. Yea its an exciting time for us right now. I feel like the worlds out oyster. As cliche as that is but....
Kaya: We're full of the quotes and cliches
Ozzy: Yea it's the only thing we've got.
Their music style isn't the only thing that has been in a constant state of flux. What began first as a homage to the 90s, complete with Kurt Cobain bleached out regrowth and an abundance of plaid, their aesthetic, like all twenty- something year olds, has matured with them. Despite their previous omission to outlandish fashion identities, the all over look appears to be more refined and muted. That's not saying the zany patterns and debatable colour palettes are forgotten, far from it, but seeing as Zack walked for in Saint Laurent Paris AW13, Cav posed in a recent Burberry campaign, and let's not forget the endearingly awkward video collaboration with Paul Smith, maybe the high fashion brands have left a more mature taste?
Kaya: I know today you were all wearing your own clothes. Is this normal or do you often work with stylists?
Ozzy: There normally is a stylist but...
Zach: We always bring our own stuff. Just incase.
Ozzy: We never ask for a stylist.
James: We hate it, but everyone's too nice to say no.
Higgie: I always end up in weird things.
Ozzy: It does come with the territory though. I feel like when you're in a band I feel like everyone's trying to...there's so many people trying to look like...
Zach: They just pie you off with this shit.
Kaya: To look a certain way?
Ozzy: It's just the way bands are at the moment. Every band that it successful is wearing black jeans and black leather jacket, and so people are looking that thinking 'right YSL, lets get all up in that'. We quite rate YSL though by the way.
James: I feel like we're quite lucky.
Zach: Well, we already look cool.
James: Yea. And i think that maybe the fact no wait that sounds lame.
Kaya: What sounds lame?
James: Maybe the fact that we do have a style, maybe thats why stylists want to work with it. It just makes it worse and makes everyone feel awkward.
Ozzy: We're the most fucking awkward band in the world to work with i think.
Ozzy: I dunno man, people just always find us awkward. I don't know what it is.
Kaya: But then what?
Zach: Every time you get a stylist in.
James: Sometimes if you have like a shoot and they bring loads of clothes and we want you to wear all of these clothes and we'll be like 'whhhhy?' Why don't you take photos of US? Ozzy: Why take photos of us as puppets.
Higgy: Yea, we're not clothes horse.
Zach: Yea, just get a coat hanger.
Ozzy: Yea, man we're real people
Ozzy: Making real music. For real people.
Kaya: Don't you ever like the idea of dressing up?
Ozzy: We do dress up! Like when we come out we dress up ourselves. But I don't want to dress up in some bogus clothes. If I'm going to wear it for that one photo then I feel like a fraud.
The heat began to get the better of us as we moved onto the politics behind keeping clothes after photoshoots, then onto politics itself. The entire conversation was riddled with sarcasm, friendly banter, and jokes at each others expense, all expected amongst a group of mates, which is essentially what Swim Deep is; a group of mates who make appealing music for the masses. There was a nice sense of proud camaraderie amongst them when one tried to downplay their own achievements, almost boastful for each other, for example when discussing their schooling (or lack there of), Ozzy in effect had to drag out from James that not only was he the only one who attended University, but claimed firsts in his classes. Proud of each other and proud of themselves, so much so that initially an air of smug self importance lingered, but in reality, upon hearing more about what the youngsters have achieved, it leaves me wondering 'Since when is it considered smug to be pleased with your own gratifying hard work?'