HEY FOLKS I’m sorry for being the most terrible blogger ever but to be fair I did spend the last few weeks working in excess of ten hours a day (weekends included) to get a brand new rooftop greenhouse up and running and I’m not really superwoman or anything so my brain was kinda dead for a while BUT NOW I’M BACK to bring you some delicious tunes. Today I’ve got an artist I’m REALLY REALLY excited about: swelo, and his debut album Escalator Music. Like Philadelphian synth-punk Atom & His Package, swelo (pronounced sway-low) is a high school teacher from New Orleans (though very much not a punk) who pumped out genre-bending Escalator Music in his free time (i.e. instead of grading).
I found swelo while browsing Reddit one day, which happened to be the day he blew up on r/music. I was hooked within the first 15 seconds of “Like That (Intro)” and then listened to the entire album repeatedly pretty much any time I got the chance, especially while playing mario kart obsessively (to this day the first track tirelessly reminds me of bowser’s castle). Using only Logic Pro, an M-Audio KeyRig 49, and a Blue Snowball mic, swelo (who prefers to keep his teacher alter-ego separate from his music, for what will soon be obvious reasons) created Escalator Music entirely himself, aided only on one song by brilliant spoken-word poet Jose Cotto.
Escalator Music caught my aural attention not only because swelo’s story is so damn cool, but also because the album overall took me completely by surprise. It was refreshing to find a young artist making awesome electronic music that doesn’t take itself way too seriously; it was clearly made for a specific bracket of young people (kids in their early-mid twenties, many of whom probably enjoy certain illicit substances), by someone in that group, who doesn’t give us a bad name. This is definitely not to say that only kids in their early-mid twenties who may or may not partake can enjoy swelo’s music. Quite the contrary, in fact, I think this is an album that most people can enjoy on one level or another, because it weaves through so many different styles and genres and, despite any messages, the music is straight up GOOD SHIT. swelo’s got serious talent.
There’s music for people who like a more blues-rock feel (“Country Road“), or for people who lean towards the pop-persuasion (“Brighton“), or for those into the club scene (“IDGAF“). Not to mention, swelo has a wicked sense of humour, as evidenced by my favourite track, “Trust Me Dude, You’ll Get It.” The beat in this song is sick, the synths are goofy and are difficult not to groove to, and I can’t help but smile to myself every time I hear it due to its sheer silliness.:
Then there’s my second favourite track, “This Step (ft. Jose Cotto),” which is on a totally different plane than “Trust Me, Dude.” It sends chills down my spine, I’m physically incapable of preventing myself from singing along to the chorus, and the spoken-word poem by Jose Cotto featured on the track is absolutely gorgeous. Taking a step back from humour and hype-itude, but continuing to lay down excellent beats, swelo shows his sweet side here with subtle high-hats and spacious harmonies. Plus, who’s heart doesn’t melt a little with Cotto’s opening line “your heart is a therapeutic mattress I wanna rest my soul on”?
I think that at least a small part of the reason I was so late on this post was because I couldn’t figure out how to do justice to swelo, and I spent a lot of time worrying about whether I could or not. But the fact of the matter is that swelo is a talented musician/math teacher who makes fun, feel-good music. If you can’t dig it, you’re missing out.