Prolific actor and pop singer-songwriter Jeremy Swift is releasing his brand new single ‘Wonderland’ on Friday 14th of October 2022. Already a well-established name in the acting world, known for his Emmy-nominated performances as Leslie Higgins in ‘Ted Lasso’ and iconic role as Mr Spratt in ‘Downton Abbey’ and with the support of NME, Vanity Fair, LA Times and NY Post, Jeremy Swift invites us into his dreamy musical wonderland, seamlessly playing with visual fantasies, corrupted dreams and gender disparities alike. The track and its immersive video and thought-provoking lyrics reflect the polarised and utopian world we live in with all its extremes and absurdities. Jeremy states: “The wonderland is never going to be perfect. It’s filled with inflatable characters and fantasies. It has to be corrupted, but you want to dream and be part of that wonderland to survive!”
Music News caught up with Jeremy Swift to find out more...
Hi Jeremy, how are you? I’m good thanks. I’m sat in my music room putting off doing my VAT accounts which are due!
Tell us about your latest release ‘Wonderland’? Wonderland is a song that took quite a long time to come together. I ran together around 6 or so rhythm samples, edited them and had a super fast electric piano pulse running alongside them. It sounded like the beginning of a grime track, a genre I’ve never really messed with before. But after that I added multi tracking vocals (there around 27 of me in there) which sounded a little gospel and the lead vocal. Finally I doubled bass guitar and electric guitar to give an organic element. It sounds like the sumptuous pop I gravitate towards, with an ambiguous lyric. I hope people like it.
What motivates and drives you to create music? Difficult question as it’s something I’ve always done. My parents were music teachers and I was taught piano and violin from the age of 11. By the time I was about 12 my family seemed to have accumulated about 9 tape recorders, mainly cassette but 2 reel to reels plus a bunch of instruments. My Dad taught me how to make tape loops, which was an early version of sampling I suppose. So I would play around with all this stuff with various results! I’m naturally constantly musicalising people names, sounds that surround me etc. it’s very irritating no doubt.
The song has a really unique sound to it, where did you draw your inspirations from? I’ve always appreciated artists who pushed the boundaries, either deliberately or accidentally. I rarely listen to rootsy music, though I try not to prescribe myself the same diet. I love passion in the voice and surprises instrumentally, I like to be take on a journey really.
The single has a great music video too, tell us about the experience creating and filming it. The visuals were put together by the Hadley Brothers. Malcolm Hadley is a dp who has worked in stop frame animation a lot with the likes of Tim Burton. He and brother Tom, who directed and edited, brought some of that fantastical dream like sensibility to the shoot. We wanted the comic inflatable costumes to look a little crap, so deflated them a bit. We spent most of the weekend we shot it laughing our heads off. It’s approaching 100,000 hits on YouTube in just over a month which is pleasing.
You’re clearly a very versatile artist being both an actor and a musician, what would you say you learnt in your unique experience? I find that if I have an inspiring acting job it will affect music I’m writing. Also there is a duality with comedy and musical rhythm so the two can feed each other in that way.
What are your influences as an artist? Pops wise I like a lot of what used to be called art rock. There is a lineage that goes from Roxy Music to The Associates to Bjork to Portishead, Dutch Uncles and Caroline Polachek. I love all of them madly. But there’s a whole lot of funk that I love too, bebop jazz, dub reggae, modern composers like Mark Anthony-Turnage and Thomas Ades, psychedelic electronica and as a kid the BBC Radiophonic workshop. I realise as I get older that we were so lucky to have the latter in the centre of our entertainment culture and not sidelined into some elitist experimental corner. One of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever heard was a world music explorer on radio who recorded a group of Chinese women singing a folk song and during it they all simultaneously cried, albeit in a musical way. It lasted about 9 minutes and was completely stunning and captivating
Let’s talk for a minute about ‘Ted Lasso’, what can you tell us about bringing the character of Leslie Higgins to life and any exclusive hints for what we can expect from Season 3? Like characters in many long running shows, Leslie Higgins started off a little sketch like and became more sophisticated, thanks to the many artful writers on the show. I’ve enjoyed playing him a lot and, because the show is highly populous there is the opportunity to juxtapose the many diverse characters and get different outcomes. I love comedy and music man!
What can we expect from you next? My album ‘Songs of Escape and the Endless Night’ is already lined up ready to go, I have to decide when it is the right time to release it. I have worked on it with my genius producer Mark Warman for two and a half years so I want it to have impact!