INTERVIEW WITH AUSTIN TOFTE BY NATHANIEL LAY
1. How many people are part of this project? How did SWD begin? What has come from it since its inception (such as tours, releases, etc)?
It began in 2008 as a side project with friend Adam Young (Owl City). As Owl City took off, Adam and I parted way which allowed me to put my focus fully into Swimming With Dolphins. It started as a solo effort and has since at certain points has had up to 4 members live. However we have managed to solidify a group of 3 of us currently.
2. There are a handful of guest vocals on your new record, ‘Water Colours’. Who makes a spot, in which song, and how did their part come to be?
Yes indeed! There are three guests. Track 1 & 3 are Sarah Beintker. Track 9 features Sunsun and Track 10 features local Hippy Hop friend of mine MODSUN.The parts for track 9 and 10 we predetermined to be to be specifically
3. How do you go about writing a song? Recording it?
I guess I like to start with a hook or a catchy loop, whether it be instrumental or vocal, I then build all around that. I wouldn’t say I have necessarily one formula or structure for song writing though. Every song is different. As far as recording; I compose and demo everything at my home studio space as much as I can before taking it to a studio to tweak and polish up with a producer.
4. Speaking of recording, where was this album created and with the help of whom? How was the experience?
It was written over the course of 2 years and a some on the road, but mostly at home in Minnesota between tours and such. Half of the tracks were then produced in Seattle, WA with Aaron Sprinkle, and then the other half were worked on with Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount in Atlanta, GA. It was a fabulous experience, despite being a very new process for me compared to the Ambient Blue EP (2008).
5. Why the title ‘Water Colours’?
I wanted something with “Colours” in the title. “Water Colours” was fiitting in my eyes because watercolors (the actual thing), when painted with, give this cool washed out vibe to the colors you paint with, which makes it feel more natural and real. The alternate spelling of “Colours” and the spacing of “Water” and “Colours” just allow for the title to have multiple meanings.
6. What kind of music influences your music?
Well I listen to all sorts of things! Everything from The Rollings Stones to The Strokes to ATB to Hammock.
7. What kind of lyrics themes and/or stories are explored during this album?
It’s just really about my life in the last 2 years or so. I went through a lot of soul searching
8. Who did the artwork for the cover? What does it symbolize?
My good friend Zach Ogaard (www.ZachOgaard.com). I wouldn’t say it necessarily symbolizes any one thing. It’s more or less a montage of images and textures that I like and I felt were a good compliment to the mood of the collection of song.
9. What kind of touring do you have planned for this summer?
Well we just got home from a two and a half month nation wide run, so we’re taking a little break, shooting a video and then gearing up for Creation East and West. We’re weighting our options and hoping to fill in as much as we can from there.
10. What upcoming events are you most looking forward to and why?
We’re shooting our first music video for the song Sleep To Dream in San Francisco. So that’s probably the biggest event we have that we’re looking forward to at this point. We’ll be our there through the end of May hammering it out.
11. How do you go about deciding what little things appear where in your songs? For example, “Good Times” has that rap sequence, “Happiness” is largely sung by a female vocalist, and “I Was A Lover” features bird chirps in the background throughout.
I don’t know I guess I just think about what would feel natural in the song, try it, and if it doesn’t feel right, try something else. The demo version of Happiness was originally sung by me and last minute switched to a female vocal in the verses. MODSUN’s part in “Good Times” also came in towards the end of that song’s creation, feeling it just needing something more like that to make it pop. “I Was a Lover” needed birds because it was a song about me running, presumably outside. It’s just important in my eyes to throw a little curveball in there
12. There are a lot of catchy choruses on this record. Which is one of your favorites and why?
Well thank you, ha. I’m not sure which my absolute favorite is. It would either have to be the chorus of Watercolors or Good Times. There both different and good in their own way I guess. Watercolors has more passion and sass kind of, making it a big fat bold statement and the staple to the song. Good Times is just fun and the chorus is just simple and very easily repeatable. Thanks for the questions!