An interview with swimming – by Dave Connor
I sat down with Angie and Katie to discuss their experiences as a band, from cutting their teeth in the Adelaide scene to crafting a rad album and playing shows all over the place.
Swimming (stylised as swimming) are a band from Adelaide consisting of Katie Schilling, Sam Reynolds and Angie Schilling. All three are multi-instrumentalists and vocalists. I sat down with Angie and Katie to discuss their experiences as a band, from cutting their teeth in the Adelaide scene to crafting a rad album and playing shows all over the place.
Writer: Tell me what you think are some qualities that might be particular to the Adelaide music scene, if any.
Angie: One thing is that the Adelaide scene is very community based. Like, no matter what part of the scene you’re in, whether you’re in the punk scene or the electronic or whatever, you can always garner help from somewhere and resources. That’s something that’s very particular, that I would say is a little different to other places as far as I can tell. Everyone helps everyone.
Katie: Yeah, everyone knows everyone and everyone’s in multiple bands – across bands – with multiple friends – but in saying that, you know, that’s amongst our music scene of like alternative and kind of rock and I guess sort of pop, but not so much like us. Not so much R’n’B pop.
Writer: Are you guys the only band in Adelaide that does what you do?
Angie: I would say, yeah.
Katie: And also that we’re sort of, amongst our friends and the music crowd that we play with and hang around with, we’re very different than them. If we play a show with people that we’re more like in terms of music, than we probably don’t know them as much, because they’re from a different kind of electronic pop kind of scene.
Angie: We find it hard to play with friends, basically. Our circle seems to be very different to us. I think it’s because, well the Format Collective helped that a lot. You know, we became part of the Format Collective from the start, just because we were friends with them and we kind of really liked the DIY ethos. I mean, we are an alternative band as well, but yeah we just fell into that group and they’ve helped us a lot along the way and we’ve kind of culturally gone down that DIY path but musically probably not so much, but that’s ok because the culture is most important to us.
Writer: And is it a culture that’s supportive of different styles and stuff?
Angie: Absolutely, and that’s why they’ve kept us as friends, you know, and as a band under their wing. It’s because they’re completely down for anything, like heavy dance and heavy punk. They did have a venue until 2013 when it got shut down by the powers that be. Just a gentrification of the inner city. But they signed a lease two days ago for a new venue, which is big news! It’s like fifteen metres from where the other one was, and that’s pretty exciting.
Writer: I haven’t had a chance to see a Format show. Could you tell me a little about the vibe?
Angie: I mean, it’ll take a while to build up shows and exhibitions again, but…
Katie: I don’t know – fun, communal. I just keep saying that but that’s what it is because it’s a collective.
Angie: No one gets paid…
Katie: Everyone’s in for each other…
Angie: Definitely fun…
Katie: Yep, always. Always fun. There’s not really much question about if you’re gonna go and have fun. It always happens, lots of dancing, and there is always an array of different bands.
Angie: It’s super inclusive. If you’re shit, if your band is shit, it doesn’t matter because it’s a space where you can go and safely practice or play. That’s what it’s for.
Katie: That’s what is was for us, when we were shit [laughs]. You know, just beginning and we had no idea what happens at a show or how to record. Pat Lockwood really helped us with that. He knew that we didn’t really know what was going on and what to do and how to do stuff. In terms of gear even, we borrowed heaps of stuff from Format. It was very helpful. And yeah really nice, we’re very lucky. Everyone that gets involved with them is very lucky.
Writer: So let’s talk about influences. Who would you say is influencing the band currently, and within the band do you share influences with each other?
Katie: It’s inevitable, between Ange and I. Between us we’re like, one and a half persons. Or something like that, or more, I don’t know. We have lots of the same influences. But also, Ange was probably more into music than me. Or, more into current and interesting music more than I was, and gave me a lot of influences, and that’s why they’re similar now, I would say.
Angie: Sam’s influence on the band is apparent. He writes a lot of the stuff as well. All the drum parts are his and lots of the guitar parts are his as well, and he has a slightly different influence, not that different though. But in terms of what are the influences, we were talking about this yesterday, that the music that we listen to is quite different to the music that we make, a lot of the time.
Angie: So it’s hard, the question of influence is hard to nail.
Katie: I would say the main genre that influences us is R’n’B and hip-hop.
Angie: Yeah that’s true.
Katie: So, Frank Ocean and Drake and stuff that we listen to, we get that kind of vocal melody, I think that creeps in.
Angie: There’s lots of different parts to it that probably are influenced by different things. Like, vocal melody, definitely R’n’B. We just listen to so much of it. Sam too.
Katie: Yeah. He probably listens to a bit more dance than us.
Angie: Production wise, you know, I do listen to a lot of minimal electronic music, and that would be the production influence. Minimal stuff. Mm, I don’t know I can’t name any though.
Katie: Lots of Australian stuff.
Angie: Heeeaps of Australian stuff, more than anything.
Writer: Right. So, you guys have been playing together for about four years. Are there any influences or directions that you’ve dropped in that time, to move forward, or to move in a different direction.
Katie: Maybe subconsciously. Not on purpose. I don’t think there’s been any time when we’ve said ‘I don’t want to include that any more’ or ‘I don’t want to do that’ really.
Writer: So there’s an organic progression?
Angie: Yeah completely. I mean, I can think of stuff that I’ve stopped listening to, which probably has an impact on the music.
Katie: I’d say more of like, in an additional way. It’s more like we’ve said ‘maybe we could include a little bit more’, like recently we’ve wanted to be a band that people can dance to. At one stage we had quite a, not melancholy, but a slower set, and we realised that we would like to have more of a beat and dancing because it’s what we like to see when we go to a show and it’s nice to see people do that to the music that we make.
Writer: How much do you think about the way that you move onstage? With the music and that? Is that something that you’ve ever discussed?
Katie: Not discussed, no.
Angie: I don’t know if we’ve ever discussed it but I have a lot of feelings about it. Because performance is a really important thing for me when I watch live music, at any level, and I think it’s really important. Something can be incredible, incredible music, and just be like a really boring performance…
Katie: And painful to watch…
Angie: And you don’t want to be there, but it’s like one of your favourite bands.
Katie: That’s ok also if you shut your eyes.
Angie: But then you can see bands that you thought you hated and they put on an incredible live show, and it’s just, you love them. That’s really important I think. I don’t know. Live music is really something else, and I think it’s really important to know that it’s something else than recorded music. I always have a really self-conscious thing that I’m very boring on stage. I just kind of stand there quite often, like shell shocked, like a deer in the headlights, because I’m nervous. I get quite nervous, and I want to be able to show more passion and that I’m into the music. I feel it, I just don’t really know how to express it. Kate’s pretty good at expressing it through movement I think.
Katie: It’s hard to know because we don’t really watch ourselves very much.
Angie: I think Sam has become more and more able to express how he’s feeling within the music at the time through his body. Especially when he’s playing drums. I guess that’s possible because that’s a little bit more meditative and there’s a lot of repetition with the drums. That’s just my opinion I guess, that’s my opinion of Sam’s movement. But I really love dancing around on stage. I guess I have a bit of an affinity to performance and I really love dance performance as well, so music and dance, and being the source of the music is amazing. I love it. I try not to be conscious about it, and then it becomes really real and fun and like, amazing.
Writer: So it’s something that’s important..
Writer: But if you plan it and discuss it, you might kill it?
Katie: Yeah, we don’t plan it.
Angie: We definitely don’t plan it. Sometimes at rehearsal Kate says ‘I wanna dance more’, but we never sit down and say ‘ok i think at this point you should dance’.
Katie: It’s definitely not choreographed, although we have spoken a couple of times about having a choreographed dance amongst the set, but it’s never happened.
Angie: [Laughing] I would say more than a couple of times.
Writer: It’s something that people like to see, for sure.
Angie: Yeah definitely.
Katie: It just doesn’t really fit with our music or something.
Angie: Yeah, no.
Katie: It’s too serious.
Angie: Actually, our first or second performance was definitely gonna be like an entire like dance performance piece with basically no music that we were making, but that’s because we weren’t really a band yet and we didn’t have people expecting music.
Katie: We were gonna have a backdrop with … [laughs].
Writer: You’re on tour at the moment.
Katie: Correct. Thank you. It’s very nice of you to say that.
Writer: You’ve played in Hobart, Adelaide and Melbourne as part of the tour.
Writer: In your career, what’s the most memorable show that you’ve played outside of Adelaide?
Katie: What comes straight to my head, it might not be true, is Sydney. A daytime show in Sydney.
Angie: Oh yeah!
Katie: Nggrrrnnrrnngg I can’t remember the venue. What’s it called?
Angie: It’s in Surrey Hills.
Katie: The Hollywood Hotel.
Angie: But the most memorable one has to be Camp A Low Hum.
Angie: In New Zealand. It was 2014, which was the last Camp A Low Hum, and we played the opening set of the festival. That year it rained the whole time.
Katie: Not for us though.
Angie: The first day was really beautiful, when we played. There was glorious sunshine and it was the most people I think we’ve ever played to, I would say. There were people sitting down …
Katie: In a forest…
Angie: And it kind of felt like that’s the reason that we play music. It’s what we were meant to be doing. And everything felt pretty right in the world at that moment, it was beautiful. And it was our first time in a different country playing music.
Katie: I remember immediately after that set I was so happy and literally jumped off the stage into my boyfriend’s arms. It was just like … celebration! It was such an amazing atmosphere. The festival was beautiful. We were really very lucky.
Angie: That festival taught me a lot of life lessons. Just to really really fucking appreciate what you’re doing making music, and actually I was starting to feel a bit down in Adelaide. No one was really inspired by the same things, music-wise, like I said before. No one makes electronic R’n’B sorta pop. Even a lot of my friends aren’t really that interested in it and I was starting to feel like I wasn’t being inspired in Adelaide and then I was like ‘maybe I just can’t be inspired by anyone’ and then I went to Camp A Low Hum and was inspired by every single person there because they were in the same boat…
Katie: All doing DIY…
Angie: Everyone just seemed to be like us and it was a really nice, beautiful thing to feel that complete sense of community again.
Writer: And the rain didn’t get in the way of that?
Katie: Not really.
Angie: Well we were in a cabin so …
Katie: It didn’t get in OUR way…
Angie: But it definitely got in a lot of people’s way that were in tents, by the end of the festival.
Katie: But the vibe still carried on pretty well. And it was the last one, so everyone really fought through and knew how apologetic Blink was. Yeah. Which, you know, it’s not like he controls the rain.
Writer: You had some demos out three years ago, and then your debut album came out two years ago. How do you feel about those recordings now, looking back?
Angie: I feel that they were a long time ago and they’re probably not representative of what we are now.
Angie: We got sick of playing them pretty soon after. So we had a break for a while, cause we didn’t really know what to do. We didn’t have time to write new stuff, but we couldn’t keep playing the same stuff, we were getting really bored…
Katie: And we both went overseas separately…
Angie: Yeah, so I feel that it’s a long time ago, and I don’t really feel heaps connected to it any more. I think it’s ok.
Writer: So the sets that you guys are playing now are almost entirely different stuff?
Katie: All the songs, bar one, in the set now are new. We definitely have enough material for another whole album. Is that right?
Angie: Yeah I think basically, yeah.
Katie: But I still have a connection to the stuff on the album. It doesn’t mean that I necessarily ever want to listen to it, or that I like it heaps, but I have an emotional connection with that time in my life. It’s very interesting to think back about how we did it, the process of it, ’cause we were just so unaware of lots of things…
Katie: Very naive, you know. Which is fine and great, like whatever! It was so pure and we just were having fun and were really excited that we were creating music as a band.
Writer: Naive in what way?
Katie: We didn’t know how anything worked.
Writer: In terms of the recording process?
Katie: The recording process, the live shows, the equipment and gear, the writing process…
Angie: Not that there’s a right and wrong way to do stuff like that, and I think it was good for us. Like, I wouldn’t have wanted to know more than we did.
Katie: No. It leaves room for developing your own thing, which is great. I guess that’s also why we move around on the stage and swap instruments a lot ’cause no-one’s really specialising in anything. I mean, it’s getting a bit more that way but I think yeah, not knowing much in the beginning, that’s where that started.
Angie: No-one’s a drummer. No-one’s a guitarist. No-one’s a keyboardist.
Writer: As a band, how would you approach the next record differently? Which parts would you change about the approach?
Katie: Compared to the last recording?
Writer: Yeah. I guess this is for maybe young people who might read this. Like, any knowledge or just ideas that you could pass on.
Katie: I would be less nervous.
Katie: Less worried about having the song perfect. The recording, what goes on that record, is about that moment in time when you’re recording it. I mean it’s different for every band, whatever you like. It’s not just about rehearsing heaps and heaps and heaps so it’s exactly the same when you last rehearsed it, as when you record it, and the same sound comes out. I think it’s important to embrace the recording time.
Angie: I think I’d definitely be more open to…
Katie: To freestyle…
Angie: Yeah like be very well prepared – I think it helps to be prepared – like, you don’t want to go into the recording process, especially if you’re paying for people’s time, you really need to be aware that the time is precious – but be heaps open to doing something a different way and open to other people’s ideas and yeah, if something doesn’t go according to plan then it’s ok, just do it the other way, and it’s gonna sound great. If you’re happy with something but it wasn’t what you had planned, just do it, because it doesn’t matter.
Katie: It’s what recording’s about. For us now, anyway.
Angie: Make sure you drink heaps of water. Eat well. Make sure that you’re having a great time culinarily while you’re recording.
Angie: We recorded that album in my house and it was good ’cause we had a kitchen and my housemate always made us great food, and we all ate together at the same time. We were doing really long days, so we had breakfast together and lunch and sometimes dinner. It’s a really nice time to regroup and yeah, hang out together.
Angie: Don’t get take away.
Dave Connor is a music fan, living in Thornbury, who plays in a group called The Parking Lot Experiments.