A.S. Swanski likes creating his own universe. As an 8-year old, he and his brother invented their own fantasy planet with its own music scene, artists and musical genres. Imitating the sound of guitars and drums with his mouth, and making up his own melodies while dancing in the bedroom, young Swanski knew that one day he would be writing and performing his own music – and do it his way.
Today, A.S. Swanski creates his own dark ambient sound sculptures, combining the free-spirited, innovative energy of krautrock with the earthiness and stark-boldness of post-punk. His albums got raving reviews and he has been praised for the cinematic qualities of his music and uncompromising approach. Singer Jordan Reyne, known for performances on Glastonbury and in The Lord of the Rings, called his work “truly innovative and cool”.
TONE TRIBUNE – “Sometimes dystopian and dark, other times open, crystalline and chillingly serene.”
SLEEPINGBAGSTUDIOS – “In between the most fantastic parts in a Pink Floyd instrumental and pure, free-flowing art at its absolute best.”
BRUTAL RESONANCE – “Like a mixture of Thomas Dolby, Throbbing Gristle and Faust, in a free jazz framework… ”
It’s been a long journey though with lots of hurdles and setbacks. He picked up his first musical instrument when he was 16 years old. He played bass in a series of bands that explored different musical styles and gave away cassettes with lo-fi pop he recorded solo on a 4-track machine. His first release under the A.S. Swanski banner came in 1999 with the quirky electronics of the album Twist that sold exactly one copy. “The worst-selling record in history”, he laughs.
Not surprisingly he took a break from his own recordings in the years that followed, working with the music of others and helping the music-scene grow as a rock critic for Humo, Belgium’s leading weekly on music and media. After moving from Belgium to Sweden, he reactivated his musical alter ego with The Assassination EP (2011), full of disruptive arrangements, primitive grooves and political comments.
Inspiration from becoming a father
“In hindsight, I think it was my daughter’s birth that inspired me to start recording again”, he says. “You always want the best for your child. Bringing up children in an era full of racism, growing intolerance and depersonalization isn’t easy though and I needed something to express my anger and frustrations.”
The follow-up Electro Noir (2012) featured vocals by Swanski and his wife, Russian singer La Gouzel, which added to the haunting sound that became his trademark. “A landscape of sounds with a near cinematic expression”, a Swedish blog wrote and hit the nail on the head. Electro Noir got raving reviews, received airplay around the world and laid the groundwork for Swanski’s ever-growing fanbase.
Deckare (2014) was a special project featuring songs inspired by Swedish crime novels, creating a dark and sometimes disturbing picture of what was then Swanski’s country of residence. It was followed only six months later by Zafari. Drawing from his own personal and extensive life-experience, Zafari was dedicated to youthful rebellion; its moods range from sinister to sentimental and from melancholic to mysterious.
New Swanski music
In 2015, Swanski returned to Belgium. He took time off from music to spend on writing, and had to deal with hackers who stuffed his websites with porn videos, which cost him fans and exposure. However, he is now about to return with a new album full of stripped-down pieces of experimental music, due for release autumn 2016.
“Half of it is sweet and romantic, the other half raw and unpolished. Some of my fans will hate it, others will love it. No problem. I take pride in alienating people from me”, he says with a smile. “Seriously, being unpredictable is an essential part of everything I do. I’m not doing this for a living, it’s something I simply have to do to stay sane.”