Fact: electro-swing is, on balance, the coolest genre of music in current existence. How? It pulls off the impossible balancing act: sporting bouncy and energetic tunes, but also maintaining a cool stride that makes it look easy. Think 20 cans of Red Bull plus Morgan Freeman. Lifestyle Editor Josh Rotchelle takes us through his fifth genre in this week’s music lesson.
True to the name, the genre combines samples from the ultra-lively genre of swing and crosses it with modern dancefloor beats and mixing. The strain originated in the thriving ‘90s hip-hop scene, where several one-off rap tracks sampling swing tunes were produced. Although pretty far from today’s electro-swing, they’re still worth checking out: Jurassic 5’s Swing Set and Lucas With the Lid Off from the eponymous Lucas are top tunes.
Over time, the swing sound gained more and more momentum with electronic artists, and has developed a niche-but-notable status. These days, the two biggest names are Caravan Palace, whose most famous tune is probably Clash, and Parov Stelar, whose Catgroove retains a place in my iPod’s library. The former artist is more “swing”, the latter more “electro”; like most combination genres, different artists fall in different places on the sliding scale.
No matter which way you swing (boosh!), there can be no doubt that electro swing has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity from an unlikely quarter: the last two titles in the popular Fallout video game series have featured a lot of swing tunes in their soundtracks, resulting in new artists remixing said tracks with an electro twist: Ring-a-Ding Baby from Icky is one example, while Gramophonedzie’s Why Don’t You samples another Fallout tune.
Before you decide that you’re too cool for electro-swing (read: it’s too fun for you), recognise that the genre has also hit the big time once or twice. Ever jammed to We No Speak Americano in Timepiece? Make no mistake, you’ve got down to some electro-swing, and you’re not the only one: the tune is certified platinum in the UK and nine other countries, and even had the stupendous honour of featuring on Beavis and Butt-Head.
All in all, electro swing is one of the funkier underground genres, mixing new and old to create the musical equivalent of a Jagerbomb. Check it out, but be careful how you google it (apparently fetishists use jumper cables at swinger parties, who knew?).
Josh Rotchelle, Lifestyle Editor