Europeans looking in on this post are probably laughing at how behind-the-times the topic is, but living in the United States – a country so in love with its musical output that it will only embrace half of Britain’s musical export and a quarter of the musical export of our neighbor to the north, Canada – and being someone who doesn’t often warm up to electronic and dance music, being introduced to electro swing was a whole new thing for me. And I’m going to guess it’s a brand new thing for most of you reading this.
The discovery, for me, came by way of the video game-obsessive male who shares my apartment – i.e., my 18-year-old son. As a video game-obsessive, his musical intake centers mostly on – wait for it – music from video games. And he discovered his first electro swing artist via a fan-made video of Team Fortress 2 character, the Spy. The background music in the video was from Austrian DJ Parov Stelar, who spruces up old swing samples with effects and beats.
“Catgroove” – Parov Stelar
Through a dance music-savvy friend, my son then fell for French group Caravan Palace. Reflecting influence from Django Reinhardt to Lionel Hampton to Daft Punk, Caravan Palace mix swing samples with a full band that includes guitar, drums, violin, clarinet, marimba, and more.
“Clash” – Caravan Palace
When I started digging in to electro swing, after hearing a handful of the Parov Stelar and Caravan Palace tunes a number of times, I found that electro swing is a massive, many-tentacled beast. For instance, this great band called Movits! who hail from Sweden. They mix swing-heavy beats with hip hop. Hearing Swedish rap produces a little cognitive dissonance on first listen, but, damn, if it doesn’t work.
“Fel Del Av Gården” – Movits!
Then there’s the British duo the Correspondents who back up their swing with an almost ’80s-reminiscent Brit dance pop sensibility. Singer Mr. Bruce lures you in with his flamboyant sensuality, then they tear into your brain with mercilessly enjoyable hooks.
“What’s Happened to Soho?” – The Correspondents