Swing City was born of the love of swing music from three of South Africa’s most loved artists. A harmless side comment from one musician to another ended up in a serious discussion about producing a three piece singing group, backed by a full jazz orchestra and band, celebrating their love of jazz, swing and blues, but adding a modern day twist to the genre.
Swing City consists of Lonehill Estate’s Nathan Ro, whose love for swing music has always engrossed the pop/ rock singer’s iPod; Graeme Watkins, whose background in music and theatre started as a swing singer long before his success on Idols or in his indie rock band “The Graeme Watkins Project”; and Loyiso Bala, whose classically trained background in music saw the singer as part of the TZKee crew, the Bala brothers in classical song and in the pop world in his own successful career.
We caught up with Swing City for a short chat, discussing their new collaboration and their album being nominated for a SAMA award. Check what they had to say:
Interview: Swing City
- Hey all, such a pleasure to be chatting to you…. how is everyone doing?
Hi there! I think Graeme and Loyiso are a little tired as Gra has a toddler in the terrible twos and Loyiso has a newborn… But I’m feeling great!
- Can we please start on a quick 101 on who each of you are and where you come from in South Africa?
My name is Nathan, I am the singer for Lonehill Estate and I am a Jozi-boy with a hint of Durbs… my parents were both from the South Coast so I have the accent… fush and chups.
Loyiso has had a successful career as an R&B and Gospel singer since he left the Drakensburg Boys Choir. Starting out with TKZ Family and then then branching out on his own. He is from Uitenhage the Eastern Cape.
Graeme is the singer of GWP (Graeme Watkins Project) and hails from The Mother City which I’m sure he would go on and on about had he been answering these questions… you know Capetonians.
- How did the three of you come together to form SWING CITY?
Graeme and myself were sitting around a braai together and talking about our fathers. Graeme’s dad had been an upright bass player in a swing band and my own father sang in one. So we were discussing how that genre took us back to Sundaymornings and drives down to Durbs from yesteryear when one of said “Imagine how fun it would be to have a side project like that”. Our managers (also present around the sizzling boerewors) said it sounded like a great idea and that they knew someone far more famous than us that might be interested. Before we had even met with Loyiso to discuss it, we got our first booking. The rest is history.
- What are your influences as a band? Is it all things swing?
We definitely have our swing influences like Louis Prima, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra but because of our diverse musical backgrounds we each bring a slightly different spice to the curry. Our voices are quite different and thus work really well together in 3 part harmony.
- Your album,Now Listen Properly,has been nominated for a SAMA, taking place this weekend. This is a great achievement, you must be excited?
Oh yeah it’s always exciting to be noticed, especially for something creative. This has really been a passion project for the 3 of us and so it’s great to know that people are enjoying it as much as we are.
- What are your thoughts of our local music scene at the moment?
Our local scene is and has always been a really exciting one. There is always something or someone new, pushing new boundaries. Literally in some cases, so many local artists are sharing their uniqueness with the rest of the world and South Africa is even starting to start international trends.
- Any acts/bands/artists that you think need a special mention?
Sure. We would like to request that if Wouter Kellerman beats us that he let us keep the trophy as I’m sure they don’t make mantle pieces big enough for that many awards…
- Anything else you currently working on that we may be interested in? Plans for the rest of 2018?
Well I am busy writing a bunch of South African themed swing songs that I may release as a solo artist at some point and then some new music from Lonehill Estate is also in the pipeline! Super excited for the things that will become realities this year.
- Where can people follow you on Social Media?
You can find us on all social networks under Swing City Band. Give us a follow and petition us to come play at a theatre near you.
- Thanks for your time!
Thank you for your questions and interest in our work 🙂