Electro swing

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Electro Swing is a musical genre combining the influence of (most commonly) vintage swing with contemporary production techniques or styles - the 'electro' part of the name. This might include house, hip hop, EDM or other predominantly computer-produced music but might also encompass anything contemporary such as scratching with an otherwise all-live band. The genre often incorporates loops, samples or melodies that deliberately reference a sound-pallet (to the inclusion therefore of the dance moves and fashions) from the classic swing, jazz and big band era. Typically this is the period from the mid 1920s to the late 1940s and would include music by Duke Ellington, Django Reinhardt, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman among many others. Successful examples of the genre create a modern and dance-floor focussed sound that is more readily accessible to the modern ear but that also retains the feeling of live brass and the energetic excitement of the early swing recordings. The best-known artists include Parov Stelar and Caravan Palace while one-off international hits include 'Why Don't You Do Right?' by Gramophonedzie or 'We No Speak Americano' by Yolanda Be Cool Vs DCUP.

In addition to individual artists and one-off hits, Electro Swing is a genre whose growth has largely been fuelled by a series of European compilation albums which have drawn together otherwise disparate works by a variety of producers. These include the British 'White Mink : Black Cotton' series described by Mixmag as "Electro Swing's first landmark moment"[1] and France's 'Electro Swing' series. In the United States, parties such as San Francisco's 'Trapeze' have showcased the genre's burgeoning international artists.

The genre is also connected with a revival of interest in swing dances like the Lindy hop and Charleston, the popularity of Neo-Burlesque and the resurgence in an appreciation of vintage fashion and culture in mainstream society, championed by style icons like Dita Von Teese, television shows like Boardwalk Empire or films of the period like The Great Gatsby or The Artist.[citation needed]


The mid 90s saw a succession of hip-hop influenced records that sampled vintage swing. Many of these were one-off novelties and would not at the time have been described as Electro Swing. Lucas With The Lid Off (1994) by Lucas (AKA Lucas Secon) is an early example which had chart success and subsequently featured on UK TV advertising (Weetabix). Others such as Doop (1995) were minor hits, while Jimmy Luxury coined the term 'Swing hop' with "Hi-Ball Swing" (1999). Mr. Scruff's "Get A Move On" (1999), Jurassic 5's "Swing Set" (2000), Gry and F.M. Einheit's "Princess Crocodile" (2000) and The Real Tuesday Weld's "Bathtime in Clerkenwell" (2003) all built variously on this sound, each adding new elements. Many 'Lounge' and 'Nu-Jazz' tracks also borrowed Swing music elements, perhaps most notably the artist St. Germain. In 2005 Parov Stelar, who had been experimenting with a 'Nu-Jazz' style released the first of a series of Electro Swing records on his own label Etage Noir label. This was developed and built on by artists like G-Swing, Waldeck and Caravan Palace.

A critical mass was reached as other acts, some involved with styles like downtempo, lounge or house, began to pick up on the sound. In 2009 the first compilation albums of the music began to appear and 'define' the genre. Most notably "Electro Swing" from Wagram in France and "White Mink: Black Cotton (Electro Swing versus Speakeasy Jazz)" from Freshly Squeezed Music in England, the later described as "Electro Swing's first landmark moment" by Mixmag.[1]

In November 2009 the world's first Electro Swing club was created in London by Chris Tofu (Continental Drifts) and Nick Hollywood (Freshly Squeezed Music) to launch the "White Mink : Black Cotton" compilation series. (The Guardian preview[2]) "Yes this really is a new genre and an interesting one, for once" said London's Time Out (company) of the club in early 2010.[3]

The London club was swiftly followed by the launch of a "White Mink" club in Brighton which opened the Brighton Festival Fringe in April 2010.[4] Both the Electro Swing club and White Mink went on to program stages annually at the Glastonbury Festival (Shangri-La[5] and Dance Village Pussy Parlure), The Big Chill,[6] Paradise Gardens, The Secret Garden Party, Bestival's Club Dada[7] and many more showcasing artists like Caravan Palace, Parov Stelar, G-Swing, Dutty Moonshine, The Correspondents, and Movits!.[8] The two clubs proved extremely influential launching a raft of similar club nights around the world.

Swing house[edit]

From the early eighties and nineties and the beginning of sampling in popular music, artists began experimenting with looping extracts of Swing music and Jazz in their contemporary production.[citation needed]

Early swing house (as it relates to current house and club music) originated from Chicago[citation needed] with such artists as Greenskeepers, No Assembly Firm (Dan X and Justin Long), Mike Dixon[disambiguation needed], and Transluscent to name but a few.

Swing House enjoyed the height of its popularity from the mid-to-late 1990s before it all but disappeared in the early 2000s.[citation needed] It enjoyed a re-emergence in the mid-2000s[when?] when the sub-genre aligned itself with the up-and-coming nu skool "Jackin House" sound.[citation needed] Byron Foxx, High Maintenance, & Wattie Green among others had a hand in re-establishing the sound.[citation needed]

Notable releases[edit]

Freshly Squeezed Music released "White Mink : Black Cotton 'Electro Swing versus Speakeasy Jazz'" Vol. 1 (2009), Vol. 2 (2010) and Vol 3 (2013), each containing one side of modern 'electro' swing and the other of vintage swing from the 1920s and 1930s remastered from original 78rpm discs.[9] The first album was awarded an IMPALA silver disc for European sales in 2012. [10]

The French label and distributor Wagram Music released the "Electro Swing" compilation series, Vol. 1 (2009) and Vol. 2 (2010), "Bart & Baker present... Swing Party" (2010).

The Munich label Jazz & Milk Recordings released "Jazz & Milk Breaks Vol. 1" (2006), Rube "Another Gone Record" (2007), and Jazz & Milk Breaks Vol. 3 (2009). Each release includes some songs in the electro swing style. "Jazzhole" by Free The Robots, "Big Band Jump Parts 3 & 4" by Rube and label head Dusty, and "Do What" by the Jivers are good examples of the labels electro swing stylings.

Dope Noir released "Ballroom Stories" (2007) which presents a more down-tempo and less dance orientated version of the music and the compilation "Waldeck's Gramophone Vol. 1 Swing & Champagne" (2008) which showcases his influences across vintage and modern tracks.

The French label BNO created a portfolio of tracks around the 'swing meets house' template. The album "Swing For Modern Clubbing" (2006) by G-Swing evolved from that portfolio matching the beats of Chicago house producer James Curd (whose Greenskeepers alias provide the 'G' in 'G-Swing') with vintage swing remixes of Nina Simone and Duke Ellington and so on. The album was released through Barclay.

Since mid-2010 the smaller fragments of the scene have coalesced.[citation needed] There are now many smaller labels and independent producers putting out material (mostly digitally) many mixing swing with Drum and Bass, Dubstep and numerous other styles.[9]


In 2010 BBC Radio 1's Rob da Bank recorded the first known Electro Swing Special. [1]

External links[edit]