Electro swing

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Electro swing is a musical genre fusing swing styles with contemporary production techniques including house, hip hop, EDM and more. Contemporary artists of the genre incorporate loops, samples, melodies and styles from the swing, jazz and big band era such as the works of Django Reinhardt, Cab Calloway and Benny Goodman to create new, sometimes more club friendly or more accessible sounds. Leading artists who have released complete "Electro Swing" artist albums include Goldfish, Parov Stelar, Caravan Palace, Swingrowers, Dirty Honkers, The Electric Swing Circus, G-Swing, and Waldeck.

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


The mid 90s saw early Electro swing tunes which were one-offs and would not at the time have been described as such. Lucas With The Lid Off by Lucas Secon is an early example which had some chart success. Various others like Doop (1995), Jimmy Luxury (who coined the term 'Swing hop') with "Hi-Ball Swing" (1999), Jurassic 5's "Swing Set" (2000), Gry and F.M. Einheit's "Princess Crocodile" (2000), The Real Tuesday Weld's "Bathtime in Clerkenwell" (2003) and Mr. Scruff's "Get A Move On" (1999) all built variously on this sound adding new elements. Many 'Lounge' and 'Nu-Jazz' tracks also borrowed Swing music elements, perhaps most notably from the artist St. Germain. In 2005 Parov Stelar, who had been experimenting with a 'Nu-Jazz' type sound 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.

Gradually a new genre began to form from the disparate pieces. A tipping point was reached as other artists, some new and some who were already involved with other styles like downtempo, lounge or house began to pick up on the sound and style. In 2009 the first compilation albums of the music began to appear 'defining' 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 which was described by the dance music magazine Mixmag as "Electro Swing's first landmark moment".[1]

In November 2009 the 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" Electro Swing compilation series. It was the world's first. "Yes this really is a new genre and an exciting one at last" said London's Time Out (company) of the club.

The immediate success of the London club was followed by the launch of a similar "White Mink" club in Brighton which opened the Brighton Festival Fringe in April 2010.[2] Both the Electro Swing club and White Mink went on to program stages annually at the Glastonbury Festival (Shangri-La[3] and Dance Village Pussy Parlure), The Big Chill,[4] Paradise Gardens, The Secret Garden Party, Bestival's Club Dada[5] and many more showcasing artists like Caravan Palace, Parov Stelar, G-Swing, Dutty Moonshine, The Correspondents, and Movits!.[6] The two clubs proved extremely influential launching a raft of similar club nights around the world.

In 2011 the "White Mink" club collaborated with "Electro Swing" club to present the World's first "Electro Swing Festival", an all-day event, over three floors on Easter Sunday at The Queen Of Hoxton in London. As well as electro swing, the event featured vintage swing, live music, DJs, swing dance classes, workshops and demonstrations.[7]

In late 2011, the brand new Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, owned by Deutsche Bank, used Parov Stelar's song "Booty Swing" in its main advertisement titled "52 Stories"[8]

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 with such artists as Greenskeepers, No Assembly Firm (Dan X and Justin Long), Mike Dixon[disambiguation needed], and Transluscent to name but a few. The French/Chicago based label G-Swing saw its first release in 1992 and was completely devoted to the sound.

Swing House enjoyed the height of its popularity from the mid-to-late 1990s before it all but disappeared in the early 2000s. It enjoyed a big re-emergence in the mid-2000s when the sub-genre aligned itself with the up-and-coming nu skool "Jackin House" sound. Artists such as Junia Ovadose, Byron Foxx, High Maintenance, & Wattie Green among others had a big hand in re-establishing the sound which carries on today.

In 2010, Gramophonedzie's swingy "Why Don't You" on Guesthouse Music sampled Peggy Lee's "Why Don't You Do Right" and became a world wide club smash hit. However, licensing issues ensued and eventually the track was pulled and re-released by Virgin Records.

Labels and compilations[edit]

The British label and publisher Freshly Squeezed Music, run by Nick Hollywood, released the hugely influential double album compilation series "White Mink : Black Cotton 'Electro Swing versus Speakeasy Jazz'" Vol. 1 (2009) and Vol. 2 (2010) 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 described by the dance music magazine Mixmag as "Electro Swing's first landmark moment".[1] The label also released material from Jem Stone (AKA Soul Of Man and former head of Breakbeat label Finger Lickin' Records), the Danish artist Swing Republic and The Correspondents and many more.[10] The label was recently described by Mixmag (June 2013) as "world leaders in putting a modern dance music spin on old records".

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) a double compilation mixing many new and old swing styles by two French DJs active in promoting the music in Paris, and "Swing Fever" (2010) a four CD set rounding up the material on their first two compilations and adding more music released in the interim.

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.

Austria's Dope Noir, owned and run by the composer Klaus Waldeck, 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.

In 2010 the Polish label Magnetic Records published the compilation Big Bang Club with a wide selection of electroswing and retrodance tracks. Polish musicians like Matt Kowalsky and Ada Fijal, but also well known artists such as Parov Stelar, Waldeck, Caravan Palace, Gramophonedzie, Tape Five, Jazzbit, Louie Austen and so on appear on the tracklist.

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.

Other labels in the genre include G-Swing (who released several early singles and EPs) and in particular, Austria's "Etage Noir" who released Parov Stelar's albums and EPs from 2004 which slowly evolved from a Nu-Jazz style to become, with the "Charleston Butterfly" EP (2006), a genre-defining sound.

Since mid-2010 the smaller fragments of the scene have coalesced. 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] Bedroom Music has specialized in a Latino and Balkan influenced flavor, mostly notably with DJ/Producer Tavo, with his release "Hollywood (Black and Tan)" and his compilation "That Swing Sound for Dummies"[11] featured in iDJ Magazine.


  1. ^ a b Mixmag feature; "Bygone Beats" by Rahul Verma, March 2010, pgs 60–62
  2. ^ Latest 7, April 2010, http://thelatest.co.uk/7/white-mink-black-cotton.
  3. ^ Glastonbury, Shagri-La Line-Up 2010, http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/news/shangri-la-line-ups-and-blog
  4. ^ Big Chill Line-Up, 2010, http://www.bigchill.net/festival/line-up/dj-nick-hollywood
  5. ^ Bestival, Arenas 2010, http://www.bestival.net/#/arenas/club-dada
  6. ^ London Evening Standard, October 2010, http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/lifestyle/article-23888704-hail-the-kings-of-hip-hop-swing.do
  7. ^ The Independent, 29th April 2001, Arts & Books section Pages 18–19, http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/electroswing--tonight-were-going-to-party-like-its-1929-2276174.html
  8. ^ Unknown (2011-10-26). "TV Commercial Songs: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas 52 Stories Commercial Song Booty Swing by Parov Stelar". Tvcfblog.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  9. ^ a b Music. "The new Jazz Age is upon us". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  10. ^ The Independent, 29th April 2011, Arts & Books Section pages 18-19, http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/electroswing--tonight-were-going-to-party-like-its-1929-2276174.html
  11. ^ "That Swing Sound for Dummies by Tavo on SoundCloud - Hear the world’s sounds". Soundcloud.com. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 

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