Richard Swift (singer-songwriter)

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Richard Swift
At the mac in Birmingham, England, in September 2007
At the mac in Birmingham, England, in September 2007
Background information
Born(1977-03-16)March 16, 1977
California, U.S.
DiedJuly 3, 2018(2018-07-03) (aged 41)
Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
  • Drums
  • keyboards
  • bass guitar
  • guitar
Years active2000–2018
Associated acts

Richard Swift (March 16, 1977 – July 3, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and short-film maker. He was the founder, owner, and recording engineer of National Freedom, a recording studio located in Oregon,[1] and worked as producer, collaborator, muse and influencer for acts including The Shins, Damien Jurado, David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion), Foxygen, Jessie Baylin, Nathaniel Rateliff, Lucius, Lonnie Holley, The Mynabirds, Wake Owl, Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab, Gardens & Villa, Cayucas, and Guster.[2][3][4] Swift was a former member of indie rock band The Shins and The Arcs.[5] He was also a part of The Black Keys' live band during their 2014–2015 tour, performing as their touring bassist and backing singer.

Early life[edit]

Born in California[6] on March 16, 1977 with the name Ricardo Ochoa, into a musical Quaker family, Swift started performing and singing in churches at an early age.[7] In his youth, his family moved frequently, spending time in rural locations in Minnesota,[8] Utah, and Oregon.[6] As a teenager, he worked at a farm near International Falls, Minnesota.[9]



Ricardo "Dicky" Ochoa released his first solo album under the name Dicky Ochoa on Metro One Recordings in 2000.[citation needed] While in 2002 released an album called Company with Frank Lenz and Elijah Thomson.[citation needed] Also in 2002 he was a musician on the Promise Keepers Live Worship album.[citation needed] In 2001, Swift moved to Southern California to pursue his solo recording career.[7] That same year, he recorded Walking Without Effort, an initially unreleased album with drummer and producer Frank Lenz.[10][11] He recorded much of his early music on a four-track cassette recorder.[1] From 2002 to 2005, he released four small pressings of "properly manufactured" 7" vinyl singles via Velvet Blue Music.[12] Swift also released The Novelist in 2003 and Walking Without Effort (recorded in 2001) in 2005[13] and combined the two albums to create the double-disc The Richard Swift Collection Vol. 1 released by Leftwing Recordings in August 2004.[10][11] He signed to indie label Secretly Canadian, who then re-released the Collection in 2005.[14] In 2007, Secretly Canadian and Polydor issued Swift's proper follow-up album, Dressed Up For the Letdown.[15][16][17][18] Later in the year Swift met Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy during a taping of the BBC program Later...with Jools Holland.[19] Tweedy asked Swift to support Wilco on their Sky Blue Sky US tour.[20] During the tour Tweedy invited Swift to record at their Loft studios in Chicago.[21]

In October 2007, Swift started his fourth album at the Wilco Loft studios.[22] In April 2008, Secretly Canadian released a double EP named Richard Swift As Onasis.[23] In August 2008, Swift released an EP entitled Ground Trouble Jaw as a free digital download.[24] In April 2009, Secretly Canadian released The Atlantic Ocean.[7] Co-produced by Mark Ronson, the album featured special guests such as Pat Sansone, Casey Foubert (Sufjan Stevens), Sean Lennon, and Ryan Adams.[22][25] In 2011, he released another solo EP entitled Walt Wolfman.[26]

Producer and back-up artist[edit]

In addition to the music recorded under his own name and producing work, he was also briefly a keyboardist in the band Starflyer 59 in 2002 and 2003,[27] playing live shows and contributing to their 2003 album Old.[28] He also fronted his own electronic music side-project, Instruments of Science and Technology.[29][30]

Swift performing with The Shins in December 2012

Swift also played on multiple Michael Knott albums, CUSH, Kat Jones, Pony Express, Damien Jurado, and worked with Frank Lenz on Frank's solo material.

In a 2007 interview, Swift commented on his techniques as a producer and engineer, stating "Most of my recording techniques come from looking at photos on the inside of Sly & The Family Stone or Beatles LPs, or from watching Sympathy for the Devil and thinking, 'Oh! That's where they put the mic!'"[31] Swift is known to often provide hefty contributions as a multi-instrumentalist to the albums he produces.[13] In 2009, he began spending more time working with other artists as producer and band member. May 2010 saw the release of fellow Secretly Canadian recording artist Damien Jurado's record Saint Bartlett.[32][33] In 2010, Swift also produced The Mynabirds' What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood and co-produced Laetitia Sadier's album The Trip.[13] He joined The Shins in 2011[34] and began touring with The Black Keys as their bassist in 2014.[6] In 2015, he produced the self-titled album for Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.[8]

Personal life and death[edit]

Swift lived in Cottage Grove, Oregon, where he met his wife, Shealynn.[35] They had three children.[9][36]

On June 19, 2018, Pitchfork reported that Swift had been hospitalized in Tacoma, Washington, recovering from an undisclosed "life-threatening condition" and that a GoFundMe had been set up to help cover his medical expenses.[37] He died on July 3, 2018 in Tacoma.[6][38][39] Six days later, Swift's family released a statement confirming that he had suffered from alcohol addiction throughout his life, and that his death was ultimately caused by related "complications from hepatitis, as well as liver and kidney distress."[40]


As a solo artist[edit]


  • The Novelist – US (2003)[13]
  • Walking Without Effort – US (recorded in 2001, released 2005)[11][13]
  • Dressed Up for the Letdown – US & UK (Secretly Canadian and Polydor, 2007)[15][16][18]
  • Music From the Films of R/Swift – Released under the name Instruments of Science & Technology – US (Secretly Canadian2008)[29]
  • Richard Swift As Onasis – US (Secretly Canadian, 2008)[23]
  • The Atlantic Ocean (Secretly Canadian, 2009)[25]
  • Library Catalog Music Series, Vol. 7: Music for Paradise Armor – Released under the name Instruments of Science & Technology (Asthmatic Kitty, 2010)[41]
  • The Hex (Secretly Canadian, 2018)[42]

EPs and singles[edit]

  • Buildings in America (2004)[43]
  • You're Lying (2004)[44]
  • P.S. It All Falls Down (2005)[45]
  • Nothing to Do with Foxy Boxing (2005)[46]
  • Beautifulheart (2006)[47]
  • Kisses for the Misses (single, 2007)[48]
  • The Songs of National Freedom (single, 2007)[48]
  • Ground Trouble Jaw (2008)[19][49]
  • Lady Luck (single, 2009)[20]
  • The Atlantic Ocean (2009)[50]
  • Walt Wolfman (2011)[26]
  • Kensington (2014)[51][52]


  • The Richard Swift Collection, Volume 1: The Novelist / Walking Without Effort – US (2005)[14]

As producer[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lannamann, Ned (July 3, 2018). "Oregon Musician and Producer Richard Swift Has Died". The Stranger. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  2. ^ Benson, Thor (December 4, 2013). "A Whiskey-Soaked Interview with Richard Swift". Noisey. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  3. ^ Benson, Thor (July 3, 2018). "Richard Swift Is Gone, But His Songs Are Still Here". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 4, 2018. Over the years I’ve met countless musicians who worked with Swift or encountered him in numerous ways. The way they described him always felt like they were describing a mystical figure or a muse who had forever changed them.
  4. ^ Aswad, Jem (July 3, 2018). "Richard Swift, Singer-Songwriter and Black Keys Collaborator, Dies at 41". Variety. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  5. ^ Nelson, Phil (April 18, 2016). "Richard Swift's Sprawling Musical World". 1859. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Blais-Billie, Braudie (July 3, 2018). "Richard Swift Dead at 41". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Murray, Robbin (April 17, 2009). "Richard Swift UK Tour". Clash Magazine. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Flanagan, Andrew (July 3, 2018). "Richard Swift, Producer Of Indie Stars And Solo Artist, Dies at 41". NPR. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  9. ^ a b Bronson, Kevin (September 29, 2005). "Bands on the brink: Richard Swift". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Slingerland, Calum (July 3, 2018). "Richard Swift Dies at 41". Exclaim!. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Bronson, Kevin (July 29, 2004). "Swift responses". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 4, 2018 – via
  12. ^ Lars, Gotrich (July 3, 2018). "Richard Swift Was A Sonic Revelation, Right From His First Single". NPR. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Hogan, Marc (July 3, 2018). "Why Richard Swift Was an Indie Rock Treasure". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Bernard, David (September 7, 2005). "Richard Swift: The Collection Vol. 1". PopMatters. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  15. ^ a b Saljoughi, Sara (February 13, 2007). "Richard Swift Dressed Up for the Letdown". Exclaim!. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  16. ^ a b Costa, Maddy (February 23, 2007). "CD: Richard Swift, Dressed Up for the Letdown". The Guardian. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  17. ^ Paphides, Pete (February 23, 2007). "Richard Swift". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  18. ^ a b Harvey, Eric (February 22, 2007). "Richard Swift: Dressed Up for the Letdown Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Kosnett, Rena (October 17, 2008). "Extended Interview: Richard Swift Not a "Rock and Roll Romantic"". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  20. ^ a b Rife, Katie (July 3, 2018). "R.I.P. Richard Swift, producer, solo artist, and member of The Shins and The Arcs". A.V. Club News. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  21. ^ Thane, Rich (January 22, 2008). "An interview with Richard Swift". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  22. ^ a b Thiessen, Brock (January 27, 2009). "Richard Swift Takes Yet Another New Direction On Next Album". Exclaim!. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  23. ^ a b Tricker, Spencer (April 8, 2008). "Richard Swift: Richard Swift as Onassis". PopMatters. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  24. ^ "Freeload: Richard Swift's Ground Trouble Jaw EP". The FADER. August 8, 2008. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  25. ^ a b Mulvey, John (February 17, 2009). "Richard Swift: "The Atlantic Ocean"". Uncut. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  26. ^ a b "(Formerly) Local Record Review: 'Walt Wolfman' by Richard Swift". OC Weekly. October 14, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  27. ^ Trapp, Philip (July 3, 2018). "Ex-Shins, Black Keys member and solo artist Richard Swift dies at 41". Alternative Press. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  28. ^ Bronson, Kevin (September 14, 2006). "A stardom just out of reach". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  29. ^ a b Adcock, Zack (January 30, 2008). "Instruments of Science & Technology: Music from the Films of R/Swift". PopMatters. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  30. ^ Comingore, Aly (March 11, 2009). "The Many Faces of Richard Swift". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  31. ^ Pratt, Chris (March 13, 2007). "Richard Swift – London, UK – Spring 2007". Rockfeedback. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  32. ^ Lombardi, Anthony (May 26, 2010). "Damien Jurado: Saint Bartlett". PopMatters. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  33. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (May 26, 2010). "Damien Jurado: Saint Bartlett Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  34. ^ Ross, Alex Robert (July 3, 2018). "Richard Swift, Indie Polymath, Dead at 41". Noisey. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  35. ^ Asch, Andrew (April 17, 2003). "Martini Space Noise". OC Weekly. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  36. ^ Baer, April (July 3, 2018). "Cottage Grove-Based Musician And Producer Richard Swift Dead at 41". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  37. ^ Blais-Billie, Braudie (June 19, 2018). "Richard Swift Recovering From "Life-Threatening Condition," Medical Fund Launched". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  38. ^ "Richard Swift: The Black Keys and Shins musician dead at 41". BBC. July 3, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  39. ^ "Musician Richard Swift of The Shins, The Black Keys dies at age 41 in Tacoma". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. July 3, 2018. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  40. ^ Blais-Billie, Braudie (July 9, 2018). "Richard Swift's Cause of Death Revealed". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  41. ^ Lymangrover, Jason. "Library Catalog Music Series, Vol. 7: Music for Paradise Armor – Instruments of Science & Technology". AllMusic. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  42. ^ Donelson, Marcy. "The Hex". AllMusic. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
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  48. ^ a b Chang, Vickie (April 5, 2007). "Secretly Good". OC Weekly. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  49. ^ Kosnett, Rena (October 15, 2008). "Richard Swift's One-Man Genre". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  50. ^
  51. ^ Roberts, Randall (July 3, 2018). "Experience the late Richard Swift's pop brilliance in five of his best songs". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  52. ^ McGovern, Kyle (December 17, 2012). "Sufjan Stevens, the Melvins Prep New Music for Joyful Noise's 2013 Flexi Disc Series". Spin. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  53. ^ {{Cite news|url=
  54. ^ Schultz, Barbara (February 26, 2018). "Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats". Mix. Retrieved July 5, 2018.

External links[edit]