Richard Swift (singer-songwriter)

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Richard Swift
Birth name Ricardo Sigilfredo Olivarez Swift-Ochoa
Born (1977-03-16) March 16, 1977 (age 40)
Origin California, United States
Genres Indie pop, Lo-fi
Years active 2000–present
Labels Polydor, Secretly Canadian, Velvet Blue, Joyful Noise
Associated acts The Arcs, The Shins, The Black Keys, Instruments Of Science & Technology, Starflyer 59

Richard Swift (born March 16, 1977) is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer[1] and short-film maker. He is the founder, owner, and recording engineer of National Freedom, a recording studio located in Oregon, and has worked as producer for such acts as The Shins, Damien Jurado, David Bazan, Foxygen, Jessie Baylin, Nathaniel Rateliff, The Mynabirds, Wake Owl, Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab, Gardens & Villa, Cayucas, and Guster. Swift is a former member of indie rock band The Shins and current member of The Arcs. In April 2014, Richard announced via Twitter that he had joined The Black Keys as their touring bassist and background singer.

Early life[edit]

In his youth, Swift moved frequently with his family, spending time in rural locations in Northern Minnesota and Southeastern Utah. He started performing and singing in a variety of churches around the age of fourteen. As a teenager, he was known to make movies on the family's handheld video camera, and soon started experimenting with a four-track cassette recorder. He began writing and recording original material at home.

As an artist[edit]

In 2001, Swift moved to Southern California to pursue his solo recording career. He recorded Walking Without Effort but, unsure as to how it should be released, shelved it. In 2002–03 Swift recorded The Novelist, selling home-made copies at shows in and around Los Angeles. Later in the year he went on to release a small pressing of "properly manufactured" versions via Velvet Blue Music. As well as the first 4 Richard Swift 7"s. In 2004, Swift combined The Novelist and Walking Without Effort to create the double-disc The Richard Swift Collection Vol. 1. He signed to indie label Secretly Canadian, who then re-released the Collection in 2005. After touring in the US and Europe and releasing half a dozen 45s/EPs, UK major label Polydor signed Swift, and yet again the double disc was re-released in hopes of introducing Swift to the UK. In 2007, Polydor/Secretly Canadian issued his proper follow-up "Dressed Up For the Letdown". Fans and critics praised the record as Swift's greatest work to date. Later in the year Swift met Wilco-frontman Jeff Tweedy during a taping of the BBC program "Later...with Jools Holland". Tweedy asked Swift to support Wilco on their Sky Blue Sky US tour. During the tour Tweedy invited Swift to record at their Loft in Chicago, IL. In October 2007, Swift started his 4th LP at the Wilco Loft. The year ended with Richard canceling a string of November shows with friends Cold War Kids due to a wrist injury. In late February 2008 the Secretly Canadian website announced the future release of a double EP named "Richard Swift As Onasis", which was released in April of that year. In August 2008, Swift released an EP entitled "Ground Trouble Jaw" as a digital download. In April 2009, Secretly Canadian released "The Atlantic Ocean" which saw the return of Swift's pop-centric song writing. The album featured special guests such as Pat Sansone (Wilco), Casey Foubert (Sufjan Stevens, Crystal Skulls, Pedro the Lion), Sean Lennon, producer Mark Ronson, and singer/songwriter Ryan Adams. In 2014 and 2015, Swift toured and performed with The Black Keys as their bassist. Swift's music has been featured in various movies (Drinking Buddies) and television (Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories) (Eastbound & Down). Richard also had a small role as "Richard" in Rick Alverson's 2012 film "The Comedy", starring Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, and Gregg Turkington.

As producer[edit]

In 2009, Swift began spending more time working with other artists as producer. May 2010 saw the release of fellow Secretly Canadian recording artist Damien Jurado's record "Saint Bartlett". 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". Swift is known to often provide hefty contributions as a multi-instrumentalist to the albums he produces. 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!'."

In addition to the music recorded under his own moniker and producing work, he was also briefly a keyboardist in the band Starflyer 59 in 2003, playing live shows and contributing to their 2003 album "Old". He also currently fronts his own ambient-electronic-outfit-side-project, Instruments of Science and Technology. He produced the breakthrough self-titled album for Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.



  • Library Catalog Music Series: Music for Paradise Armor - Released under the name Instruments of Science & Technology (2010)
  • The Atlantic Ocean (2009)
  • Richard Swift As Onasis - US (2008)
  • Music From the Films of R/Swift - Released under the name Instruments of Science & Technology - US (2008)
  • Dressed Up for the Letdown - US & UK (2007)
  • The Novelist - US (2005)
  • Walking Without Effort - US (2005)

EPs and singles[edit]

  • Ground Trouble Jaw - Limited Vinyl Pressing (2015)
  • Kensington (2014)
  • Walt Wolfman (2011)
  • 3" CD EP as a part of the Laminar Excursion Monthly (2010)
  • Lady Luck (2009)
  • Ground Trouble Jaw (2008)
  • The Songs of National Freedom (2007)
  • Kisses for the Misses (2007)
  • Beautifulheart (2006)
  • Nothing to Do with Foxy Boxing (2005)
  • P.S. It All Falls Down (2005)
  • You're Lying (2004)
  • Buildings in America (2004)
  • The Novelist (2003)

Box sets[edit]

  • The Richard Swift Collection, Volume 1: The Novelist / Walking Without Effort - US (2005), UK (2006)


  1. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "Richard Swift - Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 

External links[edit]