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Electro swing

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Title: Electro swing  
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Subject: Parov Stelar, Wax Tailor, Doop (song), Swing music, Ready, Steady, Go! (album)
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Electro swing

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-palette (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 early 1930s to the late 1940s and would include music by Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton and Benny Goodman among many others. Successful examples of the genre create a modern and dance-floor focused 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.


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 (1994) 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.[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, Swingrowers, The Correspondents, and Movits!.[8] The two clubs proved influential launching a raft of similar club nights around the world.

Notable releases

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), and 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 examples of the labels electro swing styling.

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.

In 2010, BBC Radio 1's Rob da Bank recorded the first known Electro Swing Special. [11]

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]


  1. ^ a b Mixmag feature; "Bygone Beats" by Rahul Verma, March 2010, pgs 60–62
  2. ^ "This week's clubs previews".  
  3. ^ "Electro Swing". Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Latest 7 » White Mink: Black Cotton". Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Shangri-La line-ups and blog". Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Bestival". Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Hail the kings of hip-hop swing". The Evening Standard. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "The new Jazz Age is upon us". Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  10. ^ "Impala". Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "BBC Radio 1 - Rob da Bank, Electro Swing Special". BBC. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 

External links

  • White Mink web-site
  • The rise of Electro Swing, Why the sounds of the '30s and '40s are re-emerging in popular music, Chris Inglis 2014
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