Robin Stewart and Harry Wright have built a reputation on their vivacious, fast-paced live shows contorting industrial techno with noise and plenty of distortion. But don’t get it twisted, Giant Swan are not an act to be shoehorned into genres or sub- genres. Their first exposure was playing live with the band The Naturals; a guitar-led four-piece that they’re still very much committed to.
“Giant Swan was a project for me and Rob to explore more experimental stuff with our pedals and develop our sound, not at the expense of our other two members. It gave us a chance to nurture some experimentation. It kind of just went from there really... the music styles changed as things have changed in our lives. It was a pretty organic process,” Harry tells DJ Mag.
Growing up on punk and hardcore, there’s an anarchistic energy in their music that has clearly followed suit. “We both use drum machines. A lot of it is stuff that’s crossed over from our guitar pedal boards. We both use a lot of distortion, reverb and EQ that’s for guitars... Harry uses a bass amp for his drum machine and I use a guitar amp for vocals that I process live. Then we just use really rudimentary synth circuits and some outboard effects,” Rob says, modestly.
They’re not interested in showing off equipment, their set-up is in fact fairly simple; it’s the freeform approach that makes their performances unique. “We improvise every show. We talk about what we would like to achieve quite esoterically, depending on what time of night or what time in the morning we’re playing or how big the crowd is... or just sensing the vibe in the room and playing off that. Because we’re so close and we’ve known each other so long, we only need to say a few sentences,” explains Rob. Their connection is tangible during their sets, high- octane frequencies bouncing off each other and flowing effortlessly between pedal boards.
This transgresses into their studio productions too, with significant releases landing on highly respected labels like Timedance and Mannequin. Their latest work has been signed by former Young Turks affiliate and NTS regular, Nic Tasker. “The Whities one was a big thing for us as it was quite a nurtured release. It was a lot more hands- on. We really enjoyed the whole experience and the process,” says Harry.
Separately, Rob has released drone work on labels like No Corner and Harry is behind the guttural sounds of Mun Sing, however their work together remains a fundamental focus. So the burning question still lies... what’s with the name? “It’s the last track on the last album of the band The Blood Brothers,” reveals Harry. “It’s a very direct reference to them, as they were our favourite band growing up. It came across as light-hearted, quite funny and evocative... hopefully the name Giant Swan rings out in places I don’t think it ever would have rung out. We just love the band.”
An upcoming collaboration in the wings, perhaps? Either way, Giant Swan don’t take themselves too seriously; and long may they continue their foot-stomping techno with head-banging punk sensibilities.