It’s no secret that LA tends to attract all kinds of artists, talented or otherwise.
What’s really special is when these transplants become ingrained in the artistic community, find what inspires them, and ultimately give back to the city that helped them blossom creatively. Such is the arc of psychedelic pop-rock duo SWIMM. Originally formed in Florida by guitarist/vocalist Chris Hess and percussionist Adam Winn, SWIMM relocated to Los Angeles after the release of their debut EP. It was here that Hess and Winn truly found their niche, releasing their second EP Beverly Hells, which has seen huge popularity on Spotify and helped propel the duo to their current status. In response to the support their adopted hometown has shown for them, the boys behind SWIMM decided to put on an event to show their appreciation. Hess and Winn organized Love You Down, a music festival put on in tribute and thanks to the scene that helped them realize their artistic vision.
The guys in SWIMM are no slouches, and between organizing festivals and an arduous tour schedule (alongside bands like The Flaming Lips, Dr. Dog, and Warpaint), they managed to write a new record. SWIMM’s debut full length Sentimental Porno promises to continue in the psychedelic-yet-danceable vein of electro pop-rock they’ve been exploring over the last couple years. Imagine the more focused side of MGMT (more Oracular Spectacular than Congratulations or Metanoia) built on a foundation of cosmic funk instrumentation, with maybe a dash of early-2000s melancholic alt-rock. Sentimental Porno is scheduled to release early this year ahead of the second installment of their Love You Down festival.
Love You Down II is happening on Friday February 2 at The Echo and will feature live performances by SWIMM, Fog Etc., Mating Ritual, Talk in Tongues, and a bunch of other awesome LA artists. We caught up with Chris over email to learn more about the festival. Read on below and listen to their outstanding new single, “True Romance.”
What spurred the idea to launch this festival?
It was really to celebrate the community of amazing creative ass people we have gotten so close to in the last couple years in LA. We look up to so many people that we are lucky to now call friends. Felt like after a few of our own headline shows in LA that the natural progression was to start something that would be more memorable for people. So the idea of a small scale festival was sort of this challenge that was exciting to us. The first one was in April and it felt incredible. The vibe was tangible. So now we just want to keep growing it as our community here in LA grows.
What lessons did you learn from year one? Anything different planned for year two?
Well we learned that it is a hell of a lot of work! But that it felt worth it. Because it is such a heuristic process, I think it really helps that we have started these on a small scale and letting it tell us where to grow from each time.
Year two will have 2 stages and twice as many bands. We went to tons of shows around town to see what bands we were turned on by and what would fit the vibe of the event. We will also have a special Laser light show, Tarot Card Readings and live art at this one.
Is the name “Love You Down” inspired by the INOJ 90s jam? How did you settle on calling the festival this?
Yes it is! We had a few names we were drawing from but our whole vibe with all the shows and events we have done at our warehouse, The Cube has always been about bringing people together in an unabashedly loving way. It is why we take time to decorate the spaces we play. Even if it’s a little kitschy at times, it helps people let their guard down. So it made sense that the festival would be called ‘Love You Down’.
In bringing these communities together what do you hope to achieve?
Hoping people will make friends with people that they wouldn’t normally be around and find some inspiration in those people and places. That’s really the point of moving to a place like LA right? Sometimes we all just get so comfortable in our own little bubble though. So hopefully this helps people come together. And hopefully they’ll all end up doing weird, rad shit together some day.
What’s a unifying theme among the music, art, installations and zines highlighted at this year’s festival?
Well it’s somewhat of a paradox, but the unifying element is to celebrate that we aren’t all doing the same thing. We will have everything from Hip Hop acts like AmirSaysNothing to grunge bands like Goon to electronic dance acts like B. Bravo and everything in between. At some points we will have psychedelic light projections and other times we will have insane laser displays. We want it all to make sense together and I know it will. Homogeny just doesn’t get our jimmies rustled.
Describe how you want people to feel after the festival in one word:
Is ‘effervescent’ too much? Is ‘inspired’ to cliche? How about ‘overflowing’?
How do you practice putting love out into the world on the regular?
I guess by trying to let our friends know constantly how much they mean to us and how in awe of them we are. And that as we step on them to get to the top we will always faintly remember the contribution they made to OUR SUCCESS!
The moment you first fell in love with LA.
For Adam, it was the night we had our first Cube Show. We transformed our warehouse into a mylar space bubble, built a stage out of pallets we ‘borrowed’ from the UPS yard and built a bar. We had no idea what to expect and by the end of the night there were hundreds of people twirling themselves around in ripped mylar to our set. Kinda blew the minds of a couple Florida boys.
For me, one moment that sticks out is a night I went to an art show at the MAMA gallery, then went and saw a show at the Echo and ended the night with dancing at Funky Sole. I couldn’t believe this was just a regular night one could have here.