Astral Swans

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In June 2022 Matthew Swann moved into the Residence Inn hotel in downtown Calgary to make bedroom recordings in a hotel room. Swann had been selected as one of three artists for the AIRI summer residency (Artists in Residence Inn) where they would live, work, and create in the solitude of a 16th floor hotel suite in the Calgary downtown. The concept was to return to Swann’s roots, making experimental bedroom recordings, with no budget, minimal gear, and very little concern for the commodification of the final product. The discordant art-pop that resulted in two Split EPs with fellow experimentalists Chad VanGaalen and Julie Doiron, both to be released on Astral Swans independent label Stoner Bird Records and in limited batch lathe cut vinyl via Red Spade Records. Split EP 2 is due in June 2024 and features two raw, off-the-floor tracks by Julie, for whom Astral Swans owes a strong musical debt dating back to her seminal indie band Eric’s Trip. The two first crossed paths in the ‘00s when they were both signed to the same label with Swann’s then-band Hot Little Rocket. This created a longstanding mutual appreciation that lead to Julie lending vocals to the 2021 self-titled Astral Swans release.

The Artist in Residence Inn program found Swann a space to create in the midst of a freshly pandemic-indifferent urban centre in the Calgary downtown. Birthed from this isolated hotel home came a set of experimental pop songs affixed to a moody techno sound-space that sound unlike anything else bearing the name Astral Swans. ’The Coward’ is a ”weird one” for Swann, playing on different valences of what the word means, contrasting synthesized and live recorded instruments in a rumination on among other things, suicide, how those that go through with it are often labelled with the term. ‘Under the Waves’ is a sprightly lofi psych pop effort tracking an emotional descent, partially inspired by a couple fighting while on vacation.

Split EP 2 is the second in a series of sonically stranger releases from Astral Swans continuing into 2024 and carrying on an orbit that attracts some of the best artists in Canada to rally around him. Vancouver troubadour Dan Mangan first signed Astral Swans to his Arts & Crafts imprint Madic Records, which released the debut, All My Favorite Singers are Willie Nelson. Scott Munro of Calgary post-punk legends Preoccupations co-produced the follow up Strange Prison, and ASTRAL SWANS (self titled), was co-produced between Swann, Brock Geiger (Reuben and the Dark, Etamine), and Paul Chirka (Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra) with vocal contributions from the legendary Julie Doiron, guitar by Cassia Hardy (Wares) & a host of others. Astral Swans has toured North America, Europe, China and Japan performing everywhere from house shows to festival stages, Swann has shared bills with a laundry list of artists including Angel Olsen, Feist, Malcolm Mooney (CAN), Grimes, Julie Doiron, Colin Stetson and & more.

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