Astral Swans


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 found a kindship in fellow Calgarian indie experimentalist Chad VanGaalen, and the two have joined forces for a Split EP, featuring three songs of each to be released on October 23 by Astral Swans independently and on lathe cut vinyl via Red Spade Records.

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. Debut single ‘Shine the Light Inside’ is a series of satirical affirmations from an AI to a tech billionaire whose rocket has gone off course a la’ Major Tom. The song peaks with a psychedelic sax freakout from Polaris Prize long-listed artist Jairus Shariff which hovers above the live bass guitar, and blown-out 808s. The jovial ‘Same Old Story’ is a dropout anthem, a call to escape the absurdities of capitalist realism (that is to say, if it is even possible). Swann’s final contribution, ’Filler’ is a cover of legendary DC straightedge hardcore outfit Minor Threat, rearranged into a slow, hallucinogenic vision, substituting the flexed aggression of the original for bereaved resignation. This version was recorded with Calgary mainstay Arron Fisher of Acoustikitty (Woodpigeon, The Ex Boyfriends), and is the only song created outside of the hotel.

Chad VanGaalen and Matthew Swann met in the 00’s as mutual fans of each others music, DIY outsider artists in a burgeoning oil city, and this split hearkens back to their scrappy, improvisational roots. VanGaalen produced Swann’s first album as Extra happy Ghost!!! the ravishing Modern Horses. VanGaalen “we went through his vault a little” as Swann describes it, carefully selecting his self-recorded songs to put on the split including a cut featuring Alex Edkins (METZ, Weird Nightmare) on broken electronics, the mysterious ‘Frogman.’

The Split EP is the first 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.




Tag could not be found!