Albert Swarm is Finland’s best kept secret. The Substitute Teachers mix he made for us is an extraordinary reflection of the sounds you’ll hear on Wake – his sophomore release on Ceremony Recordings – and I was able to speak with him a bit about his work.
Where does the name Albert Swarm come from?
The name comes from a book I read while traveling on a subway in NYC on my way home from work – it was this one dollar scroll-through about the locust the States in the 1880s. The largest concentration of locusts that caused massive loss of crops was called Albert’s swarm. That name just seemed suitable to go with at the time. The guy behind the name comes from northern Finland, from a small town.
Ambient space and texture appear to be integral facets your work. What artists have paved the way for your sound?
My background in electronic music comes from the downtempo / ambient field, like this somber and slow sounding artists such as Stars of the Lid, Boards of Canada and Fennesz. I’ve slowly been getting more into faster and dancier stuff as well, but the ambient thing is still really strongly there.
Apart from Mirel Wagner, we haven’t heard anything from Finland in awhile. Would you identify with any other artists working in Helsinki at the moment?
Can’t say I’d identify exactly with any other artists, but there’s a bunch of good artists with their own distinct sound for sure. I would definitely mention at least Avasaxa, Femme En Fourrure, Teeth and Fotoshop. Also, I’d put my bets on Phantom to be the next big thing coming from here after Mirel Wagner.
How did you connect with the guys at Ceremony?
I met Matthew, before the thought of starting the label even existed, randomly while living in The Netherlands, this was in 2009 I think. We discussed Joy Division and then we went to grab beers with some drunken Austrian people on this cold and rather desolate beach, this was in November! Then afterwards we started hanging out in NYC and they heard my stuff and it seemed like a good fit for the label.
Any live shows in the near future?
Soon I hope! I haven’t had time to play in Finland in ages and would love to do that, maybe later this fall.
How would you describe the process of creating Wake?
Horrible! It was this huge personal behemoth for me and it took a long time before I realized what I actually wanted it to be. For example “Moths and Moth Catchers” had its first demo around 15 months before I finished it. Then as an exact opposite, I wrote “Something Glows” during a 2-hour train ride. I also wrote most of “Things Fold Into Themselves” and “He Took a Deep Breath” on Christmas day. Around that time I thought that the EP should be aim for a more darker and rhythmic approach than Held.
I also had my neighbors telling me after half a year that they were going mental because of the bass sounds I worked on so I’m not sure if the sounds eventually ended up being a bit lighter than what I had thought of first. Nowadays I prefer headphones while tweaking the low area.
Cooly G – Come Into My Room
Albert Swarm – Something Glows
Hyetal – Dimepiece
Femme En Fourrure – Bronco
Monolake – Ghosts
Teeth – 19éme
Albert Swarm – Things Fold Into Themselves
John Talabot – Sunshine (Delorean remix)
Matthew Dear – Ahead of Myself
Albert Swarm – Touched By The Sun