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SWIM Topped the Australian Charts as an Independent Artist. Now He’s Coming for the Rest of the World.

Get to know the rising electronic producer with a #1 album on the ARIA Australian Dance Albums Chart to his name

Debuting at #1 on the ARIA Australian Dance Albums and Vinyl Charts is impressive. What’s even more remarkable? Doing it all independently, with no label or publicist in sight.

Meet SWIM, the rising electronic producer and artist from Melbourne, who is swiftly gaining traction both locally and globally.

Under his artist name SWIM, Hamish Lefevre released In Circles in April. Adding to the impressive feats mentioned above, it also reached #4 on the ARIA Australian Albums Chart, thanks to boasting a blend of techno, house, and emotive electronica that’s drawing a growing audience of 165K monthly Spotify listeners.

SWIM hit the road to celebrate In Circles on a headline tour, and promptly sold out in Sydney, Brisbane, and not one but two shows at Melbourne’s Northcote Theatre. He also debuted at Boiler Room with a hometown set, presenting unreleased music to an international audience.

Rolling Stone AU/NZ caught up with the producer at the ideal moment, with SWIM now taking his talent abroad, his sights set on London with European summer shows already lined up and fresh new music in the works.

From independent success to international recognition, SWIM’s success is one of the best grassroots stories in current Australian music.

But who is Lefevre, the man behind the SWIM moniker? Read our interview with the underground chart-topper below to get to know him better.

SWIM’s In Circles is out now. 

Rolling Stone AU/NZ: Huge congrats on In Circles topping the charts. That must feel really cool to achieve, especially as an independent artist. 

SWIM: It was super unexpected and definitely reaffirming what I’ve been doing. I’ve been releasing music under this project for the last three to four years now and been independent since day one. To have that sort of recognition from traditional sources like the ARIA charts is super affirming, like everything’s on the right path.

Totally. You’ve had a handful of EPs before In Circles. You’ve really been working away in the background to get to this point. 

Yeah, I think it feels like I’m really seeing reward for that consistency and putting a lot of music out. Being independent allows me to finish something and put it out like a couple of weeks later, which has been really important.

Is being independent something that’s always been important to you?

When I first started out, there was always this idea that achieving large success in the industry required working with a label and having a release partner to help you achieve the most success possible. So, early on, I thought that would be the natural path for me. But, the right opportunity never seemed to come up.

I found myself releasing all my music independently and began to see the benefits of having full creative control. I could release music on my own schedule and felt more connected to my fans by doing so. It just felt like the right approach to continue releasing music.

It’s working so far, because you’ve just had this massive tour with sold-out dates. What was that like?

It was super special. I got to play a lot of my music for the first time live. It’s a weird experience when you go from just being in the studio making everything by yourself to then being in a room with thousands of people. It felt like a real full circle moment to wrap up the album and then interact with everyone. 

Do you have a favourite show of the tour?

That’s hard. They were all special in their own way. The Sydney show was the first show of the tour, so I think I was probably most nervous for that one, but then it was super rewarding, getting to play all those songs for the first time. And then the Melbourne one was obviously a hometown show, so having two nights in Melbourne was super special because I had family and friends come to the shows. Brisbane was also amazing because that was the last one of the tour and I could enjoy it a little bit more. 

Tell me more about the album – what themes were you trying to explore?

It was definitely something that I had [a] concept [for] from the start, and [I] wanted to take listeners on a journey from the beginning to the end, telling a story. I do like to leave it up to a certain level of interpretation, but it touches on themes of love, loss, and that sense of coming full circle. It’s been nice hearing different people’s interpretations of it and their favourite tracks as well.


Were there any sounds that you were particularly drawn to with this one? 

There’s a lot more dance-focused tracks, which were definitely inspired by all the club shows that I’ve been playing. Then there are some more interlude songs that don’t have drums to them. It’s kind of this yin and yang of having party music and more ambient, softer stuff. It’s combining my two different listening tastes because I love listening to dance music when I’m out but during the day. I’m not necessarily listening to techno first thing in the morning. 

What’s your process for making music, you mentioned earlier you have a home studio? 

Most of the time, it’s either in the home studio or on my laptop while travelling and touring. The process is kind of strange. I like to start tracks and keep them simple without a full structure yet. That was the approach with this album. I had many tiny ideas, maybe only 20 or 30 seconds long, but with the core of the song – chords and melodies. I kept them stripped back until I knew the direction. When finishing the album, I collaged these ideas into longer, structured tracks. I prefer not to overwork them to begin with. If I still enjoy them after sitting on them for six months, I know it’s worth pushing and finishing them.

Did you have the opportunity to play some of the tracks before they made it onto the album? Does that influence your creative process at all? 

Yeah, I did play a couple of album cuts in the Boiler Room. I like testing unreleased music in a club setting; it gives me direct feedback. But some slower tracks, especially those without drums, hadn’t been played before. I still have a lot more unreleased music, including about 10 to 15 tracks from the Boiler Room set that are yet to be released and hopefully will see the light of day at some point.

The Boiler Room set is such a milestone. What was it like doing that in your hometown?

It was super special to be able to do that in my hometown and have good family and friends there. I was pretty nervous before but knowing I had my good friend around made it much more enjoyable.

How did you first get into music? 

Melbourne has such a great live music scene and nightlife scene. After I finished school I started connecting with other people who were also making music. We’d go out to shows together and formed a community of music friends. It’s a great city.

Was electronic and dance the music worlds that you were naturally drawn to?

Not solely electronic and dance. It’s pretty broad. The club and the techno scene are probably stronger than ever right now but when I first started going out, there were lots of different shows, from hip hop and R&B. That’s the great thing about Melbourne. There are so many music styles that exist, and there’s lots of cross-pollination between them as well.

Are you mainly self-taught? 

Yeah, I don’t have any professional music background. It definitely just comes from watching YouTube videos and being on the internet. I wish that I could play instruments better. 

Are they any artists in particular that had a big influence on you growing up? 

So many different artists. When I was first really getting into music, James Blake had a massive influence on me. I remember seeing him live – he has such an amazing show. He used some of the same synthesisers that I use in my music. So, sonically, he had a massive influence on me, even though our styles are probably a little bit different now. 

There are some artists that I don’t sound like but they do influence my music. Bands like Beach House and The National and Big Thief… I love all that type of music as well.

You’ve got some cool vinyl and merch. Do you enjoy that visual aspect? 

It was definitely something I wanted to try for this album, to build a complete world around it. Collaborating to make the merch with my close friend, who did all the designs, was really great. Music is kind of intangible, but having the vinyl records was a super special moment too. Seeing them and sending them out to people was really fun. 

Tell me about your artist name. Is there any sort of story behind it?

I always get asked this one, and I feel like it’s not too deep. It’s not meant to be actually related to swimming or the beach or whatever. There’s not too much of a crazy story about it. It was meant to stand for “someone who isn’t me.” I like the word. It’s simple. 

So you’re off to London soon? 

Yeah, I’m flying out today actually!

Exciting! Do you have family and friends over there? 

Yeah, I’ve got a lot of friends who live over there so that’s super helpful. 

And you’ve got some shows coming up too? 

I’ve got a run of shows across Europe over the summer. That’s gonna be really exciting. I’ve played there a couple of times over the last year or so, so it’s gonna be nice to be based there and just be able to travel throughout Europe.

Any particular shows that you’re excited about coming up?

Yeah, there’s a couple over the summer that are going to be really exciting. A couple where I’m playing back-to-back with CRUSH3d. We’ve played a few shows back-to-back now over in Europe, and he’s one of my closest friends. So it’s always nice being up there and DJing with someone else. Sometimes it can get a bit lonely by yourself. 

You have a new single, “The Ride”, on the way. What can you tell us about that? 

That’s actually one of the ones I played in the Boiler Room, one of the unreleased tracks. It’s a bit more club-friendly than some of the other stuff on the album. It feels like the perfect track for a European summer. 

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians trying to navigate the music industry?

My main advice would be to stay true to yourself. Once you know what you want to do, don’t let anyone else compromise your vision too much. If you feel like your music doesn’t fit any record label, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just stay true to your own vision, and you can do it by yourself. It’s much easier these days to release music independently, and it’s a powerful thing. So, stick to your vision and be strong with that.

Social media plays such a huge role. What’s your relationship with it? 

It’s such an amazing way to connect with people all over the world. It’s also hard because you feel like you have to stay constantly active and engage with people all the time. Sometimes I have a hard time with that, but the opportunities you get from it make it worth it. It’s kind of a necessary evil for up-and-coming artists.

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