In this new Rolling Stone AU/NZ series, we take a look at some rising Aotearoa artists who are looking to impress in 2023 and beyond. It may still be an uncertain time for the Kiwi music industry at large, but exciting new artists like those included in this series keep on emerging.
If Kiwis had been looking enviously across the Tasman Sea at Australia and The Kid LAROI, they needn’t have worried: New Zealand is about to have its own version in Will Swinton.
Or perhaps that’s too trite a comparison. Swinton carries himself with more brooding intensity in his music than the Sydney rapper, recalling more closely the talented Canadian artist EKKSTACY.
But enough of the comparisons, because Swinton has already shown plenty of individual promise in the short span of a handful of songs.
Nimbly journeying between genres, never settling for structure, Swinton unleashes raw and emotionally-charged anthems that are all delivered in his uniquely raspy voice.
His latest single, “Wasted You”, was released today. “If you miss someone, this will be the song to remind you,” he says about the downbeat song, which finds the artist vulnerably bearing his soul.
And it all started for Swinton in his Auckland bedroom. Still only 21-years-old, the fledgling star has been travelling between his New Zealand hometown and Los Angeles, where – as he reveals below – his music has already impressed the likes of Machine Gun Kelly.
For now, he’s back in his hometown for a special single launch show tomorrow at Big Fan (more information here). In the meantime, you can read our in-depth interview with Swinton below.
Will Swinton’s “Wasted You” is out now.
Rolling Stone AU/NZ: How did music influence you in your early life?
Will Swinton: I would just listen to whatever CDs my parents played in the car. I grew up listening to James Blunt, ABBA, The Eagles, Neil Young, and Kings Of Leon.
What artists influenced you growing up?
As a kid it was all those artists I just mentioned. In high school it was all trap music. Anything I could find on SoundCloud that I could skate to. I was obsessed with finding music that none of my friends had heard before. As long as it sounded like it was made out of a garage and it had a hard trap beat, I would throw it on my playlist.
When did you discover your passion for creating music?
Near the end of high school. It started out as me and my friends driving around freestyling in the car which turned into recording on a USB microphone and making songs. I originally wanted to be a DJ, but that was short lived.
What are some career highlights so far?
Playing my first festival a couple weeks ago was fun. Spending time in LA has been great, meeting a bunch of cool artists and amazing producers. On my last trip, I had the opportunity to play some of my music for MGK backstage at one of his shows. That was probably one of my favourite moments. It was the same week I was putting out “Missing You”, and I was having second thoughts, but he loved it and gave me the reassurance I needed.
What kind of personality traits and values do you believe it takes to succeed in the music industry?
Still trying to figure that out myself. I’d say as long as you wake up wanting to do it every day, you’re on the right track.
Tell us about “Wasted You”. What was the inspiration behind the song?
This song is about a relationship with someone and wishing you could go back and do it differently.
How pleasing was it to see the positive reaction to “All For You” last year? Are streaming figures etc something you take notice of as an artist?
Seeing that people liked “All For You” was definitely motivating. I just think if a song is meant to go, it will go on its own time. Something MGK said that stuck with me was that songs take time and not to focus too much on the initial reaction.
How important is it to use social media like TikTok to thrive as an artist today?
You are asking the wrong guy. I’ve posted like three times in the past two years. But in all seriousness, I do think it’s really important and something I plan on getting back into. It’s crazy what it can do for independent artists, and it’s a great tool for increasing exposure to new audiences.
Is fashion something that goes hand in hand with your music?
I think fashion is like music in that it’s a form of expression and you can express it in whatever way you choose.
How would you describe your music to a potential fan?
Really really really really really really good.
What are your goals for 2023 and beyond? What can fans expect from you this year?
I just want to play as many shows as possible. I’d love to do a support tour with a cool artist. Expect a lot more music. I’m planning on releasing my first project this year.