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Swim the Shine

Getting the lowdown on Gun Raven with Swim the Shine

Swim the Shine is 95% organic and may contain a DJ, a VJ and an electronic music producer from Budapest, Hungary. He has played venues in London, Barcelona, Budapest, Montreal, Paris, Freiburg, Porto, and Berlin as a DJ or a VJ… but his main mojo shaker is the creative real-time combination of interactive visuals with melodic techno and progressive house.

Connect with Swim the Shine on Soundcloud | Instagram | Facebook | Website

Launching Gun Raven is the Stealth Mode EP, which was written by Swim the Shine on a plane to Moscow in 2017, on his way to the Circle of Light VJing competition. 

Stealth Mode is a dark, hypnotic, deep techno cut, packed full of creeping synths and warped industrial tones, and comes back up with stellar remixes from techno royalty Timo Maas, who delivers two distinct reinterpretations, both of which crackle with electrifying intensity. 

Thanks for talking to us today – as we enter a new year, what are you hoping 2023 will bring for you professionally? 

It’s really my pleasure. I haven’t given so many interviews as to be jaded by the experience. I’ve been writing/recording/playing music since childhood and doing visuals for about 10 years now. Setting up and kickstarting my label, Gun Raven, took up a lot of my time over the last year and a half, so my focus for 2023 is to get back into DJing / VJing live as much as possible. 

First of all, we want to get to know you “from the beginning”. How did your history with music begin?

I took drum and piano lessons as a kid and simultaneously learned guitar by myself. I was one of those kids that never could play any composition to the end as written on the paper but constantly added new ideas – remixing the classics if you will. Enter countless open mic performances, years of busking on the streets and dozens of bands in which I played either guitar or drums and sometimes even took up lead singer duties. Because apart from music I was also very focused on my studies, I had less and less time for bands and that’s when I got into DJing and VJing, which I can perform solo and prepare in my home studio.

For you, what is the magic of music? The thing that makes it such a big part of your life?

For me, music is balance. I’m a moody person with a wondering mind. I listen to, play, and write a wide range of music, which, while supporting my emotional excursions, also serve to help me find my center point again. As an example, if I find myself in a self-reflecting mood, I might listen to Jean-Michel Jarre, which helps to completely immerse myself in the experience and exhaust my mind until I reset to my balanced center point. 

You were involved in the Olympic opening ceremony in 2012 – that must have been an incredible experience! 

That might have been the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Funny story: when I first filled out the application to be a performer, I lied that I could do all kinds of things, like juggling and roller skating, fashion modeling and whatnot. The problem was, the invitation just said “at the audition, we will test your special skills” and I broke out in a stressful sweat thinking “Which one of my specials skills – none of which I actually possess”. And I started learning roller skating and juggling at home. But then a day before the auditon came another email saying “you do not need to bring your drum sticks, they will be provided”. Which was the cosmos reconfiguring itself to not chalk up any negative karma points for lying – as it turns out drumming was the only thing I could actually do. 

Truth be told the actual drumming wasn’t all that difficult. But the experience of watching the Academy Award winner Danny Boyle (the artistic director) and Rick Smith of Underworld (the musical director) patiently coordinate 10,000 performers was an incredible learning experience. And doing our thing in the Olympic Stadium in front of 80,000 people with billions more watching was the biggest rush I ever felt. I admit to being a bit depressed when the Olympics ended – we called it post-Olympic-blues. We went from local “superstars” to unknowns overnight. What eased the pain was that we were able to sneak into the sporting events with our expired performers passes and sit in seats that went for thousands of dollars. I’ve been paying back my karma points ever since…

Tell us about Gun Raven – it’s been set up as a record label, but with other focusses, correct? 

Indeed. I have a tendency to go out on a limb. So while many of my friends are electronic music producers, like myself, I decided to also start my own label. But not just any label. I would like to build Gun Raven into a platform for audio-visual art. It’s early days, but apart from releasing EPs, the long-term plan is to release VJing content, NFTs and we plan to make videos for our releases. For example, for the Stealth Mode EP, we made two videos: one for the original and another for the Timo Maas DUB remix.

Your new EP launches the label – what was the inspiration behind this one? 

I was dating someone in Moscow with whom we had a running joke of doing something in stealth mode when we got into some shenanigans. I wrote the first version of the track on an iPad while flying to Moscow to take part in the finals of an international VJing competition. So, the original title was actually “Stealth Mode Moscow”. Unfortunately, a war broke out between Russia and Ukraine and I felt it disrespectful to have Moscow in the title. But stealth mode still means getting away with stuff. Like sneaking into the London Olympics. 😉

How did you get techno royalty Timo Maas on the remix? 

That was serendipity at its best. As I work in a medical research field, I have no experience with business or marketing or branding. But I have a friend whom I know from the dance floor who works in this area. So at a private party where I was DJing, I worked up the courage to ask her for some advice on how to start and grow my record label, Gun Raven. She said she is not specialised in the music business, but she connected me with somebody else who does. When this other person heard the original version of Stealth Mode, he said Timo Maas would make a killer remix of this. And while I agreed and was ecstatic (Timo Maas is one of my favourites), I of course laughed in his face. But he delivered. As it turns out, he knew Timo and showed him the track and agreed to have a zoom chat. They say “never meet your heroes”, but Timo is a such down-to-earth person and an absolute sweetheart. He agreed to make a remix. To my surprise, after a few days a request came back from Timo: “is it okay if I make two remixes?” What was I going to say? No? So now the EP contains three tracks. The original and two different remixes by Timo Maas. Life is good. 

What does your current studio set up look like? Lots of hardware, or are you mainly ‘out of the box’ type producers?

I generally prefer a minimalist approach to just about anything that I do. Although I have three guitars, so maybe I’m a bit of a hypocrite. But joking aside, a minimalist studio suits me better for a few reasons. First, with my studies and my work I’ve been traveling and moving a lot and I don’t want to spend months setting up a new studio every time I make a move. Secondly, I am the type of person who likes to dig into the details of the equipment that I have. I’m not a preset kind of guy. Yes, I read the user manuals too.  Finally, I’m conscious of our environment. So having 50 hardware synths that mostly do the same thing is not really my groove. 

What is the best advice you ever received as an artist?

I seldom listen to or give advice. We are all so different. My life path and skill set may have very little in common with someone else’s – even if we have the same end goal, we might reach it very differently. So, I would prefer to politely refrain from passing on advice here. But I found the book, called The Formula, very interesting. Although the author, Albert-László Barabási, is a physicist and network scientist, this is a popular science book about how the quality of something so subjective as art can be measured and how success can be built with this knowledge. I recommend at least trying to read this book. It may resonate with some people – as it did with me. 

Anything else you’d like to tell us…?

Nope! That was quite enough of me. I’m already happy if people read this far…. But thank you for the opportunity. I enjoyed this interview. 

Thank you.

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