Nicola Michael Lupo also known as Swaed, talks about his new video release and working with photographer and director, Tyler Pengelly. He also discusses his musical sound and the steps he takes in preparing for shows.
Q: How old were you when you started getting into music? Explain this time in your life
A: Living with a younger father was really what got me into what I do. He was 18 when he had me and all he listened to was hip hop music. I remember he used to blast “In the Trunk” by Too $hort throughout the house and I would just go nuts… I used to imagine the lyrics were mine and I was performing the song to all of my closest friends. I started taking music seriously once I got into high school around 16 years old in Grade 10.
Q: Do you have a trained background in music?
I do not have a trained background in music but I am always eager to learn more and do more within this industry.
Q: Describe the meaning behind Swaed?
A: Haha this is always a funny one. There’s an ongoing thing of people thinking it means, “Smoke Weed Every Day,” which makes no sense to me but for some reason this is factual to a lot of people. I made the name up while listening to J. Cole’s song, “Lights Please.” I was trying to make a name for months… and while listening to that song I remember thinking, “Damn this dude is smooth,” smooth like suede. Switched the spelling around and here I am.
Q: How would you describe your sound? How do you set yourself apart from other artists?
A: I think as an artist this is always the hardest question. I would describe my sound as a very playful feeling. I like to have fun with my lyrics, ride the beat a little, show off skill but still maintain that edge. I do tend to have a lot of darker undertones though. Personally, I think the thing that sets me apart from other artists is my willingness and ability to switch to a different style. One day I’m really down to make some trap music, the next I’m writing to an r&b beat. It’s all about staying fresh and staying true to the ideas that pop into my head.
Q: Can you talk about one venue in particular that you really enjoyed?
A: My personal favourite was Alexander Gastown before they closed down. Just the atmosphere in there was hip hop. Everything about that place just felt like home. The layout, the people and the equipment, nothing lacked.
Q: What has it been like working with Tyler Pengelly and do you have any future projects coming up with him?
A: He is honestly a dream to work with. I have told all my music friends and just friends in general that if they need work on videos or photos to go through him. Very genuine guy, always brings his best work to the table, and is a man of his word. Everything he does is done with a smile haha. I don’t know if I want to give away too much about what we are doing but we are working on more projects and from what we’ve planned they are going to be mind-blowing.
Q: Who are some of your musical influences?
A: Like I said earlier, Too $hort has to be one of the main reasons I do what I do. I also looked up to 50 cent, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre etc. growing up. In today’s timeline I’m really enjoying Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Drake etc.
Q: Can you talk about your music video “Don’t Know Myself,” which just dropped and some of the themes throughout?
A: The theme of this video was pretty much me finding myself. It’s shot with me driving around Vancouver in deep thought. The whole album “XXX” has this dark theme to it: drugs, neon lights, girls etc. and to capture that in a solo music video I think Pengelly did an amazing job with his interpretation.
Q: What are the steps you take when preparing yourself for a show? Do you follow a certain criteria during your performances?
A: Really depends on the show. If I’m the headliner or the opener and if I’m opening who am I opening for? Once I get all that info I look through my songs and decide which best fit the atmosphere in the room that night. I Usually practice those songs throughout the week before the event just to get my mind right on them. The criteria I follow during the performance is just to engage the crowd as much as possible! Any venue ever instantly becomes more legendary, more memorable, more electric when you see that crowd mouthing the words to your songs and dancing with you.
Q: Do you have any new projects coming out that you want to talk about?
A: Yeah, without giving away too much info there is a 4 song EP in the works. Let’s just say it will be released soonish.
Q: Do you have anything else you want people to know about you?
A: I just want everyone to know I appreciate the support and this is really the life I want to be living. I’m happy everyday thinking of the accomplishments I have made so far and I want to continue to be able to flourish with this music. So everyone streaming songs, buying albums, coming to shows…I love you all. To everyone who doesn’t know who I am, let’s be friends haha.
Directed by: Tyler Pengelly
Director of Photography: Jaromir Zelazny