The Swamp Dogg / Richard Edwards connection, Or: how I learned to stop worrying and trust the music gods
We were completely blindsided by this, and honestly we were kind-of heartbroken as we saw this as a deliberate attempt to undercut our sales for his own benefit, rather than working with us as as a 50/50 partner. And it stung extra bad seeing him do this after we had already put so much time, energy and goodwill into his upcoming release. So I wrote Richard to express our point of view, but unfortunately he didn't see things from our perspective... and his response solidified the reality that we had to split.
To be clear, I feel no animosity toward Richard. I remain a fan of his music, and remain his friend. But it became obvious that our paths were diverging. And after talking with my wife and a few mutual friends, it seemed like the healthiest scenario was for us to go our separate ways. As difficult as it was to divorce ourselves, there was a strong sense that we were swimming against the current... and after we separated, it immediately felt as though we had "obeyed the universe" or something...
Within a matter of hours after "obeying the universe", I received this email:
Honestly, my first thought was to just delete this email without even opening it (I am admittedly ignorant of most music in this world, and had not previously heard of Swamp Dogg). I have developed an aggressive sense of bullshit detection when it comes to demos, and I just couldn't imagine that an artist called "Swamp Dogg" would be promising... but upon inspection I was completely amazed.
When I first heard it, my thought was "is this as good as it seems?!?! I HAVE to be missing something here..." So I sent it to some of my trusted friends: Tim Kinsella, Kishi Bashi, and Jeb Banner. These are three guys who's musical opinions I immensely respect, and who have NEVER agreed on ANYTHING in the musical realm. And all three of them replied with some variation of "holy shit, this is amazing". That's when I knew I wasn't crazy.
That evening I brought the record home to play it for my wife, Kiely. Now, Kiely is typically a naysayer when it comes to new outrageous projects like this, but she also has a flawless bullshit detector. And within minutes, she exclaimed “Oh my god, he is family!“ She knew instinctively Swamp Dogg was a perfect fit for Joyful Noise.
Within a couple days I was flying to Minneapolis to meet with Ryan, who produced the record. We hung out at his art-space-studio, shooting the shit until 5am (without the use of illicit substances, amazingly). Big takeaways from that trip included a cover art concept, and the need to record a final song for the album... something to wrap it all up in a nice bow, "A Day In The Life" style (the resulting track "Star Dust" materialized about a week later).
I know this sounds crazy, but our relationship with Swamp feels "divinely arranged" somehow... It feels as though, because of the very difficult decision we had to make with Richard, the universe rewarded us with a much better fit. Even though, weirdly, that makes it sound as though the universe traded us a 30 year old white guy for a 75 year old black man... I don't claim to know how the universe works, but I'm not complaining about this trade. I think we're on the right path.
We are incredibly honored to release this record, and if there’s any justice in the world this album will get the respect it deserves as one of the seminal albums in the lineage of a truly historic artist.
Buy / Listen to Swamp Dogg's incredible album here: