It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!
If you’re looking for an evening nostalgic for an era you most certainly missed, look no further then Electro Swing Night at The Book Club in Shoreditch. Within 20 minutes of entering the venue (if you can stand the line out the door) the DJs pioneering the genre of Electro-Swing manage to remix 1920s era jazz with house, dubstep and a bit of auto-tune for good measure, producing a remarkable experience and a swingin’ good time that makes you want to pop-lock-and-drop the Charleston!
In this day and age when old is new, vintage is current and history repeats itself, electro swing provides a rollicking good culture fix. i-D online sat down with DJ Tofu (real name Chris Macmeikan) – a founder of Electro-Swing Night; a pioneer of the genre itself and a swinging member of the band White Mink – who enlightened us with the origins of Electro-Swing and why 1920s is the cat’s pyjamas…
What is the Electro-Swing genre? Electro-swing is 1920s to the 1950s remixed. It’s purely about the music.
Can you give us a brief history of the genre? The first band in our eyes to do this kind of remix was the Greenskeepers in Chicago along with G-Swing in Paris. In the UK about 10-12 years ago a guy called Steven Tuesday Weld and the Real Tuesday Welds. Then maybe a couple of years down the line the guys in Café de la Danse in Paris began to twiddle around and came up with the group The Caravan Palace. The problem was that everyone was coming up with a different term for the genre. I’ve personally heard about ten names like: Charleston Hip-Hop, Break Beat Boog-a-loo, the Vintage Remix and Antique Beats. Two years ago the French Wagram label suggested “electro-swing.” The moment they came up with that album we went and started Electro Swing club. It is confusing because it’s not electro music at all, but they’re just the two nicest words we could think of.
What is it specifically about the sounds from 1920s-1950s that captivate you? Frankly, no one will be able to afford to make music like they made in the 1920s- 1950s. There were hundreds of bands, orchestras, etc. They didn’t have stereos so they went out and got 50 musicians! They have the best brass players. They have the sweetest loops that you could ever get your hands on. They played extremely well.
Who would you say is your favourite jazz/blues music? I like Slim and Slam from the 30s. They did the “Flat Foot Floogie.” They got all the tunes because they mixed up scat and jazz. I like those guys.
So when is the next Electro Swing night? November 19th, always at The Book Club. We’re doing massive gigs with White Mink later in the year too.
What’s next for White Mink? The White Mink 3 CD is coming out November the 19th too. We’re trying to develop the show part of the gig so when you turn up you’re in more of an immersive atmosphere. White Mink Black Cotton is a slightly more dressed, artistic affair, where it’s about the music, but also about the film, how black and white films remix, and performance as well. There will be lots of hidden performers in the audience!
The next Electro Swing Night will take place at The Book Club on Nov 19th.
Text: Lily Avnet