Swell’s Swirling “Forgive Me” Proves He’s Got A Story To Tell

The hardworking 17-year-old producer says he’s already “planning a rebirth.”

July 11, 2016
Swell’s Swirling “Forgive Me” Proves He’s Got A Story To Tell Wilhelm Philipp

Melbourne's Ezra Claproth is 17 years old and has been making music under his producer moniker Swell since he was about 13. He recently released an EP, There's Still Us, which tells the story of his relationship with his girlfriend. It was a fraught time for Claproth, but, as he told The FADER over the phone, he learned a lot from displacement and heartbreak. Today, we're pleased to premiere a brand new Swell track called "Forgive Me," a swirling song with a distinct narrative — intricate piano builds into visceral floods of electronic sounds, spilling Swell's heart over every edge.

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On a cold Melbourne night last week, Swell, wrapped up in blankets, told The FADER how a song like "Forgive Me" came to be.

Where are you right now?

I’m in Melbourne, Australia. It’s cold as fuck, it’s the first month of winter. I’m in like three blankets, it’s so fucking cold. I had some tea, I had some coffee. I even had a grilled cheese just because it was warm.

Tell me about yourself, tell me everything.

I have a pretty big story to tell. The past couple years of my life have been really heavy. I recently got kicked out of my house for my relationship with my girlfriend, that was rough. It’s been pretty wild from there, but it’s been a growing experience with that as well. It’s been cool with the EP that I put out earlier this year that was based around the upside of leaving my home. It’s called There’s Still Us, it’s about how things might be going to shit but there’s still us, there’s always gonna be us in the end.

How did you start making music?

When I started I was really shitty. I was one of those dubstep kids that grew up on like, techno and shit, Detroit Sound and all that. I was a church kid, so I listened to gospel music every Sunday. That was ingrained into me. When I started growing up, it was more about the balance between soul music and punk music. That merge between both of those genres, that’s what I grew up with. All my music is story-driven, but I still want it to be something that people can jam out to. I want it to be something that is attractive but still has something deeper inside of it.

You can definitely tell there’s a story there.

It’s all emotional. I want it to be perfect so I can deliver the story as it’s intended. I started producing four years ago. Once I left my house, my computer unfortunately got wiped, and I had to start again. That was such a heartbreaking moment, but after a few days, I started planning my rebirth. I got to look at everything from a different perspective, I got to make myself again. I started really paying attention to everything that I had goals for.

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What were you doing before we got on the phone?

I was going through one of my mixes to make sure I had everything on point, checking on the track list and everything. Before that I was also working on a new track that I’m doing with another Melbourne artist called Baro, and my other friend Black Car, they’re two upcoming artists and they’re really cool. That’s for Baro’s new EP that’s coming out later.

What are you going to do after we get off the phone?

I’m probably not going to sleep, because my sleeping schedule is fucked right now. I’m probably going to keep working on that track. I’ve also got a few other tracks that I’m trying to finish, just some stuff that I’m trying to get to other people like Goldlink, and preparing for other vocal artists in the future. My previous stuff has been really dark and emotional and I’m looking to flush that out of my system. I’ve been making more funk — happy, all over the place stuff that you can jam out to. I’m looking to develop that more but I feel like I have to get all of these emotional sad tracks out of the way before I do that. I grew up in both the States and Australia, so I feel both the summer and the winter right now. I’m trying to lock into the summer vibes right now, not the winter ones.

Swell’s Swirling “Forgive Me” Proves He’s Got A Story To Tell