SF Songwriter Swiftumz on Tonight's Ursula Rodriguez Benefit Show, His Next LP, and more
Around Christmastime last year, a well-respected member of the Bay Area music scene, Ursula Boots (aka Ursula Rodriguez), who's done time at Bottom of the Hill, Amoeba Records, the SF Bay Guardian and also KUSF, was a victim of a fire that tragically displaced her from her long-time Mission residence. Adding insult to injury, her possessions were stolen from her car in the 20 minutes she had to collect her belongings from her fire- and water-damaged apartment. Fortunately good friends rallied behind her, and it has taken on the form of a kick-ass benefit show at Brick and Mortar tonight.
The Mallard and Blasted Canyons could easily become the stalwarts of Castle Face Records and we think the world of Shannon & The Clams, but we turned our attention to another act on the bill—Swiftumz. We asked him about playing the benefit and this gifted songwriter’s upcoming releases.
Do you know the fire victim you’re benefitting?
I've known Ursula for years! [She’s] a GREAT lady. It's funny, because anytime I've been asked to play a benefit, it's for someone I don't know or for someone where it's not that much of a tragedy, like, "Hey Johnny What’s-his-name got a tooth pulled. Wanna play a benefit?" It was really cool to be asked to play an actual organized benefit for someone I know and care about.
Your album Don’t Trip was released in 2011 and then re-released on Burger Records as a cassette last month. Anything new coming out?
We should have two new singles by the end of March/April that were recorded last year with a full band at Different Fur [Studios]. A split with Tony Molina on Slumberland is in the works, a 12-inch EP that we may have to release ourselves, and a split-novelty Christmas single with HUNX on his own label, Wacky Wacko.
You’ve written a couple of songs for Seth Bogart (aka HUNX). Is there any other collaboration that you’d like to do? Who would you absolutely love to write a song for, for them to perform?
I'm working on a couple songs for the next Hunx record, so we'll see if he wants them or not. The thing I'm going for on newer projects is actual collaborative songwriting, as opposed to me writing all the songs myself. I would love to write or collaborate with anyone on Top 40 radio right now obviously! Ke$ha, LMFAO, Justin, Britney, Taylor Swift even Flo Rida, let's do this!
You’ve DJed The Make-Out Room. What’s in your DJ arsenal? Do you have a secret weapon?
I can kind of pull out whatever’s needed for any DJ night. It seems the last few years I've been playing a lot of rock-type records at bars, as opposed to playing dance records or funk or jazz. Lately, regardless of what night it is, I've been bringing kinda golden-era/positive hip-hop records to play and people have been enjoying it. I love to DJ a dance party, especially to an open crowd where you can play stuff beyond just the hits. In the right crowd situation, where people know what I'm referencing, I love to pull out some old Bay Area rap records and just watch people wild out.
Do you hold down a day job? What is it?
Yes! I work at Last Gasp, a small underground book publisher. It is a great place to work and I work with a group of really great people. Buy books everyone!!
What can we expect from the Swiftumz performance at Brick and Mortar?
You can expect to hear new material and songs from the album performed differently. Live, we have been kind of evolving our sound as a three piece and experimenting with different amps and tones. We’re pretty dialed in right now. I just like my guitar to go from a shimmery jangle on the rhythm parts to a deep fuzz on the loud parts. For this show, my old friend Yvan Kawecki is sitting in on second guitar, and my friend John Mink is running kind of a feedback noise thing that keeps things random and interesting.
What’s the story behind the name Swiftumz?
It's just an endearing nickname that some good friends call me.