Can you talk a bit about the percussion on the record? There are a lot of hand-claps, a lot of programmed beats. How do you think about percussion when you are writing?
I think the hand-claps are just a reflection of the recording method, which was recording all the time, constantly, and pretty informally. I would say, “We need a rhythm that feels like this,” and I would end up doing it in claps. That closeness ended up feeling really good. I was listening to a lot of early hip-hop, so this record is about round grooves, less about precision and more about a bounce. A swing.
Is that why you chose the title?
Everybody asks what the title means and why the title. “Swing lo,” “swanging lo.” There’s something about the redemption that comes out of death, that comes out of surrendering something, Then also, Magellan, this idea of discovery and exploration.
From Rise Above through Bitte Orca to now, you guys have become one of the biggest bands in Brooklyn. Starting where you did, do you think that your songwriting has changed to become more inclusive, or do you think that the listening audience has come around to what you are trying to do?
I don’t have a lot of insight about it. I think as a band we feel lucky to have people interested in what we are doing. I think after an album like Bitte Orca, it would have been hard to continue with the kind of little mental gymnastics that I made for myself. So I just got into songwriting and the possibilities of what you can do in three minutes and thirty seconds. That just opened the door for me to write a shitload of songs, and then just find the nice ones. •
Elias Ronnenfelt has just shown up, 20 minutes into a 30-minute interview. I’ve been chatting pleasantly with the rest of his punk-rock band Iceage in their lightly disheveled Soho hotel room when he traipses in, pink-faced in a light leather jacket...