Written by: Dmonet (@Dantosinferno)
Recently I got the chance to shoot the shit with Swill the Will an artist that I've known for a very long time. He recently garnered the attention of the blogosphere and the Chicago scene with his first ep "Hiatus" (link below). It is a melancholic debut that paints him as a drugged out young man making sense of a bleak word, but its not that simple. Dive into swills world below
Prime: So Swill, How has life treated you since the drop of your first mixtape "Hiatus"
Swill: It’s been decent, thanks for asking. I’m alive and well. Relatively healthy.
Prime: In “Hiatus” you paint a gloomy picture. Its melancholy and honest, do you consider yourself a "sadboy" rapper or someone on the outskirts of hip hop aka alternative.
Swill: Honestly I try to just consider myself a musician. I don’t really wanna put my sound in a box yet because I’m still kinda figuring out what I’m doing with it and what works best. Hiatus can definitely be considered “sad-boy“ rap though. Yet it kinda annoys me because I don’t even want to make sad songs; I’m not even that sad of a person. I just don’t like happy songs, they come off cheesy and disingenuous to me. Even when I listened to electronic music I hated that super generic, bubbly house shit. I want music to be dark and unnerving it’s more intriguing. So I guess I’m not really going for sad I’m just making what I think sounds good and will move people.
Prime: One thing I was always curious about was if the song "Xanadu" was in anyway about drugs, specifically xan.
Swill: [Hahaha] You’re not the first person who’s asked me that surprisingly. Xanadu is definitely about temptation so I could see why people are interpreting it like that. A “hiatus” is a void. One of the concepts I play with in the EP is the tendency people have to fill their "voids" with drugs and other presences. Xanadu is an idealized place of great magnificence and beauty. Being the intro track it deals with the initial filling of the void. Some people might use Xanax to fill their void.
Prime: The songs on the tape seem to sort of build off each other so it feels like the whole thing is just a long song with different parts to it. Was that your purpose when making this tape?
Swill: I tried to make the tape fluid for the listener. It’s easier for you to grab the concept/emotion from a tape when the songs are compatible. Since I produced most of every song the production probably lends itself to being similar. Hiatus was originally supposed to be 8 songs, but then I decided to just use the three that were self produced. People don’t usually listen to more than three songs on a project anymore anyway. Especially from an artist they don’t already mess with.
Prime: Yeah that's interesting, never really thought about that. Can you go into the concept of the tape a bit more? You touched on the hiatus and void part.
Swill: Hiatus tells a story of the growth and decay of a relationship. The EP presents you with a paradox in which you need to take a Hiatus (break) to fill your Hiatus (void). Sometimes it's essential to take a step back, to take a Hiatus from what you are used to, so that you can discover what matters the most to you.
Prime: That's beautiful, I definitely feel you. So you only have 1 feature on this tape even though you collaborate with 2 or 3 people constantly, what made you pick the talented Emily Mcgill?
Swill: Emily and I have been making music for ages now. We used to be in a band like 6 or 7 years ago. We just kind of started again over the summer. She has an amazing and extremely unique voice. I had intended to have a couple other hip-hop features, but I decided against it when I made the EP only 3 songs.
Prime: How does it feel being part of the Chicago hip-hop scene while living for the most part in Urbana/Champaign (U of I)?
Swill: It bums me out to be honest. I wish I could jump into the Chicago scene more, it is thriving right now. Keeping with Oak Cellar helps me stay connected, which is somewhat helpful, but the best way to truly get into the scene is to actually be there physically working side by side with other artists. Developing a relationship with other artists is by far the best way to get your music heard. Nobody else understands the hustle like the people who are living it.
Prime: What is the music scene like there by the way?
Swill: It’s alright. I got my good homie Cub-J who I make music with all the time, but I’m still tryna dive in more. I know there are people out here. It’s a huge school. I met a kid at our show the other night who has a studio in Bloomington. I might try to get out there more. The promoters at the local venue, Canopy Club are really cool and easy-going. Cub-J just landed a show opening for Riff Raff, which is dope.
Prime: For our readers that don’t know, can you describe Oak Cellar Door and its beginnings and the overall end goal or mission for it.
Swill: Oak Cellar Door is a midwest music collective/blog based in Chicago. Our main mission is to shed light on underground artists who deserve some shine. We are in the process of implementing a new website. It should be done within the week, but go ahead and check us out at oakcellardoor.com if you’re with it.
Prime: What's your opinion on the Chicago scene? It has grown and changed a lot in the last few years.
Swill: The Chicago music scene has always been crazy. It’s very competitive, which is a blessing and a curse. It’s weird to think that music is competitive, but it really is. The city definitely has a huge influence on my music though. I’m always inspired from artists in the scene. People like Chance, Mick Jenkins, Lucki Eck$, Hurt Everybody; they’ve all shaped my music.
Prime: Who do you want to work with from Chicago?
Swill: Damn near everybody. I’m very big on collaboration. That new Smino EP goes crazy. I’d love to work with him and Monte Booker. I’ve been a fan of Monte Booker since I heard one of his beats on a Jay2 track. Producer wise, Monte is the hottest out right now. I’ve always wanted to work with Hurt Everybody too. I have a song with Carl already, but I don’t know if it’s ever going to surface.
Prime: Why not?
Swill: I don’t know, it was supposed to go on Hiatus, but it didn’t really fit. Now it’s almost a year old and I feel like I’m better than it. If I do drop it it will happen very soon.
Prime: So what's next for Swill?
Swill: I’m gonna just keep making music - keep pushing the boundaries of sound. Probably going to come out with another project after I finish dropping all these Hiatus rejects. I want to collab a bunch too. You will definitely see more features on my next project. Also, I have a video coming out for a song off Hiatus in a week. So be on the lookout for that.