June 22 2021
From South Korea to the UK, Swimming Sheep’s playlist covers the breadth of global pop – and includes an accompanying streaming playlist created by the artist himself.
A ‘bedroom pop’ artist, Swimming Sheep’s music offers more detail and breadth than such a tag suggests. Following a name change from American Green in 2019, he released WEEKDAY’S ICE, a concept album about ice photography. Its style fitted in nicely amongst the last decade’s city pop revival and vapourwave/chillwave craze, but there was always more to his sound. Besides the icy theme, WEEKDAY’S ICE was tinged with R&B and synthpop, and made more characterful in its bedroom pop execution.
On singles released in 2021, Swimming Sheep has consolidated his appeal and reputation for reinvention. “Busterminal” featured squelching sound effects and some of his most detailed production yet, while “Landing Legs” offered outlandish hints of industrial hip hop. Both are among his freshest and most exciting tunes so far.
In such exciting times for Swimming Sheep, we caught up with him to curate a playlist for the Glow. Here’s what he said about his selections:
“The songs I’ll introduce here are tracks I’ve come across in the last five or six years. Even now, after some time has passed since their release, I still listen to them frequently. I selected songs that I would recommend again and again, to everyone.”
Brasstracks’ “Always Be My Baby” has a catchy trumpet underlain by a simple but addictive bassline. It’ll put you in a great mood. The atmosphere is like Christmas – but I personally think it would be perfect for a wedding party too. In a feeling similar to being at a Tatsuro Yamashita live concert, the gorgeous sound of the wind instruments makes me feel happy, as if they are blessing me to be born in this world. It’s like a more casual version of smooth jazz.
I came across this song at around the same time that I changed my name from my previous project to Swimming Sheep, and I longed for my next project to be something stylish like this. I love the pop/R&B vibe of “Boat”, perfect for a holiday afternoon.
“Bad Blood” is heavy and languid but also sharp, and the vocals are sweet, skilful and cool. Every time I listen to this, I discover a new sound – it still feels fresh to me. It’s the kind of alternative R&B song that makes you want to immerse yourself shoulder-deep in a dark bathtub for hours on end.
Personally, I particularly like to listen to “I Wish I Missed My Ex” in autumn. It's an alternative R&B song packed with catchy tricks: the “hi, fine, sigh” vocal and backing chorus and the “texting, texting, texting” of the main vocals during the cool down will make everyone hum along. The unison of the guitar and vocals during that cool down part and the beautiful melodic strings are gorgeous and comfy. Also, the vibrato synth lead in the outro makes for a pleasant ending.
This is the song I listened to most in 2020. The hook of “I wanna love somebody like you” is so nice – Joan’s sound has such a nostalgic atmosphere, recommended for fans of The 1975. It’s refreshing electropop.
A mellow song to listen to in the twilight, “Small Things” feels appropriate for driving with the windows down, or for camping. Alone or in company, it’ll give you a blissful moment of enchantment.
I love this song so much that I created a Spotify playlist called “Blue Moment”, which features songs similar to it. You can listen to it from my artists’ page on Spotify.
When I first listened to “Question”, I clearly remember how happy my ears were. It's got a warm, mellow sound, a relaxed tempo and a loping rhythm. I love the catchy “la”s that recur throughout the track, and the exciting “Hey yeah” in the background chorus near the end. “Question” is cool but also childish; funky, soulful, fun music made by adults. The happiness peaks in the samba-like, danceable final third.
The synths and reverb-drenched vocals at the start of the song give it away immediately: “Cave Me In” is a sexy, cool and mature alternative R&B song. The ambience has a floating feeling, the clean beats are very metropolitan; there are short phases of guitar and synths – it sounds simple, but I still enjoy searching out all these features. The vocals are really nice, too. I love listening to “Cave Me In” in the car with the windows open and the sound mixing with the wind.
Check out Swimming Sheep’s Spotify playlist, featuring the above selections and extra tracks.
Author: Ed Cunningham
Artist Tags: Swimming Sheep