Monday, 24 April 2017

Swingamajig 2017 - Part One: Madame Electrifie & Emma Clair

When I was asked if I wanted to cover Swingamajig again this year there was only one sensible answer. A big fat, hairy yes.

There'll be the usual JtC review appearing at some point after the event, [watch out for the traditional 'I don't remember what happened after this...' line] but by way of a preview I've been in touch with some of the people playing at this year's festival to ask them what makes it such a special event.

Speaking for myself, I love any event where a huge chunk of the vintage remix family are together in one place; I feel sure that having all these amazing artists together in the same place has provided the catalyst for some cool collabs and innovative projects. The crowd at Swingamajig are always a super-friendly, stylish and hard-partying lot, the importance of which cannot be overstated. But what really makes the event special, for me, is the time, care and attention that the Ragtime Records and ESC put into it all - they love this scene, they love this sound, and that really shines through.

First up, I spoke to Jo, aka Madame Electrifie, who played at the first ever Swingamajig way back in 2013.

Jack: What was the best performance that you’ve seen at Swingamajig over the years? 

Madame Electrifie: There are too many to try and remember, it’s been great to see electric swing circus grow and develop into the amazing live act they are now over the years. And Smokey Joe and the Kid are a definite contender, I’m really looking forward to seeing them again this year.

Jack: How has the festival evolved and grown over the years? What have been some of the changes that you’ve liked most? 

It’s quite crazy how long it’s been running, I just had to check back and see that the first one was 2013 which is mad. I remember the first year was like a huge meeting point for all these artists that I was aware of musically but had never seen in person, I made so many long-term friends from that event, people I’ve since had the privilege of playing alongside many times. I was unable to make it last year so I am really interested to see how much it has grown since my last visit.

I like the fact that although Vintage Remix and Electro-swing are still at the heart of the event, the festival has grown and adapted as the scene has. There are some people who have been involved in the scene right from the start, so of course their sound and influences have developed over that time, which is great as it would be a bit repetitive otherwise. The festival has developed to accommodate that development whilst still offering a good slice of vintage action for the new comer. Bringing in acts from the Ghetto Funk and Breakbeat world really helps add another dimension to the programming, which is important to add some variation to the event and keep in interesting.

Jack: What has been your own personal favourite set (i.e. that you played), and what do you think you’ll be spinning this time around?

My first ever swingamajig set was so much fun, way back when! Although I couldn’t see over the decks if I remember, which happens far too often!

This year I’m playing before The Freestylers (WAAAAA!), one of my favourite acts of all time, so I’ll be visiting some old-skool breaks influences and splicing these with my all-time favourite floor filling electro swing tracks that have rocked previous years at Swingamagic – it’s one place you know the audience will want to hear them, so it’s going to be a bit nostalgic, but in a good way, and you know, banging too!

Next I spoke to one of the UK's most up-and-coming electro-swing DJs, Emma Clair

Jack: This is your first year performing at Swingamajig – have you been as a guest before?

I’ve never been to Swingamajig, as I have always been tied up with DJ gigs! So the fact it’s my first time performing and my first time experiencing the wonders of the festival itself, is unbelievably exciting!

I’m honoured to be playing the closing set on the Vintage Terrace with my partner in crime, Andy McBain who will be bringing an element of live performance to our set with his amazing clarinet skills! (shameless plug haha)

Jack: Who are you most excited about seeing perform?

Argh.. there are so many amazing acts on the lineup, it’s hard to single anyone out! But, for me, it has to be Elle & The Pocket Belles! I’m in love with their song “Swinging Together”, and I still regularly play it in my DJ sets.

I’m also really excited about seeing Sam & The Womp – they definitely bring the ‘fun’ element to Electro Swing, which is something I always try to push too!

Also The Electric Swing Circus (honest – Tom didn’t ask me to say this, it’s actually true) – They absolutely blew me away when I booked them to play at Prohibition earlier this year, so I can’t wait to see them in action again!

Jack: What about the sideshows and other entertainment – what tickles your fancy there?

Ooh again, this is really tough, there is so much going on!!!

I’ve heard good things about Vicky Butterfly, so I am looking forward to seeing her do her Burlesque thing.

The Swing Era Dance workshops are definitely on my list of things to check out!! I’m hoping to pick up some moves to bust out on the dancefloor… that’s the plan anyway…

And finally.. I will be paying the food court a visit! I’m hoping for some vintage treats to satisfy my extremely sweet tooth! 

Watch this space for Part 2. dropping later this week, and featuring the Chicken Brothers and Dutty Moonshine!