The Sway Machinery is an all-star collective of innovative visionaries led by guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood of Balkan Beat Box. The Sway machinery also includes Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s on drums, Stuart Bogie and Jordan McLean of the Antibalas horn section on tenor saxophone and trumpet respectively, and touring member of the Arcade Fire Colin Stetson on bass saxophone.
C: A large part of what we are trying to do at YAWMA is supporting & exposing under-represented musical movements and ideas. What words about your music would you have for new audiences unfamiliar with cantorial music and the traditions you reference?
JL: I’m trying to speak about a world of ghosts, or more properly, to let ghosts speak through me. I want to be both a voice for my ancestors and a creator of new worlds.
C: Is there an existing community for guitar & drum-based bands playing jewish spiritual music? Perhaps JDub records? ‘Girls In Trouble’ is a YAWMA staff favorite. Can you describe what it is about The Sway Machinery’s music that can “speak to the emotional needs of the contemporary world” ?
JL: I try to vary the tone of my music between a scream of joy and a moan of pleasure and to call equally upon emotions of love and fear. I don’t know that there is another current Jewish music act that I feel a strong affinity to. I get a lot of inspiration from contemporaries in NY: bands like TV on the Radio, Pink Noise, Antibalas…
C: The Sway Machinery has been described as a “Supergroup” in reference to the highly accomplished careers of most of the players involved. What do you think it is that brings you all together?
JL: I think all the guys in the band believe in the power of musical catharsis and are eager to draw strength from historical spiritual traditions.
C:The story of recording your new album The House of Friendly Ghosts sounds amazing. What can you tell us about the process?
JL: We had a beautiful experience in Mali. It was a real eye opener in many ways. The wealth of culture in the north of Mali is humbling and awe inspiring. We played with nomads from remote desert towns, as well as with guitar heroes Vieux Farka Toure and Djelimady Tounkare. The most important thing I have taken from the experience is the relationship we have formed with Khaira Arby, the leading vocalist from Timbuktu and to me one of the great artists living.
C: Are there any exciting recent musical discoveries you have made personally? Are there any new artists you are excited about?
JL: I’ve been listening lately to Sugar Pie DeSanto, Booker Little and to Itamar Ziegler’s new solo album Memories of Now.
Check out the brand new Sway Machinery single at the YAWMA site!