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The Swell Kids set the record straight on ‘GOOD PROBLEMS: A Collection of Feelings’

Adrian Broaddus, Editor-In-Chief

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Photo by Michaela Roman

The Swell Kids, Eddie Vasquez and Alexander Bejarano pose at their “GOOD PROBLEMS” album listening party at the Outpost.

Local neo soul duo The Swell Kids, comprised of Eddie Vasquez and Alex Bejarano, recently released a nine-track record titled, “GOOD PROBLEMS: A Collection of Feelings.” These two are known for developing deep house beats with indie and hip-hop influences, which continue to impress the local scene.

The two felt passionate about this album and did a commentary interview about each track on the LP. Below are Eddie’s (E) and Alex’s (A) responses.

Q: First off, you all designed three separate album artworks (possibly more that I didn’t see). Why those album covers and why three different ones?

A: I feel like where music is today, visuals are just as important as the content that’s being created, so it was more of a “why not” for us to create multiple artworks for this project. Plus with the multiple streaming services there are today, we figured we’d try something a little different this time around. Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud all have multiple pieces up for your viewing pleasure.

Q: “GOOD PROBLEMS: A Collection of Feelings” is the title of the album, but how can anyone truly have good problems? Why the title name for the album?

E: Good problems is a saying or a phrase that we have within The Swell Kids. It stemmed from many opportunities opening up for us. A lot of doors opened up for us and it became a lot of work and planning and lots of dedication.

We really had to focus and execute all these problems within the opportunities that we had been offered. So these problems were only good problems, and we were completely grateful for all these problems and opportunities.”

A: I guess the easiest example of a good problem we had would be us getting asked to DJ last year’s Neon Desert VIP lounge a couple days prior to the festival, when we both knew we had work at our day jobs. So trying to convince our managers to give us the days off to play the event was definitely a good problem. It’s a miracle we still have our jobs.

Q: On “Pressure,” the album kicks off with soft keys and eerie beats. What’s the importance of an intro song for an album? How does “Pressure” set the tone for the album?

E:  The importance for the intro song is it has to grab the listener. To me, “Pressure” was my favorite song. It spoke so much to me emotionally that I really believe that it was the perfect intro song. This song lets the listeners know that this project was gonna be an emotional one–2017 was an emotional journey for us.

Q: “LA Dreams” sounds almost dreamy, with a strong build up. What was making this song like? It really feels like you’re driving in LA at night, looking at all the surroundings. How much does LA inspire you all?

A: “I’m so glad you said that! That’s the exact vibe we wanted to give out. Whether it’s riding the metro at night, or just cruising downtown at night.

I remember Eddie working on the rough draft of that song while we were driving back to El Paso after one of our trips. LA has opened our eyes and ears to so much. Whether it’s the shows we go to, the food we eat or the boutiques/ flea markets we shop at, it is truly the one place we can be ourselves and enjoy all the art that surrounds us.

Q: “Control” feels consistent throughout the track except toward the end. What’s this song about?

E: Well, first that interlude in the beginning of the song is JOEY PURP talking to us about him loving El Paso because of the amazing tacos that we have here. We had to keep “Control” short and sweet. The inspiration from that song completely comes from Tyler, the Creator’s new album. We bumped that album throughout California this past summer, and man, that is a great album.

Q: Adding Montzerratt to “Last Call” had an awesome vibe for this album. What’s it like working with his ‘70s-‘80s aesthetic? How did it bounce off with your all’s style?

E: When we do our DJ sets and our live sets, our main goal is to curate a set that will make people dance. Whatever show, we love to dance and we love to see people having fun and just dancing the night away. So we created this song specifically to get people dancing, and we knew right away Montzerratt could bring a funkier vibe to the track. We sent him the track and he sent it back with that funky guitar and synth and it was perfect. Montzerratt is truly one of the most talented artists we’ve ever worked with. That guy is insanely good.

Q: “Rowland Heights” features a lot of twists and changes. What’s this song about? Why those vocals in this song? Seems like a track on personal reflection. Is that what you were trying to go for?

A: “Rowland Heights” was one of those songs that just felt super catchy when we created the track, but it wasn’t until after the track was released that I felt a deeper connection to it. The vocals on the track repeat “Do you wanna be you?” and this could be me teaching, but sometimes with all that’s going on in our personal lives, sometimes I do ask myself if I really want to be the person I am? Like, after all is said and done, are you happy with the version of who you are right now? I know it’s really deep for a dancey track, but it’s what I felt.

Q: Joining with Irie Lee on “Friends” was a standout on the album. How is he working in the studio? Some beats feel like they’re made for a specific voice. How do you think he was right for this beat?

A: Crazy to think we never stepped foot in a studio together to create that song, yet it has such a personal vibe to it. We love Lee for the person he is, so we knew he’d be a perfect fit for the track. Definitely my favorite track on the project.

Q: Both you and The Fifth Estate have come up together, so to speak, and really made a name for yourselves in El Paso. However, obviously, you guys ride entirely different genre waves. Why collab. with them on “From the 3rd?” Is it El Paso love? Or are you all friends beyond that? How was it working with them?

E: We made this track and it was just sitting on our MacBook and one night we went to Fifth’s house to just kick it and we showed him that song. He vibes with it so much he busted out his trumpet and gave us that beautiful trumpet sound. We are friends outside of this music world. We support him and he supports us. The man is a lyrical genius and his vibes are always right.

Q: Like an intro, the outro to an album is always a good way to close off an album soundly. With birds chirping and voiceovers on “Life After,” how does this album come full circle? Or would you say this track is more of a sending forth track to make the listener want more?

E: “Life After” is actually a very sad song. Once we completed the song we had gotten a message that one of our close friend’s mother had just passed away and this song completely matched the feelings we had when we read that message. That’s where the name came from. This track to me is just a reflection of how life can be sometimes. Life can beat you down–2017 has had its ups and downs. It was an emotional journey for me personally. I’m really happy I was able to express those emotions on this project. I’m grateful it’s out and I really hope people can relate to these emotions in one way or another.

A: That song is meant for you to feel something. No matter what the feeling is, it’s meant to move you. The interlude that plays right before that track is actually a sample of our good friend’s (a fellow Swell Kid) baby daughter laughing, so it almost serves as a full circle track with the beginning of new life and the ending of another. The snippet in the song ties into the role, us as creative, have when making our art. No matter how shitty life can be, we have the power to take those feelings and create something moving.

Follow Adrian Broaddus on Twitter @adrian_broadus

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Assayer of Student Opinion.
The Swell Kids set the record straight on ‘GOOD PROBLEMS: A Collection of Feelings’