Interview with Swan Meat
Recap by: John Williams
What was your upbringing like? What was your relationship with poetry and music, and how did those mediums evolved and intersect throughout the years?
Reba: I grew up playing the classical piano as well as the violin, and when I was a teenager I picked up the guitar & played terrible songs in terrible punk bands. I spent most of my childhood and adolescence in and out of hospitals, & that’s how I developed my love of literature, too – books and records were quite literally, perhaps involuntarily, my only companions growing up. I’ve always written songs & I’ve always written poetry; I still remember spending hours penning the lyrics to a song I called ‘Not Rated E’ (yikes, right?) at 7 years old. I started producing about 2 years ago, while studying poetry in college, when I realized I wanted to extend my spoken word pieces beyond the page.
Historically, your music has been a supplement to your poetry. Now that it’s taking on a larger role in your compositions, do you feel like the themes you deal with are shifting?
Reba: Though my interest in producing began as a sort of cushion for my writing, I’d say this is no longer the case- many of my recent compositions don’t include spoken word at all. I don’t want to say I’m a musician before I’m a poet; I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. They need each other. I don’t think my ‘themes’ are shifting. I am still grappling with being sick, still learning how to have a body.
Do the samples you select have similar relevance to you as your spoken word?
Reba: I’d say yes, topically: I want my voice to situate itself in a mix as another instrument, a gash of sound. I select poems for songs based on their sonic qualities (their fricatives, sibilants, assonance, etc) just as much as I do their “meaning.” The same goes for samples- I choose carefully; everything resonates w/ me emotionally just as much as it does sonically.
Some listeners and critics compare your work to other artists who have a similarly abrasive sound such as WWWINGS, Rabit, or Elysia Crampton. How do you view yourself and your music in the context of the experimental club (if you can call it that anymore) scene, especially in relation to other artists?
Reba: I think it’s wonderful to be a part of this “movement,” if you will, and I draw inspiration from so many of the artists often grouped in w/ it, some of whom are my friends. I like that former ideas of what constitutes ‘club music’ are being challenged & rewritten.
What can we look forward to from you in the near future?
Reba: I’m playing a handful of festivals, touring, and have a second EP in the works.