Holding down the Emerald City's juke and footwork scene with one of the most consistent release catalogs, Sword of Thorns has proven himself a razor sharp producer, with light-footed and agile tracks, as well as a swift sense of selection. Honing his edge over the last three plus years in Seattle, with output on Apt E, and co-running Safe For Werk, which had a monthly slot on Orphan Radio and threw regular events, bringing Kush Jones, Jalen and Tomu to play out Seattle. Along with opening slots for the likes of RP Boo and Swisha, Sword of Thorns has proven himself as organic as he is cold as steel.
Over the course of your time producing and mixing in Seattle, you've maintained connections with several local labels. Describe the community surrounding some of these labels, and the change you've seen over the years.
It’s funny, I went to Selector Records the other day and all the recent local vinyl releases were on the wall. I couldn’t help but laugh, every one of them was made by a different friend of mine. So it’s a very small community of labels, but it is certainly dedicated.
Seattle isn’t exactly a traditional hotbed of dance music (Rebar excluded, rest in peace) and doesn’t have the density necessary to naturally sustain crowds who are interested in dancing to newer underground music. So we’ve ended up with a sort of vanguard of dedicated radicals who have been trying to recreate the parties they’ve been to in other cities or in some cases, trying to make something truly new and special. I was born in Seattle and besides living in Berlin for a summer, I’ve been a consistent dancer or guy chain-smoking outside the club for the last 6ish years. By the sheer volume of parties I’ve gone to, I’ve been lucky enough to meet these local revolutionaries and I’ve successfully been able to glom on to their efforts!
What’s changed, I think, is that their hard work and dedication has really paid off! For years there was a lot of struggling against the confines of Seattle. I used to co-run a Footwork monthly that all-time maybe got a total of 20 people to come party. But these last few years through the efforts of Nick Carrol, Tech Startup, APT E and many others, we finally were starting to have the type of parties I could only dream of going to three years prior. Even with COVID and a looming depression, I am completely confident in their ability to step right back and continue, when they are able.
Each of your productions express different facets of a tightly-curated sound. What influences your tracks, and what's your history with music production?
My biggest influence has to be my friend Milliardo Peacecraft, we’ve been making music together since high school and I’ve been lucky enough to listen to him develop his sound into some of the most innovative music I hear. So partially through a burning jealousy of the tracks he produces, the philosophical discussions we have about music and the new and old songs we share or mix for each other, I’ve been able to keep a fire going that sustains me through even the rough times in the studio (meaning the corner of my apartment where my computer is). Milli hasn’t put out much but when he does I know people will go crazy for it.
As to my history with production, I think it was through a video breakdown of Burial’s “Archangel” (where he samples the MGS 3 OST) that I became obsessed with sampling. Ten years and a lot of random banging on midi pads later, I got two songs on wax baby.
After a consistent output of digital releases, what was different about production and reception of the Apt E release?
I’ve known Cam and Max since we were teenagers so I’ve seen their hard work and dedication up close. They are incredible, they can both get two hundred people to go to a party and as DJ’s make them dance to stuff they maybe wouldn’t have anywhere else. When they asked me to do a record with them I couldn’t believe it, having songs on vinyl was a life goal of mine and I’ll never be able to thank them enough for letting me be a part of it.
The reception has been great, I’m very thankful for the kind words people have said about the release, keep them coming! The key to my heart is copious praise.
What's on the horizon for you musically until events and parties are thrown again, and what do foresee for the community?
I’ve been working on an EP that I should have finished by New Year, at which point I’ll send it to all the local labels. Now that I’ve tasted the sweet nectar of vinyl, I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to digital-only releases. That might make things take a while, but I’m pretty confident it will be worth the wait.
I’ve been trying to think about music more dialectically and have been attempting to synthesize a lot of different elements into something more unique, something even more très Sword! Oui? Oui, Richtig. That’s my hope at least. This mix is full of the different things I’m trying to fuse, along with two of the songs I’ve been working on, any feedback is greatly appreciated. I hope you enjoy!
Finally, what I see in my Magic 8 Ball: if the trend of decreasing rent continues past the end of Covid, Seattle’s dance music future looks very bright. Cheap rent is the mother of great art (and great parties).
Sword of Thorns Links: