MONO: Angie Swan Talks Inspirations, Super Fans and her Portable Studio Rig
Angie Swan is the sort of guitarist that gets you on your feet, swooning over the ripping solos which leave you wanting more. Hailing from Milwaukee and growing in a household surrounded by music, Angie attended the prestigious Berklee School of Music during the early 2000s and honed her craft by heading off to Los Angeles to kickstart her career in music.
She’s since played for the likes of will.i.am, Macy Gray, Boney James, CeeLo Green, Fifth Harmony and was on the road as a lead guitarist for Cirque du Soleil. Today Swan takes the stage as part of David Byrne’s backing band. We caught up with her and managed to find out about her influences, the artists she’s worked with, and even some good ol’ advice for the road.
So, tell us about how you got into music!
I grew up in a very musical household. Though it wasn’t professionally, my father always played with his bands in our basement.
You’ve stated that Prince is one of your greatest influences. Are there any other up and coming artists who have inspired you musically and have further shaped your playing?
Hmmm, up and coming artists? Well, I could definitely say some more recent artists and bands such as Little Dragon have gotten me way more interested in programming and production. As well as playing guitar, I like to experiment with drum programming and sampling. Much of this can and will be heard on my EP which will hopefully be released early 2019.
You’ve toured and backed an incredible list of musicians, do they have any common defining traits in their approach to music?
I’ve worked with such a variety of musicians (artists) that it’d be very hard for me to say they all have the same or even similar approach. You’d be surprised at the work ethic or lack thereof in some cases. I really have a lot of respect for artists that take their craft seriously and constantly strive to improve or evolve. David Byrne and Will.i.am are definitely one of those types of artists, not afraid to try new things or push boundaries.
Do you have any stories you can share from being on tour?
Too many to count, seriously. I have some funny ones though. I do remember having that experienced of being chased by fans while on the road with Fifth Harmony. Their fans (aka the Harmonizers) are definitely super fans. They would literally follow us to hotels or wait for us as we arrived at airports. They were definitely fanning on the band by association haha. I thought this stuff only happened on TV. Was this what I was like with New Kid on the block in the 80s?!?!
What do you never leave home without when you’re on tour and why?
I always bring my portable studio rig, which consists of a small midi keyboard and either my apogee duet or i-Rig interface. As much as I like to perform on stage, I also love to keep my creative juices flowing. I still do other sessions remotely when I have time in my hotel room or on the bus. When I was on the road with Cirque du Soleil, I recorded a few tracks on drummer Terri-Lyne Carrington’s album “The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul”. I played guitar on songs featuring Chaka Khan, Meshell N’Degeocello, Ledesi and also Natalie Cole’s last recorded song before her passing.
What are your live show top tips for musicians?
STAY HYDRATED! Stretch before shows and practice a healthy diet while traveling. These things are all necessary to maintain endurance throughout a tour run.
What MONO gear do you use at home, in the studio or on tour?
All my gig bags are MONO, they are very practical and super comfortable. Also, the Flyby backpack is incredible! It’s the first backpack I’ve ever work that doesn’t make me slouch forward when walking. I can fit so much into it and the detachable laptop part is absolutely genius!
So, any plans for a solo record, and what else does the future hold for you?
David Byrne’s tour keeps being extended so we’ll see. I definitely want and need to get my solo project released. My goal is to have a single or two out by year’s end.