Maxim Butylev aka Swoy, is a man on the rise. Best known for his track, ‘Airy’, he’s been on an upward trajectory for some time, and is very much beginning to make his presence felt on an international level. Based in Hungary, he’s repped a slew of respected labels, with the likes of (djebali) presents, Overall Music, EWax and hedZup playing host to his accomplished house and techno jams. A native of Russia, we caught up with Swoy recently for an in-depth chat, touching on everything from his latest record on the London-based Into the Woods label to how the current political situation is affecting him and his countrymen…
Hi Max, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. How is all in your world right now? What’s exciting you musically and personally?
Hello everyone and Merry Christmas. My world has changed a little lately, and not only mine, but for each of us, to some extent more or less. I only care about one thing and that is for us to live peacefully and for everyone to have the opportunity to find happiness, fulfilment and development in their life whilst pursing their passions! For me of course, this is music!
Can you tell us a bit about your history in electronic music? How did it all begin for you?
This is a long story that began more than 20 years ago. I was around 15 years old when I first started listening to Electronic music and immediately I realised that this sound was for me. At that time, I had a very old ZX Spectrum computer, I was able to install a 3-track sequencer onto it and this became my first experience in writing music. By the age of 17 I had started to play music in nightclubs, I was listening to all styles of dance music, as new genres and sub genres appeared, I absorbed them and quickly learned how to create my own music styles. In 2007, I had my first release and since then it’s been a rush! Over the years I’ve worked on multiple projects under different aliases, each one showcasing an alternative style of music that I enjoyed, one of them still exists that I also tour under. Then in 2015 I created by latest style and alias – Swoy.
Russia’s always adopted house and techno, more than most countries in fact. I remember seeing a video of The Prodigy playing in Red Square in the 90s that looked insane! Did these sort of concerts leave a big impact on the Russian youth of the time do you think?
Absolutely! Rave culture has made a great contribution and I personally went through it myself. It was something new for the younger generation. I remember walking around as a teenager with green hair, in plaid pants and with a piercing on my face 🙂 This music turned consciousness upside down for so many people who simply did not want to fit in and wanted to stand out from mainstream cultures.
Politics and music have become unavoidable right now, even more so for Russian and Ukrainian artists. As someone who grew as an artist and musician in Russia, how detrimental has it been to the scene there?
I can have my opinion as an artist and as a musician, but in no case can I be an expert in the field of politics as I am not a politician. All I can say is that all artists affected directly have had no choice but to accept our new reality and learn to live in a new way as best as we can so that we can continue to do what we love and continue to share our music with the world.
How has this affected you personally? Is it more difficult to get a visa to go play abroad now?
At the beginning of March I made the decision to leave my home and I moved to live in Turkey. Moving to a new country as many will know can be incredibly complicated. As each month passes I continue to consider and re-asses the options available to me whilst also thinking about where I would like to move to longer term to hopefully settle down. The visa situation is not easy, predominately due to a large number of sanctions. We have to go through new tests each time and this has a major impact on obtaining a Schengen visa. I’ve had one particularly bad experience which meant I was unable to attend a few of my gigs. I was upset for the promoters and fans in this instance as it all fell through unexpectedly at the very last minute. All these challenges will only make me stronger and I am working hard to find a long term solution to resolve these issues in the very near future. I feel that I am on the right track.
And how has it affected the scenes in Moscow, St.Petersburg and beyond?
A lot has changed. Parties are not the same as before. Like myself many have chosen to leave Russia, including some good promoters and of course the artists themselves.
Tell us a bit about your history with the famous Gazholder club. When did you first go? And why did it leave such an impression on you?
Yes, this is a great venue that has changed its location in Moscow several times and it is one of the few clubs that has been working and holding cool parties for such a long time. I met the owner of the club about 5 years ago and we found common interests both in music and in our approach to organising parties. Since then, we were able able to hold many excellent showcases in this club. I really love this place in summer, because there is a very cool summer terrace in the backyard of the club, where the atmosphere is crazy and the most grateful audience in Moscow.
Does it feel inappropriate to continue partying in Russia right now do you think? Or should people who denounce war continue as is?
I have no right to condemn anyone, but I understand one thing that ordinary people are not to blame for what happened. They are still many people who are far from politics and just love music.
I imagine you’ve been to Ukraine before, and of course clubs such as Closer very much have a global appeal. Was/is there a great relationship between the two countries when it comes to electronic music? Do you think this will continue?
I’m sure of only one thing here! Music should unite people, it always has, so why should it be different now!? I have met many people around the world with this same point of view! I am still in excellent relations with musicians from Ukraine, such as Silat Beksi and Kirik. We shouldn’t mix music and politics unless it is to create positivity and unity.
Have members of the Russian scene been helping out musicians and music professionals from Ukraine for example?
Of course, this was done in many different ways that led to donations across many charities. In particular there were a number of music compilations and recorded streams all put together in support of Ukraine.
Onto the music; can you tell us a bit about your latest record, Fairytale, and the thinking behind it?
This release consists of tracks that I created a different times, it has new material alongside music I created more than a year ago that I have been playing in each of my sets all this time! The title track “Fairytale” is a little different from the others, it is more melodic and has a “soul”. It works great at sunset or dawn, you need to prepare people for it, and then it opens up into new colours. This release turned out to be quite diverse, it combined a lot of moods, and it’s like a small book. In general, I like music more where there is a soul and not just an empty rhythm. Even with minimal sound, you can achieve and reveal all this. I am very glad that this vinyl is coming out at the end of this year. Christmas is a great time for such music.
Where are you at with your music right now? And what more can we expect from you over the next while?
Since I release music only on vinyl, and this is quite a long process, I can’t make releases often. For me, I like the pace of this as I’m all for the quality of the material, not for the number of releases and tracks I can push out, so it’s better to be released less frequently, but with the best selected material. Of my other upcoming releases, the most long-awaited is my EP for the label TELUM. I am also preparing an EP for Sounds Of Sirius and early next year remixes and originals will be released on labels: Juuz, Yecad, Verum and Skip Audio Records. I also plan to launch my own label in the coming year.
You’re closely aligned with the Into the Woods guys in the UK, a really great crew who put music at the forefront of everything. How did you first end up working with them and how’s the experience been so far?
I have been friends with many people from London for a long time and they all intersect with each other and know each other. Almost all of them have their own labels and we were lucky enough to work together. And one day I received a message from one of our mutual friends that they were opening their ITW booking and an offer to enter their roster. They are a strong team with incredible plans for the future, I am very happy to be with them!
If you were to introduce your music in three tracks, what would they be and why? (Please incl. YouTube links)
Swoy – Airy
One of my very first tracks. It has been played a huge number of times and has always lifted people up and made them jump from the positivity and good mood that it gives.
Swoy – Stellar
Another track that works in every one of my sets. A very simple, but fascinating and zombifying groove, and again with a positive atmosphere.
Swoy – Illusion
This track for me is like a story that opens gradually, deeply and with soul.
What’s next for you, musically, that you’re really excited about?
Now I am working very hard both on the Swoy project and under my other alias. All my time is occupied only by music, which I can’t wait to share with you. I am also developing my online electronic music school “Experience” and I’m going to devote a lot of time to it next year as well. I really want to create something new in sound and bring a fresh look to it. Thank you to everyone for being there and charging me with your energy to move forwards! See you on the dance floors 😉
Keep up with Swoy on Soundcloud, Instagram and Bandcamp Check out our premiere of Swoy’s Fairytale here
Check out our premiere of Swoy’s Fairytale here