Niall Jackson may well be a familiar name to some on the domestic scene, but in his latest guise Swimmers Jackson, making music is as personal a pursuit as they come.
State exclusive: See the brand new video for 'Pain in the Heart' below the interview. The track is released on Fri 19 January, and the video was made by Sour Sugar.
You've been involved in music for quite some time, what does this current incarnation allow you to do that previous bands / projects hasn't?
I have been in plenty of bands down through the years and while each enjoyed some level of success in touring, releasing and everything else that goes with being in a band, being on my own allows a certain freedom that I've never had. I am my own boss, the only person I can get angry with is myself, and I try not to do that. I simply say no to things I do not want to do now, and even better, say yes to things I do want to do, without trial by committee.
I love being in bands, I'm still in Bouts and have just released the first single with another new band in London called Sweat Threats. I also started Swimmers with two of my best friends Barry MacNeill and Steve McCann, so although they would understand if I got other players in over in London, I don't really want to right now. I'm also challenging myself to do it on my own for the first time, so this current incarnation as Swimmers Jackson allows me to tick all boxes.
Looking back over the past 12 months, is there anything you're particularly proud of?
I recorded an entire album's worth of stuff with Darragh Nolan in his Asta Kalapa studios in Wexford in March over two days. I played everything on it bar some keys which Darragh kindly laid down. I also self-released the two singles so far with artwork and videos I made on my own. Finally started playing solo gigs for the first time in my life too and managed to get around Ireland and the UK in support of them. I also re-released an acoustic version of a Christmas song I wrote in 2014 that raised some money for the Peter McVerry trust. I'm proud of all of those things.
In terms of how you write and record, what's the one trick up your sleeve you always come back to?
Oh man, I'm not reinventing the wheel. I suppose one thing I always come back to is melody. It's all well and good having weird chords and progressions but without a vocal melody I'm not interested. I also love my Boss Super Octave OC-3 Pedal, which works equally well with both a guitar and bass.
How does the scene in London compare to back home?
Well I'm only really starting out in London, with about 10 gigs under my belt here. I suppose the advantage is you get to ply your trade under the radar for a little bit longer in London, there are just so many venues and nights and promoters. The downside is that it's very hard to get ON the radar. It's also a far more spread out community than it is in Dublin. In Ireland if you're stuck for an instrument/amp/driver, someone will help out within the hour, here you may as well be shouting into the abyss, but I'm sure that will improve as I get to know more people.
How do you see the current project progressing into 2018?
I've a couple more singles up my sleeve between now and the summer and then I'll see whether I want to release that bunch of songs as an EP or an album. I suppose the most important thing is to keep writing, keep playing and keep enjoying it. It would be nice to meet a good booker or for some nice festivals to get in touch. I'm an open book.
“Very chill 'pump up the convertible car radio whilst driving down the highway with the warm wind in your hair' tunes….” (Dowry)
Swimmers Jackson - Pain in the Heart
Video is by Sour Sugar productions, who are Eoin Lennon and Matt Davis. Shot in Carlow.