Berlin-based singer/songwriter Sway Clarke was one of our favorite new artists back in 2013, but after a short and solid run, he disappeared. He had a history of songwriting for other artists, so it seemed likely that he just decided to step out of the spotlight and stick to a behind-the-scenes role, but in reality it was more complicated than that.
After getting trapped in a label deal and facing some dark times, Sway Clarke got stuck. Today, he finally makes his return with "Either Way." It's a slick, gorgeous song that showcases his ability to combine enthralling songwriting with forward-thinking arrangements and production. Listen below, and ready our interview below for a reintroduction to Sway Clarke.
We first heard you back in 2013, but you got really quiet recently. What's been going on the last few years?
Without getting too deep, in 2014, I signed a bigger record deal than I should have with some people I shouldn’t have and everything went to shit. Made a lot of music you’ll probably never hear and it really broke my heart. I got into a really dark depression and just retreated into my apartment. Everything started to fall apart around me: my love life, my mom almost died, got real broke and I basically lost all of my confidence. I was stuck and it was so scary.
Luckily, I fell into a really beautiful community of musicians in Berlin that I was both writing with (and for) that somehow got me out of that hole. Subsequently, I got myself out of that deal. You know, I realized my mistake was giving up too much control—over my career and my life, for that matter. Now, the most important thing is keeping loving people around me that truly have my well-being in their hearts.
I realized my mistake was giving up too much control—over my career and my life, for that matter.
Tell us about "Either Way." What makes this song the right one for your reintroduction?
It just felt like the right one. I wanted to get away from the guitar and explore a different voice—literally and figuratively. Put on a new red dress. Something a bit sexier this time around.
We know you're capable of writing really accessible pop songs, but this one is a little more experimental. Is this a conscious choice, or just how the song came together? Is it an indication of things to come?
It wasn’t a conscious choice, but Fernandez—my longtime friend and collaborator—and I decided to just do what comes from now on. "Either Way" is sort a double entendre: on one side it’s about finding it impossible to let a “person" go, on the other it’s about a dream you can give up on. However, I won’t say every song is gonna sound like this one. I’m free now, so I’ma do whatever the fuck comes to my nappy head.
What else is new with you? What can we expect next?
I got back to writing poetry, listening to some Tara Brach (which helped tons) and began script writing. Writing songs is dope, but I feel you can’t always express a full idea in that span of time. [Scriptwriting is] something I wanted to do for ages, though never had the balls to. I’d say from here on out you can expect output and whatever it’s gonna be, I ain’t trying to stop again.