If you want to listen to “music that makes you feel like you’re floating,” put the drugs down (for now) and keep reading.
Meet SWIMM: Chris Hess, self-labeled as “a mix of dumbed-down eccentricity with normcore values”, and Adam Winn self-labeled as “West Hollywood Bum-Core with a touch of Jesus”.
We had the pleasure of meeting these great guys (with great hair) in Hollywood, where they talked to us about their music, upcoming projects and shared some words of wisdom. Hint: “Don’t just give it up. Put it up.”
Labeling Men: Thanks for meeting with us today, you guys!
Adam Winn: Yeah, thanks for having us.
Chris Hess: Yeah, thank you.
Labeling Men: How long have you guys been playing music together?
Adam Winn: Because of TimeHop, the app, I just found that [it’s] almost 7 years.
Labeling Men: Oh, wow, that’s amazing!
Adam Winn: Yeah, SWIMM has been around for almost two.
Chris Hess: We were in a two-piece band together… For the first couple of years, it was just more goofing off in Florida and then we started actually playing a lot of shows as a two-piece band. Two years ago we decided to play as a full band and write music in a different way and sort of re-started the project as SWIMM.
Labeling Men: This may be a redundant question, but why did you guys choose to move to L.A. from Florida?
Adam Winn: I think we were just ready for a change of pace, to do something new. It kind of fell into our laps because we were actually looking at moving to Brooklyn because we have a lot of friends there and our friend had a room open and we were like, “Oh, that would be fun. We always have a good time there.” But then we did this almost two month tour and towards the end of it, those guys at the warehouse were like, “We have a room opening up and it’s like a really good deal and you can practice there, you can write there, you can record there.” So we were like, “Well, we love California probably better than anywhere else,” so we just kind of did it. We didn’t have the intention of, “Oh, we HAVE to go to L.A. to make it.” We thought it would be cool to be surrounded by these creative people who are killing it. It has been a positive experience.
Chris Hess: We shared a bed for 6 months.
Adam Winn: We did.
Labeling Men: Haha, how was that?
Chris Hess: I mean, we share a bed so much on tour, so it wasn’t like a weird thing.
Adam Winn: We were in New York for two months one time and we shared a twin air mattress during the wintertime.
Labeling Men: What a dynamic duo! I saw the video you guys have for Buzzsession and one note I made while watching it was that it made me feel like I should be on hardcore drugs. Then, as I was reading about you guys, there was something about the band’s name, SWIMM, and its meaning. Do guys want to talk about how you came up with the name SWIMM?
Adam Winn: Yeah, we like to make music that makes you feel like you’re floating and, like you said, like you’re on something that makes you feel like you’re floating.
Chris Hess: Weightlessness feeling.
Adam Winn: Yeah. So, we always keep that in mind. We’ve always liked the type of music that kind of does mess with your head and maybe, like you said, gives you that feeling without having to be on drugs, even maybe. I mean, that’s the goal, obviously. We both also grew up around water and being in water, so that also was a reason why the name SWIMM came about, I think.
Labeling Men: It’s a great name, because it’s simple but it can have so many different meanings at the same time.
Chris Hess: Thank you.
Adam Winn: Thanks.
Labeling Men: And you guys just released a new single, Beverly Hells, in February. Congrats! or (Watch below or Listen here )
Chris Hess: Thanks!
Adam Winn: Thank you!
Labeling Men: It sounds great. What was the inspiration behind the song, Beverly Hells?
Chris Hess: Definitely living in L.A. Just moving here and seeing the different things people are motivated by, including myself, and somehow wrapping that into a little bit of my own personal love-saga... Hollywood is like a weird animal to me, in a way. It’s something that I kind of avoid, but I’m also intrigued by and motived by and yet sometimes disgusted by it and that’s sort of a commentary on that whole thing.
Labeling Men: That’s a good message. I feel like a lot of people who move here can tend to feel that way. Personally, sometimes I hate it but I know this is where I need to be… if you want to be anything – from a writer, to a musician, to an artist, to an actor.
Chris Hess: Right. It’s a weird, push-pull.
Adam Winn: Yeah.
Labeling Men: Do you guys want to talk about the music video you’re currently working on for Beverly Hells? How is that coming along?
Chris Hess: Well, it all came from the Buzzsession, funny enough… one of the guys in the crew was a fellow named Miles. He’s from Indiana, fresh to L.A., and he was just the most interesting person because aesthetically you can’t miss him. He’s like a Viking – a modern-day Viking. He has long, blond hair, perfectly straight. Chiseled face.
Adam Winn: 6 foot 5 and buff.
Chris Hess: Buffed. Ripped. He’s so smiley, so nice and so positive. Just open to coordinate with any body with anything.
Adam Winn: He’s an incredible dude.
Chris Hess: Yeah, he’s incredible all around. After that shoot, [he just kept popping in my head] for this video as having him be the face of SWIMM. It kind of plays into the Beverly Hells premise of what Hollywood controls and what things people are motived by and want to see, but taking it in a light direction. He’s basically hired as the face of SWIMM because we don’t cut it and we just have to accept that he’s what people want to see.
Labeling Men: Oh my god, that’s genius.
Chris Hess: Haha. So, we got in touch with Alex, the director from the [Buzzsessions] shoot, and he was all about the idea and ran with it and made some ideas of his own come together and yesterday we shot that. The majority is just Miles on a table, oiled up, with his shirt off and a fan blowing off his hair, lip-syncing the words.
Labeling Men: Oh. My. God.
Chris Hess: He just nailed it. Then we have us playing in dark – the idea was that we’d be the band playing the music behind the curtain, making the sound but we’d be hushed in the dark, sort of thing.
Labeling Men: I love this! It’s so metaphorical and well thought out. It’s amazing that you were able to say so much with just a music video. What type of music or which artists inspire you guys?
Chris Hess: I would say our friends.
Adam Winn: Yeah, mostly our friends are the most inspiring to us. We are lucky enough to have so many friends that are just doing really cool stuff and it just makes us want to work harder and get better what we’re doing. Musically, we both like pretty much all kinds of music so that’s probably why our music is all over the place sometimes.
Labeling Men: That’s the sweetest thing I’ve heard!
Adam Winn: Musically, we both like pretty much all kinds of music so that’s probably why our music is all over the place sometimes.
Labeling Men: Or it’s what makes it distinct… Now, transitioning a little bit – as you guys know our website is called Labeling Men, so what would you say your label is based on your style?
Chris Hess: Let’s see… a mix of dumbed-down eccentricity with normcore values.
Labeling Men: Oh my god. I love that! That is the most genius label I’ve heard.
Chris Hess: I actually have no idea what any of that means.
Labeling Men: Well, it sounds pretty great and I love it.
Adam Winn: I think I’ll just stick to that one, too.
Chris Hess: That really wasn’t something I have in the bank or anything.
Labeling Men: All improvised?
Chris Hess: Yeah. I think it makes sense a little bit, maybe? I actually don’t really know what normcore means. My friend, Brandon, the guy who does the projection art, was dating this girl who was working at Forever21 so she was up on all the labels. At one point she said something I was wearing around her was normcore. I was like, “I don’t really know what that means, but….”
Adam Winn: Normcore values though…
Labeling Men: Do you have one that you’d like to share, Adam?
Adam Winn: I’m not really sure… I feel like I definitely can’t top that. How would I label myself? I get called a bum a lot. So maybe bum-core?
Chris Hess: I’m trying labeling him right now… I think you’re better than that, man. Maybe like, West Hollywood Bum-Core with a touch of Jesus.
Labeling Men: Haha, with a touch of Jesus! We should just have you come up with labels for our site! On that note, that note, do you guys want to describe to us what you’re wearing today?
Adam Winn: Yeah, I’m wearing a shirt that she gave me to wear for the shoot. I feel like most of our clothes, they don’t really have any brands on them. We just find them… and we go for comfort over most.
Chris Hess: (Laughing) Comfortcore, actually. The most accurate. I mean, I usually don’t wear branded stuff unless it’s kind I really like or old Calvin Klein or old throwback sort of thing, which I know it’s like cliché but I like it.
Adam Winn: These are Zara pants. My ex-girlfriend gave them to me.
Labeling Men: Would you guys say your style influences your music or vise-versa?
Chris Hess: That’s a good question.
Adam Winn: Yeah, that is a good question. I don’t think so. I don’t think I would dress this way if I didn’t play… or maybe I would have to dress nicer if I had to work. Maybe that does kind of influence us.
Chris Hess: You dress fairly nice though.
Adam Winn: I guess I don’t feel like I dress THAT nice. Yesterday I dressed nice.
Chris Hess: Zara, dude.
Labeling Men: Yeah, Zara pants are really nice.
Chris Hess: True.
Adam Winn: That’s true. So yeah, maybe I would dress the same. Maybe with less holes on my shirts.
Chris Hess: I mean, I feel like maybe I am a little influenced because I feel like being cohesive in what you’re doing is important, so I mean I guess when we were a two-piece band and playing shows I would wear silk dashikis…
Adam Winn: We were definitely influenced by how we dressed then. We would dress in the craziest shit ever.
Labeling Men: Oh my god, that’s so funny.
Chris Hess: I mean, I had an idea to dress as a L.A. girl for this show coming up.
Labeling Men: A “basic bitch”?
Chris Hess: (Laughing) I’m going to steal that. That’s great... But that’s just such a tough question because I don’t know which comes first. I don’t know if it’s like, “I feel like I want to put off a more refined look” than just being like wearing the same holey flannel that I’ve been wearing for 10 years or something. But I don’t know if there’s even that much thought into it or if it’s just like, maybe the music is maturing so maybe I should mature. I think that it’s something that’s probably in the subconscious level.
Labeling Men: Yeah, I was just about to say that too.
Chris Hess: Yeah, I don’t know how much conscious decision-making there is over it. I’m guessing the music would come first because that will always be the most important thing.
Labeling Men: Perhaps… So, do you guys have any funny dating stories you’d like to share with us? …Both of you, your eyes just got wide-open, haha.
Adam Winn: (To Chris) I’m sure you’ve got one. It’s weird because we were just talking about this recently – How I’ve never really have dated. It’s always been a friend of a friend or someone in the group that I end up becoming friends with and then maybe start dating or being my girlfriend all of the sudden. But I’ve never been in the dating circuit where it’s just like, “Oh, I’m going on a date tonight with a person I don’t know.”
Labeling Men: That sounds pretty fortunate. I’m a little jealous.
Adam Winn: At the same time, I feel like I should at least try it because it almost gives me a little bit of anxiety thinking about being out with someone I don’t really know and what if it just suck right away and you’re like, “Oh, do I have to actually stay for dinner or can I leave?” So it’s a little scary to me.
Labeling Men: Yeah, dating can be definitely scary.
Adam Winn: So I don’t really have any, honestly… Honestly we just talked about this and it’s true. I mean, I went on a date with the girl I’m seeing now recently and I ate some pot candy before, thinking “Oh, I’ll just eat a little” and mid-way through our dinner I was so high that I just couldn’t stop laughing but she was having fun too with it, so it wasn’t like a bad story.
Labeling Men: Haha, yeah! That just sounds like you guys connected… Oh my, I don’t know why I just sounded so bitter about it.
Adam Winn: (Laughing)
Chris Hess: (Laughing)
Labeling Men: (Sarcastically) OH, you guys laughed and had a good time? That’s cool… Haha, I really don’t know where that came from. I’m sorry.
Chris Hess: I don’t know, I was single for the last year and a half in L.A., which definitely had its ratchet experience.
Adam Winn: That one...that one nasty G.
Chris Hess: Well, that sounds WAY worse than what it is.
Labeling Men: Well, yeah. Now I’m intrigued. It’s too late, there’s no going back.
Chris Hess: I actually don’t know if I should.
Adam Winn: It’s not bad.
Chris Hess: It’s not bad, but it’s just realizing there are just so many shitty people when you’re single. It’s kind of demoralizing sometimes. But it’s part of the process.
Labeling Men: Yeah, it is.
Chris Hess: The one experience that we were talking about was this girl that I met and then I went on tour and I never really even hung out with her, really. I hung out with her one time and just talked and stuff and then I went on tour for a month and a half, but it became this texting relationship and it was just texting all the time. It was fine... it was fun. When I got back to L.A. we hung out once and it was okay and then the next time we hung out it was so terrible. She was funny but it was just a different life, I guess. I can’t be like the overpass, blow till 7 in the morning every night, sort of life. Not that I condemn it. It’s just that I can’t keep up with it.
Labeling Men: No… It’s a lot… Haha.
Chris Hess: (Laughing) I mean, literally, most of my best friends do it ALL the time and I just, I don’t know, I just don’t do blow so I literally, physically, can’t do it. And it just like, I literally just spent two months almost, spent so much time talking to someone over texts to turn out – and for other reasons – to turn out to be so lame. That’s so silly to take all that time.
Adam Winn: It was a way funnier story when it first happened… I don’t know I thought it was funny… Now it’s just kind of sad.
Labeling Men: Haha, oh no!
Chris Hess: I was just so over dating. I didn’t even consider myself dating, but I don’t know. It was just so over this.
Labeling Men: ON THAT NOTE, do you guys have any dating advice that you’d like to share with our audience? People in L.A.? People in Florida?
Chris Hess: I would say put the punany on a pedestal. Everybody.
Adam Winn: Yeah.
Chris Hess: I’m speaking to guys, too. Don’t just give it up. Put it up. That’s how it makes it meaningful, eventually. Or, just give it up and have fun. That’s my advice. Because we’ve all done both and it’s great.
Adam Winn: That’s probably—
Chris Hess: --I’m never going to get a girl after this interview.
You can listen to the amazing music by SWIMM here
Interview by Karen M. Guzelian
This interview has been edited and condensed.