Cape Town-based band, Original Swimming Party’s live performances are almost as unique as their name.
The band is made up of ex-Dirty Skirts lead singer Jeremy de Tolly on vocals and synths and Tom Glendinning using Ableton Live software for the visual projections.
The live show includes projected visuals by Frank Latter. Also, Greg Abrahams is the other member of the band.
They released their first EP The Blue in April 2014 and are preparing for their first full length release, due in October.
Jeremy, who lives in Tamboerskloof and has been playing music since he was five years old, said visuals and experimentation played a big part in what they do.
“Both Tom and I had the same vision and we went for it. We knew that we wanted to use projections with live performances. We both saw people overseas doing this and said ‘why is there no one doing this here? Let’s make it happen’.”
He said there was a positive reaction in the Cape Town music scene when they told venues they would be using visuals with their performances. “The idea was to project visuals with every song and for them to move and change while we play it live.”
The name of the band came about from an experience Jeremy had six years ago when he was with friends on a boat in Peru. “The water was freezing and we dived in and we were screaming with pain and delight. We jumped in and out and our skin was glowing. My friend yelled ‘we’re the original swimming party’ and I remember thinking that’s a great band name.”
Tom, who lives in De Waterkant, said in the past year and a half they had had an awakening. “We are here in South Africa and there is all this amazing music around us. We started looking at African music like kwaito and house.”
And so Jeremy and Tom ended up taking Xhosa language and pantsula dance lessons. At the same time the Fees Must Fall movement was gaining steam and, said Jeremy, they were picking up influences from all around them. “We were feeling very supportive of the youth movement in South Africa. The politics also affected us and we had our eyes open.”
The band’s new single was released this week ahead of their performance at the Waiting Room. The single is the second off the album due for release in October and made its debut on YFM over the weekend.
Tom said they had worked with a number of different people for the album, including Thuso Sepabe who has African folk with Xhosa and Sotho influences and singer Sdumo Viwe.
To this, Jeremy added: “So far all the collaboration have happened organically and it is happening through artists that we like. We’ve been on the outside of the music scene for quite a long time so we’ve found other emerging artists. It felt natural to work with them. We love playing live and we have our visuals draped over us like a big colourful moving blanket. We’ve got a solid two months ahead (to finish the album).”
Jeremy and Tom say everything they have done so far, has been done independently, and at a small home studio.
“A label provides infrastructure to work with whereas being independent gives us flexibility and control over everything,” said Tom. “That in itself is both a blessing and curse.”
The band have, however, signed a management deal with a US-based company and are due to tour there as well as in Germany later this year. The band will perform today, Thursday August 11, at 8.30pm at The Waiting Room in Long Street, Cape Town. Tickets are R50 at the door. The release of their newest single Skin Upon Skin coincides with Original Swimming Party’s launch of a two week Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for their Hypergiant Audio / Visual Tour. Go to http://bit.ly/support-osp for more info.