Swift Arrow Talks Musical Influences, Songwriting And New Single “Light”

Kat Harlton

Alt pop act, Swift Arrow, releases the music video for his new song, “Light”, from the Light EP. This is the third single from Swift Arrow’s debut EP and is part of a run of singles to be released over the course of 2019, showcasing energetic guitar riffs, infectious melodies, rhythmic percussion and atmospheric soundscapes.

Going by the moniker Swift Arrow, Toronto-based Australian singer and guitarist, Hayden French, is inspired by an eclectic mix of old-school inspirations and new alternative music. His sound is comparable to current festival headliners, such as Haim, Lorde and The 1975, combined with a touch of John Mayer’s guitar prowess and undertones of 70s rock and 80s pop.

While Swift Arrow may be a new name, French is no stranger to the Canadian music landscape, previously performing around southern Ontario with Toronto alt/funk/rock group The Lipstick Junkies. This included appearances at Canadian Music Week, NXNE and Indie Week, as well as TV appearances across Canada.

When Swift Arrow took to the studio, he asked former Lipstick Junkies bandmate Brian Davis (Goodday/Badday Productions) to engineer and co-produce the three song Light EP. The songs focus on the positive vibes of summer; light, warmth, happiness and good times, an homage to French’s beachtown upbringing off the sunny coast of Australia. These aspects are brought to life in the “Light” music video. Directed by Colin Mercer (Suntola Productions), the video depicts the infinite (though sometimes food-orientated) love and positivity of a puppy, set to a sleek, tropical backdrop.

Coming off the release of this debut EP, Swift Arrow is ready to take his unique blend of alternative sounds and pop sensibilities to new audiences and live stages around Toronto and beyond. We had the opportunity to catch up with Swift Arrow and talk musical influences, new single “Light” and songwriting.

Kat: Can you tell us about Swift Arrow?

Swift Arrow: I started Swift Arrow after my previous band went on hiatus. I was writing a lot and had just set my small home studio back up, so a lot of my spare time was spent creating. Swift Arrow was kind of a byproduct of that creative energy. On one hand this project was a long time coming, but on the other it feels very fresh, new and spontaneous. It was really about getting back to a love for music and playing the kind of songs I enjoy hearing.

Kat: Who are your musical influences or inspirations?

Swift Arrow: When I started Swift Arrow, I wanted to combine the roaring guitars of the 70s with the percussive elements of 80s music, then bring it into the modern context of current indie pop. I think we did a great job of achieving that. Haim are an excellent example of a band that seamlessly gels aspects from different musical eras, and they are certainly a strong influence too. I also really love anything that has good energy and will make you move, such as The 1975 and Tame Impala. Outside of music, I think growing up in a beach town in Australia has a big influence on the sound of Swift Arrow. If you can imagine being in the sun by the ocean with your friends – that’s what Swift Arrow sounds like.

Kat: Can you talk about your songwriting process? Is it always the same?

Swift Arrow: For me, the writing process is a little different each time. It generally starts with chords and melody though. Once those foundations are there, I’ll start producing and arranging the song. I’ll add the keys, pads, bass, drums and percussion and I’ll also write a ton of guitar parts before picking and choosing the ones that feel right for the song. This turns into a reasonably full-scale demo, which gets sent to everyone in the live band, as well as Brian Davis, my co-producer and mix engineer at Goodday/Badday Productions. We’ll throw ideas back and forth and make adjustments to the song before getting in the studio to track the final version. I try to get all of us in the room for these final sessions, as there’s a lot of creativity flowing and someone always comes up with that extra-special something in the moment that really elevates the song.

Kat: Can you share the inspiration behind your new single “Light”? I see you also just released a music video for it, what was the visual story you were trying to tell?

Swift Arrow: ‘Light’ is a song about being around people who fill life with good vibes and who brighten any room they enter. When we started working on the concept of the music video, I explained this to the director, Colin Mercer of Suntola Productions. He made the connection between that vibrant ‘light’ energy and the exuberance of a puppy. That became the key concept – depicting the infinite positivity of a puppy and setting it to a sleek, tropical backdrop, reminiscent of my beach town upbringing. It was so much fun having our furry friends in the studio. They were so playful and curious, so it was a really funny and enjoyable shoot. It reinforced those good vibes that the song is about and I think that translates when you watch the video.

Kat: What has been the most challenging aspect of being a musical artist and/or the most rewarding?

Swift Arrow: I would say the most rewarding aspect of being an artist is when someone tells you your music impacted his or her life in some way. We write to express ourselves, but it’s when the music connects with others that it becomes powerful. Those moments are always really nice. As for the challenging aspect, I personally found moving to a new country was a big challenge as an artist. At the time, I knew nobody and had to rebuild my musical network from scratch. Fortunately, I met some amazing musicians who have become like family to me. It’s something I’m very grateful for.

Kat: Do you have any advice for other musical artists?

Swift Arrow: I would advise artists to be authentic. Instead of trying to fit into a mold, be yourself and build your brand around that. It’s that kind of honestly that shines through. Also, I recommend surrounding yourself with creative people that are not only really good at what they do, but are also great to be around. You want your music career to be a long one. These people will make sure it’s full of fun and laughter along the way.

For more on Swift Arrow head to his Facebook or Instagram @swiftarrowmusic

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