Congratulations on your third solo album. Tell us about your inspiration for Circles and Squares?
The record started with songs I was writing about a new and exciting relationship I was in. The songs were highly inspired —like no others I’ve ever written. So, I started to record them. As the recording process continued, I wrote and recorded songs that also were about things I was thinking about and doing in my life. Circles and Squares refer to how I start my paintings — with lots of those particular shapes and then I fill in all the details.
How would you say you’ve evolved as an artist since your first solo record?
I have been a songwriter for so many years, so it was a bit scary to take the leap into being my own artist, and saying things I wanted to say. Many well-known musicians played on my first one, Instant Pleasure. I thought I needed a lot of pros around me to make it sound great. But, I didn’t get to play as much as I would have liked — or work out some details in the songs. As you make more records, you become less inhibited. On Circles and Squares, I played all the instruments and sang, wrote and produced all the songs which was the most satisfying experience I’ve had making (now five) records (including the records I made with my band, The Red Button). I had total freedom on Circles and Squares and enjoyed every minute of it.
You have been called a ‘true power-pop master.’ What draws you to this style of music?
That is too kind of a moniker, but thank you. I just always loved —not liked — the music of the Beatles and leaned in the Paul McCartney direction. I also loved pop music—things like the Cowsills’ “The Rain, The Park and Other Things,” the Mamas and Papas, Motown, The Moody Blues, Electric Light Orchestra, The Bee Gees, Elton John. In short, short, pop songs that have (generally) three choruses and you can sing! I just love pop music. i never stopped loving it and am grateful to have the opportunity to create it! I think it’s a big thing people are missing today — singing pop songs. Yes, there are the occasional artists that make pop music, but they are very rare and there are usually only one or two songs you may like on an entire record. Singing pop songs is such an enhancement to the experience of being human and to a VERY large degree that is not in our lives today. i try and make records filled with mostly positive, three-minute songs you can sing. That’s my goal.
What do you love and hate about the Music Business, as both a songwriter and artist?
I don’t hate the music business. Without it, we wouldn’t have heard some of the great music we’ve enjoyed over these past 100 years. What is unconscionable are people in the business who have taken advantage of starry-eyed songwriters and musicians who didn’t know how the business worked and thus, got ripped off, big-time. The names are endless. but, hopefully that occurs less than it did. In general, “the business” has been a much greater force for good. Someone has to put up money to take chances on new artists, get records into the stores and develop artists. In fact, the least respected people in the music business have been the business people, some of whom, made great records possible.
Which are your favorite songs you’ve ever written? How about on the new album?
My favorite songs I’ve written for other artists, in no particular order are: “Love Is A Beautiful Thing” for Al Green. “Instant Pleasure” for Rufus Wainwright, “Tell It To My Heart” for Taylor Dayne, “Not Gonna Be The One” for Olivia Newton-John” and “Tear It up” for Michael McDonald. My favorite songs for my band (with Mike Ruekberg), The Red Button are: “Picture”, “Genevieve”, “It’s No Secret” and “She’s About To Cross My Mind” (we have a new album coming out, summer, 2017). My favorite songs from my previous solo albums are: “Matchbook Cover”, “Summer In Her Hair”, “Butterfly on Jupiter” and “Movie Set.” My favorites on my new album are: “Far Away”, “I Don’t Have Anything (If I Don’t Have You)”, “Abyss” and “Trying To Keep It Simple”.
What do you hope fans take away from your music?
The ability to feel good singing some of the songs. And, wanting to put the record on again… and again… (LOL)
You’ve written songs, books, painted, and directed and film. What is next for Seth Swirsky?
I have a self-help book coming out in April 2017 called “21 Ways to a Happier Depression” that I’m quite excited about. It contains things to do when you feel all freaked out— I recently got my Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and many of my techniques have helped my patients. So, now they’re all in a book to hopefully help many more people! I mentioned that The Red Button will have a new record next year and I will likely have a show of my paintings in the next few months. I am just grateful to be able to create full-time. It’s the fuel of my life!