Pick Of The Week #37: Channel Swimmer (+ Interview)

Pick Of The Week #37: Channel Swimmer (+ Interview)

With his debut album ‘Alphabet’ almost complete, consisting of 26 tracks representing the alphabet, Matthew Mayes dropped his previous moniker Organ Morgan to the more favourable ‘Channel Swimmer’. We hooked up with him to discuss his favourite albums, his upcoming debut album, sample clearance and, above all, cool superpowers. Why? Why not.

With his debut album ‘Alphabet’ almost complete, consisting of 26 tracks representing the alphabet, Matthew Mayes dropped his previous moniker Organ Morgan to the more favourable ‘Channel Swimmer’. We hooked up with him to discuss his favourite albums, his upcoming debut album, sample clearance and, above all, cool superpowers. Why? Why not.

His track ‘Hold Music’ is our Pick Of The Week on Laid Back Radio this week. So tune in and pay attention until you hear a voicemail tone, or listen to it through the Soundcloud player below!

Matthew Mayes a.k.a. Organ Morgan a.k.a. Channel Swimmer, please tell us who you really are.

I’m Mathew Mayes, 25 years old. I’m from Cardiff, Wales, in the UK. I make all kinds of beats and I’m a DJ.

What do you use to make your music?

At the moment just Ableton Live and a small MIDI keyboard. I think it’s an M-Audio Oxygen 8, but the name has faded off. I’ve also got some Yamaha hs80m’s that I invested in last year

Tell us about your debut album ‘Alphabet’

Well, I’ve been working on it for over two years now. I was toying with the idea of making an album, and I included that in a small press release along with the first four tracks I had done at the time and sent it out to blogs. Without realizing, the tracks I sent out began with ABC and D. So one blog put 2+2 together and came up with 26. They said I was making an album with a track for every letter.

At the time the tracks were flowing real easy, and I thought it was kind of a good idea so I went for it. Now we’re more than two years down the line and I’m up to about twenty tracks, six to go. But I haven’t really done any filler tracks or interludes yet like you might get on other albums of that length, they are all two minute+ tracks, so it’s been hard going.

And sample clearance is an issue for the album, right?

Yeah, that’s an issue too. I’ve had quite alot of label interest, but they’ve been a bit scared by the amount of samples I’ve used. I did try and clear some samples so I could release a 4-track EP, but dealing with Def Jam/Atlantic as an unsigned artist trying to clear stuff was difficult to say the least… I’m still toying with the idea of putting an EP out myself and if that goes OK, then pushing the album, but I’d much prefer the backing of a label.

You initially didn’t start out using samples right?

Yeah, I mean, I have been making music for around ten years now. Initially I was making house and techno but I became bored with the formulaic nature of it, so it felt right to move in to something a bit different and something that came much more naturally, rather than fighting it. And that’s when I started using samples, and letting the use of a basic sample dictate each track.

So what do samples mean for you?

I think that the use of samples is really an art form. Whether it’s using a sample in a really crude way and looping it relentlessly, or layering many samples intricately to create a sort of collage. Music that contains samples often evokes memories/familiarity, giving off a sense of nostalgia, whether you know what the original is or not.

Describe the music you love in five albums

Loney, Dear and the albumLoney, Noir

Washed Out – Life Of Leisure (though technically an EP)

Arcade Fire – ‘Funeral

Joe Bataan – ‘Riot


Best Coast – Crazy For You

But there are so many more I could go for… J Dilla’s ‘Donuts’, Todd Rundgren’s ‘A Wizard/A True Star’, Cat Power with ‘The Greatest’, Gruff Rhys’ ‘Hotel Shampoo’, The Go! Team and ‘Thunder Lightning Strike’, ‘Pet Sounds’ by Beach Boys., Hot Chip’s ‘The Warning’, Ariel Pink’s ‘Before Today’ and, obviously, The Avalanches – ‘Since I Left You’. Shit man, can’t believe I left that out…

What was the last song that really blew you away when you heard it?

Genuinely, Mina – Parole Parole. It’s this old Italian TV show theme tune that they used to sing at the end. Really really stunning, even though it’s full on cheese.

Although a cool answer would probably be Teams vs Star Slinger – Punch Drunk Love or S. Maharba – When I Go To Sleep.

I have these two kinda modes when listening to music: old and new. Old music, if you haven’t heard it before is still new to you, so it’s still a really exciting discovery. Most of the time when I find old music, I like when I’m searching for samples in record stores or junk sales or even on YouTube. I start with the intention of sampling them, but end up falling in love with them and they almost become sacred so I wouldn’t dare to…

If you could have any super power what would it be and how would you use it?

How about being able to pick a new super power every day? Haha, or is that a trick answer?

Haha, nah man that’s legit. A clever trick. What would you use your powers for?

I don’t know. From a selfish point of view I’d love the ability to cancel out sleep, I think sleeping is such a waste of time. Then again, I would love the ability to just teleport to anywhere in the world at any time. Like if I wanted a crazy night out I could jump to the early raves in the UK in the late 80s, or go back to Abbey Road in the 60s and watch some legendary bands record or some shit.


More info: Channel Swimmer

Kamir Hiam (USA) has been obsessed with hip hop culture since discovering rap as a child in the mid 90s. As curator of The Find's Stay Thirsty podcast, he is an obsessive crate digger, always looking for more dope music. Other hobbies include travel, reading, fitness, and science.