San Francisco’s Silver Swans

It is bona fide renditions of provocative fairytales. Frontline technology and honest vocals. It is music that can get in your bones. Wonder woman and once upon a time accountant-bound Ann Yu meshes with acclaimed DJ Jon Waters  to reel in some seasoned listeners starting with San Francisco’s saturated indie scene, as Silver Swans. The raw duo herald their 2012 album Forever, set for release on February 7 on indie label TwentySeven Records, featuring their latest single Let it Happen and press soaked Secrets.

As Silver Swans proffer intricate compilations, the material goes lustful, chiming at the romance behind unraveling electro-pop beats together. Collaboration with The National, Bachelor of Science, Fleet Foxes and a number of big stage names have brightened the light on these two melody-savvy craftsmen. Noted for hints of The Knife and Björk, Las Vegas native Ann Yu delicately drips her voice over keys and strings while brit Waters weaves in bass, stirring synth with snare for that common whispering mirage effect they seem to trademark.

Nostalgia, longing, beauty hazed in sadness, idealisms, crystal moments, destiny, and pure intentions” are the projections behind their writing and compositions says Yu. And when the pair go to work together, they get things done. “We have a very quick working process actually, some songs take mayeb a couple hours to finish, we don’t belabour ideas and drive them to the ground with changes and what ifs, we just create what suits us and move on to the next idea.  Live, we are joined by our lovely friends David Farrell and Jennifer Duardo and they are always the first to hear what we’ve been working on. 

When asked about the cultural influences and experiences that contribute to their music creations, Ann emits a ray of light for the Swedes, “We are both in love with all things Sweden.  The weather there, the music, the people, fashion, the skinny hot dogs. There is something about hearing a band like Kings of Convenience or Club 8 or El Perro Del Mar, that just touches that side of me of sadness and beauty all wrapped in bittersweet and burnt honey and it is just characteristically Swedish. 

With New York in the horizon, madame Yu lends some heart and truth to the San Francisco scene noting its smallness and the challenge for puncturing tight circles while recognizing the city’s nature of magnetic beauty. “I’ve daydreamed about moving to NYC one day, I’m sure Jon would like to be there as well.  Not that I don’t love SF to death, but the grass is always greener.”

AG: Tell me a little about the group, who are the musicians and what is the best kept secret in your music circle?

AY: Silver Swans is Ann Yu and Jon Waters.  I’m from Las Vegas, Nevada and Jon is from Birmingham, UK.  My favorite bands include:  Radio Dept, Beach House, M83, and Magnetic Fields.  Jon’s favorite bands include:  Paul Weller, The Cure, The Knife, and Cocteau Twins.  I went to college in Las Vegas and got my degree in accounting because my father is one, no other good reason really.   You could say Jon graduated from the school of Birmingham hard knocks.  He is a tough guy with a soft heart.  ;)  The best kept secret in our music circle is Jon’s drum machine, it’s all I can say about it.

AG: Who are some current musicians you feel are paving the way for smart, skillful music in the indie/electro pop scene? 

AY: Niki and the Dove, Fever Ray, The Knife, Active Child, M83,Phantogram, Grimes, Purity Ring. Popular music is always changing, just like fashion, so I never say never about anything. Just like my one piece denim striped jumper (which I love), I’ll hold onto my Milli Vanilli and Paula Abdul records.

AG: How did you and Jon begin collaborating?

AY: Jon reached out to me through Myspace in 2007 and asked me to sing on one of his tracks he was working on.  We kept trading files online and eventually had a handful of songs to our then nameless project.  I really like working on tracks with Jon because he is so multifaceted as a producer.  He can create, produce, hear whatever it is you are hearing ,and artfully interpret melodies, tones, guitar progressions and transform them into something beautiful.   We have a very quick working process actually, some songs take mayeb a couple hours to finish, we don’t belabour ideas and drive them to the ground with changes and what ifs, we just create what suits us and move on to the next idea.  Live, we are joined by our lovely friends David Farrell and Jennifer Duardo and they are always the first to hear what we’ve been working on.

AG: Any cultural influences on your material based on the backgrounds and experiences among the band?

AY: I would say we are both in love with all things Sweden.  The weather there, the music, the people, fashion, the skinny hot dogs. There is something about hearing a band like Kings of Convenience or Club 8 or El Perro Del Mar, that just touches that side of me of sadness and beauty all wrapped in bittersweet and burnt honey and it is just characteristically Swedish.

AG: How do you view music in the SF scene vs. other major music communities?

AY: The music community here is somewhat small and disjointed unless you are in a jangly guitar pop band.  Everyone else kinda does their own thing.  A lot of my musician friends have moved to NYC and are doing really well there.   I’ve daydreamed about moving to NYC one day, I’m sure Jon would like to be there as well.  Not that I don’t love SF to death, but the grass is always greener.


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About Angela Gleason

visual designer | writer | pianist in the basement | painter in the night | fashion critic | lush | Italian savant check me out: www.taxisandwalnuts.com