Wax Radio: Lowswimmer
Posted on: March 5, 2023 – Words by
Heading in to Ed Tullett’s Bristol based studio is more like stepping inside of a NASA control room. Every wall is blinking with multi-coloured lights, a few thousand dials, and what looks like a half-mile of black cables coiled up behind the main workstation. ‘I don’t know what half this stuff does’ smiles Ed, ‘but it looks cool’. Ed’s many impressive collaborators wouldn’t agree with the Oxford-born musician’s self-deprecation. Ed has already released a wealth of unique music with some of the most exciting artists around, and we were excited to talk about his transition to solo work with his highly anticipated album Red Eye Effect. Find the full interview below.
You have previously released music under your own name, where does the alias Lowswimmer come from?
Lowswimmer is a song name from another project of mine called Hailaker which is me and my friend Jemima Coulter. It’s a really beautiful song and when I came back to doing solo stuff again I knew that I didn’t want to do it under my own name. It attaches too much to that person and people can have preconceptions about what the music will be like. I just like the idea of a moniker and I feel like you have more freedom.
You’re a prolific collaborator working with artists such as Novo Amor and recently Squirrel Flower, what is it you like about this process?
It’s just fun. You just come up with things that you otherwise wouldn’t. It’s also good to have two ticks on everything, and instant feedback. You feel either more confident in your ideas or you know immediately that something is definitely wrong (laughs). It just makes you work in different ways.
Is your working method the same when working with each artist?
I find it important to tailor things. When I write with Ali from Novo Amor, it’s important that he’s very much leading it. Whereas, if it’s my own project or something more collaborative then I’ll put my foot down a little bit more on certain ideas.
It sounds like a rewarding experience, why go solo?
I had this group of songs I wasn’t really sure what to do with, so I brought them to Jemima but she wasn’t really sure whether they were a good fit. So I thought, 'I’m just going to make them’ and it just snowballed into this record. Red Eye Effect is kind of a culmination of many years of wanting to do my own thing.
If you’ve been working on a project for years, how do you know when it is finished? Or do you have to let it go?
It takes a while to get there. This is super alien to some people, but I’ll write all the melodies first. I’ll have versions of the song where I’m not really saying any words for a long time and then I’ll write lyrics after. That’s not to say that lyrics aren’t important, but for me, it's melody first. It’s really fun when you start thinking ‘this is definitely like a second or first song’. That, for me, is when you really start to listen to all the tracks in an order and it starts to become something more than itself.
Red Eye Effect is an evocative album title to us 90s kids, but what does it mean to you?
The record is inspired by my own late-90s and early-2000s nostalgia. Just growing up in this weird time where there was this big transition from analogue to digital and that feeling of excitement even though you didn’t really understand it. As a title, it evokes the memory of classic old pictures when eyes would look really weird. It’s another touchstone of that time.
Red Eye Effect is infused with nostalgia, a feeling found in some of the most successful films, TV shows and music releases. Is nostalgia positive or something to criticise?
It’s definitely become marketed in the last few years. There are so many things coming back now that people loved when they were kids. It can be a good thing to move on instead of holding onto stuff that ultimately doesn’t really mean anything. But I think it’s good to be able to revisit these things. Sometimes it might feel stupid to enjoy something you enjoyed as a kid but also it’s just fun.
Your new song Can’t Be By Myself has just been released. Have you always wanted to work with Squirrel Flower?
Squirrel Flower is an artist I really love. She’s got an amazing voice and a kind of grungy-acoustic style that is so cool. With Ali, who’s my best friend, it’s interesting in this song because our voices are both falsettos at once, but his voice is a lot airier, so coupled together with Squirrel Flower it elevated the song and gave it an ethereal feel. A big thing with this record was trying to get to grips with my own voice and wanting to have other voices on it.
Squirrel Flower isn’t based in the UK, how were you able to collaborate?
The vocals are done remotely. Most people have their own home set-up or studio, so I’ve been working with people remotely for a while. For instance, Lissom, which is a project with a French pianist called Julien Marchal, I’ve only met him once and we’ve made two records. It can be good writing-wise to get in a room, but in terms of producing and fully realising a sound, often I think it’s good to have your own space to completely focus on what you want to do and then when it's done show it to someone and say this is what I actually wanted to do.
You’ve put together a playlist for Wax Radio, why have you chosen these songs?
The songs I’ve chosen for this playlist are reaching into that 90s nostalgia vibe. But there’s some new stuff playing off that sound which I think is really cool. Caroline Polachek’s cover of Breathless is literally a classic but done in this amazing new way. It’s interesting how you can have something so familiar but super-fresh.
What one song from the list do you wish you had written?
How To Disappear Completely by Radiohead. The sense of atmosphere it creates is just unmatched. Radiohead is probably my favourite band ever, one of the reasons is that every album is so different and that’s similar to what I want to do, working in lots of different genres, but bringing them together to make them cohesive. Red Eye Effect is playing off the influence of making the first two Hailaker records, the first was a lot more dreamy and the second is a lot more band-y, Red Eye Effect is both of those intertwined.
Where should our listeners play this collection?
I like listening to music while driving. Again, there’s that classic idea of being a kid and listening to stuff in your headphones, looking out of the window and thinking you’re in a music video.
True Love – Hovvdy
Please Forgive Me – David Gray
Palo Alto – Radiohead
Make It Forever – George Clanton
Little Things – Big Thief
Pink Light – MUNA
Sweetest Thing – U2
You Get What You Give – New Radicals
Bachelorette – Björk
All The Way To Reno – R.E.M.
Breathless – Caroline Polachek
damn – Ada Lea
See you Soon – beabadoobee