Swing Out Sister has been delivering slinky, sophisticated jazz-pop for well over two decades now—and the duo ( Corinne Drewery and Andy Connell ) shows no sign of slowing down with its latest CD, Beautiful Mess. In an e-mail interview, Swing Out Sister discussed the album, the music industry and Japan.
Windy City Times: Your style of music has been called "sophisti-pop." Would you say that's an accurate description?
Swing Out Sister: Well, I suppose we're not country, blues, techno... I'm flattered that our sound doesn't fall into any particular category, but I suppose if it has to, that will do. I prefer to call it P-zazz!
WCT: On Beautiful Mess, you revisit your classic single "Breakout," but you put an even more gorgeous twist on it. What led you to redo that particular song?
SOS: We were rehearsing for our forthcoming tour and decided we may as well record it to see what it sounded like.
WCT: How do you feel your music has evolved over the years?
SOS: With ease. We are a little more relaxed; there are still a lot of the same ingredients but the recipes have changed! We are confident enough to take a less-is-more approach. Well, almost...
WCT: To what do you attribute your popularity in Japan?
SOS: A very loyal following, discerning listeners—and we love going there!
WCT: Your [ 2001 ] album Somewhere Deep in the Night was dedicated to Kazuhiko Yanagida. If you don't mind, could you discuss his impact on both of you?
SOS: Kazu's dedication and enthusiasm played a vital part in our continued success in Japan. His tragic death in a road accident came as a great shock to us and his friends and family.
WCT: How did you decide which cities and venues to visit on this tour of the United States? Chicagoans would've loved to have seen you two in concert!
SOS: And we would have loved to have come to Chicago—it's our kind town! We have been made very welcome here in the past. Unfortunately, due to time restrictions, this tour is short and sweet. Hopefully, you will have us back next time!
WCT: What musicians helped shaped your sound, i.e., who are your musical influences?
SOS: How long do we have here?!!! If we start with a few of Chicago's sons and daughters: Minnie Ripperton, Herbie Hancock, Donny Hathaway, Leroy Hutson, Curtis Mayfield, Ramsey Lewis, Charles Stepney—is there something in the water?!!!
WCT: What do you make of shows such as Britain's Got Talent and American Idol? Do you think you would've participated in such shows?
SOS: They make entertaining TV but perhaps [ they're ] not the best thing for nurturing long-term careers, as they propel artists to great heights in a very short time, and it takes an pretty experienced person to take the kind of public criticism those artists are subjected to.
I think it would have been a bit too showbiz for myself or Andy to have participated in. We started out in back-room jazz dives—and quite liked it there! We were fortunate enough to eventually get a record deal which did give us worldwide exposure, but on our own terms.
WCT: What do you want people to walk away from after listening to Beautiful Mess?
SOS: Just that: Exhilarated and wanting to come back for more!
WCT: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
SOS: I think it changes itself when necessary. Things seem to be shrinking now as they got a bit too big for their own good. From great oak trees little acorns are growing ... hopefully, the current climate will produce some great new independent labels. Maybe the next Chess, Motown [ or ] Fantasy is already emerging!
For more on Swing Out Sister, visit www.swingoutsister.com .