By: Brittney O.
Hip-HopVibe.com Entertainment Editor
With goals of breaking barriers and bringing people together, the sultry, soulful voice of Atlanta-based singer, Teddy Swims, has racked up over 160 million YouTube views and is quickly rising to the top. His new single “Broke” has an incredibly catchy hook and vibe that is capturing fans from all over. Hip-HopVibe.com caught up with the rising star and this is what he had to say…
Teddy Swims!! We’re so excited to speak with you today. I personally requested an interview with you. I received a press release about your newest single said, I have GOT to interview him! I KNOW this voice and I NEED to interview him ASAP!
Teddy Swims: That means the world to me! Thank you so much! That’s so awesome. I’m a fan of you too! We’re already friends.
Brittney O: It’s definitely a vibe! Teddy let’s dive right in! Teddy Swims. S.W.I.M.S. is actually an acronym for Someone Who Isn’t Me Sometimes. Whoa!! I need to know all about that!
Teddy Swims: Yeahhh! The name actually started from a hip-hop project oddly enough! There were a bunch of bands prior to Teddy Swims actually being a thing… My first tour I ever went on with my guitarist Eddie Maxwell as Soundcloud rappers – which you won’t find anywhere by the way. I was just going by SWIMS at the time (Someone Who Isn’t Me Sometimes) so that way if I decided to rap or do whatever, it wouldn’t be out of what people would normally expect from me. As touring continued my manager at the time told me he knew I didn’t see myself as a rapper or singer like that, but it was something special about me as a solo artist. Teddy Swims. Rather than touring with a bunch of bands all of the time. He was like, “We’ve gotta do something with Teddy Swims.”
So now our whole team goes by “Swims Initiative” which is me and my band and my whole team. My producer, videographer, photographer, graphic designer… We have a compound outside of Atlanta and we’ve been rockin’ like this since last June starting with the Michael Jackson cover that ended up doing so well. I just wanted to pay hommage because it was the 10 year anniversary of his [Michael Jackson’s] passing and it ended up going viral! Within a short year the whole team has kind of gained a massive following now!
Brittney O: YESSS! How does that feel ?
Teddy Swims: It’s definitely unbelievable now – when we went on our first US tour – it was all of like a 300 cap room. We didn’t know that the people and numbers from Instagram,YouTube, and FaceBook would convert and actually turn into ticket sales but all of the shows were SOLD OUT! It was amazing to see that from the people. Sometimes we get so lost in the numbers and analytics that we can almost forget that these are real people with real lives! It’s definitely harder now with the Coronavirus and not being able to play shows. You don’t get to really see things equate to real people anymore. It feels great to talk to people and hear their stories and how music has helped them through. It’s harder now for sure.
Brittney O: Impact. You seem to truly care about the IMPACT which adds to my admiration of you as a person now.
Teddy Swims: Thank you! I love the way you put that. Impact is everything! If you’re lucky people will listen to the whole song. If you’re LUCKY. There’s so much stuff coming out now! So many artists have a platform to say something and everybody has a platform now but it’s hard to find people that are really saying something, too. So it’s honestly all about what you can do in the first 5 seconds. If you can capture somebody in the first 5 seconds they might stick around for a minute or two. So like you said, the impact is absolutely everything! Just that opportunity to truly pour into somebody’s life..
Brittney O: Wait.. That’s HUGE! Where did you learn this from Teddy?
Teddy Swims: I learned that from my Granddad who was a Pentecostal Pastor when I was growing up and I’m just so thankful for the times that things were prophesied over my life and I was given this huge need and desire to be something bigger than myself. A pastor once told me when I was growing up, “Teddy you know who the most important person in the world is to me?” and I said “Who?” and he said “You. Because you’re looking at me right now. You have my undivided attention. You’re absolutely everything to me right now.” And that just stuck with me FOREVER! That’s what people need SO badly! They need to know. I’m your friend. I’m here for you. People just don’t have enough LOVE.
Brittney O: You’ve been putting yourself out there for quite some time. What is it like now as you transition from reaching out to others, to now being reached out to? Because we reached out to YOU!
Teddy Swims: Ah! I feel like it’s still the same… I think the responsibility has changed – and the ability to have people that reach out too, but at the same time the reach out is never done. The reach out is never finished. You know, you leave the hundred sheep to find the one right? So I don’t think there’s ever a transition from being reached out to, to reaching out – I think it’s always about the reach out. And the reach back! So if anything the change has happened from me reaching out first to reaching back. That’s the only thing that’s changed is I’m reaching back now instead of reaching out – although I am still reaching out.
Brittney O: So powerful Teddy, WOW! What also seems to stand out about you is that you have no boundaries when it comes to genres. You’ve touched them all in some way. Which do you personally connect with the most? Soft Rock? Metal? R&B?
Teddy Swims: I think for me, people go to certain things for certain emotions right? Or they’re seeking a certain thing from an artist… I think the most important thing about trying to do as many genres as possible is the chance to bring people into the other world. Mr. Rogers was always like “There’s just not enough people that are telling children that it’s okay to be emotionally intelligent.” And really seek for help emotionally – especially in this time. It’s about emotional support with all that we have going on emotionally, it’s harder than it is physically. If we can all emotionally understand and dissect we’d be better – by doing different genres we try to get this back. We are a lot more than products of our environment and we are looking for something way different than what we grew up in. The only way to expose it is to get them where they’re comfortable and then exposing them to something else!
Brittney O: With you being so flexible and diverse, I can only imagine.. although I don’t personally know your team, but I imagine that you have a diverse group of people around you… Am I right?
Teddy Swims: Yo! Absolutely! They’re the best best people in the world. There’s nothing like it! A lot of them came from, of course, the Christian background playing in mega churches as musicians but we also came from the Metal scene where we first graduated high school in 2011 or the end of 2000s [that era] where everyone was doing hardcore metal, especially in my scene in Georgia we all kinda fell into that and fell in love with that. Even my producer came from that era and Hip-Hop.
Over the years we were just hungry enough and all wanted something with our skills. It didn’t matter what we were doing as long as we could touch somebody in some way with music and have the outlet to get this emotion out. To stay calm and collected and navigate these emotions. So I’m super blessed and grateful that I have ten friends that have my best interest and love me. At all times. Especially in this industry you can’t trust that people really have your best interest at heart you know? A family Is the only way to really navigate and make this through. If we can all maintain some sort of integrity and innocence within ourselves then we can get that same love and energy to people and show that you can really win by being a genuine and loving person!
Brittney O: What is one key thing that you’ve learned as a growing recording artist over the past few years?
Teddy Swims: I would say integrity and responsibility for the people around you. I’ve learned the fine lines between love and loyalty. All throughout my life I’ve always operated as ‘I love you’ and ‘put you first,’ but it’s led me to being hurt a lot and stepped on a lot. Now that we’ve really created something — we’ve created a business for ourselves – all of my best friends in the world are on salary now. So now what I do and how we do and how we work together really depends on how we’re fed and putting food on the table. I’ve really learned how to understand the difference between letting somebody in and really loving somebody but also making sure that the people that deserve the love and have really worked for my love and have truly earned my loyalty – I don’t leave them to being hurt because I’m so open.
That difference between love and loyalty. Sometimes loyalty means a lot more and you have to keep a guard up. Not necessarily for yourself but the people that are counting on you. I think that’s what I’ve learned the most out of this WHOLE journey and I’m still obviously learning and continuously learning and even struggling with that.
Brittney O: Do you have any songwriters that you want to work with in the near future?
Teddy Swims: Oh absolutely! I’m working right now with Julian Bunetta and John Ryan and their whole camp. Those have become my best friends in the world and I’m super excited. I’m getting ready to work with Dave Cobb in person – he helped us with the Shania [Twain] cover and getting to work with him in person is gonna be so so incredible. Dave Cobb is the absolute GOAT so I’m excited about that.
Brittney O: Are you missing performing live or do you enjoy the studio as much?
Teddy Swims: I miss performing live so so so so much! I miss it sooo bad! I miss that feeling of walking on that stage like – OMG! Ya’ll are here to see me?! I miss being able to, after the show, allow people to wait and meet me and I get to meet them and connect with them in person.
But also there’s the pros and cons.. You know on one end we had an opportunity to tour for nine or ten months out of this year and we were just going to release a single right before every tour. But now we’ve had a lot more time to work on our original songs. We’re about to release this single and we’re putting together an EP to release and then another EP so we have some things that we’re about to be putting out and we have the ability to put out a whole lot more original music instead of playing one new song each tour and covers. I love doing covers but it’s great that next time we get out there and perform again it will be a group of music that people do know and will be able to sing along to so… There’s pros and cons to it!
Brittney O: So how soon can we anticipate this EP?
Teddy Swims: The tentative plan is soon – I don’t know if I’m allowed to say when because it’s so much in the air and moving parts. We do have an EP coming out this year and I’m super excited about the Christmas songs on our Christmas EP coming too!
Brittney O: OMG! The vibes are SO everything with you! But I’m going to ask one final question for you…
Often times we feel like we aren’t quite “there” yet, but IF you could tell Teddy Swims from ten years ago where you are today as a solo artist, would you tell him?
Teddy Swims: You’re never going to be quite “there” haha! Calm down. You know what I mean? If you’re “there” then you’re comfortable so don’t get complacent… I would like myself to know ten years ago that I’m still as hungry as I was when I first started back then.
WHEEEW!!! That’s everything Teddy Swims! We are all rooting for you here at Hip-HopVibe.com and we will be staying in touch as you continue your beautiful journey. New single “Broke” is out now on all streaming platforms! And it’s a VIBE!!!!