Following years of work as a sideman for musical greats including David Bowie, Radiohead, St. Vincent, Elton John, The National, Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens, Rufus Wainwright’s band, Alberta Cross and playing as a member of Polyphonic Spree, Louis Schwadron is now focusing his energy on solo project, Sky White Tiger. Schwadron released his debut album Electra under his psych-pop alias in 2013 and most recently, an EP Child of Fire in February of 2015.
Sky White Tiger is known for his combination of ethereal synths, Bowie-esque songwriting and celestial aesthetic; pulling the listener into a fantastic new realm with lights, costumes, theatrical performances and sci-fi motifs. Recently, Glide had a chance to board the mothership and chat with Schwadron a bit more.
I read that your project was inspired by astrological mythology; can you elaborate on that?
I think the root of all great songwriting is story telling, I always love the idea that myths were born from the human desire to make sense of who we are as individuals and in relation to one another. At times hilarious, tragic, some cautionary tales and some just made up for entertainment. But, myths always have this romantic and epic spin to them, wherein giant centaurs and scorpion queens battle for the love of a mystical star that connects them forever. If we were to all lie in a field and look up at the stars, we’d be open to the endless fiction of our culture and mystic possibility.
Your video content is incredible. I love that there seems to be a real storyline behind each one and they’re executed so well. Your most recent video for “Don’t Matter Much” is seriously hypnotic. What was the vision behind that?
The video plays with the idea of transformation wherein I stumble upon a group of visiting alien beings, following them into their spaceship where a transformative experience begins. I become part of an alien ritual which involves a dance of light and dark and the union of male and female energies. The dance ritual is inspired by an esoteric dance called Eurythmy created by the philosopher Rudolph Steiner. It also plays with control; are they leading me or am I controlling them?
Speaking of videos, I found “Time” featuring Jena Malone on your Youtube channel, how did she end up getting involved?
Jena is an amazing poet, artist and friend. We used to make music together and at that time I was really focused on this concept of performing my own funeral, so this casket projection idea was already in play. I thought of that film as a love letter to a lost love, which again is left open for interpretation; was there ever a lost love or are we as artists and humans forever married to our own madness?
I read in your bio that your live performance can turn any space into the “Tiger Realm”. Can you expand on what that is?
You’ll have to come out to find out.
I sense a real difference from your debut LP to your EP; less rock n’ roll, more electronic. Think you’ll continue in that direction?
I think the next full length will be a mix of the two – As long as the songs are solid I feel like the orchestration of an album or a live show can travel to many places. Just like the performers themselves. I look forward to combining those worlds.
You have a pretty impressive resume, who was your favorite artist/band to work with and why?
Guesting with Radiohead on the Colbert Report was a real honor. The psychic power they share live is infectious and inspiring. And outside of the don’t piss my pants I’m playing with my heroes make a wish foundation moment, I felt for the first time that I had graduated from some student place in my mind and i was able to see my mentors as professionals and people, still hustling to make the highest quality work possible, and inspiring so many along the way. I watched an interview with Thom Yorke talking about meeting Neil Young for the first time and was reminded that all artists need to meet their mentors at some point, if only to know that you are on the right path. Creating a professional life based on one’s obsession, its a long strange road, often stepping in the darkness for months or years at a time, and moments like these are beacons of light. I look forward to catching up with them again at some point down the road.
Tell me more about the creative process behind your music. You produce, sing, play a multitude of instruments, write the music; what don’t you do?
I can’t put an ikea drawer together to save my life. Though the idea of having to do that in order to save my life is funny, might make for a good video. Lets put that in the “maybe” drawer.
You recently played SXSW, what was that like?
Playing a show for an audience of South Austin 50-60 somethings who have never heard electronic music live before was an interesting experience. I was the only act on the bill without a band or a guitar and by the third song i saw the audience shift, minds were opening as I got them on my side, even though this was clearly not their style of music. I realized at that moment that while sxsw can (at times) be a functional convention for the music industry, the role of all the apps, labels, managers and festival-goers helps to facilitate this very experience. South Austin I love you. Plus I met Bill Murray randomly that day and he shared his breakfast tex-mex with me -can’t beat that with a wiffle bat.
What’s something no one knows about you?
I once lied on my eye test to get glasses so i could look smarter for middle school – then i wore them and got headaches during algebra every day. I wish i had known about the kind that have plain lenses. Is this blurry ? How about now?
What’s next for Sky White Tiger?
A new single and video soon, European tour this summer, working toward the next full length album and a larger scale installation/ immersive concert experience. I’m planning to collaborate with some amazing visual artists for the spring of 2016. All will be told in the blink of an Owl’s Eye.