swim good now & The Techno Hall of Fame is a collaborative project a long time in the making. The project began in 2018 with no direction in mind, continuing a 10 year tradition of off-and-on collaboration between the two friends. One was experiencing a sea change in Toronto’s West End and channeling it into his songwriting; the other was settling into life as a producer in small town Ontario and expecting his first child. Both had recently turned the corner into their 30s, dealing with a tension that began to express itself in intimate, cinematic songs about uncertainty and love.
swim good now released his debut album in 2018 with Toronto’s Secret Songs collective. In the past, he has worked with members of Bon Iver, Stars, and The Avalanches.
The Techno Hall of Fame has been involved in Toronto’s DIY music scene through a collective he founded in 2014 (Bedroomer) and making his living as a graphic designer.
(Photo Credit: Daniel Reardon)
Ryan Hemsworth: I’ve known Jon for a while, and I’m curious about your relationship with him. Have you guys met?
Gia Margaret: No we’ve never met. I was introduced to his music by my friend Daniela [Andrade], I think six or seven years ago. I’ve been a fan for a really long time. We’ve never worked together, but he’s always been someone I’ve dreamed of working with. He’s sent me demos, but we never got around to actually making anything. I’ve always just been a listener.
I think the first time I heard of him, Daniela was playing me this song on her guitar — I think it was “Capital” — and I asked her if she wrote it, and she said that Jon wrote it. Then I just obsessed over his music.
Ryan: He kind of just sends people stuff, which I really respect — even if it’s just demos in the most rough form, which is, like, the opposite of what I like to do.
He hit me up a long time ago — I think “Capital” and a couple of those other ones around that era were what he was sending — and “Capital” I instantly fell in love with. I think that’s probably a lot of people’s relationship with him too; he just has all these pen pals.
Gia: I kind of love that. I feel like lately, my favorite relationships are with people I’ve never met — just creative relationships. It’s a cool, mysterious connection to have with another person.
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. That’s always how it’s been for me, because I grew up on the East Coast and any friends I had in the music world were just via MSN or Twitter or something. I don’t think that’s changed for a lot of people. But I’ve met Jon and he’s one of the most wholesome, sweet guys in the world.
Gia: Yeah, he’s super nice. I would like to meet him in person.
Ryan: Yeah, you should make an Ontario trip soon. So, should we talk about this song?
Gia: Yeah! It’s funny, Jon sent me this song while I was on tour; I did this podcast for him and I sent him all the files, and I guess as a thank you he sent me this song, but he didn’t really tell me much about it. I don’t know who’s singing, I don’t know if he wrote the lyrics — I’m guessing he did.
You know how it is when you’re touring: I just remember being in this half-asleep state listening to this song, and then I ended up listening to it, like, 15 times on repeat until I fell asleep. It’s so beautiful and dreamy. It’s kind of romantic, but I don’t know what the message is, and that doesn’t bother me. It’s a love song, I think, but it also makes me think of when you’re afraid of loving someone — you want to try to do everything you can for them, but you don’t really know what the outcome will be.
Ryan: Yeah. I think that’s something he really is great at, combining these tones and messages in his music. It can sound really sentimental, but maybe it’s a really sad message, and vice versa.
On the track, it’s Liam [Sanagan, aka The Techno Hall of Fame] singing, who’s also from outside Toronto.
Gia: His voice is just stunning.
Ryan: Yeah, it sounds old-fashioned.
Gia: It does. It kind of reminds me of Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel a little bit.
Ryan: Good reference. I love veering into almost cheesy romantic music, and I think sometimes Jon isn’t afraid of going that direction as well.
Gia: Yeah, and there’s like a simplicity of melody and the repetition, but they’re both solid.
Ryan: I think that exactly is a good detail about how they work. I think also there’s sort of this affinity toward electronic looping and those kind of soundscapes. I think that’s something that naturally plays into the production, which makes it a little more interesting.
Gia: Yeah, and I love when those crunchy lo-fi beats come in.
Ryan: That’s my drums, actually [Laughs].
Gia: Aw, they’re so good! I love that it’s just a breath of drum beat, and then it’s gone.
Ryan: I sent him that drum loop for a different song maybe a year ago, and he just emailed me this track and was like, “Can I use your drums in this?” It’s sort of like a jigsaw puzzle he does with samples sometimes; he’ll keep everything and he’ll find a place for it eventually.
Gia: That’s really smart actually.
Ryan: I get really overwhelmed by having all these millions of pieces to work with, and he can just cut it down to, like, five layers and it’s perfect.
Gia: Well, you’re both geniuses in my eyes.
Ryan: You too!
(Photo Credit: Daniel Reardon)