Q & A with swan muse KEEX

From playing a toy piano in her room, to dancing around provocatively on stage and playing to packed venues, our swan muse Akiko AKA Keex talks about her early memories living in Japan, switching drumsticks for the microphone, and her punk rock band, Comanechi.

Tell us about growing up in Osaka? Did your family encourage artistic expression or did you always have a rebel streak?

Since I was a little kid, I was always very rebellious. I don’t know why or who made me like that. When my mum told me to stop crying… I cried harder on purpose. When my school teacher told me to stop using bad language, I used only bad language. My parents were very hard working. They worked day and night in a restaurant, and whilst they did, I would get creative. I remember I once made a restaurant out of a cardboard box. I drew so many details inside and out and sat in the middle of the box right in front of my parent’s restaurant feeling so proud of myself. My parents are definitely encouraging of my art… and my music.

Your mother bought you a piano when you were 5 and from an early age you studied classical music. When did your ears turn to punk?

She didn’t buy me a real piano until I was 12. When I first started piano lessons, she bought me a baby toy piano like this below.

Seriously, I thought she was taking the piss. My parents couldn’t afford a real one then, but because of this toy piano, I couldn’t practice properly and hated going to piano lessons. I told her I wanted to quit, but my mum was so adamant that I didn’t give up what I said I wanted to do. So I started to hate classical music even more and more…That is really what made me leave Japan and move to England to start a punk band. Rebel Streak!

Your stage persona is quite raucous and wild child. What genre of music most moved you as a teen and made you dance. Any role models? Poster boyz or girls?

Manic Street Preachers first 3 albums, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Sonic Youth’s albums up ‘till “Murray Street”, Nirvana, the Beastie Boys.

Which came first, the guitar, the drumsticks or the microphone?

Drums, Guitar then Singing…

Did your Mum and Dad come to your gigs on your Japanese tour?

Yes, they did. Comanechi toured in Japan twice. First time they saw us, my dad said it was painful to watch, but this time my mum was right in the mosh pit and dad was at the back but smiling for the whole set.

We read that you bonded with your first band mate Simon over the smoke of a BBQ. Your quite the foodie… what’s your favourite dish du jour? Any snacks you always request on the rider?

Haha, you don’t know how bands get treated in this country! Unless you are in a band which can sell out 2000 + capacity venues, you don’t really have much choice requesting what you really want on the rider! Having said that, if I could get unlimited supply of booze on the rider, then I’d be more than happy. I’m into food, but I don’t eat before stage times, I’ll puke up on stage otherwise!

We saw you guys play an amazing set years ago when you were still a punk rock duo… you were then playing the drums and Simon Petrovich was on guitar. Has it been really freeing to be out in front instead of behind the kit?

Definitely! And Charlie is a great drummer. I still love drumming, but live, I think it’s so important to engage with the audience.

Favourite outfit to wear performing?

For practical reasons I wear something skimpy. I like leotards or a bra and hot pants. I like glittery, shiny, bright stuff.

Favourite piece from the Swanfield tribe?

I really enjoyed wearing all of the pieces I wore for the shoot. I like finding myself new looks. Jenny Jenny’s Tassel Necklace and Earrings! All the jewellery I wore, the swim suits by Seventh Wonderland and the underwear!

Keex new single “Love is the Cure” is out NOW. To keep in touch with Comanechi you can visit their website here.

Photography for the Swanfield Muse Project by Kate Cox.

Garments and accessories by the swans.

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Swanfield Muse Project Part V

Our latest muse shoot with photographer Kate Cox stars Japanese born wild child Akiko AKA Keex, the fearless front woman from London based noise rock band, Comanechi. This little lady has a powerful presence that is at once slinky and raucous. The charismatic Keex had fun playing dressups, bringing her brand of punky glam to the swan wardrobe. Batting her curled lashes and rock n’ roll allure at the camera, enter AKIKO.

Photography by Kate Cox / Styling by Cecilia Hammarborg & Katherine Pont

Get Keex’s Look HERE x

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Meet the designer!

Introducing Sara Reverberi… Italian bombshell and one half of the design duo behind new footwear brand PORTAMENTO. She is the perfect brand ambassador for her product and was recently snapped as trend setter for Italian Grazia. Bella noh? Sara is wearing the Fantasma D’amore White Chelsea Boots and the Amarcord Brown Wedge Sandals both available online at Swanfield x

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AnOther wink

Our very own designer and co-director, Cecilia Hammarborg, shot for the spring/summer issue of AnOther magazine xxx

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Yes darlings it’s Maya (rhymes with fire) Lubinsky

The swans first became enamoured by this lady when we witnessed her performance in London, many moons ago in ‘Masque of the Red Death’. This production by theatre company Punchdrunk was an immersive experience where the audience could choose their own adventure, so we took a ride with actress Maya Lubinsky’s character… Madeleine Usher. She knocked our cashmere socks off – she was mysterious and wild, portraying the beautiful lady of Edgar Alan Poe’s famous House of Usher. Since then we have been tracking her trajectory to the stars and recently caught up with her for a chat in New York about her newest play and pursuing the dream.

Miss Maya, tell us a little about your role in the long running sensation ‘Sleep No More’… Sleep No More is an interpretation of Macbeth, so I play a character from the play – Hecate the queen of the witches. It is amazingly enjoyable. I get to be mischievous, the most powerful character in the show, and very glamorous. It’s set in the 30s era, so I wear a stunning silk gown, with ostrich feathers and a cathedral length train. It was actually very challenging to get to grips with such a powerful character at first, because you don’t often get to do that – mostly one plays humans unfortunately, and they tend to have weaknesses.

You have spent some time darting between LA to NY to London. Where do you wish to be right now? Well, there’s a part of me that always wishes to be where I’m not! I’m nomadic and there’s always something propelling me away and back again. Currently I’m in New York, so Los Angeles seems very appealing because it’s got beautiful palm trees that you can’t get anywhere in New York. But truthfully New York is a far better place for the work that I do. I do straight TV and film, but really I’m an experimental theatre and fine art person and there ain’t none of that in LA (well there is, but not to the same degree). Here I can act every day in the beautiful Sleep No More, and simultaneously develop my own writing and art projects. I recently wrote a performance piece with the artist Peter Burr. It premiered in the Museum of Moving Image in New York earlier this year, and is now on tour in Europe. I think I should forgo the palm trees for now…

The sets that Punchdrunk create can be quite disorientating. Do you ever forgot your lines? or does the roaming of the audience allow you to improvise? I have got very poor orientation skills. The Punchdrunk sets confound me! At first I get lost frequently, but then I get used to it, and always find my rightful place. Luckily my actor’s brain is very good with lines, and they tend to stay put, despite how confused I may otherwise be. During the performance we could improvise a bit – and we do in the sense that no repetition is truly identical – but it would really not do anyone much good if we strayed too far from the beautiful material we’re entrusted with.

And was scriptwriting a natural progression? Scriptwriting is both identical and opposite to acting. The things that you consider as you write a character, are the exact things that you plow the text for when you’re playing a character in a play. So that way of thinking was second nature to me by the time I started writing. But as a writer you generate, whereas the actor interprets, so that’s very different. Although in my case, I had been performing a lot of devised theatre – as with Punchdrunk – where you author your own role, except you’re not sitting at a desk to do it. So yes, it was very natural. When I started writing, I realized that to some extent I had been doing it all along.

Your theatrical practice had also lead you into the world of performance art, both in the US and London. Tell us about your working relationship with artist Tai Shani? It came about gradually, and developed into something bigger and more special than I ever thought. At first I appeared in some of her portrait projects, and then had a cameo in one of her films. But it was at the moment that she moved more towards working with text, that we really clicked. She started writing with me in mind, and I was the voice in all of her works. I would do the voices for all the characters, and sometimes she would even pitch shift my voice so I could play a man – and this in pretty major places, like the ICA and the Barbican. And we still do this. Sometimes I appear in person, and sometimes I participate as the voice. Her work is so beautiful, and it’s been extraordinary to have such a central place in her art practice.

Back in 2008, you were cast by Gail Pickering for the one woman performance piece that premiered at the Tate Modern entitled ‘Zulu: Speaking in radical tongues’ Was this your first move into the fine arts realm? What was that like? I had done some gallery based projects before, and acted in a few art films, but this was different. It was a solo performance, highly unconventional, showing to a couple of hundred audience members, at the Tate. I spoke non-stop for half an hour, and it was all text borrowed from 60-70′s political movements, so it was very weighty stuff. We got to do it four times at the Tate, and then went on tour with it, and it never stopped being very challenging. It was amazing though – I really got to cut my teeth on something there.

Your storytelling voice has the ability to transport a listener. Have you ever performed a pre-rehearsed line from the stage and let integrate into your real life? Oh yes! I am a bad one for quoting. I usually admit it though, and don’t try to take credit for other people’s eloquence. I write poetry, and on occasion a line out of a play will appear in a poem. I will usually take it out!

Theatre and spoken word has the ability to transport a listener. In your day dreams, where do you go? All over the place. Ha that’s a brilliant question. To romance, to glory! I imagine winning a Nobel prize, or being an astronaut. It’s normally outlandish and very geeky.

We also know you as the lady in red. If you were to choose an item from the swan collections to compliment your ruby desires, which would it be? I am straying away from red – a blue item struck a chord. The Always Late Cape (Mine). I have been known to be late, and I ride a blue bicycle. I might even add the cream anchor tights (Yes Natalie), for the ultimate late superhero outfit.

If you’re in the big apple, you can see Maya in Sleep No More, at 530 w 27th st in Chelsea, every day at 7.30 pm, and watch out for Special Effect – it may be coming to a gallery near you. Keep a look out for this hot lady. Definitely one to watch x

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Sky Gods

Crystal Void

Dark Skull

Energy Grid


Opal Gate

Crystals exploding from found religious icons or sparkling from an encrusted shark’s grin, elaborate collages of the occult layered with symbols of the ancient world, cosmic skies and modern architecture… check out this show by Australian artist Kyle Montgomery at The Depot. Made the swans wow and was a treat to discover a new gallery in the hidden pockets of Clapton.

Exhibition ends on the 18th of April. For more details click HERE, else enjoy a small selection courtesy of the artist x

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Interview with Viva from Joe Gideon & The Shark

At around about the time you ‘the shark’ & Joe Gideon released your debut album ‘Harum Scarum’ back in 2009, I saw you guys play at a tiny little bar in white chapel. It was a powerful set and not having seen you play in your former band Bikini Atoll, I could sense the newness. It was also obvious you were carrying a baby bump whilst you bashed out those tunes. Does your little one think she has a cool mum?
I think so, but just because i’m her mum. Not because i play the drums. Although i’ll bring her this year to a few festivals and she can watch me play…
Was playing drums while pregnant an unusual experience?
Being pregnant is the unusual experience. Once you start playing a show you forget about everything…even being pregnant. My husband, also a drummer, used to stand in the audience grimacing, telling friends…”she’s hitting them too hard!”..worried about the impact it would have on the baby…I had to stop playing live at 8 months though mainly because i couldn’t bend down to reach the loop pedals, not because of the drum playing.
Before you began making music, you kept time in a very different arena and competed as a rhythmic gymnast at the Olympic Games, Barcelona, in 1992. What made you put down the ribbons for the drumsticks?
I got too old for the gymnastics. I couldn’t sustain the mental determination and stamina anymore to compete and needed to explore what else was out there. I could have stayed in the sport and coached but I needed to get out completely. I was desperate to experience life and the arts out of the restrictions of the gymnastics association, the organisation that chastised me for wearing ripped jeans to travel to a training camp. (this was the 80′s!) I had dedicated my life to training and competing and wanted to turn that focus to other things.

I went to Edinburgh university, left, joined a dance company, went to New York, studied at Alvin Ailey Dance school, came home, danced some more, disslocated my knee a couple of times, (one time too many…) at the same time Gideon was hounding me to do music with him. I hobbled in as keyboard player…got bored, picked up a guitar, got bored, got behind the drums….didn’t get bored! It’s the mixture of musicality, dancing and performing that i love about playing the drums. (plus my knees are safe!)
When I was young I performed in a dance championship… and with the help of my friend’s older sister we designed our own lycra outfits in banging yellow and hot pink. Who designed your outfits when you were competing as a rhythmic gymnast?
I did. I would design my leotards! And my sponsor would make them for me and give their own designs to me. And I would do the other girls hair and make up. I still love doing hair and make up. My 5 year old is a lucky girl.
We’ve seen you rocking a onesy when you play the drums. What is your favourite outfit to wear on stage?
Whatever i wear, there’s normally a catsuit involved.
Each song you guys perform takes you though a narrative journey and your loopy vocals and experimental keys really compliment the surreal story telling Joe G presents. What is your favourite character from your songwriting brother’s rhetoric of oddballs?
There are 2….himself in ‘I’m Ruined’….”the meter man came today…i was still in my dressing gown, but not in a good way” And our good friend Paul in ‘You the Pole and the Rastafarian’….Typical Paul passes out late on a tube going home… wakes up in Gospel Oak. It’s the end of the line, he jumps on the train with the tube driver who’s going to ‘drop him off’ and who rolls a spliff in the meantime. Oh… yeah and there’s a Polish dude and the train driver is… yes you guessed it….a rastafarian..
Do u both have input in the writing process?
Gid normally comes with the lyrics and the guitar line….i then add all the music and can twist it one way or another..
Did you and your brother squabble when you were kids? Did this have anything to do with your nickname The Shark?
I kind of adored him when i was younger..you know…like adoring your abuser. He was my big brother and i followed him around and he would trip me up, i would spill my juice, then get told off by mum for spilling the juice on the carpet…
The Shark name was born out of a list that he presented to me. I thought that was the only cool name on the list of potential band names. Initially I wasn’t going to be the Shark…it was just our band name. Then we played one of our first shows..it was at the Botanique in Belgium. I was walking around after and my friend heard someone say…”look, there’s the Shark”. That was it….I came home and wrote “The Shark” on my kick drum.
Your hubby is Mark from Archie Bronson Outfit, also a drummer, so I’m sure the gene pool for making noise is strong. Do you think your kids will take up music?
My daughters class teacher has just told us she’s a genius at holding a rhythm and leads the class with a tambourine when they’re singing songs..so it looks like it! And our 1 year old boy now screams and points at the stereo demanding music. We put it on and he starts doing a crazed yet focused dance on his bum. It’s actually driving us a bit mad…but yes, he also is clapping in time.
You have been invited to tour alongside some great bands. Who is the biggest backstage diva when getting ready – Nick Cave, Karen O or Jon Spencer?
i really couldn’t tell you! I tour alongside them…but i don’t get dressed with them!
We love the artwork for the album Freakish. Tell us about your artist, Josie Willey.
Ah Josie! She’s nuts….but didn’t she do a god job!! She just got it really. Gideon told her what we were after and she already had all these fantastic images that she had been working on for herself. We wanted them all really. But the cover was just a collaboration of ideas.

To sneak a peek at said artwork, purchase Joe Gideon and the Shark’s album HERE! Freakish x

Listen/Watch Viva’s playlist for Swanfield…

Goat – Let It Bleed
Serafina Steer – Night Before Mutiny
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Bellbottoms
The Kinks – Victoria
Archie Bronson Outfit – Run Gospel Singer
Joe Gideon & the Shark – Civilisation

Photography for the Swanfield Muse Project by Cat Stevens.
Garments and accessories by the swans.
Visit more from this shoot HERE.

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Psychic Shop

We are sensing some newness…

‘Psychic Shop’ limited edition C-type print by Cat Stevens. View more of her collection HERE x

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♥ ♥ ♥

A window somewhere in Portugal, a huddle of sleeping kittens, a discarded plastic bag shot by photographer Seth Fluker, the prickly cacti and pizza love, we see hearts everywhere this week. Sharing is caring, so to celebrate Valentine’s Day we have curated a selection from our much loved designers and artists including ‘Beetle My Valentine’ by Phil Smiley and ‘Heartwork’ by Katherine Pont, and a mexican motif pendant by newcomer Rosita Bonita. Click on the row of hearts to see a selection of our faves.

♥ ♥ ♥

Happy Valentine’s lovers from the swans x

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This stunning photograph made us wow. Shot by Polish photographer Marcin Ryczek this moment of a man feeding the ducks and swans was captured on a snowy river bank in Krakow. We love the graphic nature of this monochromatic image where this landscape image offers such beautiful contrasts between black and white, animal and human, snow and water.

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