The Music Man Behind the Mic: Kyle Swartzwelder
Burlap and Bean open mic host talks to Patch about his new album, producing, volunteering at the coffeehouse and the challenges of balancing it all.
Kyle Swartzwelder is kind of like a super hero. By day, he's an environmental consultant in Exton from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and has a long and arduous commute from Wilmington, DE.
But when quitting time comes and the denizens of the working world go home or hit happy hour with coworkers, Swartzwelder still has work to be done. In the after hours, he records and promotes from his home studio.
"There are nights when all I feel like doing is sitting on the couch and watching the Flyers games, but that's not necessarily going to happen," said Swartzwelder. "I'm going to go into the studio because I love it. It's not even a case of do I want to, it's like I have to. There's something in my brain that says I have to be working on this because I just love this," explains Swartzwelder.
On Thursday through Saturday nights, you'll most likely find Swartzwelder volunteering his time at the local coffee shop Burlap and Bean in Newtown Square. Four years ago when the coffee shop began setting up their weekly open mic Thursdays, Swartzwelder saw the event listing on mySpace and attended.
Upon noticing they had no host, and as if he didn't already have too much on his plate, he volunteered. Shortly after that, he expanded his role at the coffee shop to include running the soundboard and managing the equipment for their live performances.
Watching Swartzwelder set up a show, it quickly becomes apparent that he is a perfectionist, but he admits his number one priority is always to make the musicians feel comfortable. He believes this will make the process easier on both sides, plus ensure a great show.
On the seventh day he should rest, right? Not likely. Swartzwelder also does mastering work, which he feels is his niche in the recording industry. Mastering entails getting a recording to the final stages before releasing it.
An artist can sound really good when recorded on a computer music program like Garage Band, but it takes an engineer like Swartzwelder to make it sound great.
The words "vacation" or "hiatus" don't seem to exist in Swartzwelder's vocabulary. While most artists would sit back and relish in the success of their latest release, Swartzwelder is already at work on his next album which should be out in April.
Aspiring musicians, writers and any artist in general can learn a lot about dedication from Swartzwelder, but they may need a case of Red Bull to keep up with him.
It's easy to see how Swartzwelder's daily schedule fills up and his advice to anyone trying to keep up with his lifestyle is simply "get a good bed."
Currently, he just wrapped up producing an album with Angel Ocana and began developing a project with Anna K. Jarosz, two artists who recently performed at the local coffee shop.
On top of that, he has recorded several albums on his own, the latest EP titled The Songs of Neil Young, which will be coming out Jan. 25.
Check out Swartzwelder's personal site here.