Holding down multiple residences from local staple raves in her Pembrokeshire stomping ground like Tell Your Friends to nationally recognized and respected brands such as JustBe and Phase, S.W.I.D is one of the hardest working and versatile DJs to emerge from Wales in recent times and is forever keeping us on our toes.
Just as happy laying down hefty slabs of moody, heavyweight dub tension at 140 as she is slapping you senseless with vibe-charged D&B, Kali S.W.I.D’s profile has rocketed in recent years with 2023 shaping up to be her busiest to date.
Already packing key festival bookings for the summer such as Balter Festival and In It Together – plus forthcoming club shows such as Heft and Critical Sound (representing the mighty Concrete Junglists and Incurzion Audio) – S.W.I.D is taking no prisoners this year as she continues to level up and relish her energy and passion for deep bass selection craft.
The moment isn’t lost on her. Having previously entered the game back in the dark old 2000s, S.W.I.D is the sound of a hugely talented artist who’s found her voice and her place in a thriving new-generation community and isn’t going to stop. This despicable 140 session is a perfect snapshot of what S.W.I.D stands for. Enjoy and get to know…
Music… Your escape from the frustrations of the regular world!
Oh trust me, it really is! Especially during lockdown. I wasn’t furloughed so I needed to get away from real life. I’d fallen into mixing just before lockdown kicked off so I got really deep into it during that time.
Oh you’d had another chapter prior to all of this?
Yeah. I found my love for mixing drum & bass at uni. Being in a house where the decks are set up and just jumping on and having a mix. A couple of years later I got myself a set-up but had no idea what I was doing. I experimented with it and messed around, but I’m my own worst enemy and I often find I’m talking myself out of things. Like saying, ‘You can’t do that’ to myself. So I parked it. I still listened to the music, and loved it, but I never had the confidence to pursue the mixing. It wasn’t until my brother visited me in November 2019, he brought his controller and said, ‘Right, we’re doing this! We’re going to have a kitchen mix!’
Yeah my brother is great. He’s really supportive and designed my logo. He’s really creative and artistic like me. He brought his controllers with all his tunes and I just got straight into it. That feeling of elation from a good mix! It was amazing. When you get a good blend and two tracks are making the perfect track between them, it’s dead euphoric. I was so chuffed he gave that back to me, you know? I thought maybe I can do this.
So I got a controller, I was friends with a few local DJs and ended up getting a few sets with Back To Basics and supported acts like Gray and Zoro which blew my mind.
Love that. So things had moved on since the first time you tried and you felt more welcome or had more opportunities to play this time around?
Yeah. It was the mid 2000s when I originally started and the only people I knew who mixed were boys. It was a very male-dominated scene and even friends raving, the only girls I knew who were into drum & bass were ones I’d met out raving. I didn’t have mates who were into bass or D&B at the time. But it is a very different time now and lockdown really helped that, too. During that time I practiced loads, I got in touch with people like Lauren from Just Be who asked me to be resident. Then Gabby Gifta from Phase who also asked me to be a resident and I couldn’t believe it.
It was a mad time. I think when we look back in the future we’ll miss certain parts of it…
I think so, too. Don’t get me wrong, lockdown proper messed with my head. I’d just got back into things and felt it had all been taken away again but I came round to the idea that I’d give it a completely fresh start. A new artist name and everything. So I recorded a few blends and put them online. Not with any big plan but just because they were fun to do and I was proud of the blends. I found there were quite a lot of DJs doing it, a lot of people getting into mixing and starting up. And I found many of them were girls which was really nice for me. I’d never had that network before.
Lauren and Gabby are both very community minded people aren’t they?
Absolutely, I love that. And I want to do the same here in Pembrokeshire. I’ve got a detached garage at the end of my garden and, when I can, I’m going to soundproof it and turn it into a studio and create a little community for girls in the area who don’t have the confidence to approach guys in the scene or how to get into it. I want to be like ‘right, come round to mine and have a mix! Let’s sort this out!’
We need that in rural Wales!
We do. The nearest community studios, as far as I know, as Pirate studios in Cardiff which is hours away. I’d love to kick start some sessions for teenagers and young women so they can give it a try and see if they like it instead of having to drive all the way to Cardiff. I’d love to give something back to the community.
You’re in a beautiful corner of the country!
Yeah I moved here in 2011. I love it. Being by the coast is so important for my mental health. Going down to the beach after a really rubbish day in work, looking out at the sea, breathing it all in and remembering that this is what it’s all about. Not what happened on my 5am-2pm shift, you know? It’s all about the big wide world isn’t it?
Yeah! Puts things in perspective doesn’t it? Tell us about the dances in your area – you’re resident with Tell Your Friends, right?
Yes! We’ve got a night coming up on February 17, supporting Dr Meaker. That’s in Newport in Pembs. Something really special happening here in Haverford West is a venue called The Tunnel. Arkala Dre runs that and he’s brought down some amazing names. DJ Hybrid, Anais, some amazing DJs. If you ever get a chance to come down then do it. He’s awesome, he gets all the local DJs playing. It’s a great scene.
Has D&B always had a strong presence in West Wales?
A night called Back To Basics has been running for a long time and has always been sick but no, drum & bass isn’t at the forefront like it is now. Back in the day it was more about the band scene with live bands. The Tunnel used to be called Labyrinth and was more focused around bands and live stuff. I was in a band too for a while.
Sick. What did you play?
Keyboards and a little bit of singing. It was born from a load of us in work who were musically minded. We had someone who played guitar, someone who played drums, a bass player and I managed to elbow my way in on keys. We started the band just to play at a work’s Christmas party but after that we got more bookings and played in a battle of the bands. It was mainly covers and stuff but it was a fun time.
Awesome. So you’re clearly musically minded and skilled… Are productions on the radar?
Not yet. It’s something I want to do but I’m really wary of how long it takes and time is my enemy. I put a lot of planning and prep into my sets and my mixing and practicing and my tunes. That with work and life in general leaves very little time. But it is something I want to pursue and see what I can achieve and I know the sound I’d be trying to make, too. Deep, heavy 140 stuff.
I’m going to Outlook Origins this year and I think when I get back from there is when I purposefully make time for music. I’ll be that inspired that I’ll have to get stuck in. I’ll ease off a few gigs to make time for production.
Good idea. It is a marathon for sure and not something that’s gonna happen overnight. Exciting to know what direction the sound would head in…
100%. I love my 140. I love mixing it, I love the attitude and vibe to it. It’s got that gritty rawness to it and all the little samples. Yeah, I’m really passionate about it and I know it’s something you can put into a tune.
You can feel that on the mix! Sick!
Thank you. I really enjoyed putting that together. I’m playing a 140 set on February 18 in Cardiff at Critical Sound. Concrete Junglists and Incurzion have got a room two takeover there. I’m really looking forward to that.
So many things happening in Wales at the moment!
It is great to see it being put on the map a lot more. There are so many people doing interesting and inspiring things. I mean look at Natty Lou! She’s killing it and repping it hard for Wales. I love what Concrete Junglists are doing and their whole vibe. There’s some really exciting things happening in Wales.
You’re playing Balter too!
I am! Yeah I can’t wait for that. I’m going back to back with Prosec for that one. It’s going to be a bit of a jungley one! That weekend is quite mad because there’s also the In It Together festival which is in Wales, too. That’s with Concrete Junglists. So yeah that weekend is going to be amazing.
What else is coming up?
I’m playing Heft on March 3 which is exciting because it’s a 360 Boiler Room style. I’m back to back with LateKnight from Back To Basics. That’s going to be a lot of fun. So yeah, loads of cool things happening.
Amazing. One last question… What does S.W.I.D stand for?
She Who Is Death
Wow, wouldn’t have guessed that one!
Haha. I’ve always been into the macabre and supernatural and deep, dark, gothic stuff. I’ve been drawn to it since I was a kid. My dog’s called Pugsley from the Addams Family. But yeah it is a bit different for a name. I remember telling my brother about the name and his little nervous pause before he said he didn’t think it was a very good name.
I said, I respect his view but one day he will see S W I D on a flyer one day. Three weeks later Fully Charged asked me to do their pink stream, which was at the start of lockdown ,and my name was on the flyer. I sent it to him like ‘see?’
It’s been on a few flyers since then, too…
Exactly. I’m happy with it. Look out for it on more flyers soon!