Magnetic personalities? Check. A palpable chemistry? Check. Great hair? Check, check, and check.
Even if you hadn’t yet heard one second of Swagu Style House’s music, the star power exuded by the Atlanta-bred threesome is pretty undeniable.
Lounged collectively across a couch in a Decatur office space, members Stranger, Deep, and Medulla (pictured above from left to right) took some time to casually address their novice career as a group with the charm and composure of industry veterans.
“I still work,” explains Deep as we discuss their lives in public.”I am paid, don’t get it twisted. But, I still work. I have people that are like ‘how does it feel to be famous?’ I’m like if I was famous, I don’t think I’d still be working here.”
Quite honestly, there’s no question that Deep will have to quit his day job soon enough given a concertedly vibrant musical future that seems to be prepared for takeoff, and undoubtedly so.
Finding themselves immersed in an environment steeped in musical ingenuity, Swagu’ recently signed on with Cee-Lo Green’s Mothership Entertainment imprint, grouped under the wing of the notable innovator who also doubles as instrumentalist Medulla’s father. (I’ll spare you the apple falling far from the tree joke.)
Debuting with their single “Pick It Up”, Swagu Style House has made it clear that conventions just aren’t their thing.
Fusing elements of hip-hop, funk, rock, and a familiar ringtone or two, the group is settled on making music that they believe to be “immortal, positive, and universal”.
How did you each get started individually, and when did it become a collective sort of thing?
Medulla: All of our families knew each other from a young age. This is definitely something that we all wanted to do.
We started to pursue it more and more, and once we realized it was something we definitely wanted to do, we came together.
As far as being based in Atlanta, how influential has that scene been in regard to what you guys are now?
Stranger: That’s what we look up to—the older generation. Definitely our generation, too, but that older Atlanta. That 90s Atlanta has been pretty influential.
Deep: Just Georgia, period. You can think about Ray Charles, Little Richard, people like that. The older heads in family always played [them]. Those are just great influences. The Dungeon Family–I was born in the 90s, so I used to listen to a lot of Kilo Ali, Lil Jon, Pastor Troy, Sammy Sam, a lot of different artists. Crime Mob—I used to knuck if you buck all day.
In your creative process, how much do you really try to take from that influence and put into everything else that you know when you’re making the music?
Deep: It’s 100 percent part of the process. You’re going to take part of the influence and try to build off of that. It’s the foundation. It’s like you’re building a house—Swagu Style House. You’re building a house with a good foundation first.
Then, you go ahead and design your house how you want to. You design your song how you want to. A great hook might come first, or a great verse. It’s just about the content of the music and then from content, we get into what type of vibe the song should have. Like if it should be a slower beat, a beat with a lot of bass or crunk, or something rock or funk. Or, you know, something more melodic.
It just depends on the vibe at the moment. We’re very ‘vibey’ artists. Whatever vibe we’re in, we try to capitalize off of that and make the greatest music possible.
You guys grew up watching that sort of provers unfold. How different is it going from the person admiring and learning—going from the watcher to the doer?
Stranger: I would say it’s definitely different because it’s its own situation. You apply what you’ve already learned to this new situation. Of course you’re going to encounter new things. But, you just regurgitate and reflect on everything you’ve already learned. I think that’s what we try to do.
How often would you say that you’ve had a mentor, aside from Cee-Lo, that you had guiding you through that process?
Deep: All our lives. Not necessarily being hands-on, but just being able to watch and be a fly in the room and just observe somebody that was doing it around us who was great. Sometimes, they’d be like ‘Hey, I see you like music. You should do it this way’.
Sometimes they’d be in their mood, and you see greatness in them. So, you’re gonna pay attention to that and you’re going to try and emulate it as much as possible.
So, how did you guys exactly land on ‘Pick it Up’?
Deep: Being rejected. [they laugh].
I know you see me calling, you know what I’m saying? And you don’t want to pick up the phone? Not necessarily that all the time. Because, you know, we do got, you know, our share of, you know. Simple dib and dab in this new designer.
It came about just being in the studio with Cee-Lo. He’s very good at pulling up different assortments of beats and sounds. He was just making a beat and he came upon the ringtone—he and a collective of other producers made a song with a sound similar to the ringtone on it.
Then, somebody’s phone started ringing and we were all like ‘You gotta pick it up’. We just spun off of that. ‘Would you like to FaceTime me or what?’
Stranger: It was a real life process. We go off of like what’s going on in your life to make it relatable, and we thought it was pretty funny, too. We tried to bring humor back into what we do. Still being Hip-Hop.
Still being involved in our culture as well. But, still being different and being yourself, you know what I’m saying? Just be funny, relatable. So, people can get it whether you’re 8 or 80.
Medulla, you’ve mentioned before that you’re the multi-instrumentalist of the group. How involved are you in the process of making the music?
Medulla: I’m most definitely involved. Whenever we get in the studio we have various ways of coming up with something.
It’s completely organic and it has a collective input from all three of us.
What was it like when you first heard the song on the radio?
[They all look at each other and laugh]
Stranger: That’s a very good question because by the time we heard it on the radio it was surreal. We hear this song every day. We perform this song, we rehearse this song. Hearing it on the radio—it was phenomenal. That’s why it was surreal. You really had to pinch yourself like ‘Yo, your song is on the radio’.
We hear it and it’s drilled into our heads like everyday but, it was definitely a big step and a big accomplishment for us—just a joyful occasion.
Deep: I’m like more strategic. If I didn’t know what station it was going to be on, I want to look it up. See who’s viewing it, how many listeners they have on the regular.
Who did it for us? How can we get them to do it again? Is it only a one time thing? Are they going to be spinning it throughout the week so I can catch it? So, I can tell someone ‘Ay man they gon’ be playing our song on the radio’.
That’s the excitement it brings into me individually. I know collectively we have all the same excitement and surrealism.
Stranger: It was definitely confirmation that we’re doing the right thing. People actually like the song. We’re actually poking at the right veins as far as going into the music industry with the message that we want to give off, which is confidence, being yourself, and just concepts with our music.
Deep: And content.
Right now, what’s next?
Stranger: Promoting “Pick It Up”, plenty of shows, and travelling the world.
We have a mixtape that’s about to drop, too. It’s called Shazam. That concept came about by us going to random places—restaurants, elevators, doctor’s office. You might hear some music, you get your Shazam app. If we like the vibe, we would take the vibe back to the studio and we made a whole mixtape like that. It’ll be out very soon.
Deep: We’re definitely trying to push “Pick It Up” until it hits number one on the charts. But, you know, we have to put different appetizers and sides on the plate with the meat.
Stranger: Soul Food
Any last words?
Stranger: If you want to try something new, Swagu Style House is definitely open arms.
Deep: We’re here to wake up everybody that’s sleep out there in the world. We’re trying to bring back great music, different music, versatile music, live instruments, entertainment.
We want to bring back a great experience when you come and see us perform, when you listen to our music. We just want to get inside your soul, and touch your medulla.