What are your names?
Nima Dehghani (keys) and Mark Griffin (drums/lyrics).
We play live with Nathanael Hutchison (guitar/bass) and Lachlan Tibbles (guitar). And we’re currently performing with our featured vocalist Cara Walkam aka “meadowhip” on lead singer duties.
What is the band’s name?
How did you come up with the band’s name?
Nima and I (Mark) spent ages arguing about band names, but eventually we both decided we wanted something that mentioned a fruit. I think I came up with Strawberry Swing initially but wanted to avoid it because of the Coldplay song. Then we kept riffing on ideas, I was really trying to make something with peaches work, but we kept coming back to Strawberry Swing. The name just seemed to fit too well and now we always talk about ‘Strawbifying’ our sound. So when you listen to us, it should swing, it should groove and it should taste a little bit Strawberry.
What is your genre of music?
Pop. I think technically you’d call us indie-pop or indie-rock but I reckon it’s just straight pop, just a little old-school because it’s played with live instruments, but it’s the kind of music anyone could get into.
Give us a little bio about you.
Strawberry Swing is an indie-pop duo based in Wollongong, Australia. It’s made up of Nima Dehghani (keys, sometimes vocals) and Mark Griffin (drums/lyrics). Mark grew up in Sydney and regional NSW and Nima grew up in Tehran and Sydney but they eventually met at a party in Wollongong. They started jamming and writing songs together and eventually Strawberry Swing was born.
The duo’s debut EP, Taste The Berry came out in 2021 and they’ve just launched their latest single in June 2022. They regularly headline shows in Wollongong and get up to Sydney a fair bit, but with this new single they’re looking to grow.
What made you go into music?
So I got into music through my dad playing records and then CDs all the time, my mum playing piano and then music being all around at church growing up.
Nima has the better story. He grew up in Iran and Australia and in Iran most music is banned and performing music actually got him arrested one time. So I think for Nima, music became an important form of artistic and personal expression in a place that made that difficult. It also makes things funny at times because when he was in Iran he only had the music that got smuggled in, so it’s always interesting what he’s aware of and what he isn’t and he also formed connections to stuff without knowing what was cool or uncool in broader Western culture.
Who are your influences?
Blondie, Coldplay, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Franz Ferdinand, Radiohead, Billy Joel, Elton John, anything New Wave, anything Disco— I could list this for days. Lately a bit of Billie Eillish and Harry Styles is creeping in too.
Are you signed?
Not at the moment, currently totally independent, but we’re open to offers.
You released your new single ‘Bennie (Wont Dance) , tell us more about the single.
It’s our first single for 2022, it features ‘meadowhip’ on lead vocals and really, it’s just a fun old-school indie-pop/indie-rock groove that might not make Bennie dance, but it will definitely make you dance. Also it has a guitar solo, and guitar solos are cool.
What is the meaning behind the single?
The meaning behind the single is basically you have the singer complaining that there’s this girl called Bennie who hangs out with Billy Joel, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Paul McCartney and so on, but won’t dance with her. But really the audience is Bennie and we’re saying “hey you like all these artists, we’re them but with a bit of modern flavour, so come dance with us!”
What was the writing and recording process like?
Bennie is the first song Nima and I wrote together. He came around, and this was before Strawberry Swing, to my place in 2019 and he just had this piano stab thing with a couple of bars of groove after it, but the second he played that first chord I just thought, “Bennie and the Jets!”. The rest of the song didn’t sound like that at all, but it was stuck in my head. So I just riffed that first line about Bennie walking down the street with a guy named Billy Jay. Realising I was now referencing Elton John and Billy Joel I decided to run with that and just fill the verse with classic rock references. We were both adamant it would be cool to swing the chorus so we did this double time swing thing and just made the chorus a chant basically. Over time that became an audience call and response thing at our live shows which is really cool. When we went to record it we new we wanted to keep some of that live feel. So we tracked it keys first and then drums to a click but no quantising and we got it all down in like 2 takes. Then we got Nate to add some guitar and that wailing solo. meadowhip just absolutely nailed the vocals and then we had our friend Ben Cauduro aka Benjamino mix/master and slap some bass on there. The bass line is from the first demo he sent us, it was already perfect. And he mixed the vocals with this really cool stereo spread and a multitrack effect where he kept all the tracks at basically the same volume so it really slaps you in the face which we thought was really cool.
Describe the track in two words.
Who did you work with on the single?
So obviously meadowhip is the featured singer. We’ve been working with her live for a while and it was just really great to get her in the studio. Our live guitarist/bassist Nathanael Hutchison does the rhythm guitar and the solo on it. And then it was mixed and mastered by Ben Cauduro (Benjamino) and he also provided the bass line. Which he actually mixed quite loud in the track, and I very much respect the guts to say “I’m gonna throw bass on here and I’m gonna make it loud”, because it was exactly right for the song.
Will we see a Music video for ‘Bennie (Wont Dance) ‘, what can we expect from the creative process? Yeah we’ve got a really cool animated Lyric Video coming out that Emma Floreani Designs put together for us. And then we’ve got another sort of Lo-fi unofficial music video coming out. I say unofficial because Nima won’t let me call it the official video until we have an MTV budget or at least a drone shot.
Will we see an Album or EP this year and if so what can we expect from it?
There’s rumours of a live album that we might record at the end of this year for a 2023 release. But we’re about to record another single and we might squeeze a third one in before the end of the year, we’re looking at maybe a trilogy of singles featuring meadowhip.
Do you have any live shows or a tour coming up and if so let us know where we can catch you at?
Just a few local live shows. We’ll be at The Alley @ The Agincourt Hotel in Sydney on July 2nd. And it hasn’t been announced yet, but I believe we’re going to be at a Sunday Session at the North Gong Hotel in Wollongong in mid-July as well.
What else can we expect in 2022?
So at least one more single, hopefully a trip to Melbourne and/or Brisbane at some point, as well as some cool new content on Tik Tok especially. We’ve decided to stop resisting Tik Tok and give into its dark power.
Will we see any collaborations and if so, can you tell us more about them?
So definitely a couple more tracks with meadowhip including hopefully a genuine co-write with her, we’ve got a couple of tracks in the works that she’s co-writing with us that I’m very excited about. Nima and I also have our sights on a number of local Wollongong artists we’d love to feature on tracks in the future, so maybe at some point an EP or Album of collabs? Not sure yet.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
Playing Wembley to a sold out crowd. Hahaha No, but seriously, if in five years we could be making a sustainable income from the band, do a few bucket list festivals and live shows, and get some decent radio play— we would have exceeded our wildest dreams.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
Nima and I have a couple of mantras first, “keep it simple” and second, “it’s about the audience”. We find some musicians can get selfish and make the music about them, which is fine if you’re just jamming or whatever, but if you’re playing for a paying audience then it’s about them, they’re your focus.
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
In-ears— we just got some and they’re total game changers
Printed set lists— I forget these every time
Our instruments- this one is obvious but you’d be surprised
Spare gear— there’s always someone who’s missing a guitar lead or strap or drum key or gaffer tape or something
Enjoy the moment— it’s very easy to get caught up in the stress of putting on a show that you can forget, this is why we do it. There’s nothing like locking in as a band and then locking in with the audience, it’s amazing.