Since the late 2000s, the path toward a dance music career has taken one clear route: An aspiring producer posts their tracks onto the internet, works to build a fanbase, and, after enough momentum or mentorship through a more established name, they start to officially release their singles through a label.
Swayló’s looks a bit different. Getting some buzz with track “Ascension,” the producer born Noah De St. Croix Kessler developed a love of dance music and DJing during his youth but started his professional career as a promoter and talent buyer, and that paved the way for his own Ibiza-style event series, Swayló Nights.
Not just a typical clubbing event, Swayló Nights are designed to be an experience through art, meditation, and spirituality.
From this foundation, Swayló pivoted toward production, influenced by his roots in New Mexico and Southern Africa. You hear this global medley in his compositions pairing tech and deep house with tribal rhythm and organic instrumentation.
Receiving support from ZHU, Jamie Jones, and Nora En Pure, Swayló dropped “Ascension” at the end of January. The track stands apart from other dance music fare through this multi-genre sound that further blends in hip-hop, retro elements, and instrumentation from the Turkish Baglama and the Dulcimer.
We had a chance to speak with the rising producer about his recent track and where he’d like his career to go.
What was your vision for “Ascension”?
Ascension means the act of rising to a new or higher level. I believe humanity is ascending to a space of heightened connection, peace, and positivity.
As we step into a higher form of existence, our old negative ways and patterns will be left behind, and we will emerge into a place of pure connection with ourselves, with others, and with our natural environment.
I choose to focus my attention on this space aligning my intention and my creative manifestation with this positive movement. This song was created in this light to honor this.
This track features a mix of electronic production and instruments like the Turkish Baglama and Dulcimer. What was your process for creating “Ascension”?
I create my production using samples of instruments I’ve recorded, as well utilizing Roland keyboards like the D-50 for pads and chords.
These are merged with drums taken from all over the world, such as timbales from Latin America, steel drums from the Caribbean, and the djembe from Africa. I add basslines utilizing the 808 emulation synths and the Roland Juno 60, as well as the studio logic sledge.
I love world instruments, as you noted the Turkish Baglama, African Kalimbas, and the Dulcimer. I introduced some traditional flamenco guitars in there, as well.
These elements are all mixed down in Ableton Live to create a blend of tribal, melodic, and groove rhythms that take you on a powerful and visceral journey.
How do your roots in New Mexico and South Africa influence your music and approach to production?
I was deeply inspired by my experience growing up in Zuni, New Mexico and later on the Navajo Nation. The tribal music and tribal dance in Zuni was probably the single most powerful influence, which included: the tribal drum and chanting, trance drum beats, and the powwow events where many came together to share sound and dance. All of these experiences moved me.
I later connected to many similar elements during my time living in Mozambique and Malawi. I learned about traditional drumming in both of these places and was blown away by the similarities.
The influence of storytelling has remained an important aspect to my approach to the creation of sound.
Your music has both a retro and futuristic sound. How would you describe your style?
Yes, indeed. I like to describe this as an Ancient Future Sound. I am fascinated by the unknown of where we are going, carrying our experiences with us and being rooted in integrity.
I wish to pay homage to the ancient world, our ancestors, and the past whilst being rooted in the present and open to what is coming. Come what may!
Your background in dance music started in promotions. How did you pick up DJing and producing?
My background in music actually started during my upbringing, where I was exposed to traditional dance music. My parents were also passionate about trance music and would dance and practice meditation with this music.
Those are my earliest influences. That is where I truly began to produce and mix music. During high school, I got into coordinating events, experiences, and promoting the shows. I also loved spinning music at the events. That grew during my time in college to community events, college bookings, and then booking clubs and venues.
I would open up many of my own shows. I went on to work in the music industry with a powerhouse and leading promotion company C3 Presents and am currently employed by Meow Wolf as the senior buyer and promoter.
I lost touch with my music for a few years during my time at C3 but came back around to it a couple of years ago.
Through your background, you have your own event series, Swayló Nights. What can someone expect when attending Swayló Nights?
The event typically starts with a meditation for 40-60 people. That transitions into a lounge immersed in a beautiful, intentional, dimensional space for people to connect, converse and step out of the day to day. High-grade spirits, elixirs, and other lovely beverages are served.
Sometimes we’ll do a seated dinner, and other times, there will be a street food court or something of the sort. We begin to play dreamy, melodical music and 200-400 additional attendees begin to join the experience. The music builds up and soon the dance floor opens up.
The energy builds and builds until it’s a full-on club like dance party with exceptional sound, lighting, projection mapping, and other top-quality audio visual components.
It’s a magic carpet ride and you can take it wherever you wish to go!
What plans do you have to follow up “Ascension”?
I’m dropping another track “Yucatán Dream” with the Full Moon, Thursday February 25th. Planning to do a live stream or event in March and then releasing a track with Insomniac Records in April. I have a lot more music that I’m excited to roll out through the year!
With clubs shut down for most of 2020, what have you been up to over the past year, aside from making music?
Working on building out the strategy for how Meow Wolf events will return in Santa Fe, Vegas, Denver, and into potential new markets. I’ve also been working on developing in the hotel hospitality and real estate space. I am excited on where I am going to take the Swayló project next 😊
As a DJ and producer, where would you like to see your career go?
Ah, I get to expand on what I started to share above – awesome! I plan to build Swayló over the next couple years, continue to gain momentum, and build a following for the sound, the vision, and the experience.
In 5-8 years, I will aim to launch two boutique hotels, one in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica and another in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This will be another iteration of the Swayló project about the grand experience.
These will be focused on an immersive and luxury experience in an exceptionally beautiful, natural setting. I am inspired by biomorphic architecture, permaculture, and sustainable systems.
There will be an emphasis on the arts and in the experience. Think exceptional private spaces with simple luxury design – immersed in the beauty of the environment while having wonderful community and shared spaces – rooftops, patios, event spaces, and creative studios.
You will be able to stay in Santa Fe for a week and then dip down to Costa for another week or two. You will have a magical, memorable experience where you will be part of the global community! Thanks for taking the time to interview me. Much Appreciated.