Havana Swim Club released their debut self-titled album, thirteen sample-based instrumentals that provide the perfect summer soundtrack. These tracks are addictive, blending tropical sounds of Jamaican Ska and Latin Jazz with chillwave and dreampop synth sounds and beats.
There are a number of standout tracks on Havana Swim Club. Lagoon has a larger than life feel. Jubilee is a favorite track with bright horns and a joyful explosion of melodies. 1 2 3 4 slaps hard with rich analog synths elevating the song. Yeah has a serious groove, and Wonder explores dynamics and space.
Creating the Album
Dan Koch of Seattle is the producer behind Havana Swim Club, a graduate student in counseling psychology, a new father, commercial composer, and podcaster. This project began during the 2020 Lockdown, providing a way for him to escape the pressures. He tracked and shaped these songs in his studio. We talked with Dan about his approach to creating these tracks.
“I always start with some sample that I have found ‘digital crate digging’ and build the rest of the track from there,” Dan shared. “Everything starts with a sample, but some of the tracks end up with very few samples. Others are very sample-heavy.”
While ‘digital crate digging’, Dan takes samples from YouTube videos. “This is obviously less time-consuming than physical crate-digging, but also I started this project during lockdown when record stores were all closed anyway!”
From there, Dan begins to add instrumentation and sounds. “It just depends on what each song feels like it needs. I play a lot of bass and keyboards on the record, and I have lots of drum sample libraries from my work as a commercial composer (dankoch.net), plus a drum kit in my studio.”
This isn’t Dan’s first music project. In the early 2000s, Dan was in an indie power pop quintet band called Sherwood. They released five studio albums and two EPs, signing to Myspace Records in 2006. “I learned on Cubase, then transitioned to Logic back in 2006 or so, during my emo-pop days,” Dan reflected while talking about using Logic Pro on this project.
You’ll find that once you start playing this album, you’ll listen to the entire 39 minute album and feel a sense of hope. Havana Swim Club might even become the theme to your pool-side summer days.
Havana Swim Club links: