Glasgow twins Rachael and Paul Swinton, better known as Cloth, are experts at creating songs of minimal movement that, paradoxically, move you. After a COVID-enforced break, during which time they built their own studio, the duo are now back with their stunning new Low Sun EP, soon to be released on Mogwai’s Rock Action Records.
After the critical success of your debut, how does it feel having new music ready to put out into the world?
Rachael Swinton: I think because there’s been a bit of a gap since we last put out music there are a few nerves attached to it, but everything we’ve released so far has had a really good response. I’m probably more excited than nervous.
The Low Sun EP feels more intimate than your debut. Was it a conscious effort to make something even more introspective and emotive?
Paul Swinton: The EP came out of a slightly more fraught place.
The debut [2019’s Cloth] featured songs that we’d been working on for years. This one we wrote during lockdown, so it was obviously a really bleak time in a lot of ways for a lot of people. And I think that definitely made its way into the music. There was a stronger introspection and an examination of how we were feeling in response to not just the pandemic, but other stuff that was going on at the time.
Being twins with a passion for music, was there an inevitability to the fact you would make music together?
Rachael: We’ve always played together. We went through a heavy metal phase, and went to the pure pop end. Then we had a bit of a break from playing together when we were at uni. When we graduated we picked it up again and spent a couple of years just writing. I remember it as a period of consciously trying to create a sound that I felt was something slightly different. I always wanted our music to have a bit of an edge, something interesting or special about it in some way.
Does your familial bond bring more harmony than it does tension to writing and recording?
Rachael: I’d say we are really close and that brings about clashes, but we are also on the same page a lot of the time as well.
Paul: It works because there is a little bit of disparity in musical taste, which can bring different things to the plate. Although there won’t be any qualms about shooting each other down if we bring some shite ideas to the table.
Paul, as you write the majority of the lyrics, do you write through a different lens, or more universally, knowing that your sister will be singing them?
Paul: I write for myself but because Rachael and I are really tight, I know the sort of things she will and won’t sing. We’re on a similar wavelength when it comes to imagery and language. We read a lot of the same stuff, and have a similar way of thinking lyrically. Rachael writes lyrics as well and she wrote the majority of the lyrics for ‘Sidecar’, which slots in really nicely with the songs I wrote for the EP. But I think on the whole I am just kinda writing for myself and whether Rachael likes it or not [laughs] she has to sing it.
There is a dusky, dream-like feel to a lot of your songs that puts me in mind of late nights when the world is still a little blurry. I wondered whether this is something you think about when writing?
Paul: I think mood is extremely important to our songs and our songwriting. I always like to think about things visually. The EP seems to me to have a slightly more overcast, bleak quality, and I mean that in a good way. I love a lot of bleak music. But having that cohesive mood across a body of tracks is really important and that’s at the forefront of our minds.
Given the themes of connection and fear of loss throughout the EP, do you consider yourselves quite guarded for fear of the pain that can come from loss, or are you more likely to take risks?
Rachael: As I’ve gotten a bit older a slight cautiousness has crept into how much I put myself out there and launch myself into things.
Paul: Generally we are private people, but there’s also a sort of impulsiveness that’s important when you embark on a career in the arts; you need to be a little reckless and go for it. We both really value meaningful connections whether that’s with friends, family, or loved ones. For me, it’s the thing that informs most of my lyrics, and makes you want to keep expressing yourself through music. We’re not closed off: we’re cautiously impulsive.
Rachael: Yeah that’s it, cautiously impulsive.
Low Sun EP is out now via Rock Action Records
By: Craig Howieson