It finally landed. On December 27, while many of us were enjoying a festive break and eating far too much cheese, the man like Mampi Swift dropped the album people have waited years for.
The follow-up to 2005’s Music Forever, Victory Rose is Philip Anim’s third studio album. Ranging from savage bassline slap downs to rushy musical soothers, via gully, gritty house departures, it packs exactly the type of punch you’d expect from a man of his stature and structure. And, at time of writing, it remains number one on the Junodownload album chart, three weeks after its release, topping albums by major names in house music such as Joey Negro and Toolroom Records.
It’s a well-deserved victory: Over the last few years we’ve been documenting the turbulent journey Swift has experienced on the road to the album. One of the most candid and open artists in drum & bass, we’ve had a series of very deep conversations with the man. In 2016 he explained how hard his return to drum & bass had been, and how he had to completely re-learn the new game… Promptly before he suffered some severe medical issues and almost lost his life, as he told us exactly two years ago.
Our last conversation with him on this site was another deep one; he announced this album in March 2019, explaining how its meaning, inspiration and purpose had entirely changed again after the loss of his father.
10 months later, the album – named in homage to both his father Victor and his mother Rose – lands. And this is how it finally came to be…
You did it!
I did! I changed the plan a whole load of times between the last time we spoke and now. But I went with my gut instinct and did what felt right. When I first submitted the 20 tracks so many people said I shouldn’t release it like that, but my heart and soul told me otherwise. Basically get it out there or it will never come out. I literally selected those tracks on December 1. 26 day later the album came out. It was wonderful to get to the finish line.
Ballsy move to release it over Christmas time!
Yeah so many people told me that, too. But I’ve realised in my career that the only time that anything works for me is when I go with my heart. You can do all this business shit, you can time things and plan things but it’s only when I go with my heart that things work out. I just felt deep inside it was good time to release it.
I imagine it’s gone through various iterations and lots of tracks fell off and on the playlist along the way?
That’s why it’s part one. The full thing could have been 40 tracks! I’m happy with the arrangement of it. I wanted to make sure it had that balance. People have been asking about this album for years, so I wanted to bring a mix of new stuff and older sounding things. I know there are a lot of people who want to hear the classic style of tracks of mine but at the same time I’ve got loads of new stuff that I want to put out into the world, but I have to make sure they’re delivered gradually or it will alienate people who’ve been supporting me all these years.
Big up the fandem!
No lie, without people like them I’d have given up so many times. But it’s not without its pressure… I’ve had messages from people saying ‘we’ve been waiting years for the album but we know it’s going to be worth it’. We know it’s going to be worth it? WTF mate! Those words are too strong! I can’t let them down. The ones who go out of their way to message you are the fans who really give a shit. That’s why I haven’t spammed the album in the press, if people want to talk to me about it – like you asked – then great, but I’m not pushing it out to you unless you want to hear it. I’m blessed that a lot of people have.
I think fans sense and appreciate realness. They know when you’re being legit or just flinging out hypey promo..
You can’t cheat them, can you? But I also have to be selfish. Like when I’m in the studio I don’t think ‘oh my fans will love this’. That’s the last thing on my mind. It’s whether I like it. Because 99.999% when I like it, my fans enjoy it too. I’ve always had that attitude. I remember having a social media spat with some random and he said ‘you need to think about your fans when you’re making these tunes!’ I was like ‘no I don’t or I’d still be making The One every tune.’
And you probably wouldn’t be making bonkers tracks like Chuck Norris!
Ha! I named that track because of a really random conversation with a driver in America. We were talking about how kids don’t understand the legendary kung-fu styles of the 80s. We started talking about Chuck Norris and he just cracks me up. Just his name makes me laugh. So I decided to name a track after him. I told the driver to look out for that. I never sat down to make a tune called Chuck Norris, though…
Nah you don’t find him, he finds you!
Exactly. When those vibes came out of the speakers, I knew it was Chuck! But then, on the flip side of that vibe, I’ve got tracks that are much more musical and vocal. But I couldn’t go too far with them. I love Come With Me musically. I’m proud of it. But I know a lot of people who support me won’t like it as much as tracks as One Finger.
Have you ever sung on your own tracks? So many people do. Calyx, Calibre, Ray Keith just sung on his first tune for his album…
Hmmm… I don’t think so. I have done on demos or unreleased tracks for ideas. I’ve rapped on tracks too.
Go on. Is there an MC Swift deep inside you waiting to burst out?
Hell yeah, there’s a cold assed MC in here! [Laughs] I will challenge all MCs! But I did have a long period in the US writing hip hop and pop music. I learnt so much during that time and started to call myself a musician. I had to really understand melodies and arrangements. I’d never have been able to make tracks like Victory without that type of experience.
That time in America was late 2000s wasn’t it? You’d packed in drum & bass for a bit and a fan came up to you and made you re-think your decision, right?
That’s right. That was exactly December 27, 2010.
Nine years to the day of the album release!
Oh yeah. Mad! I’d not even made that connection. I’ve told you this story a few times but yeah, this guy was like ‘where have you been? You’re the dude! I’ve followed you for years then you disappear!’ I honestly thought I was done with the music, but he was saying all this mad stuff. I was fighting the tears. I was trying to dismiss what he was saying. I was never going back, that was that. He changed everything.
Are you still in touch with that hip hop world?
Not at all. It’s a fickle world mate. Brutal. It made me tougher. If someone doesn’t like a remix I’ve done or a track I’ve sent them then I’m totally cool. No offence is taken. I learnt how to deal with that from those days, sitting in record exec’s offices and they’d put your music on, you’re sitting there thinking it’s your opportunity and then within 20 seconds he decides to make a phonecall to his mate. He just doesn’t care about the music.
That’s the shitty end of the business. People who’ve never lifted an instrument up in their lives and just see music as money..
Pure money. Don’t get me wrong I had moments that were the complete opposite where we’ve gone in and it’s like ‘Jesus Christ, this is next level!’ But yeah it did chew me up, it wasn’t always easy, but I’ve learnt to be a lot tougher and can withstand criticism. Saying that, I’m proud to say I haven’t had any bad comments about the album so haven’t had to apply that skill. It’s been number one for a few weeks now!
Over all genres, too. Even big house guys!
Know what I mean? But I’m not sitting here thinking about it. In the past I’d have been guilty of getting confused at what to do next. like ‘oh this is a success, what’s going to happen? What should I do? Are things picking up?’ I’m much more emotionally moved from it all.
It’s a moment in time. But we know how you’ve got at least another chapter – you’ve set yourself up for…
Haha. I was going to say a challenge!
I do like punishing myself! I need something to push me, I can’t just get on with things, I need that pressure. I’ve got about six tracks that aren’t finished yet but I don’t want to long out the second part, I want to get it out there nice and quick and saying these things makes me push myself to stick to some type of deadline.
No one would be that surprised if it did drop in a few years!
[laughs] Yeah maybe! But there’s more to it. I want to build on my legacy. If you look at what’s out there, beyond vinyl releases from back in the day, my digital body of work is not the best reflection of me at all. Having my album out there is a much more recent representation of me. I’m proud of that.
Are your proud of A.M.C’s remix of Soul? Such a banger.
He’s killing it isn’t he? He said it was one of his favourite tr acks of mine and he wanted to remix it. I said ‘go ahead’ and he smashed it. It’s not a fresh track, he made that remix years ago. It’s a timeless remix. I was always happy with the melody which I made totally by mistake.
All the best things are happy accidents
I’m telling you man! The mixdown on the original was no accident though. Do you know about the SOUR studio?
Shy FX and Potential Badboy were making records in there back in the day!
That’s right. Legendary place. I made The One in there too. They had a Soundtracs Solitaire mixing desk then. Easy £70,000 piece of kit. Beautiful to use. I made a few tracks of mine in there and that’s why a lot of mixdowns of mine from that era still stand up.
Including The One
Yeah and I made it there in one hour! It was made at 8am. We had the studio from 9pm to 9am. I won’t lie, I’d made some absolutely shit tunes that session. There was an hour left so I was like ‘okay I want to make something with a cool bassline and tough drums’. Just something to mix on dubplate, never release, just something fun. Then The One came along…
Did the other, shitter tracks come out?
Of course not mate! They were awful. The One sounds like I know what I’m doing but I didn’t. Like you say… Happy accidents.
How about particular happy or proud moments on the album?
Come With Me for personal and musical reasons. There’ll be more of them on part two. Creeper is my family’s favourite. My wife and kids love that one.
I love the little vocal elements in that one
I’m a sucker for a choir. This sounds a bit bizarre, but I can hear things through the choirs. My musical answers come through a choir much easier than a bassline. I don’t know what it is but once I have those voices layered up it brings out something in me. It’s mad.
There’s a rawness to them. You get it through any big masses of crowds singing, like the football for example…
It’s very powerful. And that’s the power I feel when I’m writing. If I had a chance to work with an orchestra or choir I’d jump at the chance!
I reckon the second part of the album will be Swift Goes Classical!
[Laughs] Good point! It won’t be… But I wouldn’t rule out doing an all classical project. When part two is out and complete, what I release in the future will be whatever I want to release. It may not be D&B, it may be hip hop, classical, anything – but keeping within my style of music, lots of energy and weight behind it. I’ve got years and years of music sitting in me waiting to be made. For years I felt supressed. People don’t appreciate the musical stuff, it’s the good old tear-out stuff that people go mad for but I want to be more free with my music.
Has the album – and the reaction to it – inspired you?
I’m just inspired in general. Something keeps driving me back into the studio every single day right now. When I’m at it like that, it’s an exciting place to be, let’s see what 2020 brings eh?