But while there isn't much to sell at the moment, there's plenty to say about the veteran duo. David Brown and James Taylor, after all, have been in and around the world of music since the '80s, when they met at Island Records. As Brown recounts, "I started out answering the phones, parking cars, stuff like that. I worked for the managing director for a little while and he actually noticed that I liked music, which he seemed to think was quite odd in a record company! He told me I should go and work in the A&R department. I used to listen to all the demo tapes that all the major A&R guys wouldn't listen to. I had to listen to them so actually me and James used to sit there on a Thursday afternoon after work and we'd just listen. You know, some of them were good, but some of them were really pathetic."
For a long time, the duo didn't even make music together. For a long time after they started messing around, they didn't bother to release it. "We had no money," remembers Taylor, "so it was like, 'OK, let's play in the studio and make some tunes,' and we'd make some hour-long tracks and stuff like that because we could. Everything was much slower when we started because I was much more into hip-hop and ambient stuff. When we said, 'OK, let's try something faster,' suddenly everything jelled."
That sound has since taken on many different forms. The one constant in Swayzak's career has been that there has been no constants. Trawl through their back catalogue, and you're as likely to find deep house as you are minimal techno. No electroclash, though, thank you very much. "Dirty Dancing, I think, was the one that sort of opened a lot of doors for us because it was a lot more poppy," remembers Brown. "A lot of people said it was electroclash, but I mean that's just utter garbage. There's like one track on it which is, yeah, electro-based, but the rest of it is deep-house or click house, or there's even an ambient track on there. But everybody started to think it was electroclash. I'm like, 'Where did they get this idea from?!'"
Pinning the duo's releases down to a style has always been tough, Swayzak have always simply followed an idiosyncratic route. The same goes for their live show. "We used to travel around with a couple of samplers and a drum machine and a mixing desk. They had their limitations, the samplers were really basic and really heavy as well, but the way we used it, we used lots of effects over the sound and we really created a kind of dub atmosphere," says Brown.
"Then we bought the first version of Ableton when it came out, which was more than ten years ago now," continues Taylor. The power of the software is fully utilized by the duo. "We sync it together by hand like DJs, one of us is playing and the other one gets something going that fits and then you bring it in like a DJ. Or, other times, one will be doing something very rhythmic and the other is doing something much more textual or kind of more like sound design on the top, but it varies. Those roles are subject to change very quickly," explains Taylor. "That was the way it felt natural to us to use it, you know, rather than taking a track and breaking it down to its component parts and then playing a set where everything kind of fits together. For me the power of the software is the fact that you can play anything with anything else and it's going to be in time. Why not use that as a starting point to do something interesting with it?"
It's an age-old sentiment. It's not the tools that you're using, it's how you manipulate those tools. Swayzak are clearly at a point in their career where they could be using Ableton to make their live set easier, more formulaic, easier to understand. But it's clearly Taylor's foremost passion these days: "It's ironic because when we started I was all about making records, producing, and I didn't want to play live at all and now it's the opposite. I love playing live, and I love the fact that it's ephemeral. Once it's done, it's gone and you were there or you weren't and you carry on to the next one. I mean obviously we record gigs and we put them up for people to listen to on SoundCloud. That's inevitable. But the majority are not recorded. It's so easy to record stuff these days. It's quite nice that things are not recorded sometimes."
Is that the way forward for Swayzak, then? It's hard to say. It's obvious, however, that they've been in the business a bit too long to make plans anyway. When I once again ask about future plans, Taylor tells me that "I think with the music, particularly dance music, it's become such a machine where people release stuff just to be seen, to get gigs and da-da-da. I don't want to really be a part of it like that and I think it's really important to only really release stuff when you've got something to say. Sometimes it's good not to say anything. It's better to shut up than to say something that you would regret. You realize that, OK, you don't have to make noise all the time. Sometimes you say more by saying nothing."