Feb. 27 is the date James Swanson III has been waiting for, or rather working towards.
(Photo: James Swanson III’s Facebook.)
It’s the day this Saturday he will officially release three new singles – Pill Poppin, Worthy, and I Want to Be an Astronaut.
They will be released on all of the major music platforms, including Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, YouTube Music and Pandora.
The Warren native, who spent his adolescent years in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and has most recently called Chicago and Ames, Iowa home, is a rare breed in the music industry – writing, producing, and arranging all his own songs.
“I’m an up-and-coming artist, born and raised in Warren,” he said. “The goal is to reach as many people as possible. I’m someone as a new artist who wants to grow a following and reach as many people as possible.”
Swanson describes himself as an old soul. He listens to a lot of jazz music as well as the Beatles.
His music incorporates several different genres.
“To be honest I think this is such a new sound,” he said. “There’s such an infusion from other genres. When people listen to it, they’ll think ‘that’s a James Swanson III song.’ You’re going to know it. They’re songs that can reach a wide variety of people. I’ve put so much work into being able to release these songs, I’m just ecstatic.
“With the lyrics, I would encourage people to don’t think so literal. It’s very introspective. You can’t take the words for face value, you need to apply them to your own life. Everyone has to deal with the ups and downs of life. When you listen, just sit back, relax and enjoy.”
His family is excited as well, including his father, James Swanson II.
“My go-to is the 80s, but this has rubbed off on me,” he said. “He’s trying to reach a bigger audience. He’s not, as he puts it, preachy. A lot of his songs have hints of hope and a better world. He just wants to bring some happiness and hope in people’s lives.”
Swanson III’s musical journey began from a young age and continued to grow over time.
“I definitely can’t take all of the credit,” Swanson III said. “Just growing up, my family got me into musicals and such and I was able to develop my stage talent. My grandpa taught me to play the guitar.”
Added his father: “He was involved briefly with the theatre program here. When we went out to Michigan, he continued to pursue that and he got lead roles.”
That journey continued into high school, where Swanson III expanded his talents.
“In high school, I started winning competitions with video, which really helped me dive into the marketing side of things,” he said.
Yes, he also does his own marketing for his music as well.
“I’ll do wedding videos, commercials for companies, graphic design work, things like that,” he said of the additional work he does.
After high school, he went to Columbia College in Chicago, and also started working with his mentor, Danny Martinez.
“He completed his freshman year and then COVID set in,” his father said. “He fell in love with Chicago over the years, so he decided to stay in Chicago. “Danny (Martinez) is originally from Guatemala and supports an arts orphanage down there.
“Danny hired him to go to Guatemala to produce this video and James was able to work on music in Danny’s basement. Danny is a professional musician himself and been a really good mentor for James. He put him in touch with people in the music industry in the Chicago area that were able to help and give him tips as he develops his music.”
The relationship has proved to be a strong and valuable one between Swanson III and Martinez.
“When COVID hit, I stayed in Chicago,” Swanson III explained. “ Danny told me I need to get really good at writing songs, so I wrote 250 songs over the summer.
“It’s like anything else. If you play basketball, you have to get up 1,000 shots a day. I wrote a ton of songs and I started producing them. Honestly, with the whole confusion of COVID and everything, I was just ready to work on something. It was the best thing for me career-wise. I’m a very go with the flow kind of guy.”
A go with the flow guy who has grinded, day in, day out, writing, editing and producing his music, all leading up to the Feb. 27 release date.
With ‘I Want to Be An Astronaut,’ there will also be a music video as well.
“I’m nowhere near done learning,” he said. “I have so much more to go.”
So, what’s his favorite part of the process?
“Just sitting down and creating music, that’s my favorite part,” he said. “I want to get to the point where I can hire a team to do marketing. I enjoy anything with being creative, anything I can do musically.”
One thing is for sure – this is just the beginning for Swanson III. The sky is the limit.
“I literally cannot wait,” he said. “I really think I’m on to something.”