We recently caught up with UK rap legend, Sway Dasafo to talk all about his recent projects. We talk 5ive 9ine, collaborations (including Punch Back feat. KSI), Sway’s sync success and what’s coming up in the near future. We’re very excited to have recently welcomed Sway to our Sync roster and can’t wait to work on these recent projects with him. Let’s dive in!
Hi Sway, thanks for taking some time out to do this interview with us! Now we’re already well aware of your amazing career and success so far as a pioneer of UK Rap and Hip Hop. So, we’d love to hear more about the exciting projects you’ve been up to more recently!
For some casual listeners of your work, they may not realise you’ve been causing a quiet storm behind the scenes and releasing projects under another alias 5ive 9ine! Could you tell us a bit more about 5ive 9ine? What is it and how did it come about?
Yeah, 5ive 9ine is a team project consisting of myself & Turkish born producer Zagor. We were both born on the 5th of September, which (in the UK) is written as 05/09. That’s how we came up with the name. He’s also a film director and I’ve started writing a few film scripts myself. I always thought about what kind of music I would like placed in my own films. So whatever that is, I’ll just make it and Zagor has a great ear and ability to help the ideas come to life.
How does the creative process work for 5ive 9ine? (We’d love to hear how you and Zagor work together)
It varies, sometimes I’ll come up with a melody and send it to him. Sometimes he’ll send me a beat and I’ll write to it. On occasion, I’ll watch something on say Netflix, Sky or Amazon Prime and feel compelled to write music based on whatever I just watched. We started with the idea of making a 5 track EP and ended up with 30+ songs lol.
How would you say these projects differ musically from your solo releases such as your acclaimed album “The Deliverance”?
It’s different but it’s not worlds apart because most of the 5ive9ine stuff is quite empowering and uplifting, which is what I’m known for. Especially after the success of “Still Speedin’”. But then there are some really aggressive rap/rock style records in the 5ive9ine catalogue that aren’t really “Sway Dasafo”. I have to get into character to make those kinds of records. Sometimes I mentally have to go to a pretty dark place but I see it like acting at the end of the day. I’m a performer as well as writer/ producer.
5ive 9ine has collaborated with a range of artists, one being YouTube sensation KSI! How did the track “Punch Back” feat KSI come about?
I actually signed KSI to my record label Dcypha Productions back in 2014 and co-wrote/released his first major hit “Lamborghini”. It’s on like 100 million views now! I’ve been in the background helping him with his music career ever since. He’s like my younger brother and working with him really opened me up to a new world. He had one of the biggest white collar boxing fights and I was asked to provide music for the event. The idea of “Punch Back” came from that as most of the music for that event was by 5ive 9ine. I actually discovered Zagor while looking for beats for KSI’s music and Zagor ended up producing a number of records for KSI with me.
Are there any other exciting upcoming collaborations that you can shed some light on?
Yeah, some I’ll save for later but I have a few imminent ones like a track called “Be A Champion” with Idris Elba and another artist I had signed to my label called Tiggs Da Author.
In the licensing world, you’ve seen successes in projects like Netflix’s “Iron Fist”, the Ubisoft video game “Farcry Bowmore” and more recently Sky One’s series “Bulletproof”. What do you think it is about your creative process that brings those sorts of brands knocking at your door?
I’ve always been told that I have an empowering and commanding voice; from early on in my career. I also love epic-sounding music. Even when I went behind the scenes and started signing and executive producing other artists, I was constantly being contacted by producers for Sway Dasafo vocals. I’m now at a place in my life where I’m so free creatively and I don’t have the pressure of having to make a hit record and so I can afford to experiment more. I love film and music so any projects that require me to combine the two naturally bring out a desire to deliver at a high level. Hans Zimmer needs to make a little space for me, I’m really on this ha.
What would be your top tip to upcoming, as well as established artists and producers who are looking to secure sync placements?
I would say don’t force it, make something impactful but don’t feel the need to use every trick in the book. Also don’t overproduce or make songs too specific (About your girlfriend Laura etc), be artistic lyrically and consider how you would use the songs in a film or advert etc. Syncs are not guaranteed though! I feel like I’ve just been getting luckier and luckier because I let go of the expectation of getting sync and just wanna make impactful and powerful stuff. There are some really open-minded music supervisors out there and all they want is GREAT songs to work with.
In relation to your solo career and fans of Sway Dasafo, what can your new and existing fans expect from you in the future?
The best is yet to come, you know I have over 100 unreleased tracks and that’s new ones. Like, these songs have come to me during the best days of my life so far; becoming a father has really boosted my drive musically and every time I go into the studio I just wanna write something that my kids would grow up and be proud of. I’m really winning this for them.
As an artist, seeing success and longevity in the Music Industry for over a decade is an amazing achievement that not many can claim! What is your secret to keeping inspired, consistently releasing quality music and making your new music sound fresh and appealing to your core fans as well as the newer, younger audience?
I guess for me it’s been my ability to do different things. It’s a gift and sometimes a disadvantage, there’s a lot of false information in regards to UK rap achievements out there. Like I was first in a lot of things but because many of my achievements weren’t that well publicised (no Insta back in 2006), others sometimes claim those achievements. Where this works to my advantage is I can morph and reinvent, I’ve worked with many different people from Ed Sheeran, Childish Gambino to Kaiser Chiefs & Mark Ronson and because I’m known for my versatility, my random collabs are never really questioned.
You’re a very busy guy! As well as your solo releases, 5ive 9ine projects and behind the scenes credits, you must also be busy with your label and production company, New Reign. How is that going and what’s in store for the near future?
Ah, now ‘New Reign’ is the now AND the future. It’s basically a growing production team, a stable of some of the worlds best writers and producers (IMO). We are creating tonnes of great songs and developing the stars of this decade. I’m so excited to roll this stuff out, it’s all unfolding gradually.
Lastly, it’s a pleasure to welcome you onboard our sync roster after seeing success with our music promotions team! We’d love to hear what your experience with Music Gateway has been like so far?
Great to be on board, you know what’s important to me is vibe. Everyone I’ve spoken to so far at MG has a great energy about them and that’s why I think we can achieve some really monumental stuff together.
Sway’s tracks, both released and unreleased are now available to license here! To enquire about a license on one of Sway’s tracks or enquire about any unreleased catalogue please get in touch with the sync team. Or, find out more about our music licensing services.
If you’re an artist or songwriter wanting to follow in the footsteps of the legend and pioneer that is Sway Dasafo, we’re here to help. Find opportunities to get your music in film, TV and more through sync licensing. Collaborate globally with other musicians, songwriters producers and more. Finally, amplify your music to those that need to hear it with music promotion and professional sharing tools. Try all of this out for yourself by joining Music Gateway. Get your 14-day free trial, no strings attached.