Denver's pop-music scene is driven by individualism. Artists write their own songs, produce their own albums, make their own beats and do their own marketing. The Denver-based pop-music outfit Swoon Pop is shaking that up. The duo has been writing and producing songs for artists like YaSi and Sur Ellz (Sur Ellz recently moved to Los Angeles); in 2018, Swoon Pop will release a new single each month as well as write and produce for other artists.
The group includes Matt Prosser, who performs as Pross, and Lawrence Grivich, a former member of Air Dubai, who dropped a solo EP in 2017 as Been Stellar. The two launched Swoon Pop in 2017 after working on the EP together.
We spoke with Prosser and Grivich before the release of their latest single with local R&B singer YaSi to learn more about their hopes for Swoon Pop and how their individual backgrounds in music have contributed to the project's sound.
Westword: How do you feel your own musical backgrounds have contributed to the project?
Lawrence Grivich: Oddly, they complement. On paper, it would never make sense. They just complement each other because…the closest thing is that I kind of come from R&B out of Air Dubai. I’ve played in a band with crooners for like six years [laughs]. But that background, we had hook writing sessions with people we’d bring in and stuff, but it never became that high-caliber pop. Then when I met [Prosser], he showed me Justin Bieber. Obviously, that’s not an unfamiliar name. But still, I didn’t really listen to his music. So [Prosser] comes from the high-end, polished pop stuff as far as interests, and we decided to throw them together and see if it works.
Matt Prosser: It’s really the coming together of these two worlds, essentially. Lawrence’s style is kind of artistic, textured. He has crafted a sound…
Grivich: It’s cinematic.
Prosser: Yeah, like a cinematic world. And then I’m writing Fifth Harmony hooks over them [laughs].
Grivich: The wildest thing is that these singers that we work with now just trust this.
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You’re working with people you’ve worked with before, right?
Grivich: Yes, but we have some newbies too, and they trust it. I don’t know why. ... I mean I do, it’s really badass. But they trust it somehow.
Prosser: It ends up being really cool because you have the mainstream, commercial appeal. The melodies and top ine and all that, but it has this R&B, cinematic sound underneath it which is a unique element. That’s how we would stand out from all the other, L.A. pop-duo people.
Is Swoon Pop in line with your vision to reignite the collaboration aspect in the local scene?
Grivich: Yeah. I’m not going to point fingers, but a lot of people here have a tendency to think isolated. I’ve worked with a lot of people, and it has this isolated purpose. It sounds so hippie-dippie, but if we all get in a room and collaborate, it’s way better. I think all we were doing was trying to find the right permutation of it. I think Matt and I found a really awesome way to get the collaborative part going. What it is — we’ll assist in everything. ... Matt being there to assist them in writing hooks and stuff gets them more excited. All of a sudden, everyone is excited, as opposed to, “I need to write my own parts in my own music.” Like [Sur Ellz] is very independent, but he’s also dope. We were able to somehow work with him all together as a trio.
Prosser: When we all got together for the first time, us and Khalil, with me being there for the first time, I think it really opened things up. He wasn’t necessarily thinking about how this project is his and these are his songs. I’m proud, because I feel like we’re able to introduce these great artists to the world of making pop bangers. We’ve been having a blast.
Grivich: And now we’re going to release these songs each month with a new singer, but it all fits into the same, collaborative brand; that’s what’s cool about it. ... We’re trying to create a world where it’s like a rotating door. And that’s at least the closest thing we’ve been able come up with as far as a fully collaborative scene. And R&B people know how to sing pop because they sing well already, so it works [laughs].
Grivich: As a songwriter and producer, it turns out pop is the hardest genre to write, because everything matters. As far as when things go in, when things go out, when the drop happens, is there a drop, are there drums, stuff like that. It’s the most mentally taxing genre...
Prosser: ...to make. It's the least mentally taxing to listen to.
Lyrically, I think, for how catchy and easy pop music is to listen to, I feel like the quality of lyrics could be better. So tell me about writing pop.
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Prosser: Lawrence is spot-on in the sense that I think it’s the hardest genre to write. On top of that, it’s not even a genre. Because if you think about it, if you’re going to to genre-fy music from a musicology standpoint, you would have a whole set of descriptors and things like that. But you can’t really do that with pop, because it’s the highest echelon of music in terms of popularity at the time.
Grivich: Like, jazz was pop fifty years ago.
Prosser: At the same time, the beauty of it and the reason I fell in love with it is because there are rules you have to follow, and they’re very particular, but you’re playing a game, this magnificent, amazing game where you’re trying to bend the rules in the most clever way possible while still playing by the rules. You can’t alienate people, so that’s where following the rules comes in.
Keep up with Swoon Pop’s monthly pop single releases here.