Today’s Feature – February 11-12: Shwa Losben

February 12, 2008 at 1:04 am (Today's Feature)


There’s been a lot of talk lately about the “threat” of a recession to the U.S. economy. Some of you may not realize it, but there is both good and bad news associated with this typically unpleasant subject. The bad news is… well, people freak out, grab their money and run out of wall street causing businesses to come crashing down with a depressing thud. I know it all sounds dreadful, but the good news is that if it wasn’t for the staggering economy we wouldn’t have this emerging artist with unreal promise – a gentleman that has been compared to Elliott Smith and Coldplay on an everyday basis, Shwa Losben. To put it simply, after Shwa wrapped up his undergraduate career at American University, he turned to music because… he couldn’t get a job anywhere. See? Thanks recession!

Shwa started taking his musical career a little more seriously while he was at American, landing a regular gig at the Grog and Tankard where he first noticed his fans memorizing the words to his songs. “It was a great feeling,” Losben recalls, and it was likely the catalyst that catapulted him to his current position in the rock world, preparing to release his latest and highly anticipated album, “Chop Chop.” Drawing from his life experiences, Shwa comments “Every song tells a story from a unique perspective. In a lot of ways, I feel like IÕve found my voice with this album.” It’s not just a more focused effort lyrically on this album however – Losben is also excited about the new sounds that can be heard at every musical corner on the collection, “At one point we had Dony (Wynn) banging on a toaster with a spoon and Taylor playing mouth trumpet into a microphone that we ran through distortion. It was a lot of fun.”

After the record drops, the band will be taking to the road in support so check out the show dates. Make sure you get to one where you’ll see “Fire dancers. Lots of animals running on the stage. And gift bags.” Did I mention Shwa did some comedy in a former life? Get into the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Shwa Losben (PEV): How and when did you first get involved in music?

Shwa Losben (SL): I guess I was always making up songs, even when I was little. I played trumpet for a couple years starting when I was in 4th grade. That was a train wreck. I was always last chair in beginning band, second trumpets. That’s real bad.

PEV: Growing up in Holland, PA, a small town outside of Philadelphia, what kind of music where you listening to?

SL: It feels like I was listening to something new every day, but most of it was grunge and brit-rock. I started with Pearl Jam and Nirvana then moved on to Radiohead and Pulp. This was back when listening to music was the form of recreation for me, not just something I listened to while walking or driving somewhere. But yea, I was big into Elliott Smith, Smashing Pumpkins,the Beatles, and Dinosaur Jr. too.

PEV: Was there certain time or even when you decided that music was going to be more than just a hobby for you?

SL: Probably right after college when I couldn’t find a job anywhere. I blame the economy for my music career.

PEV: What was your first live performance like? When and where was it?

SL: Wow. I played a show at my junior high in 7th grade. We played bad Aerosmith and Beatles covers. I’m pretty sure we were booed. At the very least made fun of.

PEV: From that first time playing live, did you think you’d be where you are now?

SL: probably not. Then again, I’m still living off grilled cheese and PB and J. I’m not really living the dream just yet.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Shwa Losben performance?

SL: Fire dancers. Lots of animals running on the stage. And gift bags.

PEV: Tell us about your latest album, “Chop Chop”? What can fans expect from this?

SL: I’m pretty stoked about it. I think the songs are all really strong. There are a lot of cool instruments on it too. At one point we were playing mouth trumpet and running it through distortion. We banged spoons on a toaster. We used kid keyboards from the 80s. Just a lot of cool sounds. At the same time I feel like there’s a lot of open space in the songs which is a cool thing too.

PEV: How is “Chop Chop” different from your previous releases, “Tender”and “Just a Thought”?

SL: well Tender was really just a rough demo cd I made for my friends so I kinda pretend like it didn’t happen. It was pretty bad, so “Chop Chop” is way better than that! “Just a Thought” was a lot more of a Brit-rock break-up record and I think “Chop Chop” is more of an indie singer/songwriter CD if that makes any sense at all.

PEV: “Chop Chop” has been earning comparisons to Elliott Smith and Coldplay. Do you feel that is an adequate comparison? Albeit, I’m sure a very flattering one.

SL: Probably not at all! I think in some respects there are similarities. “Chop chop” has a low-fi sound at times and it’s pretty easy to spot Elliott Smith’s influence. To be honest, I think “Just a Thought” is a lot easier to compare to Coldplay. They’re both great so I’ll take it!

PEV: Is there an artist today that you would like to collaborate with and why?

SL: Hmmm. There are so many out there. I think writing a song with Guster would be a blast. They just seem like fun people. In my experience, if you’re having a good time, good songs will follow. If you’re on edge, no matter how talented the people are, it’s a lot harder.

PEV: Is there an up and coming artist that you think we should all be listening to right now?

SL: Tad Dreis. One of the most talented guys I know. I love his song “Give it Away If I Can.”

PEV: Who is currently in your CD player on your iPod?

SL: At the moment Apples in Stereo. Been listening to Athlete’s new one too.

PEV: Having played and traveled throughout the US and overseas, which city do you think offers the best scene for music?

SL: I guess it all really depends on where you’re at. There are countless great shows going on every night in New York and you never know who you’ll see. I’ve been going to Rockwood Music Hall late night and there’s definitely a strong “scene” there even if the city feels like it lacks one at other times.

For a band starting out, I think DC has one of the strongest scenes in the country. I really mean that. It was really nurturing for us and there’s a good open mic every night. I’m always impressed with Philadelphia too. The local radio stations and venues seem devoted to finding new talent.

PEV: Is there a certain environment you surround yourself in when you sit down to write?

SL: Not really at all. I’ll scribble ideas on paper. Some of my best songs come to me while I’m walking and I just record the melody into my phone’s voice recorder.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Shwa Losben?

SL: I’m color-blind and afraid of clowns.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

SL: they’ve all been immensely supportive, especially my parents. I think they wanted me to go to grad school at first but after they saw my CD in shrink-wrap, they became my biggest fans. I think they’ve sold more CDs than anyone else!

PEV: Your senior year at American University (AU), you won the AU 72-Hour Film Festival award as well as the stand-up comedy challenge. Was acting and film making something you always aspired to do and still would like to along with music?

SL: Totally. Musicians turned actors seem to get more respect than actors turned musicians though.

PEV: What has been the most memorable part of your career so far?

SL: For whatever success I’ve had, I still think the excitement of my first shows in Rome back when I was in college were the most memorable. It’s a pretty big rush when people sing the words to your songs back to you.

PEV: In one word, describe Shwa Losben?

SL: Diva

PEV: So, what is next for Shwa Losben?

SL: 2008’s tour of Doom. I’ll be on the road a bunch this year. I hope to record another record with the DC band next summer too. We have the songs so it’s just a question of finding the time. It’s gonna be a busy year.

For more information on Shwa Losben, check out


1 Comment

  1. Mark Spencer said,

    What an awesome artist. Wish I was related to you.

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