Murmuration the debut album by Swimmers Jackson

By Aideen O'Flaherty

Having spent many successful years in bands, seasoned London-based musician Niall Jackson, who writes and records solo music under the moniker Swimmers Jackson, has recently released his debut solo album ‘Murmuration’.

The Firhouse man, who is a graduate of IT Tallaght and Firhouse Community College, crafted the album over several years, and it’s a genre-spanning offering that at turns delves into acoustic and rock sojourns, with an overarching positivity that’s fitting for the particular moment of time we’re living in. 

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Niall ‘Swimmers’ Jackson (Photo by Darragh Nolan)

The album’s vibrant cover art was also painted by Niall, and the album is already garnering well-deserved praise from many quarters, including RTÉ Radio 1 who recently selected Murmuration as their Album of the Week.

Niall took some time out to speak to his local paper about the evolution of Swimmers, the inspiration behind the cover art, and what impact he hopes Murmuration will have.

You took your moniker, Swimmers, from a band you were in before you moved to LondonWhy was it important for you to give a nod to your previous band when you started recording and writing music as a solo artist?

I started Swimmers with my housemate Steve McCann, who played drums, and my pal Barry MacNeill slung on the bass, just to help me start something new after years of me playing bass in bands. We only really started playing because it was coming up to my 30th birthday and I wanted to play a few songs I had kicking around at a house party. We released two EPs before I made the move to London, so they’ve been an important part of getting me to this point.

You play bass for Bouts and Sweat Threat, how does being a bassist in those bands compare to being a solo musician?

I would recommend being bassist for a band to anyone – it’s the most fun and the least pressure, and still manages to be the most important instrument in most bands. Every time I’ve played as Swimmers in a band set up, I've loved it, but always looked over at the bassist with a hint of jealousy, I know that corner.

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Niall ‘Swimmers’ Jackson in Asta Kalapa studio (Photo by Darragh Nolan)

How would you describe the music you create as Swimmers Jackson?

God, I don't know, heart-on-sleeve indie? Alt folk? It chops and changes as the album progresses.

Your first single from the album, ‘Bliss’, is oddly prescient, describing the world as being “in a mess” yet still grasping at hope and positivity for the future. How did you feel when you wrote that track?

It’s actually written from a very hopeful place, it’s about recognising small moments of happiness. The world being in a mess part was more looking back on times when I wasn’t at my best myself. It has been heard in a whole new light now with the pandemic, I can hear that myself, but it was never intended.

The vibrant artwork for ‘Murmuration’ is an original piece by you, can you tell me about the idea behind the painting and how it connects with the content of the album?

The painting is an abstract oil on canvas I did out at Seapoint a few years ago. I decided to leave my name and the album title off the front cover so if anyone hates the music, they’ll still have a lovely piece of art for their mantlepiece! Seapoint is my favourite spot for a swim in Dublin, or probably anywhere. The songs deal with homesickness, and I don’t get to see the ocean much living in London, so it was the only cover it could have.

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Niall Jackson Hair Photo by Milton Boyne

What was your reaction when you found out that your album had recently been selected as RTÉ Radio 1's Album of the Week?

Like anyone else putting out music, you do it because you love it, but support from the national broadcaster is pivotal if it’s to be heard on a wider level. It’s really given me a bounce on album release week.

Radio still has power – I received many CD orders in the days immediately after it was announced, that’s not a coincidence. I also love the radio as a medium for listening to music when it’s done right. John Kelly, John Creedon, Fiachna Ó Braonáin, Lilian Smith...they’re all brilliant DJs.

What response do you hope people will have to ‘Murmuration’?

I genuinely hope people just take half an hour and listen to it, really listen to it. Not as background, but on a long walk with a pair of headphones. I hope people like it and buy it but, at the end of the day, I’ll take a thumbs up.

Murmuration is available for purchase at www.swimmersjackson.bandcamp.com, and on all major music streaming services. To keep up-to-date with Niall’s music, follow him on Twitter or Facebook on @SwimmersJackson.

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