HomeBlogsClare Wheeler's blogClare Wheeler Blog #4: an interview with Sebastian Rilton

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Hey peeps! It's Clare again, from The Swingle Singers. I hope you're having a splendid summer. I am. I'm just on a flight to Norway, having just got back from a lovely long trip including Canada, Switzerland and Poland. Our low bass Tobi was unable to make it to our Switzerland gigs, so he had the fantabulous Sebastian Rilton fill in for him. “Dep”, as the Brits would say. (Deputy). Remember this, it's far superior to “sub”. He'd done this once before, and it was great having him back again for a few gigs. This time his lovely wife Linnéa also came along to join the party.

Seb has not only depped twice for The Swingles, mixed some of our last album (River Man, God Only Knows) but also depped for The Real Group, and was a founding member of the fantastic group Rilton's Vänner, along with Linnéa.

I thought people might like to get to know a little about this very talented gentleman, so I forced him to answer some questions for you, and made a little video to make it a little more personal. Apologies that you can hear me sniggering behind the camera the entire time. It was very early in the morning, and everything seemed hilarious.

1. Give us a brief introduction of who you are and what you do.
I sing, arrange & produce (mostly) a cappella music. Apart from that, I do a bit of web design & other media related stuff. In between, I eat food.

2. Where did you train, and in what?
My formal education comes from various music schools in Stockholm; from when I was about 10 years old, up until the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, where I studied Music & Media Technology. However, most of what I've learned in a cappella, I've learned by doing it...

3. You are best known to many as part of the fabulous Swedish group Rilton's Vänner. Could you tell us when and how the group started? How long did it exist?
Riltons Vänner was formed in 1999, when all members went to the same high school in Stockholm. The school has a choral profile, so it was quite common that groups appeared (but most of them also disappeared quite soon). After that, we had 10 wonderful years; We recorded five albums & had hundreds of concerts in Sweden, Germany, USA, France, Russia, Japan, Hong Kong, Norway & Finland. Travelling by singing is really the best thing ever!

4. Now that the group has disbanded, what are your plans?
Currently, I sing in the Swedish all male group, Vibafemba, a group that's quite famous in Sweden but not very well-known in the world (mostly because we pretty much only sing in Swedish). I've also just recently formed a new mixed group called Bellas'n'Fellas together with my wife Linnéa & a couple of other wonderful singers. We've got some really nice stuff going on, videos will come later this year...

5. You did much or most of the arranging in RV, what's your starting point with a new arrangement?
I try to have "control" over the song before I do anything - basically just listening to it many many times so it really gets stuck in my head. Sometimes there's like a hook or something that starts the actual writing, and sometimes it's just linear writing from top to bottom. I also usually record all parts before handing it over to those who will have it.

6. Did you write any of the original songs?
No. I wish I could though...

7. You have just been on a short tour in Switzerland with the Swingle Singers. You also mixed part of their last album, Ferris Wheels. Was it a strange feeling to be singing with the group after being involved with that?
Rather than that, it was a strange feeling singing with a group that you'd only experienced through recordings & by singing arrangements of in high school...

8. Was it a very different experience singing with The Swingle Singers than the other groups you have sung with? Especially being a largely classical programme?
In the pop/jazz-spectrum of a cappella singing, the bass part often tends to be quite free. There are hardly any songs that I do exactly the same way every time, and that makes my part really easy to remember (since you don't really have to remember it). When it comes to a more classical-oriented repertoire, it's a bit more strict (at least I want it to be). Since I'm not totally used to that, it can sometimes feel like a "minefield" of no-notes... But really, it's a dream job to jump in with such a great group. It's quite hard to ruin it totally, if you just keep out of the no-notes.

9. If you had to choose between a really good steak and an incredible chocolate mousse, what would you choose?
No comment. Too private.

10. Anything you would like to say, announce?
Well, I've already mentioned Bellas'n'Fellas, so I guess I could mention another little project of me & Linnéa: It's called "Christmas Greeting" and it's basically an a cappella CD with classic American post-war kitschy christmas songs - Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby etc. But what's really unique about it is that you can have a personal greeting mixed into the music, like custom made. When someone orders the CD from the website, they also enter the reciever & sender name. Then, we record a small spoken greeting that gets mixed with the music on one of the tracks. Totally handcrafted by me & Linnéa. Last year was our first, only sold in Sweden, but it went really good actually... Here's a video that explains it all (Although, if you don't know Swedish, you only get more confused... We'll make an English version soon)

So there you have it! A tiny insight into the life and mind of Mr. Rilton. If you haven't heard any of RV's music yet, please go check it out RIGHT NOW! It's fabulous, and Christopher Diaz won't be your friend if you don't listen to it.

Ciao 4 now, from Seb, Linnéa, and a Swingle-on-tour...see you soon!

About the author:
Clare Wheeler is a jazz singer, composer and arranger. She sings alto with The Swingle Singers, and lives in London. She studied violin and voice at Chethams School of Music, Manchester, and then jazz composition and singing at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. A fan of travelling, eating chocolate-based foods and twitter, she is also known as @dinkyswingle, Wheelie or Wheels.



the christmas CD sounds great

the christmas CD sounds great - the web link takes me to a wonderful world of exotic words that an uneducated Brit like me dosent understand - is there an english speaking version of the site as well as the promised  english video clip for me to investigate further?

`They were the footprints of a giant hound!'


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