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Spring Sing 2023: SWADE prioritizes ‘having fun’ with ‘All My Love (All Night Long)’ performance

Members of SWADE, fourth-year cognitive science student Jonathan Wan (left), Ralph Gibson (center) and Brian Perez (right), stand huddled together in a parking lot. The band will make its Spring Sing debut on Friday. (Anika Chakrabarti/Photo editor)

By Maya Rego

May 19, 2023 2:09 a.m.

With a cheerful song and an attitude to match, SWADE hopes the Spring Sing audience will be on its feet all night long.

Composed of fourth-year cognitive science student Jonathan Wan alongside Ray Anderson, Ralph Gibson and Brian Perez, SWADE is making its Spring Sing debut Friday. The Los Angeles-based band all met at University High School, Gibson said. Although coming from differing musical avenues, from jazz to working in the pit band for the school’s musical theater program, he said the group only officially formed after meeting up a number of times in the music room during school hours. Soon after, he said, what became known as SWADE began playing out of Gibson’s garage. How the band formed, Wan said, is what he believes makes the group stand out among the crowd of artists at Spring Sing.

“Compared to other bands, we started off as friends, and then we started making music. … With other people, they make music and slowly become friends,” Wan said. “That says a lot about our creative process.”

The ensemble will be playing its song “All My Love (All Night Long)” from its five-track eponymous debut EP. Released in 2022, the groovy “All My Love (All Night Long)” is significant because it is the first track the group ever recorded together, Perez said. The song is its most popular, and Gibson said the band has played it at nearly every show and grown a following around that track.

(Courtesy of Jonathan Wan)
SWADE, composed of Ray Anderson, Wan, Perez and Gibson, stands together illuminated by colorful lighting. Perez said the band's feel-good environment connects it with its audience. (Courtesy of Jonathan Wan)

[Related: Spring Sing 2022: Mellowood hopes to highlight evolution in dreamlike debut performance of ‘Lucid’]

Leading up to the event, Wan said the band maintained a carefree, trust-the-process attitude throughout rehearsals. Wan said he views playing with the band not as a strenuous or taxing activity but rather as a lighthearted, gratifying experience, and preparing for Spring Sing did not change this attitude. The band should be viewed as four friends having fun on stage, he said.

On the topic of its individuality, Perez said the group’s versatility in musical styles creates a sound that is a combination of members’ different backgrounds as artists. Ranging from Anderson’s roots in jazz to Gibson’s adoration for funk music, SWADE blends genres to create a catchy, personalized sound, Perez said. In addition, Perez said the group strives to create an environment where audiences do not feel alienated from the band but rather connected by a space where everyone is enjoying themselves, blurring the lines between audience members and performers.

“We’re not a band playing to everyone – we’re part of the group,” Perez said. “We play so people can have fun, because we’re also having fun together on stage.”

Taking the Spring Sing stage had been a bucket list item for Wan – whose older brother is a UCLA alumnus – for several years, he said. Growing up attending Spring Sing, Wan said, led him to dream about performing to such a large audience. As the only member of the group who attends UCLA, he said he wanted to end his time as a Bruin on a triumphant note, hence leading the band to audition.

Throughout the rehearsal process, Gibson said the band worked alongside the other artists featured at Spring Sing. As for the competition aspect of Spring Sing, the rehearsal environment was anything but cutthroat, Gibson said, with all members emphasizing their eagerness to see what other acts were bringing to the table.

(Anika Chakrabarti/Photo editor)
Perez (left), Wan (center) and Gibson (right) play their instruments in a bedroom. Wan said the bandmates were friends before making music together. (Anika Chakrabarti/Photo editor)

[Related: Spring Sing 2022: Michael & Mariah hope to commemorate graduating seniors with performance]

Part of SWADE’s process, Perez said, is to just not take themselves too seriously. The main goal for the band, Gibson said, is to enjoy themselves while performing for the judges and the audience. He said he hopes the audience feels the depth of their joy while performing and thus can enjoy it with them. However, he said tension often runs everything during a performance, despite any attempts to calm one’s nerves prior to taking the stage.

“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be something we’re not or be what we think other people want,” Gibson said. “One thing I always try to remind myself as a musician, as an artist, is you never want to create something based on what you think other people will like because you will always be wrong. The only way to make something truly good is to make something you believe is truly good.”

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Maya Rego
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