A Chat with Lee Switzer-Woolf (08.03.22)

Bringing together elements of indie-rock, indie-folk and tinges of pop-rock, Lee Switzer-Woolf has a unique and eclectic sound. We speak with the UK-based singer-songwriter about his new album Scientific Automatic Palmistry, favourite smells, ways to discover new music and much more.

OSR: Why did you choose to become a musician?

Switzer-Woolf: Even though I didn’t do anything about it until I was in college, I always wanted to be a songwriter. I can still remember the first song idea I came up with when I must’ve been about 8 years old. But I was very late getting around to actually playing an instrument. My love was always for lyrics above all else, and it still is. My first band was me writing lyrics and my friend playing guitar and singing. I could never sing very well and just never felt like music would come easy to me. Eventually, I had to push myself to learn until it clicked and I fell in love with it. I still wish that musicality came more naturally to me, but then given the choice between honing my technical skills and writing a new song, I will pick a new song every time.

OSR: What does music mean to you?

Switzer-Woolf: Connection. This is why lyrics are so important. It doesn’t matter if it’s a romantic ballad or an aggressive political punk song, there is nothing better than the feeling of a song speaking to you. And for the artist, it’s this perfect means of expression. Ability and craft and production, these things are all great, but if you create something genuine and true to yourself then it will feel amazing, even if no one else ever hears it.

OSR: What inspires you to make music?

Switzer-Woolf: I love to write, and I try to write something every day. Even if some days it’s just a line that I delete two days later. In terms of inspiration, I try to put a lot of myself into my songs, drawing mostly from my battles with anxiety, but I work hard on finding new themes and imagery with which to frame that.

OSR: What can you tell us about your latest album Scientific Automatic Palmistry?

Switzer-Woolf: This is the first time I’ve ever released music on my own, under my own name. It’s an album that came together over the lockdown of 2021, and while I definitely didn’t want it to be an album that was ABOUT lockdown (which I’ve seen described as Covid-core, great name for it), that time obviously had a profound effect on it. If there was one thing the majority of us had in abundance over the last couple of years it’s time to over-think. That was too much for me in 2020, and I barely wrote anything I was happy with, but I was determined to break that cycle, so I started digging through old ideas, which quickly developed into formulating new ones. The result is, I hope, a really organic collection of songs that capture the essence of over-thinking. From internal struggles, anxieties and paranoia, to the type of cut and shut memories from your past that your brain chucks at you when you’re struggling to sleep.

OSR: Did you face any challenges when recording the album?

Switzer-Woolf: Aside from trying to write and record it in a house with a 5-year-old, and the fact that before the first lockdown I had never attempted any kind of home recording before, no. It was pretty easygoing.

In reality though, no. I joke about that stuff, but my boy is great and there’s even a line on the album where you can hear me almost laugh because he came running into the room while I was recording vocals. And as for the lack of production know-how, I just didn’t worry about it. That’s the great thing about making something for yourself. I was just enjoying it and trying to make it sound good, plus I liked the rough demo-like energy. I was very lucky that my friend Aden Pearce (who you can find music from under his own name and on Spotify as Nightjjar) wanted to get involved and he took my rough mixes and really brought them to life.

OSR: How would you describe your music or sound?

Switzer-Woolf: Folktronica seems to be the way it is being described. I just think of it as sad headphone music.

OSR: What do you hope people take from your music?

Switzer-Woolf: Honestly, I’m so grateful to anyone that gives it a listen, and I’ve had probably the nicest response to anything I’ve released with this album. Obviously, I’d love it if some people found something they relate to in these songs. If you happen to be an anxious late-thirty-something with a love for cryptozoology who grew up in the village that inspired the Hound of the Baskervilles, then hey, you’ll probably find a lot to relate to. If not, I’d like to hope there’s something in there for you if you look deep enough.

OSR: What is your favourite smell?

Switzer-Woolf: Seaside town. That unmistakable salty, fresh air smell with just a hint of fish and chips.

OSR: What do you believe is the best way to discover music nowadays?

Switzer-Woolf: Bandcamp is my platform of choice for supporting artists, but discovery is hard because there’s so much out there. While I love and appreciate seeing my songs added to them, I’m not a playlist person. I think I discover music mostly through word of mouth, either recommendations from friends or through artists I follow sharing other artists’ work. It’s tough. The answer is probably interviews in which the act doesn’t waffle as much as I have here.

OSR: Do you have any future plans as an artist?

Switzer-Woolf: I should probably play some shows to support the album. It kinda feels hopeful now, like shows are returning, but it also seems like a whole other life after a couple of years not playing. My punk band Launch Control is currently recording, so I’ll have new music coming there, and I have a few ideas coming together for new material to follow on from Scientific Automatic Palmistry too.

Many thanks to Lee Switzer-Woolf for speaking with us. For more from Lee Switzer-Woolf check out his official website, Twitter and Spotify.

Get your free email updates
We respect your privacy.