Italian producer Sebastian Palomar has a single mission: to make you fall in love with swimming. The Physical and Emotional Benefits of Swimming constitutes one of the oddest concept albums of 2013: a multi-platform, motivational project that encompasses abstract YouTube swimming tutorials, informational pamphlets, and inspirational Tumblr as well as an LP that sounds like a Transcendental meditation record, dunked into water and buried under layers of tripped-out, ambient synth.
Dazed premieres the track "Benefits Bliss", which combines blissful Italo vibes with soothingly murky vocal samples about adventuring into the deep blue sea, and talks to Palomar about his fervent passion for aquatics.
Dazed Digital: Tell us about your swimming background. I hear you had a promising swimming career?
Sebastian Palomar: I was the son of an icon of Italian swimming. I shall spare you his name, but a little research should soon wield results! He would take me to the piscina municipale every morning in Trieste. Fifty or so lengths would invariably follow. Under his tutelage I became a reluctant 'great white hope' for Italian swimming in the mid 1990s. My reluctance soon polluted the water I swam in and - consequently or otherwise - I never fulfilled the potential everybody except me thought I had.
DD: What came first, the motivational booklet for The Physical and Emotional Benefits of Swimming, or the music? How do they complement each other?
Sebastian Palomar: They exist entirely symbiotically. I treated the whole project as a marketing campaign for swimming and its holistic benefits. Like any effective campaign, it had to exist across multiple channels. The spirit of the music was to 'honey the rim of the goblet' (an idea from the teachings of Lucretius), creating a world that people could fall in love with withoutnecessarily realising that fact, while the motivational booklet is far more direct and didactic. Experienced together, or - even better - alongside my series of YouTube instructional videos, it is difficult to resist the message. If I can make one more person dive into a swimming pool this year, I am the happiest man on earth.
DD: Why did a concept album about swimming appeal to you?
Sebastian Palomar: Very simply, because the rediscovery of swimming changed my life, driving a fervent belief that it could change yours too. Swimming, of course, is a way into something more interesting - mindfulness, self-discipline, submersion, alien-ness, amphibeousness, suspension, momentum, inertia, anxiety...work and pleasure. In this sense, the record is more a concept album about what it means to live, work, play and survive in the twenty-first century metropolis.
DD: What's the weirdest place or time you've ever had a swim?
Sebastian Palomar: I love swimming pools in provincial French camp sites. They have weird and wonderful designs and often serve as the 'calling card' of the site in question. Sample conversation from my youth:"Did you see Camping Litoral? It has a pool shaped like a Roman ampitheatre!" etc. I want to meet the men/women who sculpt(ed) these beautiful monsters. They must have such a wonderful imagination, as well as a taste for the sublime quality of a White Elephant.
DD: What tips do you have for aquaphobics who hate swimming?
Sebastian Palomar: Hilariously, one of the people who runs Dramatic Records - my label - is indeed an aquaphobe. I have started him on an extensive course of treatment. I use light hypnotherapy, bath therapy (every morning he now has a bath to begin to enjoy the feeling of the ammassed water) and erotic projections (Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita usually works well here).
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