ACM Interviews: Alumnus ‘Swimmingly’ on Life After ACM, New Release and Major Playlist Feature

09 Dec 2020

This post was written more than two years ago. The content or information below may no longer be accurate.

We’re proud to announce that ACM alumnus Mack Hofberg, also known as ‘Swimmingly’, released his new single, “Fred Astaire”, last month with great success. The charming laid-back folk track, inspired by the film
‘Lady Bird’, has featured in Spotify’s Laidback Acoustic playlist (500,000+ followers), as well as Sad Covers playlist (150,000+ followers). In just under two weeks, Swimmingly has seen “Fred Astaire” reach 12,000 plays on Spotify and counting. We caught up with the ex ACM student to learn more about his experiences during and after studies…

1) Tell us a bit about yourself and your life after ACM?

I’m from Guildford so it was a bit of a no brainer going to ACM. I was very academic so it was a case of deciding between going on to study Economics or give music go whilst I was young, and in the end, my knowledge of music and comfortability with spreadsheets put me in good stead for working in the industry. 

I’m 24 now and I went on to work at One Little Indian (Bjork), and Circus Records (Flux Pavilion), and eventually ended up where I am now at Maximum Boost Management working for Low Steppa (Defected/Armada) and DJ Zinc (Bingo Bass), so things seem to have clicked into place more or less.

2) What did you study at ACM and what did you learn?

I was one of the early groups doing Artist Development. It was really cool because it covered so much, I was always a jack of all trades but master of none, so it gave me a chance to keep up with the incredible singers/composers/producers on the course – my interest in the business side was recognised and nurtured early on, which helped me massively in the long run. 

3) What was your experience at ACM like?

It was a really exciting time for me, it was one of the first places I went where ambition wasn’t something to be embarrassed about. The facilities were amazing but the other students and the tutors were what really gave it life. My only real regret is I was the only one on my course not old enough to drink, so nights out often involved me getting turned away at the door. 

4) What are your main musical influences?

Bon Iver, Ben Howard, Newton Faulkner, Bright Eyes, Keaton Henson… Just sad sounding men really 

5) Tell us more about your latest release, “Fred Astaire”?

I never liked doing covers because I had an ‘unconventional’ voice, I could never sound like them. So when I stumbled across an amazing song that had never been formally released, it was the perfect chance to put something out there without comparisons arising. It’s from the 2017 movie Lady Bird, the song plays for 30 seconds in the film, but I found chords and lyrics for the rest of it. 

I recorded my version and put it on Spotify, and… well nothing. I got maybe 100 streams and that made me fairly content. I had pitched it to playlists with the story “I’ve covered a song that doesn’t exist” but no luck. Until early December when I discovered Spotify’s Editorial team had placed it on two of their most popular acoustic playlists globally. I started pulling 2/3K streams a day out of nowhere. It changes every day but as it stands I have 12K streams and it’s still growing. Now I’ve been asked to start performing live again, so after a hiatus from music I’ve got a couple of London headline shows lined up to be announced and things are looking quite lively for my songs again.

6) Do you have plans to release any more music in the future?

Yes, I’ve always written songs and left them on my laptop (probably around 100+ compositions on my hard drive) – occasionally releasing the odd song under my nom-de-plume Swimmingly. But now it seems like ideal timing to start formalising those. So I’ve just sent off my first follow up track to be mixed and mastered, and hopefully early 2021 we can see what happens! 

7) What would your main piece of advice be for current ACM students?

The single most important thing for working in music is being nice. There may be people who aren’t and you see them getting success, but that never ever lasts. I’ve seen it blow up in everyone’s face time and time again. The friendly folks who work hard and honestly always rise through eventually.  

Follow Swimmingly on Instagram to learn more about his upcoming events and music!

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