Freedom or Death, comprised of Sway Clarke and Steve Fernandez, is a Toronto-based indie duo that’s well worth a listen. Unlike so many musicians who often fall into a territory of contrived sound and image in order to gain success, Fernandez and Sway aren’t concerned with making music to appease the masses. “We want to have the freedom to make the music and the artistic choices that we want. If we can’t have that freedom, we’d rather not put anything out, which is the death of our art,” says Fernandez.
Fernandez and Sway met while working together at a major record label, providing them with an interior knowledge of the music business. They could’ve bee-lined it to the recording studio with their insider’s scoop tucked protectively under their arm, but instead, they tossed it. “We know what sold, we know how to make it, but we decided not to make it,” says Sway. “We decided we wanted to make music that we would like to listen to, regardless if it gets played on the radio or not.”
Their name derives from the Greek War of Independence in the 1820’s, where “freedom or death” became the Greek citizen’s liberation philosophy. Adopting the same sensibilities, Fernandez and Sway have complete creative control of their work, writing, producing, recording and performing everything themselves.
Freedom or Death’s latest EP, EGO, has eight tracks of eclectic influences, ranging from traditional rock to acoustic folk to hip hop rhythms to a subdued electronica sound that weaves throughout most of the album. This Crowded Room and Virginia Woolf are two of my favourites.
ForgetTheBox’s Jessica Klein had the opportunity to interview Sway at Osheaga. Take a look at the exclusive interview below, then check out this talented duo’s music.