Ryerson’s SWAT team hopes to boost student musicians

RyeS.W.A.T. exec team

Angelo Robb (left) and Victoria Kamara (right), student songwriters and RyeSWAT executives. (Casimir Boivin)

The Ryerson group Songwriters Advocating Teamwork (RyeSWAT) has released its first mixtape, a move it says is one step towards its goal of creating an accessible, collaborative recording process for the school’s aspiring music artists.

Genesis was recorded in April and mastered over the summer. The mixtape features tracks by six Ryerson rappers. It’s the product of a year’s worth of preparation.

“I think its kind of impressive, since we just started last year and we accomplished so much,” said Victoria Kamara, RyeSWAT’s events director.

Kamara, a singer-songwriter, was too busy with exams to take part in the recordings, but Angelo Robb, RyeSWAT’s president, performed the song “Nightmare” under the name Lexxicon. 

Music videos for “Nightmare” and “The Soul Project,” by Poetically Correct, were released alongside the mixtape as promos.

“It was tough,” admitted Robb, “but knowing more now we can find ways to make the process smoother…it was a lot of learning.”

RyeSWAT worked with Coalition Music to record the artists, and outsourced some of their instrumentals internationally. “Good Enough,” another song on the mixtape, is by Athi and it features a beat by Atlanta-based producer, Tone Jones.

“For the beginning part, we didn’t have as many producers,” said Robb. “It was just important to give them instrumentals, getting them what they needed so that they could just go write.”

Robb added that the opportunity for a professional recording experience is elusive to most breaking artists.

“They may have done songs, but haven’t had a chance to go into a studio…it’s pretty expensive,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. If you’re struggling, we can help you out.”

Robb said RyeSWAT is planning on creating mixtapes as an annual project, with the next release featuring more of the group’s vocal talent. They’re also applying for more funding from the Student Initiative Fund and Ryerson Students’ Union. Robb also added that they’re hoping to release more music videos and collaborate with the RSU to host a fashion show and concert during the school year.  

He explained that RyeSWAT isn’t the only organization giving opportunities to musicians on campus.

“Musicians@Ryerson are kind of the pioneers…it’s great that they started the idea that musicians matter at Ryerson,” he said. Both groups offer a joint songwriting workshop event. For RyeSWAT, the emphasis is less on providing opportunities for open-mic performances and more on preparing artists for the realities of promotion and production.

The group hopes to show that music production is a team effort. Robb said that’s why they call themselves Ryerson’s “SWAT team.”

“We’re like a squad of musicians,” he said with a smile.

RyeSWAT’s Genesis is available for digital download, free of charge.

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