Creative spark

In each issue of &Co., we chat to an artist about creativity and collaboration. Jason Swinscoe is the founder of the Cinematic Orchestra, the nu-jazz band whose four albums have been streamed 110m times on Spotify, and who are renowned for teaming up with other singers, rappers and musicians

Photographs: Getty Images

Creative spark

Your forthcoming album is called To Believe. What do you think we should believe in?
Ourselves, primarily. In a sense, the whole album is trying to say: “Could everybody just stop for a second and be conscious of the decisions we’re making?” Because with everything that’s going on in the news, it almost feels as if the planet is spinning off its axis a little bit...

Does self-belief come easily to you?
It does, mostly. I try to be confident, and that’s not always the easiest thing. But having self-belief is important. Especially if you’re making a statement or addressing the world. You have to do it from a place where you know who you are, and what you want to do.

How does digital technology and connectivity affect your approach to your craft?
Music is so accessible now, and there’s so much of it. So it’s really important not to just put anything up online. The internet doesn’t need another soundbite, so there’s no need to rush. The world is ever-more impatient, but music will have more longevity if it’s released when it’s ready.

You compose with a longtime collaborator, Dom Smith. How do you resolve differences of opinion?
We disagree all the time! It could be about the sentiment of a piece of music or a production, or whether an idea is really worthwhile. Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees. So conflict can be helpful because it makes you have constructive criticism. It forces you to put distance between yourself and the problem you’re trying to solve. It’s best to just be very open and honest.

What happens when you reach an impasse?
Then you have to put things on a back burner. The solution eventually comes through dialogue, but what we often do is go, OK, let’s sit down and write something else to get over the hump. It’s like, if this isn’t good enough, let’s just write something better.

What do you look for in a collaborator?
Honesty, and a desire to make good art. Connecting with different people — it’s about the depth and breadth of where they want to go and how involved they want to be.

To Believe by The Cinematic Orchestra will be released on Ninja Tune in spring. Visit