Umal Moses, the musician better known as Swank Mami, hasn’t always been the free-wheeling extrovert she considers herself to be now.
“I used to be a very shy girl who thought a lot,” she says with her headphones in, Zooming in from outside her mum’s place on the outskirts of Oslo. Her shiny red hair contrasts sharply with the bright blue sky. “But when I turned 10, I became more vocal. I was the funny friend who finally understood she was a people person. I was one of the weirdos, you know?”
This spirit very much ties into Moses’ music, too. Her latest EP, Eurostar, fittingly, switches genres at breakneck speed, blending together Jersey club beats, breaks, pitched-up vocals and soulful R&B melodies.
“My friends Morton, Brandon and I made the songs really fast,” Moses continues. “We didn’t necessarily have a clear idea behind the EP – all we wanted was for each song to sound quite different from the next, but also make sense together. I just wanted to have fun. It happened out of sonic curiosity.”
Moses started to make a name for herself as Swank Mami with her debut single Venus Retrograde in 2022, but the inception of her musical trajectory goes back much further. Moses would obsess over Beyoncé and Shakira on MTV as a teen before eventually buying herself a mic. “I used to work in this cafe in high school, and after hours I’d kind of use it as a studio,” she remembers. “I put some stuff on SoundCloud but not under my own name
“I had a vision for how I wanted my music to sound but I knew I needed to be patient. I didn’t want to release anything from SoundCloud as my first single.” Then she met Morton, made Venus Retrograde, and the rest is history.
For now, Moses just hopes Eurostar makes her listeners feel sexy and cute. “My music is for the girls, gays and theys. It’s for crying in the club, but also to make them feel good, and like they aren’t alone.”
10% If an alien fell down from the sky, how would you describe your music to them?
I’d just play it. Say less, say less, sshhhh… Just listen.
20% What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?
Some of my songs are pretty sad, about letting someone go and realising you can’t be with them. But generally, just whatever I’m going through. I’m trying to learn new ways of doing it though – I wanna read more books and take inspiration from that.
30% If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?
Lasagna. My secret ingredients are love, patience and a lot of time.
40% What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?
Honestly, vaping. I don’t want no popcorn lungs!
50% What’s your flavour of choice?
Watermelon ice. Watermelon can either be very nasty and make me nauseous, or very delicious.
60% What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Trusting the process. People often say that, but it’s a good one. You can’t compare yourself to anyone or anything.
70% If you ruled the world for a day, what would go down?
End world hunger, all the prime ministers would be women… There’s too many shitty things happening, it’s too much. The climate, you know, the animals. Make sure everybody’s straight and taken care of.
80% Weirdest DM you’ve ever received?
The weird ones are when fake accounts are like, “I’m a sugar daddy!” That’s fucking weird. I don’t have much happening in my DMs, to be honest.
90% The sugar daddy ones are weird because it’s like, you’re trying to scam me by… giving me money?
Yeah! You have five followers, Todd. Get away from me. Get a job.
100% If you could travel back in time to watch an iconic music act perform, who would it be?
Michael Jackson in the Bad era. I love that album so much.