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Song Premiere "Sympathy For Your God" by Jasno Swarez

4 December 2023

Photo Credit: Adam Ninyo

Speaking truth to power is neither easy nor one-dimensional. Sometimes, it comes across as humor. Sometimes, it’s a rallying cry for justice. Other times, it’s a snotty alt rock song. New York’s (by way of Washington, D.C.) Jasno Swarez is back with another single that strikes at the heart of conservative America. “Sympathy For Your God” calls for us all to reflect on our unconscious biases all the while intoxicating us with its mesmerizing riffs and hypnotic groove.

Recording bands like The Vandelles, Gustaf, and Native Sun at his studio La Fam Recordings, he has his ear tuned to all things alternative rock. These new songs reflect a return to the music he loved in high school – bands like Hole, Nirvana, and Sonic Youth. As a queer person playing alternative music, Swarez combines the angsty guitar sound of the 90s with lyrics about the queer experience in a heteronormative society.

“Sympathy For Your God” as a title is a play on The Rolling Stones’ psychedelic anthem “Sympathy For The Devil.” Swarez recalls, “[That] song is a first person perspective on the experience of The Devil in modern society, and it occurred to me that a song about the first person perspective of God could be an equally interesting experiment.”

With its phaser-laden riffs and sardonic vocal performances, Swarez’s single ridicules conservative America’s obsession with making life harder for queer people. He sings, “Your cult agenda’s had its time / And here’s its death rattle rhyme.” For Swarez, this message is deeply personal. He says, “I also grew up … where morality was strictly based on what some all knowing God wanted from us; it occurred to me then that any being which required me to hate others in its name didn’t actually have much power itself.” This new single reckons with the idea of God’s power growing weaker as more people begin to live their truth. Years of production experience are also clearly audible in Swarez’s writing and mixing. The riffs never get old. Swarez’s vocals are masterful yet seemingly effortless. “Sympathy For Your God” is a model for how alt rock can still speak to our times.

Though there’s a sardonic tone to Swarez’s delivery, his message remains sincere. The repeated refrain of “everyone’s gay” echoes Nirvana’s “All Apologies” and speaks to Swarez’s musical and lived past. Watching the AIDS epidemic unfold, Swarez is keenly aware of how this country treats its queer residents. “Sympathy for Your God” reminds us that the power of this bullying deity is waning.

Finally, you can bob your head and curse the sky all at the same time! Listen to “Sympathy For Your God” below and stick around for an exclusive interview with the artist!

What is it like to be both a gifted writer and producer? Do you find that your writing has shifted since you have produced a number of projects?

There are a lot of people out there who have tried to tell me how I should sound or what I should say in my songs over the years and for a long time I listened to them feeling like I wasn’t skilled enough to know what a quality song should sound like or experienced enough to know what a touching song should be written about. I started by using the internet to torrent production tools and I self taught from there just trying to make the thing I heard in my head. It took me twenty years to stop hiding behind being in a group and release music that is just me. Same with the lyrics, that is really me, it’s how I feel and what I think about who I am in the world. I’ve been so scared of doing that up until now.

If I’ve learned anything while helping others make their own music it’s that the main job of a songwriter is to reveal our inner most personal thoughts through a voice that feels like our own. I think everyone can relate to the fear of having our inner world exposed, that’s why the queer experience of otherness is truly universal. I look back on the bands I’ve been a part of and I see the vision was alway inside of me, I just wasn’t trusting myself to be enough. Anyone can be a gifted artist if they can accept themself for who they truly are and step past their comfort zone to share their inner world with the one outside their head.

“Sympathy For Your God” is a really cool spiritual sequel to the Stones song. Did playing off the 60s lyrically also impact the song sonically?

I am a huge Stones fan. The lyrics of Sympathy for the Devil were very shocking to the mainstream and especially Christian Nationalists when it was released. I think this is because the mainstream in the 60s was just starting to pull the curtain on two hundred years of Puritan Christianity. It was an aggressive move by Jagger/Richards to directly address such a dominant focus of society. My song Sympathy For Your God is a rebuke of the current focus of the mainstream which I see as self importance and individualism. In the 60s people praised God and feared the Devil, now they praise their own opinions and fear being wrong at the expense of accepting others or even themselves on an authentic level. I just thought wow I feel bad for most people who can’t see past their own shouting, frankly, because I used to be like that and I don’t want to lead my life feeling bad for myself. If we are our own Gods now then we should give ourselves a little sympathy and some courtesy as we learn to stop talking and start listening. Crawl before we walk before we run.

Do you feel like there are parallels musically and politically between the 90s and now?

Less a parallel and more a direct line from then to now both musically and politically. I’m terrible at remembering facts and names so I’ll try to sum up my thoughts in a more general way. The 90s were a culmination of the controlling forces worldwide owning all roads in life be it politicians bought by greed or old white men deciding who the next big pop star would be. The internet threw open the door for most of the world to have a voice and for ten-ish years in the late nineties and early two thousands people found each other in chat rooms and came together worldwide in a way that had never been previously possible. Hell, I was able to download editing software for free and make my first records because of that era. Now controlling forces have found ways to own all that again and many people are fighting and suffering because they don’t want to go back to how it was in the 90s and before.

The internet has made the world very small and I am unwilling to be paralyzed by all the horrible things happening everywhere. I choose to act locally both politically and musically because I know that’s where I can actually have a measurable impact. I’m hopeful that somewhere out there there’s a band or musician making art so intense and universal that it will blow open the door for guitar music to make a triumphant return to the top of the charts the way Nirvana did in 1991 but I’m not holding my breath and I have 100% stopped telling myself that I’m going to be that person. I’m settling for making music I love with people I love for a community I care about, and I’m hoping that will be enough to make me happy.

Can we expect more songs from you soon?

Yes definitely. Sympathy For Your God is the second single I’m releasing in a series that will all add up to a full studio album, an unplugged album and a live album. You can check my socials once a month for a new song, and if you read this far, come over to my IG and drop me a comment to argue about the things I said in this interview! I’ll be there with my autocorrect, some sarcasm and hopefully a few solid jokes. Happy trolling fam!

JasnoSwarez · Jasno Swarez – Sympathy For Your God