The Deli Philly's Featured Artist(s) Poll Winner: Kelsey Cork & the Swigs

By: Alexis V.

December 28, 2018

We love band geeks! Kelsey Corcoran, a.k.a. Kelsey Cork, is a self-proclaimed one, and her passion for music is self-evident, going as far as getting her bachelor’s degree in music education from West Chester University. And though she has the technical know-how, Cork prefers the “raw, real, free of pretense” feel of rock and roll, and it shows in the debut single, “Center City Blues,” with her backing band The Swigs. We had a chance to catch up with our most recent Featured Artist(s) Poll Winner, and you can check out the interview below. Also, keep a look out for “a surprise” from Kelsey Cork & the Swigs in the New Year – cheers! (Photo by Alyssa Resh)

The Deli: How did you start making music? 

Kelsey Cork: I was lucky enough to start taking piano lessons when I was 6 years old. I started playing alto saxophone in the school band when I was 9, and I learned how to play guitar at girl scout camp when I was 12. I was a band geek throughout high school, and went on to get a bachelor's degree in music education from West Chester University, where I studied classical saxophone. I started my first rock band, Roxy Nova, when I was 15 with my best friend Courtney (which we continued through college). I started writing my own songs with Roxy Nova. .

TD: Is Kelsey Cork your real name? If not, what is it, and where did the moniker and "The Swigs" come from? 

KC: Cork is a simplified version (and a family nickname) of my real last name, which is Corcoran. The Swigs comes from taking a swig of whiskey (which the band often enjoys before a gig). I made the band name a conglomerate for convenience. I play a lot of solo acoustic shows, and I wanted to make sure people would find the band if they searched for my name.

TD: What are your biggest musical influences?

KC: I used to mostly be into late sixties/early seventies psychedelic and blues rock like The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and Syd Barrett. I've been influenced more heavily by punk/proto-punk in the more recent years, like Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Bikini Kill, Bad Brains and The Misfits. I've also always had a huge affinity for the Yeah Yeah Yeah's and The White Stripes. I'm basically into anything that feels raw, real, and free of pretense. I truly appreciate the art of powerful simplicity... feeling over technicality any day for me. I want to feel the music in my bones! I'm a big rock and roll nerd, and there's so much that I listen to that seeps into my music. It was very difficult for me to just name a few.

TD: What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?

KC: I'm honestly obsessed with all of the artists on our label, Good How Are You Records, but some of my favorite Philly bands are Trash Boy, Secret Nudist Friends, Blushed, Slomo Sapiens, McRad, Dirty Soap Blues Band, and Ill Fated Natives (even though I could keep going on FOREVER). Nationally, I love Pop Empire from Cincinnati and Thelma and the Sleaze from Nashville. Internationally, I'm very into Le Butcherettes from Mexico and Idles from the UK.

TD: What's the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?

KC: The first rock concert I ever attended was to see a Pink Floyd cover band, and the first album that I ever bought was probably the Spice Girls.

TD: What do you love about Philly?

KC: I love how real Philly is – all of our grit and grime included. I love the attitude of the city and the people that inhabit it. I'm constantly learning so much from my fellow Philadelphians. For example, at one of my jobs, I'm one of the few non-bilingual people that work there, and I think that's a beautiful thing. I have the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world and all walks of life every day. I'm very grateful to be a part of our vibrant and supportive DIY music community. Also, I can't forget to mention, the citywide special and our patron saint, Gritty. 

TD: What do you hate about Philly?

KC: Getting stuck behind the trolley on Lancaster Ave.

TD: What are your plans for 2019?

KC: It's a surprise.

TD: What was your most memorable live show?

KC: Last Halloween we played with our friends Trash Boy, and Slomo Sapiens at Kung Fu Necktie. We had our first proper mosh pit, people were crowd surfing, and just getting real weird. It was, a rowdy, fun, rock and roll show and that's what we're all about. 

TD: What's your favorite thing to get at the deli?

KC: Italian hoagie – lettuce, tomato, light mayo, NO ONIONS PLZ and a bag of Rap Snacks.