Richard Swift, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist known for his work with the Shins and the Arcs among many other artists, has died at age 41 of an unspecified medical condition. “Today the world lost one of the most talented musicians I know,” wrote Dan Auerbach, who collaborated with Swift in both the Arcs and the Black Keys.
Swift was a member of the Shins from 2011 to 2016, and he worked as a producer with artists including Sharon Van Etten, Guster, and Foxygen. He also released solo work, most recently 2009’s The Atlantic Ocean. In 2016, he collaborated with Damien Jurado on a covers album.
Swift lived on a farm in Minnesota from about age seven until his late teens. As he told Hybrid Magazine:
I have a really crazy family situation. When I was seven my step father and my mother decided to kind of pull a Neil Young and get back to the land…leave California and get back to the land. And so we did that for a number of years in Minnesota. We lived in Utah for a number of years and we lived in Oregon for a number of years. But when we lived in Minnesota it was, like, truly family living in the woods on a river. Having to raise our own animals for sustenance. Milk cows. Split firewood and stack firewood. Bring in firewood every two hours so people can build fires. I find all that stuff invigorating.