As most truckers know, the road can be a lonely place at times. Many drivers turn to audio books, music and even four-legged friends to help them pass the time.
One former company owner is blazing a new path, providing music made specifically for truckers. Houston-based Tony “T-Swin” Swinton, 43, is the former owner of Swin10 Transport, LLC, a van expediting service.
“Driving is in my family,” Swinton said. “My dad and my mom were both truck drivers. For me, expediting was one of the quickest ways to get into truck driving. When I started driving, I was still working in the oil industry, and on holidays I would run the van. Once inflation hit and the costs of running the company went up, I had to return to the oil job full-time.”
Swinton’s transport company, which moved products ranging from COVID-19 testing kits and oil-producing equipment to car parts, textiles, electronics and a variety of other items, shut down last year because of the economy. He now works as a pipeline operator in the oil industry.
“We have a storage facility where we store crude oil,” said Swinton, who is the father of four daughters ranging from 14 to 23 years old. “We transfer it through pipelines to other customers from the shipper to the receiver…you have to work outside in all elements and sometimes you’re hundreds of feet up in the air, but you do what you have to do for your family.”
Even though he’s not actively working the logistics business, trucking — and truck drivers — still have a special place in Swinton’s heart.
In fact, the talented rapper and musician makes it a point to create and perform music for those in the trucking and freight industry.
“I had been doing music for a while, but I initially gave up on it,” Swinton said. “I have a twin brother, Terrell and we used to go by ‘DT’ for ‘Double Trouble.’ We started doing music a while back and signed a couple of record deals. Nothing ever really went anywhere with it, so I kind of gave up on music for a while.”
That pause didn’t last long.
“When I started expediting, I noticed there wasn’t a lot of music for drivers,” Swinton said. “I noticed there wasn’t really a lot of music — in my opinion — that jammed. There were a couple of songs, but I wanted to create something that, even if you were not in the transportation field, that you would still want to buy it, play it and listen to it.”
As fate would have it, Swinton, heard a beat one day that resonated with him and he crafted his first song specifically designed for drivers — “Money in the Van.”
“After that one song, I got inspired to create another song called, ‘Make a Run’,” Swinton said. “Then I put out an entire EP called ‘Money in the Van,’ named after that first song.”
His catchy tunes soon began to capture the ears of drivers.
In 2021, Swinton was invited to perform at the S.H.E Trucking Expo in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he got to introduce his music to drivers from across the country. Because of the extra exposure at the expo and the positive response to his music, Swinton realized that he could fill a gap that was sorely needed in the trucking industry. He set his sights on creating music specifically designed for drivers of all kinds, from big rigs to sprinter vans, vocational trucks and everything in between.
“Right now, I have an album that is almost completed called, ‘Transportation Music’,” Swinton said. “It’s a compilation of those early songs and new material that nobody has heard yet.”
Swinton says his favorite part of creating music specifically designed for drivers is the word play and being able to tie the lyrics in with jargon used in the industry, while also making it rhyme and making it sound good.
“I want it to be music where people who are in the industry and understand the lingo can enjoy it and be like, ‘It’s jamming!’ and feel that I’m telling a whole story,” Swinton said. “It’s a story from beginning to end from where they picked up a load, dropped it off, paid for it, how it is on the road, and the relationships you have with the people worked with along the way. It has to rhyme and sound good too.”
While Swinton loves making music for drivers, he says he does miss a few things about driving and owning his own business.
“I miss the freedom,” Swinton said. “No question. Freedom changes your life. When you can create your own paycheck and no one has other rules over you, there’s nothing better. You can create your own hours and make sure that you can spend time with your kids. You can be at their recitals and catch all their games. That freedom, there’s nothing like it.”
He also misses spending extra time with his father — who’s also named Tony — who frequently joined him on his runs.
Between his current job and making music, however, Swinton doesn’t have a lot of free time. In addition to both of those ventures, Swinton hosts a podcast with several friends called, “The Men Can’t Always Be Wrong.” He is also in the process of writing a book about his experiences in the U.S. Navy.
Swinton distributes his music in collaboration with several services, including DistroKid and CD Baby, and his music is available on streaming platforms. He says he’s received positive feedback from drivers across the country, and even from some listeners who aren’t in the industry but love hearing what the life of a driver is like.
“It’s storytelling, and I am trying to paint a picture of what this life is,” he said.