SMiiLE INTERVIEW + MUSIC VIDEO PREMIERE
Austin based band SMiiLE has graced us with two new singles, “Capable” and “Invincible,” the latter accompanied with a magically enchanting music video which you can watch HERE. Learn more about the band’s latest music below….
THE BEGINNINGS! THE BIRTH OF THE BAND!?
I was raised in the South Austin hippy scene in a very musical family. My pop brought me up on vinyl records, primarily from the 50s, 60s and 70s. A lot of soul/funk but a bit of everything. I started writing songs around age 12 and was in and out of all sorts of bands until I was 22. That's when I got my heart broken so bad that I had to leave town for a year and travel aimlessly through America. I had all sorts of adventures, new friends of all walks, and gobs of stories. As a result, when I returned to Austin to spend thanksgiving with my family, I knew I had to put all this music swirling around my head into something meaningful. Something that embodied the essence of adventure, heartbreak, and incidentally new love that I had experienced in the past year. So I started SMiiLE and all of the magical folks that joined were just my talented friends. It felt really easy to get it going. Everyone was excited and it picked up momentum fast.
YOU JUST RELEASED A VIDEO FOR YOUR SONG “INVINCIBLE.” TELL US MORE ABOUT THIS VIDEO. THE STOP MOTION ANIMATION IS SO GOOD! IS HAVING A VISUAL COMPONENT TO YOUR MUSIC IMPORTANT TO THE OVERALL EXPERIENCE OF THE SONG? (AND YOUR ALBUM ART IS SO MAGICAL AND FAIRY TALE-LIKE)!!!
I'm so glad you like the video! It was made by a dear friend named Benjamin Violet, whom I've known since we were little kids. We were actually in each other's first band together at, I'm guessing, age 9? I played drums and he piano. But we hadn't seen each other for about 15 years, since my folks moved to a different neighborhood and we lost touch. We reunited last year after recognizing each other in a record shop I was working at and realized we still have great creative chemistry. I'm actually recording his band, Pelvis Wrestley, in my home studio. I knew he was gifted with animation, so I traded him free time in the studio for an animation for our new song "Invincible." I do believe that song is better with a visual element and I knew he would compliment the whimsical, kind of theatrical essence of the song well. Ben's a gem. I would recommend watching the video multiple times. I'm still uncovering little secrets he planted in it.
YOU’RE RELEASING 2 SINGLES EVERY MONTH. WILL THESE BE PART OF A FULL LENGTH RELEASE LATER IN THE YEAR?
You betcha! We plan to save some special tracks to be revealed on the full length.
I KNOW A COUPLE MEMBERS OF THE BAND EXPERIMENT WITH FILM PHOTOGRAPHY. DOES THIS MEDIUM BLEED THROUGH INTO YOUR MUSIC AT ALL (AESTHETICS, AUTHENTICITY, ETC)? DO YOU USE ANALOG PROCESSES/FORMATS TO RECORD?
I am, and always have been fascinated by analog art. I hope this bleeds through into the experience of the band. Everything we record has either been recorded fully onto tape or bounced down to tape before mastering. We decided recently that we only want film photographers for band photos from now on. It's nothing against digital formats... truly that is a fascinating world and I wouldn't condemn it. However, I believe that working with analog formats comes with a certain type of magic that is indescribable. You can look at a film photo that was shot yesterday and it has this feeling like it was a memory that always was, and always will be. I think they get closer to the heart. I have theories on why that would be, but that's a whole different conversation. I feel the same about analog recording. It's also a method of limitations. You don't have advanced software to tweak things to perfection, so you better just focus on the capture being good. Limitations are very healthy in art. Sometimes, it's crippling to know that you could make literally anything. Better to know you have some boundaries of what you can't do, and to discover something strange in there.
WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A BAND IN THE 21ST CENTURY????
It's both exciting and debilitatingly difficult. The ability to make all of your own content and find your audience without a major record label is definitely a perk, but comes with new challenges. Namely using social media tools and branding to make your band stand out. I think a lot of musicians feel like making good music is only half (if that) of the battle anymore. I see a lot of brilliant artists who nobody will ever hear about because they don't like social media and that's pretty heart breaking. Personally, I like to think of it as a fun game that you can choose to excel at and it benefits everyone. Your band and the fans get more of an interactive experience. But it's also a massive distraction to actually writing songs. I don't like how it feels competitive. All the bands are scrambling up a muddy hill to try and get the most followers, so that they'll get opportunities. There's a lot at stake. I have spent way more money on having a band than I've made. We're all perpetually broke because being a musician doesn't make money, until it does. And when will that be? For me, it's not a question of whether I will ever stop making music. That's not an option. I don't do anything else. Perhaps that's why I'm willing to overcome the modern challenges of being in a band in the 21st century? It's a labor of love, and it's worth it. I've had the best times of my entire life recording and touring with my pals. It's addictive. But damn, it ain't easy.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT OUR READERS TO KNOW?
We're here to be honest and true to who we are and what we do. We're completely uninterested in making music that's trendy or hip. We're just trying to do what makes the feels. You can count on us being authentic. And we count on you doing the same :)
photographs by JINNI J