We had the opportunity to interview Austin, TX indie group SMiiLE! The group's genre-bending soul influenced music is energy-packed and full of fun. One of the most fun interviews we've had with a group, this is one you're not going to want to miss this one!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"We're coming on three years as a group, it's been many variations of instrumentation and members. I (Jake) started the group and then Annie joined, she's the second oldest member, then Mary joined, and Harrison joined. I guess the musical ideas and everything were just overflowing".
"I (Annie) remember a very specific moment when Jake came to my house and threw some ideas at me with harmonies. Initially it was super frustrating translating the harmonies in Jake's head into music. However, soon we realized if we practiced them enough it could be something really special".
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"I (Jake) wouldn't say there is a set process, the melody will come to me and really think about and like how the arrangements could start around it. And then maybe I'll take it to the group and workshop harmonies and arrangements around it. Sometimes it gets completely flipped on its head in terms because everybody else's input is really awesome and invaluable, which can totally transform one idea, into something else. A lot of the time we will write lyrics together which is a really fun process".
"One song we wrote called 'Lilly the Cow' we wrote based on a story that a 6 year old had written. It was for a program for hospitalized children similar to Make a Wish and wrote this story in hopes that a band would turn it into a song and we were that band".
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"Jake and I (Harrison) and I connected on Nirvana and Led Zeppelin".
"A lot of soul, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and Smokey Robinson"
"Mary and I (Annie) work a lot of the dancing and we're inspired by The Supremes and Motown". 4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"My (Jake) favorite story about this is that I have been going for this overdriven, distorted, fuzz tone that is like a beam of red. I went to so many shops describing this sound and they kept bringing out these boutique guitar pedals that were $300-$400 guitar pedals and I wasn't finding anything I liked. I finally went to South Austin Music, and he brought out this pedal that was like $30 and he said 'if this doesn't work, this is all I've got' and I tried it out and it was exactly what I was looking for. It's the TC Rusty Fuzz pedal".
"(Harrison) I use a Fender Rumble bass amp that I love, it weighs like 35 pounds and does the job".
"I (Annie) just want to plug Professional Singer's Saving Grace Throat Spray, it may taste like licorice asshole, but it is great".
5. What do you enjoy the most or hate about a venue when you do a show?
"Monitors, are the best part and worst part, a nice sound person".
"Layout is also important, when bathrooms are next to the stage that can be awkward".
"Staff is important as well, if you have a bad experience otherwise but if the staff is nice you still leave with a good taste in your mouth".
"I (Mary) like it when they don't question if I'm in the band. I mean we're (Annie and Mary) are dressed alike and most people don't do that. And there are times when I'm carrying equipment for people, people will ask if I'm in the band or act like I'm not supposed to be there. So I appreciate it when people treat me like they would treat one of the guys".
"(Annie) Being a woman in the industry is surprisingly fucked up, I'm surprised it's still a fucking issue"
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"I (Jake) think one thing I really like about us is that I don't think we try to stick to like, one thing I noticed a lot of bands doing is they pick pick a genre and are like, we are the embodiment of that genre. 'You can trust us to be your
psych rock group'".
7. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
"So well, we're halfway through a tour right now. We're headed towards the west in the next couple weeks. But our plan in 2019 is we're going to be releasing two tracks every month and one music video as well. At the end of every month, we're gonna have a release party in Austin and at the end of six months of that we're going to compile it into a full length album and celebrate the release and go on tour".
FMI on SMiiLE visit https://smiilemusic.com/