SHE is a bright and ambitious songwriter…
who is ready to take music by storm. The incredible British artist Lara Smiles tells me about her path into music and when she first bonded with the guitar; what the story is behind her single, Coincidence; what we can expect from her debut album – which albums she holds dearest.
I ask what she has coming up in terms of gigs; some new artists we need to get behind; what advice she would give to any similar artists making their way into music; what sort of sounds she was raised on – how it feels being promoted and backed by some big, important sites.
Hi Lara, how are you? How has your week been?
Hey. I'm good, thanks. Hope you're well! My week's been good. I'm just on tour in Germany singing with The Australian Pink Floyd Show. It's my other job when I’m not doing my own stuff (smiles).
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name's Lara Smiles. Some people think it's my stage-name but it's my real name. Haha! I grew up in Hertfordshire in a small village with no music scene, so I moved to London.
I play my songs with an awesome drummer and bass player, so we gig as a three-piece, and I like to write songs that don't have a specific style. But, I mainly like to mash up Rock, Indie and Electro. I'm in the middle of recording my debut album and I’m excited to announce it will be out in the summer!
What can you tell me about Coincidence? How did the single come together?
Coincidence is the first single from my debut album that I've put out.
It's slightly different to all my earlier releases because it's the first recorded song I'm playing all the guitar parts on (and I've produced the track myself). It’s a mixture of Indie, Rock and Electro. Here's a deeper description of the lyrics of the song…
Coincidence is about those moments in life that leave you wondering if there is such thing as fate. Many of the songs I write are ambiguous and philosophical, like Coincidence. On the one hand, it's about a moment and how it came together perfectly but, on the other hand, I'm questioning: 'Is this a coincidence?' or is it purely our actions alone that lead us to the circumstances we often find ourselves in…?
IMAGE CREDIT: Hannah Smiles
It sounds like a pretty natural song. Did you find yourself writing it pretty quickly – or did it go through stages?
I wrote the song in a couple of hours, to be honest, but I worked on the production for quite a while. It actually started off as an EDM tune on the first demo I recorded and, when I started playing some grungy guitar on it, it totally changed the vibe and I decided I wanted it to go a bit heavier – so, I added live drums and more distorted guitars and bass.
Will there be more material coming later in the year?
Yes. I'll be putting out a few more singles over the coming months and then the album will be out on 3rd August.
It seems you take influence from Grunge and Alternative artists. Is that the sort of music you were raised on? Who do you count as idols?
I'm inspired by so many artists and I have many idols, such as Paul McCartney, Billy Joe Armstrong; Tina Turner, Prince; Debbie Harry and Karen O. I was introduced to lots of music growing up; I think it's because I am the youngest of three and I got to listen to my siblings and parents music and I was mainly raised on The Beatles, Tina Turner and Paul Simon. I remember loving these artists when I was very young and I knew I wanted to be involved in music.
Then, in my early-teens, I got into Green Day, The Prodigy and the late-90s' Dance scene - and I think that's where the idea to experiment with different styles started.
The guitar, too, is a weapon you wield well! When did you pick it up? How important is the guitar to your overall sound?
I picked up the guitar, seriously, just a couple of years ago.
I'm a singer, first and foremost, but I always wanted to play more guitar - but never thought I'd be good enough to actually play and sing at the same time live without a lead guitarist helping out. But, for the last two years, I've been doing it. It's been a massive challenge for me, to say the least, and I've only just started to enjoy it because I found it quite stressful – but, I’m glad I’ve started now. Llet the fun begin!
Your music has been picked up and promoted by some big sources. Does it give you a lot of confidence knowing people react to your music?!
It’s been an amazing year so far...
I'm recording my debut album and have been able to do this from reaching my pledge target. I've been getting some great blogs and press from the first single so far so, yes, it's been great - and getting a good response has definitely helped me think in a more confident/positive way.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I hope to get some more gigs and book a mini-tour in the summer to promote the album - and I'm currently looking for a booking agent. So, if anyone’s interested out there?! Hehe.
If you had to choose the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
That's a difficult one! But, here goes...
Graceland - Paul Simon
Takes me back to when my parents played this a lot when we live in the Middle East. So, it reminds me of driving through sand dunes and playing in the beautiful Indian Ocean. Paul’s voice, songwriting and poetry are just genius.
Nimrod - Green Day
Takes me back to being an angsty teenager and bunking off school. I remember getting excited about this band when I heard Dookie for the first time as well.
Everything Everything - Get to Heaven
I'm so into this album right now so I thought, rather than chose another legendary older album like Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall or something which also really inspired me as a kid; I thought I’d go with something that's inspiring me right now. I just think the production on this album is unbelievable. Every intricate detail in the musicianship and the songwriting is mind-blowing, too.
Can we catch you perform anytime soon? What dates do you have coming up?
Keep an eye out on my website. I'll have some gigs booked in soon.
I'll be doing some gigs over the summer at Foodies Festival, supporting The Hoosiers, which will be fun!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
There's been so many; not just in my own band but in other bands I’ve toured with as well. The only thing that springs to mind now is talking to people after my London gigs and to hear them say they've come along as they've heard good things - and that is enough to make me feel like I’m doing the right thing.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I would say keep writing songs: it's all about the song. Gig as much as you can.
IN THIS PHOTO: The Pearl Harts
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Being a solo artist, I’ve got to do everything myself; so, if I’m not writing or recording music, I’m promoting my music and emailing people about it etc. So; I don't get much time to chill but, when I do get to unwind, it will be with friends or family and a bottle of wine (smiles).
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Thanks for the interview! I choose No Reptiles by Everything Everything. It's on the album, Get to Heaven…I'm loving the build-up on this tune...
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