Hi Riley, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Ive been great, thanks! Its been a busy, emotion driven past couple months.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “I’m On Fire”?
Im very excited for every to hear the new single “Im On Fire”. This song, and the whole EP has been over a year and a half in the making. I had some amazing co writes while I lived in Nashville making this album and shooting “Nashville”. This song featured a co write with Tim Lauer who executive produces the music for the show Nashville. Along with one of my favorite singer songwriters, Mathew Perryman Jones. It was a dream.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
When we sat down to start the song, the vibe really just flowed. MPJ and Tim had a strong understanding as to the tone I was looking for, and I trusted them to help guide the write because I was already such a fan of their work. I wanted to hear their influence in the material. And our styles came together to really mold the sound I was looking for. The sound that Ive used as a reference ever since writing it.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
The music video is already shot and in the can as they say! I actually just did the final cut edit last night. I wrote the treatment to the video as soon as we decided to make one. I wanted to tell a story. It was really important for me coming from the tv and film world, to make something that was more than a typical video. I wanted to make a short film. I hope it takes the viewer on a journey and allows them to see themselves and their relationships in the characters.
The single comes off your new self-titled EP – why naming the record after yourself?
I didn’t look at it as naming it after myself. I actually looked at is as not giving it a name. Not defining it. Sometimes the name of the album just gets self indulgent. Ive tried to take a modest approach to every decision Ive made while making this EP. I want this to be about the music. Not the artist. In my mind, giving the record a name defined it. Maybe I should have just called it “songs”;)
How was the recording and writing process?
The process was a long one. I took my time and didn’t rush it. I recorded 14 demos in Nashville over the course of a year and a half. I took multiple trips back to Nashville even after I had moved back to LA. I wanted to make sure the whole EP was written, recorded and captured the vibe of Nashville. By the time I felt I had enough to choose from, choosing just 6 songs, became way more difficult than I anticipated. I thought the best 6 would kind show themselves, but I ended up really loving a lot about most of them. Thats rare when you’re really honest with yourself.
What was it like to work with Tim Lauer and how did that relationship develop?
Tim is the absolute best. We are still close. I knew I loved Tim the second I walked into the studio and met him. He’s got a real relaxed, confident vibe to him. No one has ever got what he got out of me vocally in the studio. He understood my voice from the very beginning and knew how to get the best out of it. He’s also an incredible song writer and musician.He set he and I with the co write with Mathew Perryman Jones, and “Im On Fire” came out of that one session. Ill forever be grateful for that. Tim also played instruments on the final version of the single too.
How much did he influence the song?
I think I already answered that above, but Tim really steered the ship. From setting up the Co Write, to playing on the record. He did it all.
What role does Nashville plays in your music?
The city plays an huge role in the EP. I wanted the EP to be completely made in Nashville. From writing it there to recording it there. What came out of that was all the cities influences. From the writers and musician I worked with, to the overall vibe. It really captures a guy from California, finding himself in Nashville.
How does your acting influence your music and the other way around?
One feeds the other of course. They all have the same base which is heart and emotion. I leave my heart on my sleeve in all my work. As a person actually. Im what my friends and family would call “emotionally charged”:)
What aspect of loneliness and solitude did you get to explore on this record?
Well I travel a lot for work. On my shows. Every time I sign on for a job, one of the first questions is “where will I be living now”. I love it. I love meeting new people and exploring new places. Becoming one with the culture. Whatever it is. But it does get lonely. It does put a lot of stress on your personal life. And there are a lot of times you ask yourself, “is this worth it”? I have a song on the EP called “Selfish”. Don’t tell any of my other songs, but its probably my favorite song Ive ever written because of the honesty. I had to be honest with myself, and its not always easy, but it was therapeutic.
Any plans to hit the road?
I am playing a festival July 15th in my hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa for my charity The Eastern Iowa Arts Academy. Its a non profit organization that shepherds an after school program for children interested in the arts. They can come to the academy and explore all of the arts with great teachers who donate their time. There are panting stations, music rehearsing spaces and recording studios. Its incredible. So we do a big annual show, showcasing the artists in the academy along with me headlining the event. Last year we had over a thousand people come and help donate to the cause. We are hoping this year is even bigger!
That show will kick off a string of live shows for me. We are looking at some festivals, Europe tours and other EP release shows around the country.
What else is happening next in Riley Smith’s world?