Conversations with… Dan Smith (Bastille) PART II
By LaToyah Gill
‘Oh I feel overjoyed, when you listen to my words. I see them sinking in, oh I see them crawling underneath your skin…’
LG: Before you mentioned Regina Specktor, are there any other people that you are influenced by?
DS: I don’t think I’m massively influenced by her anymore. There are a lot of people. I guess my main passion in music is the song and it having a good core, whatever the level of production. In that respect, solo artists or old bands like The Beatles, but also modern music like Vampire Weekend or Andreas Johnson’s first album. I like anyone from Gorrilaz to Kanye West or even songs like Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel, where it feels like they are trying out different things from song to song.
LG: When you are writing a song, how do you know when it is time to let it go?
DS: They just seem to kind of come together. I always go through little periods where I think I can’t write songs, then I have a few Ideas and I just sit down and force them through. It sounds ridiculous, but they kind of form themselves. Also, if I know I have to record a song by a certain time I’ll just do it.
LG: Do you compose the music as well?
DS: Um um.
LG: You do everything?
DS: Yeah, I use Garage Band, which is the most basic recording system you get for free. It is like the Microsoft paint of recording. I generally write songs onto the laptop and then start doing the beats and arrangements. Whenever I take stuff to Mark, I already have most of the dynamics of the song finished.
LG: Other People’s Heartache was a mixtape tape you put together which featured an eclectic ensemble of covers Are there any artists that you would like to collaborate with at the moment?
DS: I saw the mixtape as a really nice opportunity to do lots of collaborations with friends of mine and different bands. But when it comes to making the Bastille stuff it’s quite a solitary thing, just because I really like having control over the music. Although, in terms of collaboration it would be nice do a song with City High or Corona- she’s got a good voice. Oh actually Outcast, that would be brilliant but it would obviously never happen…
LG: You never know, how things turn out
LG: André 3000 is making a Jimi Hendrix film…
DS: I know!
LG: He actually looks like Jimi!
DS: A lot like him, yeah it’s mad!
LG: Before you spoke about control, do you ever feel like your control is slowly evaporating now that you have signed to Virgin?
DS: There are times when I feel a little like I don’t have control, but the one thing that I do have control over is the music… actually that is a lie, that’s rubbish… I have final say on everything which is wicked! It’s just interesting having other people’s opinions, because before it was always just myself, and I used Mark (who was the guy I produced the album with) as a sound board to bounce ideas off. What has been great is that nothing has changed in terms of the process that I write music
LG: Do you think it will always be like that?
DS: Well, if this album does okay and we get to make a second album, I think it should be, yeah. Normally, as soon as a band or solo artist is signed they immediately get put with big producers or good writers and that is seen as one of the perks, but because I don’t ever write with other people, and I am co- producing the album with someone I’ve been working with for ages, that was never really a thing for me. I feel sort of lucky that we have been allowed to just carry on going, I guess it’s kind of a nice validation of what we have been doing.
LG: How has your life changed since the signing? If it has…
DS: I’m really busy all the time. I don’t have a huge amount of time to do anything other than work, but obviously, it’s the BEST JOB I can think of! It has been really nice to be honest. My days are all completely filled with doing really fun and interesting things, some which I enjoy; some which make me feel really uncomfortable. But yeah, it has been great, also to be able to buy myself a drink…
LG: Yeah, that’s always good!
DS: Or a meal… that’s a big perk.
LG: What are your other passions aside from music?
DS: (Affectionately) Love film… a lot. I watch a lot of films, although maybe not so much anymore, I haven’t really had the time.
LG: What type of films do you like?
DS: When I was growing up I was totally obsessed with obscure stuff or that I thought was obscure, I’m sure it was really mainstream. There was a time when I was really into an Italian director called Dario Argento, who made these mental Italian horror films which were really ridiculous and over the top. I love David Lynch, all of his films, I love Twin Peaks.
LG: What was the last film you watched?
DS: I watched… Ah man! The other night… Super 8
LG: I’ve heard of it although I’ve not seen it
DS: It was made sort of like a pastiche or throw back to 80′s kids films like E.T. It started off alright, but it was just terrible…
LG: What was the last good film you saw then? If you can remember?
DS: We watch a lot of films on the tour bus because we’ve got a little T.V and a DVD player, but they are generally shit. Recently we watched Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Commando!
LG: And if you weren’t a musician?
DS: I wanted to be a journalist or a film critic. One time I wanted to be an editor as well
LG: You edited the Flaws video right?
DS: Yeah, really badly. Whenever I put songs up online I like to have something to go with them visually, so I’ve done a few things.
LG: How do you enjoy your fan base? Because I know you are quite active on twitter…
DS: One of my managers told me ‘if you’re going try and do music you have to get on these things,’ so I got on. I have never really used them socially for myself, it has only ever been a thing for the music. It is interesting, having a channel of interaction with all these people
LG: Say if you are in your room and thoughts and words just come to you, do you just release them? Is it odd knowing that a lot of people will surely respond or make comments?
DS: It really is quite weird, I have friends who are on twitter and have a few hundred followers and I’ve got five thousand! I don’t see that as impressive, but it is just so interesting, that if I write something, suddenly all these people respond. It feels like dropping a stone into water and seeing the ripples.
LG: What about real life interaction? Do people come up to you on the street?
DS: When we play festivals, people come up to us. Everyone is really nice, they only come to say well done, but it still just feels really bizarre to me. I’m quite shy, so it’s weird to have strangers coming up to us and making conversation
LG: What is it like playing at festivals? It must be amazing.
DS: It is, yeah. We just played a whole load of city festivals. We did Dot to Dot, which was in Leeds, Manchester and Bristol and also Rockness. Playing at festivals as a new band is always a bit of a gamble, you never know whether people are going to come and see you or not. So far we’ve had such an overwhelmingly positive experience. We played to a full crowd at Dot to Dot and those venues hold a capacity of 2000. We were expecting them to be totally empty! It’s such a nice feeling. I guess that comes hand in hand with what we were saying before about social media, suddenly being aware that there are people out there who actually choose to listen. It’s mad! I’m looking forward to doing loads more.
LG: Are there any in particular that you are looking forward to?
DS: Reading and Leeds. I’m half excited, half anticipating having pints of piss thrown at us.
LG: You have to get that out of your mind!
DS: I’ll probably take an umbrella on stage with me.
(Again, both laugh)
LG: Are you doing many outside of the U.K?
DS: We are playing at a festival in Norway, which we are really excited about. Getting on a plane together and going to another country should be cool.
LG: If all goes well and a long successful musical career is certain, What question would you ask your future self upon reflection?
DS: How was it? I’d ask my 70 year old self what he regrets? What did he do? And would do again.
*Bastille will release their next single ‘Bad Blood’ on 20th August watch video HERE
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