Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting to know April Smith

Tamara and I with April Smith!

If you don’t know who April Smith is, I guarantee you will soon. This girl is blowing up and shows no signs of slowing down. In the past six months, the New Jersey born, Brooklyn-based singer's music has been featured on Showtime’s “Weeds,” multiple commercials, and her band, April Smith and the Great Picture Show, also released their new music video for the dark and mischievous song, “Terrible Things.” She just finished up a successful tour and most recently, April’s song, “Can’t Say No” (a song inspired by her adorable dog, Scout) was featured in a montage on the season premiere of “American Idol.”

I caught up with April recently to chat all about her whirlwind year and what’s on the horizon for her in 2011, starting with her reaction to “American Idol” using her song. “I was so excited. People started calling me and were like, ‘Oh my God, your song is on ‘American Idol!’ I think they were just looking for a song that fit and I guess mine kind of came up in the search. I'm really excited!”

Seeing as how over 26 million viewers saw the premiere of "Idol," April is sure to gain even more momentum. This kind of success doesn’t come easily, though.

“I don't have a label, so it's basically a DIY operation. You kind of have to get a team together that's 100% gunning for you at all times. After you make the album, it's like you’ve planted the seed and now you have to water it. You have to get promotion and radio and marketing and all that stuff and you have to pay for a tour and it's all so expensive... I've been pretty lucky as an artist without a label that I've gotten the opportunities that I've had because it's really tough to get those things happening.”

With the success of April Smith and the Great Picture Show’s album, “Songs for a Sinking Ship,” April is just now starting to hit her stride and has big plans ahead for the coming year.

“I've been writing. When you're involved in the business side, it's so hard to take off the ‘business hat’ and say, 'Now I've got to be creative.' So, I'm trying to find the balance between the two. I'm writing now and I'd like to have the next album written by the end of the year.”

The underlying style of her most recent album is a retro pop ‘30s and ‘40s inspired sound fused with vintage, jazzy vocals. She says she's looking forward to exploring and developing that sound even more.

“The retro/swing/big band sound has always been a favorite of mine, so it was definitely a different direction for me when it started influencing my writing. And I'm really happy with the way that 'Songs for a Sinking Ship' sounds, but I think as an artist you should hope that you evolve and change a little bit, even if it's not a drastic change. I definitely feel that on the next album, it'll be a little bit of a different sound, different instrumentation. It'll still have that retro sound, but maybe different elements.”

Perhaps why April is doing so well is because her music really is unlike anything else people have heard before in our generation.

"I feel like it's accessible, but it's not typical mainstream music," she continued. "I hope that works in my favor.”

If you read my previous review on April’s album, you’ll remember that I marveled at her powerful, moving voice and it had me wondering exactly when she discovered she could sing like that and how she got her signature sound.

“When I was little, I used to sing all the time. I would not shut up. I loved the ‘Annie’ soundtrack, so I used to sing that anywhere. When I was 13 and I realized I wanted to sing, I had this horrible stage fright and I was really nervous and gradually I got less nervous. It's just really important to find your voice and not try to sound like other people. You should always try and be unique in your style. When I tried to tune out everything around me, all the mainstream music, I think that's when I became a better singer. It was really easy for me to find my own voice."

If you listen to the entire album, each song tells a story and they all seem to be connected in a way, which led me to believe it could be turned into a pretty stellar musical. I asked April if she would ever consider taking on the task of turning her songs into a musical someday.

"I would love to do that, actually. My first college major was musical theater, but I switched to broadcasting. My big passion is to create my own music. I would love to do a musical. I've been approached by a couple people who are playwrights who have asked me if I wanted to write something and that would be a really fun thing to do when I have some downtime between albums, even if it's a really short show or writing a couple of tunes for a musical."

While a musical isn't out of the question, there is one goal that April would love to attain:

“What I really would love ultimately, is I would love to have one of my songs on ‘Glee.’ That would seriously rule. If someone told me I'd have sell my kidney, I'd say, ‘All right.’ I just want to have a song on that show. I think ‘Colors’ would be an amazing song for them to do.”

OK Gleeks, so have a listen to April Smith -- and after you discover exactly what I've been raving about, let’s get a Facebook campaign going to get one of her songs on “Glee”!

5 Quick Questions With April Smith:

What is the song that made you want to become a musician?
"'Somebody to Love' by Queen."

What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
"Listening to Wham."

What is one thing you want to try that you've never tried before?
"I would love to jump out of a plane someday. With a parachute, of course!"

What is your favorite city to play live in?
"Spokane, Washington."

What is one thing you can't live without on tour?
"A fingernail brush. I am super creeped out by dirt under my fingernails."

1 comment:

  1. what a cool interview! i love that her biggest goal is to get a song on Glee, thats awesome!!