Loud spoke to the uber-talented singer/songwriter and producer Dan Smith; who created the band Bastille as a vehicle for his different musical worlds. Bastille are full of songs with danceable rhythms and beautiful soaring vocals encased in harmonies and bleeps.
Bastille started to build a word of mouth following online after Dan uploaded a makeshift DIY video for the track Flaws which pieced together footage from Terence Malick’s 1973 classic Badlands. It had over 300,000 views and struck a chord with YouTube viewers from all over the world who posted cover versions of the track.
Flaws was subsequently released as a single by the label Young and Lost and the band became a firm favourite with online bloggers proclaiming them as the creators of the perfect modern-day pop song.
Q: What plans do you have for 2013?
A: A lot is happening this coming year, it’s going to be really hectic. We have our debut album (Bad Blood) out in March and we are doing lots of touring. We are supporting Two Door Cinema Club pretty soon and then embarking on our own tour.
Q: As a songwriter what made you want to form a band?
A: I really wanted to play a lot of the songs I’d put together live, so I got together a few friends and formed Bastille. I’m a bit of a control freak as well so in a way I wanted to play these songs with my own band and not pass them to someone else. The guys in the band contribute a lot and I’m lucky enough to co-produce the tracks.
Q: How do you go about writing songs?
A: I’m not self-disciplined enough to sit down for an allocated time and write songs. It’s amazing how many songs are written in this way. I write when I feel inspired at inappropriate times. I think it should be natural; forcing stuff through would be the worst for me.
Q: Do you strive for chart success?
A: Not really, the charts honestly don’t really occur to me. I think to achieve chart success you can’t play down television exposure. Something like the The X Factor has 10 million viewers (at least) and that is gonna give you sales.
The other way of getting your music heard by a wider-audience is through films and soundtracks. There so many specialist radio stations and ways to find out about music personally that breaking through to mainstream success is very hard. In the past you had something like Top of Pops, where getting on the show would mean the public knew about you. That doesn’t really happen now. But I do believe in writing songs that are accessible. Good hooks and lyrics are very important of course.
Q: What advice would you give a teenager who wants to make it in music?
A: Keep on writing songs, listen to as much music as you can, figure out why songs work or don’t work. It can take a while to to get everything together. It took me three to four years to get together the songs I have now.
Interview conducted by Loud! magazine. Find more interviews, student info, career and university advice at www.loudmag.co.uk.