Around a year ago, an email from Bryan Elijah Smith turned up in my inbox with a link to his new record, In Through The Dark.
Bryan made mention that he had been working on this particular collection of tunes for over two years and he offered it up to my ears for an early listen.
I was humbled, to say the least, and marveled at his work after just one listen. This is, simply put, a tremendous record.
What makes this particular project even more impressive is that Bryan did all the work himself; he plays every instrument and handled all of the production, recording, and mixing. I’m sure that, if he had the technology, he could have handled the final mastering, too.
The end result was a beautifully textured and layered record, one that marks a deviation from the acoustic driven records I have at home from Bryan and his band, The Wild Hearts.
I recently caught up with Bryan to chat about the new record, why it took so long to bring to fruition, and his ukulele chops.
BRO – This album was a long time in the making. What turned it into such a long process and how do you feel having it out now?
BES – I started recording in 2015. I knew from the start that this album was going to take a couple of years to make. There was so much I need to learn within the recording process to create what I heard in my head. Sonically, I wanted it to stand apart from anything I had recorded. Musically, I wanted it to feel timeless and beautiful. At the end of the day, it’s just me and a room full of instruments, so I definitely became my own worst enemy at some points, which prolonged things. Without those moments, though, I wouldn’t have made the breakthroughs I needed to make. Only the CD is out right now, so it only feels semi-released. I’m releasing it on vinyl later this month, which is what I am most excited about. Then, eventually, I’ll let it loose in the digital world.
BRO – Love the video for “In Through The Dark.” Tell me about the video shoot.
BES – The video for “In Through The Dark” was actually filmed in February of 2016. Gregorio Photography did the filming and I did the editing. We shot it in a tree house built by the owner of a horse farm outside of Lake City, Florida. That tree house is a magical place and we got lucky with the sunset being as beautiful as it was that evening. I ended up spending a few months down there just writing and helping out on the farm. It was one of the best times of my life.
BRO – Speaking of the video, where’d you get those mad ukulele skills?
BES – My good friend and songwriting buddy, Nathan Moore of Staunton, Virginia, first introduced me to the baritone ukulele in 2010. It’s an amazing instrument and I’ve done half of all my writing on it over the past eight years.
BRO – We are featuring “Sink (Like A Stone)” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?
BES – If I remember correctly, it was one that flowed out fairly quickly in February of 2016. I was living at the top of a mountain in Linden, Virginia, at the time and working on the recording of a different song. Out of nowhere, the chords and melody to “Sink” just kind of started rolling out. It didn’t take long to finish writing and recording it. The song and the way I produced it resulted in something I’ve always wanted to create.
BRO – When you feel yourself sinking, what’s the best way to get back up?
BES – Music has always kept me from sinking too low. It is my life raft and saving grace.
Bryan Elijah Smith will be out on the road over the coming weeks to celebrate the release of In Through The Dark with local shows in Waynesboro, Hayes, and Harrisonburg, Virginia. There’s even a vinyl release show in Dallas, Texas, tossed in for good measure.
But this weekend, Bryan Elijah Smith & The Wild Hearts will be performing at The Western Front Hotel in St. Paul, Virginia, and Trail Mix wants to give you and a friend the chance to attend the show for free.
The Western Front Hotel offers boutique lodging to travelers in the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia and is also home to Milton’s, the trendy eatery started by world renowned chef, Travis Milton.
On Saturday, The Western Front Hotel will be hosting Bacon & Brews, an event tailor made for lovers of beer, good music, barbeque, and all things bacon.
If you are interested in attending Bacon & Brews and checking out Bryan Elijah Smith & The Wild Hearts, take a shot at the trivia question below. A winner of two passes will be chosen from all correct responses received by noon tomorrow (Friday, October 12th).
Question – What intergalactic governmental agency used one of Bryan Elijah Smith’s songs in the trailer for their Science On A Sphere film Water Falls?