Kettering-based singer-songwriter Kieran Smith turned lockdown 2020 into a creative space to write about his life. Five songs in and New Boots took time to find out some background to it all.
New Boots: How did you go solo after [Shropshire-based synthcore act] You And What Army split?
Kieran Smith: Dave [David Brown] from You and What Army became one of the most successful Youtubers in the world, which left the rest of You and What Army to pursue other dreams. I went into primary school teaching before finding my way into Rocksteady. My daily job is to perform rock and pop music to children in schools and inspire them to be musicians. It is just as incredible as it sounds. I’ve been writing, performing and recording my solo stuff at home recently, and am really enjoying putting them out there.
How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
I would say I’m “guitar-based alt pop”. The songs are relatively poppy but they’re based around live instruments. For a long time now the music of Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver have played a huge part in my life. I’m working my way through covering every track on Sufjan Steven’s Carrie and Lowell album on my Youtube Page, and a project like that is teaching me to deconstruct what makes his music so beautiful. Hopefully that rubs off onto my music.
What was the reaction like to the singles from earlier this year? Are you drip feeding us before an album?
It’s had a very emotional response. I’m trying to publish singles regularly, and hopefully that will result in an album of songs that I can physically publish. I fantasise about holding my own vinyl.
Tell us about these latest songs, ‘Bea’ and ‘Crocodile’.
The track ‘Bea’ is a really special song. My wife was pregnant during lockdown and we were expecting our first child. At one week past our due date she went into labour, and we went to hospital only to find out that our little girl had passed away that morning. ‘Bea’ is a song that I started writing whilst my wife was pregnant and finished after our girl was born. Which is why the song ends with the lyrics “Those tiny fingers and toes/With rosey cheeks and her nose/Your Mummy she loves you so”. It’s been heart-breaking to hear back but I’m glad it’s out there, we’re doing our best to raise awareness of baby-loss. It’s a subject that people do not want to talk about, and that shouldn’t be the case. We’ve also managed to raise money for some incredible baby loss charities – Petals and Sands.
On October 10th I released a rock track called ‘Crocodile’. This was written and recorded months ago, about the Black Mirror episode ‘Crocodile’. It’s the same song released in two different genres; one is heavy rock and one is chilled acoustic folk. For the next month or so I’m releasing a song every two weeks.
Have you done any live shows as ‘Kieran Smith’ yet? Will you?
I performed a live show yesterday with my band Bad Money for BBC introducing Hereford and Worcester. It was a festival with no one allowed in the crowd that was being recorded for BBC Sounds. I’m really excited for that venture. When it comes to solo music, no I haven’t played these tracks live ever. I would love to one day.
What are your memories of the Northamptonshire scene? Any memories to share?
The Roadmender was an incredible venue for me growing up! Honestly though, when I moved to Coventry University to study music that’s where my live performance roots began. I performed there and in Telford and Birmingham most of my life. I’m still looking to find my place within local music. I haven’t given up hope though.
How has lockdown 2020 been for you? Helped or hindered your creativity?
During lockdown I was writing and recording every single day. It was one of the most exciting times of my life. Then of course my wife and I lost our daughter and things changed. You’ll notice a real shift in the emotional weight of my music over the next few months as the later songs get published. On November 7th I’m releasing a song called ‘Greeting & Leaving’ that deals with that day, and what it’s like to greet and leave your daughter on the same day.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I bought Sufjan Stevens’ amazing new album The Ascension on vinyl and it is one of the most incredible albums I’ve heard in my life. Highly recommended.
What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
There will be a lot of music coming from Bad Money. Our productivity is always high and I feel really excited about what the future holds for us. I’m hoping to maintain my solo musical output. I’ll lock myself away in my studio, write from the heart, publish and improve. Every song I put out there is like an emotional weight lifted, something that I needed to share. I hope to continue to raise awareness about baby loss and find some release in publishing such personal tracks.
‘Crocodile’, ‘Bea’, and more by Kieran Smith are on the usual digital streaming services