Smith & Thell, a duo from Sweden, began making music together shortly after meeting at a local event in their hometown. With recognition in the industry as “Best New Artist,” and selling out shows including one in New York City, they are quickly rising up in their pop/folk genre. Their song, “Forgive me Friend,” from their latest EP, Telephone Wires has over 1.5 million hits on Youtube. Smith & Thell took time to answer some questions for Cliché about their origins, including getting to know each other musically; their first tour, which included a sold out show in Berlin; and their creative process.
Listen to “Forgive me Friend” here:
Cliché: I’ve read that you met at a local music event in your home town and started creating music together after that. What was it about each other that drew you to one another to create music collectively?
Smith & Thell: At first when we started rehearsing and writing together we realized that we were very different musically. Today we’re happy that we were curious enough to find our differences interesting rather than seeing our differences as something negative. Instead of thinking the other one was weird we really started introducing each other to the music of the bands we loved, broadening each of our perspectives. We would switch iPods for the day and listen to each other’s influences and that really helped us grow. What wasn’t different was our passion and drive for music and as people we found that we were very similar emotionally. When we started writing songs together instead of separately the songs just became better and better.
What role would you say winning the “Best New Artist” award from Sweden’s Denniz Pop Awards had in launching your success?
It meant a lot to us. We sent in our song “Statue” as a demo before it was released and it was a real shocker that we won. Winning the award was our first real “industry” win and it gave us some extra confidence to continue to be us.
In the past year you had the opportunity to tour Europe. What was that experience like for you? Was there a favorite city on your tour?
It was a real indie tour haha. We carried our gear on trains and airplanes. We played shows at small venues in Berlin, Hamburg and Holland. Our favorite show on that tour was a small gig at Grüner Salon in Berlin where we realized we have fans in Germany that travelled far to come and see us. We also played in a container store in Berlin that was so small it only fit 20 people. It was really intimate and special AND we can also brag about selling out a show in Germany.. haha!
You both have experience writing for other musicians and artists. How would you say this has shaped how you write your own music?
We learn a lot from all artists we write with. Every artist has their own vision and it’s our job to help them find their musical identity in every new song. It broadens our perspective of what we’re capable of creating and that will push us to think outside the box when we write for our own project.
I’ve read that sometimes you create music with very direct lyrics and other times to evoke emotions that you have felt but that you cannot define in words. How would you say you create the music that evokes these emotions? Is there a process to it or does it just naturally happen?
We never force ourselves to write songs for Smith & Thell. The song ideas usually happen when we don’t think about writing. Voice Memos on our phones is our best friend. We can go weeks without writing and then all of a sudden something will bubble up from under the surface and we may write three songs in a day. The process is always different, we don’t have a formula, but we always stay patient and choose not to force it.
What has been your favorite song that you’ve written together so far? Why?
Though “Statue” wasn’t the first song we wrote as Smith & Thell it still feels like it’s the first song we wrote. It was the starting point of how we like to write lyrics and something just clicked after that, we felt very free creatively. “Forgive Me Friend” is our favorite song, melody-wise, written up until this point.
You just had shows in LA and NYC. How was that for you?
It was amazing to see that we have fans on the other side of the planet, knowing the lyrics to even our lesser known songs. Our NYC show was extra special as it was sold out. That was a milestone for us.
What can listeners expect from you in the near future?
They can expect a lot of experimenting with sounds and rhythms. We are working on our second album and we’re in a creative flow at the moment which feels really free and relieving.
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Swedish Duo Smith & Thell Discuss How They Got Started and Their Journey So Far: Featured Image Credit: Shervin Lainez