[INTERVIEW] SMIILE on sincerity, love and emotions

From Austin to positivy, this is SMIILE.

Just like their name portrays, this band reminds me nothing less of true sincerity, love, and emotions. Diving into the Austin scene, I’m always overwhelmed by the exuberant amount of talent distributed across the city. I’ll hear plenty of genres and bands that spark my attention but it’s always the compatibility of a group and stage presence that wins me over. Starting as just a collective of friendship, the band came together to create a unique sound and have been scaling their way up through the scene. 

Despite their busy schedule, the band was able to gather for a brief shoot as well as share a piece of themselves through an intimate interview. I introduce to you: SMIILE. 

[WtMM] How did you meet? When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
[SMIILE] I think the gods just kind of nudged us together as friends. Thankfully I lived in a rowdy trash house that we were allowed to practice together, loudly, any time.  

How did you get your band name? I noticed you changed it as well, whats the story behind that?
Well my name is Jake Miles, so if you rearrange Miles you can get Smile.  It was a bit of a nod to the beach boys, whom I am fanny for.  Later on, we were running into trouble with search engines.  You’d search smile and come up with 14 pages of dentists.  Around that time, I happened to come across this sort of idyllic human future philosophy created by Timothy Leary, a.k.a the Father of LSD, called S.M.I.I.L.E.  It’s an acronym that stands for Space Migration, Increased Intelligence, and Life Extension.  That resonated and fit the bill as far as helping with search optimization.  

How did you get your band name? I noticed you changed it as well, what’s the story behind that?
Well, my name is Jake Miles, so if you rearrange Miles you can get Smile.  It was a bit of a nod to the beach boys, whom I am fanny for.  Later on, we were running into trouble with search engines.  You’d search smile and come up with 14 pages of dentists.  Around that time, I happened to come across this sort of idyllic human future philosophy created by Timothy Leary, a.k.a the Father of LSD, called S.M.I.I.L.E.  It’s an acronym that stands for Space Migration, Increased Intelligence, and Life Extension.  That resonated and fit the bill as far as helping with search optimization.  

What are your biggest influences? 
Aretha Franklin, Brian Eno, plants and animals, sci-fi books, Hendrix, soccer, kissin’ and’a huggin’, spicy food, sleep-overs, James Brown, Indie stuff like Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, all that, also All That the nickelodeon variety show, working jobs that suck, the infinite nature of the cosmos, dreams… I really could keep going…

When I was with your band, you all seemed very close and a generally happy, loving group of people as well as from an internet perspective. Being in a band can bring a lot of stress, how do you all manage to keep it positive?
The music is the fruit of labor. Also jokes and laughter. Like you know how when you go to the DMV or some super boring place, if you go with a friend, it can be hilarious?  Well, we’ve got each other through thick and thin, so everything is pretty much hilarious. 

What makes your band stand out?                                                                 
One thing that people seem to connect to from our music is how earnest it can be.   In a world of sadness shrouded in irony, it seems people these days are afraid to be unbridled in their lyrics and music.  I’m proud of our sincerity.  I also tend to enjoy artists who don’t pigeon-hole themselves too quickly with one genre.  “we’re psych-rock” or “we’re post-punk”.  I think people might find the further they dig into our music, the deeper the breadth of possibilities we’re trying to explore, they’ll uncover alongside us.  

What’s your songwriting process. How has it changed since the beginning of the band?
Lately, the writing has taken place in the recording process.  Demos are amazing.  We spent all last year building our own home recording studio, and it’s finally come alive into something that we are producing our released material in.   The songs resulting are definitely different, but I think they’re better.  Some songs are finalized in full band rehearsals with Harrison and Everett, tweaked and embellished with just Mary, Annie and myself, or any combination of those possibilities.  The seed of the song ideas most always come in 1 of 3 places for me:  In the shower, on a walk, or on the basketball court.  I go and shoot hoops by myself, miss 95% of the shots and just wait for music to come into my head.  

What has been the most difficult challenge as a band? 
Branding. And I mean every sense of that.  A lot of people resonate with the aesthetic of an artist before the music.  Which, no doubt, aesthetic is important and most of all, it’s fun!  But it goes along with me not wanting to be pigeon-holed, as previously mentioned.  I personally think branding can be really boring if the substance isn’t there underneath.  But it seems that most successful bands do it to themselves because it makes their music more bite-size and accessible for fans.  I tend to reject trends and just try to be myself.  I hope we’re playing the long game in a smart way and that we didn’t time stamp ourselves too much.  Hopefully, the music stands the test of time and reaches people’s hearts before they buy our brand. 

           

What’s your direction with the band?                                                   
Onward and upward, to infinity and beyond, uhhh just trying to stay focused on what I’m inspired by right now.  

What advice do you have for other musicians trying to form a band/make it in the industry?  
Don’t pay attention to what’s popular.  That literally changes every few months these days.  Just make music that you feel and hear ringing around your soul.  Also, a live show is incredibly important to fans you’ve already made and sometimes you reach new fans, but I’m noticing more and more that the artists with great recordings make new fans way faster than anything else.  A good recording can just spiral through space-time around the world while you’re not even doing anything.  

Anything you’d like to add? 
Thanks for reading!  We love you! Uh, call your mom!  Mmmm, disassemble the patriarchy! ehhh…. try new and uncomfortable things every day!  hrrrmmmm…. wear something stupid today lol idk love ya bye! 

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