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Travelling Across The Century
April Smith
I definitely have a retro sound, but it's sort of a bit '30s and '40s with maybe a little hint of '60s in there every now and then. - April Smith
by Josh Davidson
April Smith
April Smith

Who dares to paint a musical picture with a non-traditional landscape in an era where safe, cliché sounds dominate the air waves? April Smith does.

Smith's band, the Great Picture Show, travels across the century to help construct her songs, musing from traditional blues standards of yesterday, to the sharp, distorted guitars of today's rawer bands, like Radiohead. This versatility lets the Brooklyn, NY-based singer/songwriter express a wide range of emotions from joyous to melancholy, sometimes in the same four bars of music. Others songs, such as "Colors," produced by Dan Romer (Ingrid Michaelson), remain upbeat, as it bounces in the listener's ear like spare change.

Smith possesses a powerful voice with which she confidently delivers her cut-to-the- chase lyrics. At times she is sarcastic, while firm at others; Smith writes catchy, sing-along songs that stay soulful and sincere. She puts forth an eclectic mix of tracks, which leave the listener wondering what is coming next.

For Smith, what's next is continuing to tour the east coast, playing venues in New York and Massachusetts. More information about her schedule can be found at www.aprilsmithmusic.com.

Chorus and Verse: Can you talk about the present tour? How have you used it to bring more interest to your music? How are the audiences responding to your music?

April Smith: This tour has been a blast. I've traveled to so many places that I wouldn't have been to otherwise! I've met a ton of great people and musicians and made fans all over the country. It's also given me an opportunity to really perfect my live solo performance. Since I generally play with a full band, this tour has allowed me to revisit the songs in a different way. The audiences have been so attentive and the response has been wonderful. I've been asked to come back to so many cities, so I'll probably keep touring through the year.

Have you picked up any new styles of music in the various cities you are visiting?

I'm not sure if you mean "picked up" as in learned or "picked up" as in bought a CD from an artist. There's a different sound in every city, so I'm always hearing new music. I love it when other musicians come to the show and bring CDs of what they're doing or CDs of bands they think I'll like. That's how I get a lot of my new music.

Is it challenging for an artist today to bring traditional styles of music into one's own? How do you make some of those traditional styles modern?

For me, it's just the way I started writing. Initially, it was such a departure from the way I had been writing for so many years. I wasn't trying to write any differently, I just did. I just try to keep everything sounding very simple and honest. I definitely have a retro sound, but it's sort of a bit '30s and '40s with maybe a little hint of '60s in there every now and then. I think the instrumentation from the band is what gives my music a modern feel.

How does your music evolve from its original state once the band gets involved? What does each member add?

My band is so talented and intuitive that I just tell them what I want once and they get it right away. When I played "Terrible Things" for them, we worked it out in about an hour and then we just kept playing it because we loved the way it sounded. Brandon added the spooky keys and Marty started playing these great, punchy guitar parts. Elliot threw in the real clickety, clackety drums in the verses and then the wild choruses. And Stevens, on the upright bass, brought the jangly, dark bass parts in and it was done.

For the song “Colors” you worked with producer Dan Romer. What kind of input did he have to the final outcome of the song? How can a great producer improve a great song?

Dan was really fun to work with. We talked about what kind of sound we wanted and then we just started adding the parts - suitcase, accordion, a sauce pan and a wooden spoon. I think that a talented producer takes a song and adds what the artist might not think to add. I good producer adds nuances and subtleties, just enough polish on the final product. But, never too much.

How many doors has the Internet opened for an independent artists?

Countless. There's so much that musicians can do with a computer now. Anyone can promote their music if they have the time and a Myspace account.

[ Website: www.aprilsmithmusic.com ]

Josh Davidson
Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.
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