Hotel Books' main man Cam Smith weaves heartfelt tales of life with his spoken-word poetry and lyricism - but he just wants to have fun, really.
Hey Cam, how's it going? How's life for you at the mo?
It's been ups and downs, but I've been working as much as possible. Keeping busy is the best medicine for me right now, so I'm trying to constantly create new things.
Tell us about your new album - how would you like it to make listeners feel?
The new album, 'Equivalency', is a record about weighing the pros and cons of different paths in life. I hope people can listen to this record and be entertained. I know that sounds obvious, but it's true. I just want people to step away from this album and think, ‘That was interesting'.
Where did you write this one, and what was your frame of mind like while you were working on it?
I wrote this album in Columbus, Ohio. The instrumentals were mostly composed by Chase Huglin, Andrew Baughman, and Jonathan Sherer. I wrote the lyrics while they wrote the music. I don't remember much about my frame of mind at the time, but I do remember the studio sessions being a lot of fun. It was definitely a time of celebrating life, which I hope shows on the record.
Has your creation process changed at all since you first started out?
I stopped worrying so much. Worry turned me into someone I never wanted to be, and I had to let go of the anxiety and stress of controlling the band so I could write music that felt real. Now, when I create, I just write for fun, not worrying if it's going to be on the next album or not. Somewhere along the way, I lost the ability to write for fun.
So you enjoyed your time in the studio?
It was incredible. Nicholas Ingram steered the ship on this album, and I think that is the main reason why each song has a unique flavour to it. We would just hang out and occasionally pick up guitars, or a keyboard, and start writing progressions.
"Plans often get in the way of the journey"
What's your favourite thing about the album?
I liked the opening and closing tracks, and how they connect a story. It's funny, a few reviewers have explained that the last track doesn't belong on the album because the instrumentals don't tie in at all, but it's literally the exact same instrumental as the opening song. We copied and pasted the same progression to create one giant song, cut into two parts. I was excited I finally got to do that on an album.
How did you come to sign with Hassle Records?
InVogue Records brought them to us. I knew of them from being a fan of some of their releases, so when IVR brought them up, I knew it would be a great home for us. I do my best to stay out of the backend stuff, but Hassle was one decision I was very happy to watch happen.
What do you think music's most important job is in the current climate?
To entertain. Music used to be a drug, an escape, a place to find the calm in the storm. I think music, and most art, should be a place to entertain. I want to listen to music as a way to make sense of this world, not just something adding to the noise. I've learned that being able to hold a microphone and release songs is an extraordinary gift I was given, so I want to do something extraordinary with it. I want to be entertaining, not just another sound.
Do you have big plans for 2018?
No. Plans often get in the way of the journey. (Yes, I understand how pretentious and pseudo-intellectual that sounds.) I'm letting my team help me shape ideas for the new year, and I'm watching the process happen.
Finally - new music aside, what are you excited about right now?
New Seinfeld special came out on Netflix, and it was powerful to see such a huge entertainer return to a small stage doing old material. It was refreshing. Too many people (in my opinion) are trying too hard to create the next big thing. I'm excited that new art is coming out in a subtle, non-aggressive way.
Hotel Books' album 'Equivalency' is out now. Taken from the February 2018 issue of Upset. Order a copy now below.