Chris J. Smith & Lynley Evans - Music Interview
Chris J. Smith & Lynley Evans have released their latest project, Objects In Space. The album is a 7 song compilation of their best, original songs to date. The original singer-songwriter duo, based out of Asbury Park, New Jersey, combine their 8 years of experience into creating eclectic songs.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
Chris: My brother. He was in a band that sold out The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ when I was in my formative years. Lynley: Ever since I was a child, music has been a huge part of my life. I’ve always had a passion for playing music and performing, as well as writing poetry and stories. Those two loves of mine naturally came together into songwriting.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Chris: I got to open up for one of my favorite bands Umphrey's McGee with my former band "From the Ground" in high school. That was pretty crazy at a young age. Aside from that, I took a body shot off of a bartender during a set with my former band Earthman once. Thanks Clyff for holding my bass. Lynley: I’m pretty sure I was almost kidnapped after a gig one time! Chris had to step in to get the guy to leave me alone.
What has been the high point of your music path?
Chris: I really enjoyed performing at Citizen's Bank Park's "Pass and Stow" on guitar, cajon and other miscellaneous objects for my friend Lauren Marsh. Check her out!
Lynley: A high point for me has been jamming with some amazing musicians who have played with not only Jimi Hendrix but Jefferson Airplane! And just seeing how the music effects people, it’s really something.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Chris: I approach every song differently. Some days I stick with what I know, others I push the comfort zone. I think ultimately what I'm trying to achieve is authenticity to my current state of mind or affairs. As an engineer, I like to record everything. That is my medium. So, a lot of times the songs I put out are the refined products of older ideas, collages of voice memos, notepad clippings and the like. Sometimes it's an amalgam of the old and new. Sometimes it's just new. I just try my best to make sure it's real and still relevant in the moment whatever it is. Even if it's a song written at summer camp when I was 14.
Lynley: My process is very unique to each song. Sometimes a melody will fly into my head; other times I’ll be fiddling with the piano and play a progression that really speaks to me. Other times it can start with a lyric or just a word that draws me in. Then sometimes we’ll be improvising and a song will come out of it!
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
Chris: I think defining one's self is a constant struggle or at least for me it is. Aside from that, all other factors including money and circumstance are occasionally difficult. But in the words of Supa Dave West: "Life's tough but it's fair". At one point or another, we all have opportunities within our reach regardless of the nuances of our given playing fields. It's up to us to take advantages of those, rise above the excuses, and express ourselves.. to whomever is willing to listen (which is hopefully you reading this).
Lynley: I’d say the biggest challenge for artists these days is just getting your music out there to the right people.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Chris: I would have to say Dallas Green: guitarist/vocalist of City & Colour. He inspired me to write songs from the heart and put my vulnerabilities out there. I've seen his band a lot (Alexisonfire too) and he is truly one of my key musical influences.
Lynley: This is such a tough question, there are so many. I’d definitely say Umphrey’s McGee or Susan Tedeschi. Both are incredible!
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Chris: I tend to over-prepare. It's a good and a bad thing. But, I think it's important to lend some trust to the moment and just step outside yourself to let things unfold naturally. I've learned to do that with a few beers, light-hearted activities with my friends and bandmates (after the scrupulous nitpicking/equipment checks the night before, of course) and jamming. The more relaxed I feel, the more confidence I can muster which makes for a better outcome always.
Lynley: Well right now we’re having to do everything online. Lots of Skype calls and voice notes. Hopefully we can get back in the studio soon.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
Chris: My song "Rain" is a constantly evolving, living, breathing organism (Somewhat like "Ocean" is to John Butler, I would imagine) It's rare for me to show much admiration for my own work as I am highly self-critical, but I like to think that is some of my most profound work. It hasn't been recorded in the studio yet, but I hope to give life to it on a record soon. I have others that are perhaps more technical, but "Rain" digs into a very special place in my soul and is quite personal for me. It was also put together primarily during the early stage of Lynley and I's collaborations, and my band at the time (called "Objects In Space, fittingly) was kindling some serious creativity and just developing into what I'm told are called adults? It excavated something really pure and honest, I feel and I am always trying to tap into that energy one way or another. Kaleidoscope is one of the tunes that comes pretty close, I think, but I urge you to listen and form your own perspectives.
Lynley: The most challenging one so far for me has to be an unreleased song called “Sugar”. It has lots of layers to it and we spent many sessions getting the composition just right. Also, the melody came very quickly, but I had to sit with the lyrics for a while before they really started to take shape.
What's coming up in the future?
Chris: I've been recording up a storm during this pandemic. Got an album "Fight or Flight, Night or Light" coming out that Lynley's been lending her vocal instruction to. It's a feel good record which I think the world could use right now. I'd also hopefully like to play a show or two again in the foreseeable future. :)
Lynley: More music! I have a solo EP I’m working on and Chris and I always have something in works.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
Original Union Records website and all major streaming platforms