The London indie-pop band, Bastille just received their first nomination for a Grammy in the prestigious category of "Best New Artist". They even showed up in the "Best Remixed Recording" category, although, with their hit track "Pompeii" remixed by Audien.
To add even more hype around the matter, Bastille just released their VS. Other People's Heartache Pt. III mixtape, which is a collaboration with some of the hottest up and coming musical talents. Some of the names you'll find on the tracklist include HAIM, Angel Haze, Lizzo, MNEK, and a handful of other talented artists. This mixtape follows on the heels of Bastille's Bad Blood album which dropped early this year. The album was received with praise and high chart rankings with tracks like "Laura Palmer", "Bad Blood", and "Flaws".
Singer and songwriter, Dan Smith originally started as a solo-project until he realized that he needed his band mates to be a part of the group full-time. Since then, Smith has convinced Kyle Simmons, Will Farquarson, and Chris "Woody" Wood to join the group that was then re-established as the Bastille we've come to know and love.
The guys have found more success this year than they would have ever expected and they're aiming to finish up another power-house of an album in 2015. Although they're stoked to continue on this journey of theirs, they seem more than content with the level of accomplishment that they've reached up until this point. We got to catch up with Smith in an interview where he dishes on their reaction to their Grammy nomination, New Year's resolutions, who would play them in a movie, and more! Read on below.
EARMILK: You guys were just nominated for a Grammy. How did you react when you got the news? Did you ever dream you would get to this point in your careers?
Dan Smith: We were so surprised at the nomination! We did not even remotely imagine that the things we've been able to do this year would ever, ever happen to us. That may be because we've never been particularly ambitious as a band and have never really thought particularly 'big'. We absolutely love making music and going on tour, but we never imagined we'd get to do even a fraction of the things we've done so far. It's insane! I was so taken aback by the Grammy nomination, but I think things like that are always so much better when you're not expecting them.
EM: When you were still looking solo, what goals did you have? Did you know that you were going to need the band to go further in your career?
DS: Right at the beginning, I always found it hard to think too far ahead. So, I genuinely didn't really have any goals. I was always concentrating on whatever song or set of songs I was making, or the gigs that we had coming up in the immediate future. We never thought of ourselves as a particular genre, or as wanting to be a certain type of band, and we didn't have any idea how it was going to pan out. We put our efforts into making new music and videos, and putting together our mixtapes and EPs. Starting the band was a nice opportunity to present a bunch of new tunes under a different name, but also a way to enjoy the whole thing collectively, alongside friends.
EM: At what point did you decide to expand from a solo-project to a band?
DS: Back in 2010, I had been working on some music that was an obvious step away from what I'd done before. I'd also been playing with Woody and Will for quite a while and felt increasingly uncomfortable with us all playing under my own name. I reached out to Kyle to join the band and to help us try and figure out how to play these new tunes live. It was then that we came up with the band name, and it felt like it had properly evolved into a band.
EM: Was there ever a defining moment where it struck you that you guys had made it big?
DS: We still don't really feel like we're in the big leagues, but there have been a bunch of surreal moments where it's felt like watching things happen to us in the third person or something. Seeing people actually buy our album en mass, or having big crowds at festivals – those things are madly gratifying. When we do big TV shows or go to awards, it's then that it feels like we're briefly wandering into "proper band" situations. The larger than life stuff that you see on TV but which doesn't seem quite real.
EM: What's something you guys have learned from the past year-plus of continuous festivals and shows?
DS: It's so nice bumping into people you know at festivals. You find yourselves in remote festival sites in countries all over the world and you bump into bands and friends from the other side of the planet, and I always get a kick out of that. I've also learned of the wonders of melatonin.
EM: Musically, who or where do you look to for inspiration? Or who are you listening to right now?
DS: I always look to music from the past that I love. I grew up listening to The Beatles, The Fugees, and a whole host of different people. When I started the band, I was really into Yeasayer and Vampire Weekend and bands like that, but I also looked at films I loved for tone and lyrical inspiration. Their soundtracks and scores were also important to me.
Right now, I'm listening to loads of new music. Off the top of my head, some people I'm listening to a bunch at the moment include Jungle, Banks, FKA Twigs, Ben Khan, Jai Paul, and Lo-Fang. Lapsley has a beautiful voice too.
EM: Do you lead things creatively in the studio and in songwriting? Or do you all contribute?
DS: I still do a lot of the writing by myself and work on things on my laptop, but because we're been touring nearly the entire time since we released our last album, we have found ourselves working on things in sound checks and in the studio a bit more.
The producer that we work with, Mark Crew, has been coming on tour with us and we've been setting up makeshift studios on the bus or backstage. That's been a lot of fun, and the whole thing has become a lot more collaborative. When we finally stop touring and get a proper block of time at the start of next year to finish things off, I'm sure the process will evolve even more.
EM: Any idea what you're going to make your New Year's resolutions be?
DS: Stop touring and start recording? That's lame isn't it?
EM: What kind of pressure do you feel to follow the success of Bad Blood? And how do you plan to top the success of that project?
DS: The success that Bad Blood has seen far exceeded anything we ever expected. Maybe because of that, we don't feel as much pressure with the next album. What has happened to us wasn't something that we were banking on or aiming for. We want to make an album that's musically a step forward from what we've done before.
Who knows if it'll be anywhere near as commercially successful? We're so blown away by how things have gone that it wouldn't surprise us if it's the biggest that things ever get. I'm sure our label and managers wouldn't be happy to hear me talk like this. I guess we'll just make an album that we think is good and hope that some other people agree.
EM: Is there anything that has surprised you about the fame or success you've found?
DS: I don't ever feel famous, and I genuinely don't think we are. In the UK, we haven't done much TV, so although a lot of people own our music, not many people know who we are. The one thing that's interesting though, when you are recognized, is how much people always want a photo. I know it's a silly point to make, but I think if you went up to most people and asked for a photo of them, they'd probably not be that comfortable with it. I'm way too polite to say no, to pretty much anything, so I often get to experience the awkward moment when someone has taken a photo with me and then wants to check it over to see that they look great. That's always an odd and slightly awkward experience.
EM: If you could cast anyone to play you in a biographical movie about your careers, who would it be?
DS: Will would probably want Ryan Gosling to play him. Woody could have a shaved Dave Grohl, he bloody loves that guy. Man, I have no idea who would play me. Someone recently shouted "Oh my god, it's Adam Levine!" at me when we were heading to the AMAs. The disappointment on her face when she realized I wasn't him was classic. Maybe he could play me? I also get told I look like Ted Mosby quite a lot. I'm not completely sure I know who that is, but maybe he could do it if Adam Levine is busy.
EM: What did you want to be when you grew up?
DS: I wanted to be a film director so badly. I remember writing terrible horror screenplays when I was a kid. When I realized I wasn't remotely organized enough to actually make films, I became obsessed with writing about them.
EM: Do you have any big moves lined up for 2015 that you can share with us?
DS: We'll be focusing on finishing this next album. Here's to hoping that it's a big move in itself!
Buy Bastille's latest mixtape on iTunes here.