CATCHING UP WITH ERIN SMITHThere’s one truth in life that has held constant since pretty much forever: Hard work pays off. Erin Smith is an excellent example. The singer/songwriter/guitarist’s latest album, American Boy, released in early June, is taking her music career to new heights — namely becoming the first Hawaii artist to land a position in the new music charts at Honolulu’s mainstream alternative station, Star 101.9.
Erin’s also a weekly music (and fashion) columnist for Honolulu Pulse and regularly writes for TGIF and Honolulu Star-Advertiser. She grew up in Canada with a musical family, a tradition that continues with her. When I caught her for a phone interview, she was on her way to vocal lessons — Erin’s also a vocal, violin and guitar coach in addition to everything else she does. No matter what she’s up to, she’s giving it her best.
How does having a job as a music columnist inspire you?
“I get to interview a lot of national artists because of it — Joan Jett, Paramore — it makes me feel plugged into the music scene here and nationally. I feel like I have a bit of a responsibility to shine a light on some of the bands locally. I’d love to see growth, I’d love to see the music community come together. There’s a lot of cool bands that I like.”
In your opinion, what does Honolulu’s music scene need more of?
“I think it’d be cool to have more festivals. More events that bring a lot of rock bands together, bigger picture stuff.”
Why is it so difficult to break into the mainstream radio here as a locally based artist?
“There’s a lot of factors that play into it, but really what it comes down to is you gotta work hard. It takes a lot of perseverance, you kinda gotta hustle. My boyfriend is like, “You gotta slow down, babe!” I’m always doing a lot of things at the same time.
“I recorded American Boy in Montreal. I was there for two months to record, then went back again for two weeks to do some tracking. We threw a lot of ideas around because there are so many directions you can go with an album. Sometimes it was hard to get on the same page as a group, so we had some back and forth. It was designed to stand up to what’s going on throughout the world (in alternative rock music).
“I grew up in Canada, so I feel like I have one foot there and one foot here. It’s a different set of ears to be working up there on an album. At the same time, I wanted to do some reggae stuff for the single, Love Long Distance, and the guys in Montreal didn’t have much of an ear for it — reggae’s more of a niche market up there, but it’s much more prominent here in Hawaii.”
We live in a world where everything is global now. Everything’s connected, we play to our strengths even if we’re out here in the middle of the ocean.
“It’s a different time for music. There are so many ways to get music out to people.”
So you’re ready to take American Boy nationwide?
“Yeah! We’re doing a lot of work with connecting the dots with the Mainland and radio. It definitely holds its weight, so we’re gonna give it our best shot.”
Check out American Boy on iTunes or at erinsmith808.com.
Roger recently turned his blog into a record label: alohagotsoul.com.