Smith & Thell
by Emma Watts
We’ve recently caught up with the singer/songwriter duo Smith & Thell, made up of Mary Jane Smith and Victor Thell, to discuss a ‘lil bit about their background, creating their sound, and plans for the future. The band, residing in Stockholm Sweden, are set to release their debut album Soulprints on May 12th (this week y’all!), so watch out for that. To intrigue you even further, you'll wanna listen to the motivational-as-heck single “ROW" while you read through the interview to get a feel for their pop/folk vibes. (Check out them background vocals too, hello)
We see that for the past few years, you’ve been quite successful in Sweden as a songwriter + producer duo. What lead you to coming together to release music of your own?
It was actually the other way around, as our background in music originated from playing in bands and writing songs for ourselves to start with. After developing more and more as songwriters we realized that we enjoyed writing very different things and experimenting with sounds, so some of songs we wrote felt suited for other voices and artists better.
You have a very established sound - from the beginning were you both on the same page as far as vibe goes for your sound? Or did it take time to figure out this is the right sound for you and your lyrics?
Thank you. Our sound is a combination of both of our individual tastes, merged together into something new that we both feel good about. I believe that we truly found our sound and essentially ourselves as artists when we wrote "Statue". It was such an honest song for both of us and was a song that helped us reaffirm the joy we get from writing music. Our true passion is experimenting with music and "Statue" was a risk we took which helped us really find ourselves. We will continue writing and trying to find ourselves over and over again.
Did either of you grow up in musical households/surrounded by music lovers?
Both of us had music around us growing up. Our older siblings played instruments and family members in both of our families are talented singers and musicians.
Who are some of the most influential artists+bands that you draw inspiration from, if any?
Mainly we’re inspired by great songwriting. We listen to various types of music, but it all comes down to the songwriting, not the "genre" for us. The artists we have been listing a lot to include Simon & Garfunkel, Alanis Morisette, Bon Iver and Coldplay.
When releasing new music, are you ever hesitant to put your work out there for the world to listen to and have opinions on?
Of course! It’s sensitive since we write about personal topics and are very unfiltered with our lyrics. But we understand that people will always have opinions and we’re very aware that our music isn’t for everyone, which is OK. We never hesitate to put something out if we like it and it's authentic.
Are the songs on this new album based on real-life experiences you both have/have had?
All of our songs come from real life experiences. Some songs include very clear thoughts and direct lyrics about events that have happened, and sometimes it’s the sound of the music we create in order to evoke certain emotions we've felt and want to convey to a listener, that can't be literally defined in words.
Has performing been a natural/comfortable thing to do, or did it take time to get used to performing in front of crowds?
Of course we get a little nervous before going up but once we are up there, it feels so natural. We realize the responsibility of performing is more than just standing there and singing our songs, as it is our job of making sure we set the tone of the energy in the room.
Did you grow up attending a lot of concerts and hoping to become a performing artist one day?
Yes, we always hung out at the rock clubs and love the vibe of those clubs, the passionate bands, the shabby rehearsal rooms, and all the interesting people drawn to those places. We actually met at a local rock club in our home town in Helsingborg. I (Maria) was performing & Victor was in the audience. Victor sent me a message on MySpace after the show that he wanted to work together and the rest is now history!!
Are there any plans for a tour in the near future?
Yes, after our album comes out on May 12th, we’re going to Germany for some shows then we’re planning a bigger tour this autumn!
Check out the lyric video for "February", a single off Soulprints below, and keep your eyes peeled for what’s next with Smith & Thell. Find them on Instagram (smithandthell), Twitter (@SmithandThell), and Spotify for all the goodness!