Smith & Thell - Sound In The Signals Interview

Swedish folk pop duo Smith & Thell have spent the last few years establishing themselves as a prominent songwriter and producer in Sweden. They've contributed songs for artists like Molly Sanden, Danny Saucedo, and Samir & Viktor. Multi-platinum producer Max Martin led the jury that selected them as the 2015 New Artist of the Year, which was an honor that was given to Tove Lo the prior year. They recently released their new single "Row". They were kind enough to tell  us how their new single "Row" is a fight song for grownups, about filming their new video on an island in Sweden, and they tell us more about their cover of Desiigner's "Panda".

Smith & Thell is a folk pop duo from Sweden. Can you tell us more about your music and background for those who may not be familiar?

We met in our hometown of Helsingborg, which is in Southern Sweden. Victor saw Maria playing acoustic at a local rock-club and asked her if she needed a drummer. After they started playing together, things evolved from that to writing songs together. We recorded a first un-official album together with some other band members under another name and the producer we hired back then was a major pot head.  He smoked a lot of weed and would fall asleep on the couch every session, so we had to take over and finish the songs.  We learned from this and definitely has a lot to do with why we like to  to do everything ourselves and depend on producers or other songwriters to be able to get our vision through. We then developed into writers for other artist and continue to do so today, in addition to working on our own music.

You established yourselves by contributing songs to artists like Molly Sanden, Danny Saucedo, and Samir & Viktor. Then you decided to form your own project. What led to this decision? How's it been different since you've taken the lead role in your music?

Writing songs as artists (for ourselves) actually came first, but we realized that if we wrote a song that didn't "make sense" for our project, we could pitch it to others. If we were to release every song we wrote, our sound would be a very schizophrenic one, so we started sending songs to other artists. Once we got a few big cuts here in Sweden, our writing for others career kind of took off which we are happy about.

You were selected as the 2015 New Artist of the Year by the Denniz Pop Awards, which was an honor that was given to Tove Lo the prior year. Tell us about this experience and about the single you submitted, "Statue".

We're very happy and honored about receiving this prize and it felt extra special since "Statue" was the song that earned us the award. "Statue" is such a personal song.  Maria: Both my parents passed away when i was 14 years old which was very hard for me. I was put on a lot of antidepressant pills and ended up with doctors thinking that this was the solution for me to deal with my sadness. "Statue" was written some years after i had decided not to take pills anymore and when i finally let myself feel the emotions and live through my "ups and downs" again and realize I'll be OK. The Song is about that. That it's ok to feel. Victor was a big part of having me quit and has always supported me, so it's a strong song for both of us.

Your new single "Row" came out October 7th. Tell us about writing and recording this song.

Our latest single "ROW" is a fight song for grownups. When you grow up, you realize that life doesn't go "merrily down the stream" like we were told when we were kids. It’s a song about looking your demons right in the eyes and saying you will will make it through the hard times, no matter what. We used a few children's rhymes in there but took the freedom to change the parts in those songs where the adults lie to the kids about how life is going to be great. Haha :)

You also shot a video for the single. You mentioned being stranded in the middle of nowhere, being attacked by sheep and cows, and the amazing landscapes that you saw while shooting. Tell us more about creating the video and these experiences.

That was a very interesting experience! We went to an island in Sweden called Gotland. It has very special landscapes. Yes, a lot of odd things happened. We got attacked by cows and sheep and we filmed part of the video next to an old ship-wreck. Maria has a fear of ship-wrecks, but she was brave and the video will come out great (It BETTER look awesome). We also carried around two gigantic batteries for 2 days to build a magic machine, which we end our video with. The team who shot the video was a group of perfectionists, just like us, so we can’t wait to see the final result. Video will be out in November.

You released a cover of Desiigner's "Panda" earlier this year. It's a cool take on the song. What inspired you to cover it and are there any others you would like to cover in the future?

Thank you, we got challenged by our fans and decided to do it, even though it was an odd song to cover. You never really think about how a song like that would sound in a folk version. It's a weird thing to do to put those lyrics in a really cute folky landscape, but we did! Some got entertained, some didn't, but we had fun doing it though. We might do more covers in the near future, when we have the time.

You're about to head out on your first European tour in November. What's next for the duo? How can fans keep up with everything?

Next is debut album! We cant wait to get out and play in europé and meet the audience there! Follow us on all social media.

Thanks for the interview. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for supporting our music!  We are so lucky to be doing what we love for a career.  We urge others to do the same :)

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