Artwork by @mystupidsketchbook
WHO is he?
His name is Stephen Jonathan Smith and he is a folk rock singer-songwriter based in Melbourne.
“I’ve always been drawn to writing and playing music, for as long as I can remember” he tells us. “It’s difficult to recall precisely when I started but I have fond memories of messing around on my family’s beat-up organ in our basement. I was fortunate enough to have supportive parents who dedicated a portion of their hard-earned money to piano and saxophone lessons when I was still in primary school.”
“It wasn’t until I was around thirteen years-old, when I realised I wasn’t too bad at singing, and obviously learning to play the guitar soon followed. I’ve written countless amounts of songs since then and my love for writing continues to grow.”
“At the moment I’m working on recording some new singles and an EP. I self-produce and release my work, so as you could imagine, I have to save a lot of money and put a lot of effort into preparing for the whole process. I suppose the up-side to this is having complete control over my work, whereas the downside is the physical and mental labour. I will have the new material out later this year.”
WHAT is he singing about?
“I think my writing stems mostly from biographical themes – the circumstances I find myself in, as well as whatever is happening around me. I’m inspired by and envy storytellers – those artists who can spin interesting fiction out of thin air – that’s something I need to get better at.”
“Reading a lot of books is one technique I have for staying inspired; another is simply paying attention to the stories going on around me. I’m currently at a pretty interesting point of my life; I’m living in a new city, performing on the street for money and am constantly meeting new people, so I have a lot to write about… It’s actually overwhelming sometimes.”
WHERE is he from?
“I spent most of my life growing up in Queensland, Australia. I was born in New Zealand and my family moved when I was very young, with little money and no plans. I spent a few years living in different parts of NSW and Qld – always on the East Coast – but I think the bayside of Brisbane is where I should call home. The concept of a ‘home’ is something I think about a lot; I’ve come to understand that home is a place where, no matter where you’re at in life, you can always come back to (or think back to) and be filled with strong emotions and memories.”
“In August last year I moved down to Melbourne, having never been before. There were a few different reasons for moving away that all sort of mixed into one – I needed a change. I wasn’t sure at the time if it was the right thing to do but regardless, I quit my uni degree, quit my job, packed a few bags and bought a one-way ticket. I’m glad I did, it’s a beautiful city and I felt welcomed immediately. The arts scene here is insane! There’s so much going on all the time… It’s also quite overwhelming but inspiring nevertheless.”
WHY should I listen to him?
Honest lyrics combined with beautiful folk rock tunes are the reason why we fell in love with S.J. Smith’s music. His writing style is forthright, full of reflection and relatable lyrics that are capable of touching the core of anyone in any place or any time.
WHEN can I see him live?
“My first proper show here in Melbourne is on the 23rd of May, I’m opening for The Outdoor Type at their EP release. It’s at The Toff and you can buy tickets on Moshtix right now. I’m in the process of booking some follow up shows, so there’ll be plenty of chances to catch me live.”
Listen to Twenty-One
“I wrote Twenty-One shortly after turning 21 – approximately the same time I quit my job, dropped out of university, sold all of my belongings and bought a one-way ticket to a new city. It’s one for all the confused twenty-somethings out there.”
LYRICS Out the window, to the sky // we were looking, askin’ why. // Feel it coming. I feel it coming on strong. // Feel it coming like a freight train running // through the middle of the night – // I can’t be wrong, no. // Seventeen years I’ve know this part // but it still don’t feel – still don’t feel like home. // And after twenty-one years outgrown this heart // I still don’t feel – still don’t feel like I belong. // To the ceiling. Well, I saw god. // Maybe I was way up high but // the message rang true in my heart. // Ah your feet are running but I’m just running out of time. // Baby we’re all running after something // but it’s nothing in the end, it’s just a waste of time. // Seventeen years I’ve know this part // but it still don’t feel – still don’t feel like home. // And after twenty-one years outgrown this heart // I still don’t feel – still don’t feel like I belong. // Feel it coming – I feel it coming on strong. // Feel it coming like a freight train running // through the middle of the night – I can’t be wrong.