By Nicholas Jason Lopez
While he served as a ski instructor in the French Alps, Harry Lloyd was in the middle of an avalanche training when he suffered an accident and broke his back in two separate places.
On the way to the hospital by helicopter, he wondered if he was going to survive and that’s when he had an epiphany – if everything turned out okay, he’d dedicate his life to music.
What followed that was a year in bed of recuperation and he learned to play guitar to pass the time and formed Waiting For Smith, named after the endless waits for their original drummer Smith, who never showed up.
Most recently, he dropped his debut EP ‘Hopelessness Of Love,’ which showcases exactly how the folk/pop connoisseur has managed to captivate audiences with his bright vocals, inventive guitar licks and a knack for melody ever since his emergence upon the scene.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with him about what he has been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for your debut EP ‘Hopelessness Of Love’?
Waiting For Smith – I think I set out with this EP to try and explore how the last two years has changed the nature of our relationships. We’ve all had to spend way more time with some family members, partners and ourselves then ever expected before. Where you may have seen those people three times a week, only in the evenings or just at Christmas, suddenly, it was every day! Some of us had a great time and some of us really struggled, I think. I’ve always been interested in how long periods of introspection change us – it’s why I got into music, I guess. I’m always looking to get the best out of myself and to have the best effect on those around me. Listening to the music one night, I realized that the theme tying all the songs together, was very much all about the “hopelessness of love” and communication within relationships. Inspired by the five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, each track would have its own color and form of communication attached to it. “Hopelessness Of Love” – writing – words. “Little Old Book” – braille – touch. “As I Saw You Then” – sound waves – listening, “Tired Mind” –Clouds – the mind. “Best Side For You” – musical notes – music.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Waiting For Smith – I guess that I have the opportunity to try so many different styles of music. I have always loved variety… and how different genres seem to help you access different parts of yourself. That’s what I’m trying to do with Waiting for Smith. When you listen to my songs, you get a full wheel of feelings. Playing the piano really helps me to access heartbreak or that tugging feeling you get sometimes when you watch a sad film. My acoustic guitar seems to make me want to access joy and a kind of easygoing attitude towards life. The minute I pick up an electric, I seem to write more angry songs, in the genre of punk or rock. When programming electronic music, I seem to write dance or synth pop. With a good bassist around, something really cool just seems to come out. I dream of the day that I can have my seven-piece band on stage, plus a small orchestra, DJ and gospel group. The seven of us played Wilderness and it was such a buzz…. little by little, the sound is growing.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write?
Waiting For Smith – I actually always find the songs I pick to release are effortless to write. It sounds a little far out, but they seem to just kind of fall out of me… stay with me here! (Laughs) I’m sitting around thinking about something and then, I’ll get this feeling, almost like I’m restless or hungry to write. I sit at the piano or guitar and most of it comes all together, lyrics and melody, all in one. The thing that takes more time is the editing of the lyrics, to try and make them as clear as I can, in order to get the feeling to land. The thing I can struggle sometimes with, is not the writing, but recording. However, I’m getting more and more intuitive since I read, “Here, There & Everywhere” by Geoff Emerick. He was given the job to record a then unknown band called The Beatles at age 18. I found their recording process really helped me to let go of trying to make everything so perfect. There’s a time to spend five hours recording each bass note one by one to get the perfect feel and a time for smashing your vocal from start to finish in three takes.
Music Bugle – What do you attribute your success to, so far?
Waiting For Smith – Just getting out there, meeting hundreds of new people every year in music…being positive about the future, present and trying not to dwell too much on the past. Meeting a few producers that changed the way I thought about making records, like Tom Fuller, Jan Schroder and Dane Etteridge. Reading certain books also changed the way I thought, like Aldous Huxley’s “Island” and “The Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu, the Stephen Mitchel translation. However, breaking my back and having to spend a year in bed recovering, where I had time to learn to play guitar was one my biggest gifts, I think. When you really have time to decide to do something and set your mind on it – nothing can stop you.
Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?
Waiting For Smith – Well, I was born and raised in London, so a crisp pint is always something that brings me a feeling of pride. I grew up around Oxfordshire and so, I guess just the opportunities for good education there, interesting reading and things that expand your mind. My first long-term job age 18 was working in the French Alps as a ski Instructor. Everyday, I woke up to the mountains and that brought me a lot of peace. Now, I live in Amsterdam and I’m proud of how happy everyone seems to be here and of course, my bicycle.
Music Bugle – What has been your hardest challenge lately?
Waiting For Smith – Continuing to stay fully focused on music, reminding myself I do music for playing music and not for endless meetings, Zooms and chats about statistics. You can sometimes forget you’re making music to make people feel something and not just to hit a million streams. When I get too caught in that, I’ll scroll down my Spotify statistics and find a Waiting for Smith listener in a town I’ve never heard of. I’ll imagine them listening wherever they are and smiling. That one person motivates me.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Waiting For Smith – Caamp, Lola Marsh, Justin Bieber, Declan McKenna, Joey Bada$$, Kool & The Gang, James Brown, The Eagles, JJ.Cale, Chopin, Leonard Cohen, A Tribe Called Quest, The Police…. I listen to everything. Then, when I wanna hear something to just make me reset, I tune into Oprah Winfrey’s “Super Soul Sunday” podcast.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Waiting For Smith – Both, I think. I never think anything is just good or bad. Social media can be used to spread a positive message or one of hope. You can take a picture of your edited pecks and make people believe in a perfect image or make an uplifting video and spread a bit of joy. I think if you set the intention to make it work for you and help others, that’s what it’ll do. Also, using TikTok and Instagram, you can literally create your own record deal. In some way, that’s great, right and it frees musicians to make their own way, but I believe it’s just how you decide to get there… is what determines whether it’ll hurt you or not. It’s never the social media that hurts you, it’s how you approach it.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Waiting For Smith – Generally, very positively. I’m very grateful. It’s brought me so many new opportunities in new places I would never have gone, like India, USA and The Netherlands. As well as virtual-meeting some incredible people, some of whom have become great friends. I also had it myself, so had to cancel a festival or two, but recovered very quick. Five days later, I was better. I’ve definitely had moments over the last two years where I’ve got super down, though, but like Dolly Parton says, “You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Waiting For Smith – “In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. When you are content, be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete. Everybody will respect you.” That’s from “Tao Te Ching,” by Lao Tzu – the Stephen Mitchell translation.