Steve Smith set to DJ with Paul Oakenfold tomorrow night at the Winter Music Conference in Miami. UK dates, collaborations with Jules Shear and Cornershop just around the bend.
“If you find yourself a fan of bands like Coldplay, Death Cab For Cutie, or even Travis, you should check out what Steve Smith has created. Underneath this DJ lies a musician who had a calling to record this CD, a dream about one of the songs, and the enthusiasm to go through with it. These are the types of musicians I respect.” – Brian McIrish, Blog Critics
Two-time Grammy award winning Dirty Vegas front man Steve Smith is a busy gentleman and a really nice one, too. Whether promoting his debut as a singer-songwriter, This Town, or spinning Dirty Vegas DJ sets around the globe, Smith always has an open ear and a kind word. It’s a refreshing attitude that contradicts what one might think of a platinum-selling entertainer and it permeates the heartfelt songs on Smith’s debut album as a singer-songwriter, This Town.
If you’re curious to check out what Smith’s all about and you’re enjoying the rays in Miami, then head out tomorrow night when Smith will DJ alongside the legendary turntable master Paul Oakenfold as part of the annual Winter Music Conference. The event will take place at Club Mokai (235 23rd St, Miami Beach).
Steve Smith’s many personas are the basis for his recent work. One a wild, house party DJ who rode the hit “Days Go By” to stardom; the other a gentle, down to earth family man (Smith is the new father of a baby girl) and singer-songwriter with a knack for melodies and words that come straight from, and cut straight to, the heart.
In addition to his ubiquitous appearances as a DJ, Smith recently performed songs from This Town at South By Southwest, taking the stage armed with nothing but his acoustic guitar and voice and also appeared earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival where he launched the promotion of This Town.
The record is out now and includes collaborations with Claudia Gonson of The Magnetic Fields, Anthony Saffery of Cornershop, Rob Swift of X-ecutioners and actor John Savage, among others. Since This Town is a self-released record created on a limited budget, all of these fine performers appeared for free — another testament to Smith’s endearing ways. On a personal note, Smith even walked an hour in the Austin sun to see Fanatic’s Josh Bloom perform songs in a parking lot. What a sweetheart, eh?
Other upcoming activities for Smith include the UK release of a remix of the This Town album track “Restless” on which he collaborated with Brian Viglione from The Dresden Dolls and Anthony Saffery of Cornershop. Smith also is an in-demand Latin percussionist and will appear as such on new albums by Cornershop and Jules Shear. Stay tuned for an announcement of upcoming UK dates as well! Like we said — Smith’s a busy guy, but not too busy to share a smile and a song.
Steve Smith Live:
03/27 Miami, FL @ Club Mokai w/ Paul Oakenfold (DJ Set)
04/14 New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
This Town Track Listing:
Stream The Album HERE
Release Date: February 18, 2008
01. This Town
02. Hit Me Up (MP3)
03. Restless (Radio Edit MP3)
05. Morning Jane
07. Comedown Queen (MP3)
08. Sleep Like A Lover
09. Better Off That Way
10. That Town (MP3)
11. Bonus Track: Late Nights & Street Fights (Theme from the FOX-TV show Standoff)
12. Bonus Track: Days Go By (Steve Osbourne Acoustic Mix)
More about Steve Smith and Dirty Vegas:
14-year-old Steve Smith was waiting for his piano teacher to arrive when he spotted the school drums and jumped on the kit. He was lost in the moment when the door burst open and the horrified teacher asked, “wouldn’t you prefer to sign up for drum lessons instead?!” Cue a cheeky grin!
Born into a South London working class home in the early 70’s, Steve was the youngest of five. He grew up with his ear pressed to his elder siblings’ doors where he gleaned everything from Marvin Gaye to Pink Floyd. As his teenage devotion to percussion grew, so did his passion for Latin musicians, specifically Santana and Tito Puente.
In 1988, acid house exploded in the UK and Steve found himself swept up in a wild new era of electronic music. He began to experiment with sampling the classic tracks he loved his whole life. A well-known house DJ, Andy Nichols, started a band that aimed to blend house music with live musicians. Steve instantly had the perfect introduction to playing live shows in front of huge crowds.
In the late 80s, rabid dance fans flocked to the illegal South-East England rave scene despite frequent raids by police and scaremongering stories in the papers about the supposed “drug culture.” But that did not concern Steve, who devoted every weekend to playing with Andy Nichols’ band or as a live percussionist at house clubs. He began to receive invitations to recording sessions and playing on club tracks. He became increasingly fascinated with the world of samplers and 909 kick drums. Still, while completely immersed in electronic music, he always held tightly to his childhood love for the Bruce Springsteen songs that had come from his sisters’ bedroom, and the sweet tones of Stevie Nicks that had blared from his brothers’ old stereo.
Steve steadily built a reputation as an excellent Latin percussionist and held residencies at legendary clubs, including Ministry of Sound. He toured alongside DJ’s like Sasha and Paul Oakenfold, and was ultimately offered a residency at the world famous ‘Pacha’ on the clubbing mecca island of Ibiza.
It was the summer of 1999. Steve had just split with his long-term girlfriend. With nothing to lose he packed up and drove from London to Ibiza with everything he owned. Days were spent with an acoustic guitar on stunning beaches, and nights in the infamous ‘Manumission’ and ‘Space’ clubs. He played alongside the top DJ’s in the world – studying how certain tracks caused reactions in crowds unlike those at any rock concerts he’d ever attended.
Inspired by the island of Ibiza as creative artists David Bowie, Mike Oldfield, Mario Testino and Errol Flynn before him, Steve spent the summer composing songs. As 1999 drew to a close, Steve headed into the studio for a session with Paul Harris, a DJ friend, who had been playing around the London ‘Milk Bar’ scene since 1990. Paul had just started working with a young producer named Ben Harris (no relation). While they were recording, Steve picked up an acoustic guitar and played them a song he called, “Days go by.” Paul and Ben loved it, and started to play around with the tempo. They recorded the song, called themselves Dirty Vegas and pressed 1500 vinyl copies. The track spread like wildfire through clubland – suddenly Steve had an Ibiza dance anthem.
Steve, Paul and Ben found themselves swept up in a rock and roll dream world of major label signings and world tours. “Days Go By” climbed the charts, and was licensed to a television commercial for Mitsubishi, ultimately garnering the band three Grammy nominations, and the award for best electronic song, in 2003.
Throughout his years with Dirty Vegas, Steve continued to write songs on his acoustic guitar. He knew that one day he would record his own album. Personal, sweet and intimate, some of those songs finally make an appearance in the track-listing of his first solo effort, This Town.
Dirty Vegas disbanded and Steve reunited with his girlfriend. He felt it was time for a radical change. Boston always had a magnetic energy for him when he played there and he felt a need to encourage that feeling. A move to the USA in 2006 got his creativity flowing and just like Ibiza a few years before, Steve started to soak up the musical heritage of his surroundings.
Semi-biographical songs, such as “This Town,” are about his move from London, while “Smile” (dedicated to Steve’s late father) came to him in a dream. In an amazing coincidence, Steve saw violinist Jay Ungar play at a local church in the small town where he had recently taken residence. After the performance he asked Jay, who has appeared on many famous movie scores, if he would play on the song. He told Jay it would be an honor since his father’s favorite piece was James Horner’s score for the film Legends of The Fall, on which Jay had played violin.
Another coincidence brought him together with Anthony Saffery, the former sitar player from the UK band Cornershop, who had also relocated to the Boston area and had become a producer. Together they booked time in the legendary studio, Camp Street (formerly known as Fort Apache) and began long and intense recording sessions: the outcome of which are the tracks that are Steve’s first solo effort, meaningfully titled This Town.
On his album, Smith collaborates with an assortment of talents, including producer Anthony Saffery (Cornershop, The X-ecutioners), Claudia Gonson (The Magnetic Fields), Terry Barber (New York Symphony Orchestra), Jay Ungar (James Horner Orchestra), and Rob Swift (The X-ecutioners, Quincy Jones).
Steve can still be found spinning electro house sets at clubs around the country and around the world, but these days he might be just as likely to be strumming a guitar in a coffee shop, or playing percussion on a rock stage, in support of his new solo path. This Town is set for release on Smith’s own label, G.A.S. Records (named for his late father, George Albert Smith) on February 18, 2008.