This Saturday, September 29th, Neon Gold is celebrating their 10th anniversary with a massive concert/party at the 3,500-capacity Knockdown Center in NYC. The celebration will include live performances by Marina, The Knocks, Broods, St. Lucia, and Alex Winston (among others), in addition to DJ sets from Captain Cuts, Noah Breakfast, and Friendly Greg. However, who we’re most excited for — not that we’re attending — is a new roster addition, but old friend, Your Smith, formerly known as Caroline Smith. Fortunately for us, Neon Gold’s 10th anniversary party is just one date in the middle of a rather large Your Smith tour, which will have her at Johnny Brenda’s next Tuesday, October 2nd.
We first met Caroline Smith in October of 2013, on the release of her latest album, Half About Being a Woman, which saw the Minneapolis-based singer/songwriting shifting her sound from folk to something far more inspired by ‘90s R&B. We next caught up with her just a handful of months later, during her ongoing tour cycle behind the album. However, that was in March of 2014, and we hadn’t caught up with her since.
Quite a bit has changed for Smith since 2014. In addition to changing her musical moniker (I think I’m still allowed to Caroline, when referring to her as a human being.), in 2016 she relocated from Minnesota to LA, which, during our most recent chat, she cites as a major inspiration on her latest work: “I think moving to LA was one of the best things I’ve done with my career, creatively. LA can be a challenge and cracking it open feels huge.” She also admits that her four-song Bad Habit EP, which dropped last month on Neon Gold, is far from all the music she’s worked on recently: “The amount of songs I don’t release is pretty staggering. I’ve written and worked on about 100 songs since the last album, but I only release the songs that I create when I’m being my truest self. I think people can tell when they’re being pandered to or have the wool pulled over their eyes.”
Your Smith’s debut EP boasts many of the charming quirks of the best pop music of the mid-’90s. The title track is a perfectly somber summertime ballad/jam to soundtrack youthful heartbreak in the golden age of dELiA*s, and single “The Spot” is what Luscious Jackson would have sounded like in 1996, had Sheryl Crow been a member and shared writing and vocal duties with Jill Cunniff. As far as inspiration goes, Smith tells me, “The biggest influence is like going back to your roots and finding yourself again and exploring music I listened to when I was young.” Specifically, she cites Steely Dan, Hall & Oates, Janet Jackson, and Van Morrison’s “Days Like This,” of which she profoundly exclaims, “I don’t hear that in my ears, I feel it in my chest. I want to make songs that you feel in your chest!”
And, regarding joining the Neon Gold team, Smith tells me that she couldn’t be happier, or more honored to be a part of that crew: “It’s been amazing. I’m always really careful and apprehensive when it comes to labels. It’s important to me that the people I work with feel like family and they definitely feel like family.”
Joining Your Smith on this batch of dates is hyper-soulful dark pop chanteuse BAUM, whom Smith tells me she’s incredibly excited to share a stage every night: “My agent hooked that up and I’m so picky and he sent me a bunch of people and I just loved her. And my bass player is a friend of hers, so it’ll be like a little family on the road.” In addition to her headlining dates with BAUM, Your Smith also has a handful of dates in October and November supporting R&B vocalist Rhye and folk punk legends Violent Femmes, respectively.