July 28, 2020
Tune-In Tuesdays #80: Waiting For Smith on “Lines of Love” and Having “Yoga For Breakfast”
London-based singer-songwriter Harry Lloyd reaching towards the lines (of love)Source: Waiting For Smith
London-based singer-songwriter Harry Lloyd — more commonly known as Waiting For Smith — is here to help listeners see the light amidst even the most trying times.
Following the release of Waiting For Smith’s radiant single “Lines of Love,” we spoke to Lloyd via telephone to learn the track.
In the process, we ended up bonding over our shared experiences with health difficulties. We also shared a few laughs during our grounding, casual conversation.
Summarize your sound in just three words.
I want to say four — classic structure, contemporary flavor — but I might say classic songwriting… hmm contemporary “dash” flavors? [Laughs].
What sparked your interest in music?
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Yes!! Tomorrow it’s time for Waiting For Smith Wednesdays again! I am very excited to play Lines of Love for you LIVE from my living room, tell you some short stories about my crazy days in Cuba and play you a song I just wrote. Join me tomorrow at 6:30pm UK time / 7:30 pm Central European Time / 11 pm Indian Time on Insta Stories?
I grew up where there was a lot of music around; not people playing, but collections of vinyls and tapes. I was getting quite a lot of things played like Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Neil Young, then I ended up discovering J. J. Cale.
On the other side, in the neighborhood I lived in, we hung out with a mix of people. So there was quite a lot of a Caribbean influence, as well. There was danceful music coming in, early Shaggy and a lot of the R&B Michael Jackson stuff.
From a really young age, I loved the idea of performing. I loved the idea of trying to entertain people. Some people just gravitate toward it and others are like, “That’s the scariest thing I could think of possibly doing.”
For me that was a natural thing, right? You put on a play, you’re five-years-old, get some people around, get some parents that kind of half-don’t want to be there [laughs]. Then start dancing and see if anyone likes it!
The press release also mentions you decided to pursue music on a helicopter ride to the hospital after an avalanche training accident. How did you begin your career path? Were your loved ones supportive of your decision?
I’ve always been surrounded by people that go, “Yeah, sure! Be a stand-up comic, that’s a thing people do. Be an actor and live on people’s sofas and drink too much” [laughs].
I think that sense of possibility really set me up well. I was always someone who was quite unfocused – I would flip between loads of different things.
There’s this thing called The Enneagram where they split people into different personality types. Before the accident, I was type seven, which is “The Enthusiast.”
I was constantly like, “Yeah, I’m gonna be a chef!” or “I’m gonna be a waiter! I’m gonna write things!” then never really do them much. Just kind of do it for a bit then put it down.
After my accident — especially the minute I knew my back was broken — I suddenly became a personality type one, which is “The Perfectionist” — incredibly driven and goal-orientated in terms of knowing exactly what I want.
For being a quite unfocused person to suddenly have complete focus, the minute I knew my back was broken I didn’t go, “Shit, my life’s over,” but [instead], “Oh, this might be the beginning of a new one.”
And I could do music. I could finally do music. I’d always wanted to do it and I didn’t have any excuse ’cause I was going to be a year in bed.
I’m sorry you broke your back, but I’m glad it woke up that spark in you
I don’t know if you’ve had big, life-changing events — whether it be the death of someone you loved or a big fall — but if you can look at it as a positive thing in time, there’s something to be learned or to be gained from it.
Although at the time it seems like everything’s falling apart.
For me, I’ve struggled a lot with chronic health issues over the last three years from pain to GI troubles. For the longest time, it left me feeling quite despaired because I’ve been to so many different doctors and told so many different things. But more recently, I’ve started to see it as something to learn from and help others by writing about it and studying it.
As you know with health and stuff, there are so many different things you can look at; as far out as reiki to the more traditional route of seeing what you eat. It makes such a huge difference and it’s something I think more and more people are waking up to now.
It’s mad that you think a hundred years ago people were walking around with lactose intolerance and they were told to just get on with it. Well, the only problem was they were drinking milk. It’s kind of completely mad.
That’s a great way to put it — especially since I’m lactose intolerant. I can’t imagine. You think there’s something terribly wrong with your insides and here… You just need to stop drinking milk. I definitely appreciate the holistic approach, but I’m hoping that we also start to acknowledge that anything someone is going through is valid whether you find something on a test or not
I find psychosomatic illness really interesting, as well. Obviously there’s a lot to do with your outlook on your reality, how what you’re thinking is then reflected on your body.
I’ve experienced that firsthand when I had a really mad experience. I was working with a guy on music and we kind of had this back and forth. No one was to blame or anything. But when the pressure got big, it just got too difficult.
I started suppressing a lot of anger from it. Then I went on this meditation yoga retreat for a week. I was thinking a lot about this experience and how he’d gone and left me with these tracks that I didn’t really know what to do with. Y’know, was it time for me to hang up the music hat?
This suppressed anger was going around in my head a lot and I developed this wart on my face out of nowhere. It was really strange, almost like, “Wow! Where did that appear from in the middle of the night?”
Then I kept having these dreams that it was disappearing and that I’d forgiven the guy. Every day, I woke up and went back to the meditation, then kept going around the same thought over and over.
This recurring dream kept happening where it kept coming off and I was over it. But I’d wake up again and it’d still be there.
On the last night, I woke up thinking I was still dreaming. I looked in the mirror and it just… I just pushed it away with my hand and it was gone like it’d never been there. No scar left. And I’d forgiven the guy for the experience.
It does! It all starts with your brain — that’s where all the signals come from. What else have you learned along your journey and what do you find most rewarding about being a musician?
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Although it may sound strange, I never really learnt to play other people’s songs. The minute I knew how to discover my own melody; I became instantly hooked on songwriting. But Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (by the legend Bob Dylan) was one of the very few that just became a part of me. I’ll never forget listening to the The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, with my legs crossed on the floor in my pyjamas, cup of tea in hand realising I could still feel my feet. (That year I had broken my back and had to learn to walk again). The picture of him walking through New York on a cold winters morning ,accompanied by his girlfriend on the album sleeve, will forever stay in my mind as the memory of my new beginning. So here it is my first cover. /?link in bio
It’s a blessing and a curse. One, you’re thinking a lot. You’re always thinking rather than someone just getting up in the morning and cracking on with their day, bumbling through then being like, “Hey, you wanna go for a beer?”
I’m constantly looking at people and seeing like, “I wonder who they have been, what their story is,” or “Do we really die?” All these crazy questions.
I think it’s a curse in some ways because you don’t want to overthinking things. But in a way, it’s a blessing because it really makes you appreciate life.
That’s where good lyrics for me come from, when I think about those things and digest them. I try to express them in my own voice, then hopefully I can get a melody to it.
I would say that every day, just being very close to trying to question who you are as a person. I don’t know if all musicians do that, but that definitely started for me more when I had a lot of time to think.
‘Cause as you know from the lockdown, the minute you spend more than two weeks with yourself or one person, you’re immediately being like, “Jesus, this is hard [laughs]. I need to get out of the house, I need to speak to someone else” – even if it’s just you!
[Laughs] you start to look at your own hands and you’re like, “Where did these come from and who am I!?” But what’s the story behind your latest single, “Lines of Love?”
It’s that feeling where you feel that someone else is struggling, whether it be a friend, a partner, and you get the sense that they’re falling apart. You’re trying to reassure them in desperation, as I’m sure you’ve experienced with your boyfriend, your father, your brother, whatever.
You do love them and you’ll be there no matter what. Everyone goes through difficulty. But the moment you think everything’s falling apart, you think, “I’m the only person that’s ever experienced this much difficulty.”
When actually, everyone experiences difficulty all the time. It’s about whether you choose to let it ruin your day or go, “Okay. I know we’re going to get through this and on the other side there might be something really good.”
Like with you — how your health deficiencies have lead you to study that and then help other people. It’s really about that; reassuring someone that difficulty does pass and that out of it might come treasures.
Amidst your own struggles, what has helped you keep your head up and see life from a different perspective?
I do 30 minutes every day and I don’t miss it. Ever. I missed two days last year.
It might sound pretty mad, but since the accident, my back’s not quite the same. Like a bike, I’ve got to keep it in check, get some new tires every once in a while.
That really helps me. It helps me ground for the day like, “Okay, it’s a new day. What’s it going to be like?” Hopefully it’ll set me up well to face any kind of obstacles that come along.
Yoga and meditation have become big parts of my life — and not just meditation in a way where you have to sit down, cross your legs, and be like “Ahmmm.”
Like, “Oh, I must meditate more! I must go to a hill in the Himalayas and sit there cross-legged!” No, you don’t have to do that. You can just chop some carrots and just pay attention to it. Make sure you’re fully there, fully present.
That’s helped me a lot. So I try to bring that into everything I’m doing, including washing dishes… Which, uhh, some people have problems with [laughs]. It can take me an hour, rather than just 20 minutes.
It might sound mad, but that’s food for the soul. It truly is breakfast… So the acoustic guitar throughout the track is very familiar but still distinct in a way that keeps you really tuned-in to the track. What artists would you say inspired you most while working on “Lines of Love?”
Bob Dylan, definitely. I was listening to a lot of Bob Dylan during my time in bed. I listened to everything he did and that fingerpicking pattern definitely started from, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.”
Sometimes you can get that with a song, it can be a springboard for something else. Then other instruments come in.
For the production, I was listening to all sorts of stuff. But I remember in particular Vance Joy. I was listening to some of his stuff and some of his production style.
I got really interested in the silence between the music, so I started to do that a lot. I’ve got another track called “Meditation” that has these stops in it where the music comes out then back in.
They do that a lot in loads of things. Like dance music, where you have the drop, then there’s that space and in comes the chorus.
I wanted that chorus to be like, “Okay, we’re out of the verse now. We’re out of the storytelling bit. We’re going to drop out and here’s a breath before the chorus just hits you.”
I was really interested in that, so I think all of those thoughts and some of those artists definitely inspired that record. I thank them, if they tune into The Burgundy Zine [chuckles].
What do you hope listeners take away from the single?
At the moment with the music that I’m making, it’s trying to make people listen to it and go, “Hey, y’know what? Maybe it’s all gonna be alright.” If they can listen to it like that, there’s a massive bonus.
I start by writing songs for other people, one person or myself. It’s normally to cheer that person up or to cheer myself up.
So if people could be cheered up by it, feel happy about the situation, or even have a little bit of a dance during the chorus, then that’s great. That’s what I want — definitely from live shows.
I want people to feel entertained and to be taken through different feelings, whether it be sad, happy, hopeful, to just kind of forget they’re there. To give them a break… Kind of like a healthy aversion of watching “Jersey Shore” [laughs].
I’d say it’s way better than Jersey Shore. Though, I will say my healthy aversion is “Mob Wives.” But I really appreciate you spreading positivity such trying times.
I think it’s important. Not to say I’ve got it all figured out. I definitely have my ups and downs like absolutely everyone else.
With music, I think you have a certain responsibility to make things… Not necessarily positive. Of course, you can make crazy stuff, I know there’s a lot of weird things around.
But for me, I’ve always felt like with this — and the musicians that I like — you have such a power in moving someone to somewhere that possibly makes them dream bigger or feel better about themselves.
That’s a really nice thing. I recently got a message from a school teacher in Spain who said, “I played ‘Long Life‘ to a class of kids and they loved it. I used the lyrics to teach them about what’s important.”
Then I get a kid in Indonesia who says they’re listening to “Song for Grace” or “Lines of Love” and it’s getting them through quarantine.
That’s all you can ask for. If one or two people message in like that, then I feel like I’m on the right track. And if you get a hundred of those messages… Then that’s incredible. That’s my main driver.
If you could give your listeners just one piece of advice, what would it be and why?
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Wouldn’t it just be amazing if every time you had the feeling you were falling, when life was buring you…a hand reached out and a compassionate ear was there to listen. Would love carry you over that impossible hill? What if I would tell you that: there is almost always someone there or something to do that for you? As long as you are open to ask for it, as long as you can reach out for that line of love.
I think you can give any advice like, “Only do what you know to be right,” and “Don’t care about what other people think,” and “Follow your heart,” these kinds of things, and some people don’t know what that means.
But I think everyone knows how to laugh and everyone knows what a joke is… Or thinks they do. I mean, some dads, they’re not quite on the right track.
They’re trying, that’s what matters.
They’re trying their best! But definitely my line over this period is “Be light.” And that’s also to myself. It’s to try and remind yourself that it might look like there’s huge protests, the world’s in a pandemic, and people are losing their jobs.
It’s been a great help to me over the years, not to take things too seriously — even when they’re serious. To try and see that little sparkle of light that’s always there. It’s just a decision to accept it.
I think try to watch as little news as possible, as well. I feel instantly better if I don’t watch the news! Obviously you get what you can off the grapevine if you need to for work, of course, it’s important. But that can have quite a negative effect on the mind.
It’s really easy to say this right now, but I also get panicked, I also get worried. Everyone does. “Don’t take it too seriously” is also advice for myself.
I sometimes do that with my songs, too. I’ll write something knowing that I could listen back to that and it’s a reminder for me to take things lighter or that it’s all going to be fine.
That theme for me circles around a lot. Probably because I’m a big thinker… I think a lot.
What’s next for you, Harry? Do you have any new music in the works — perhaps an EP or an album?
Funny enough as you say that, I’m actually going back to London to do an EP. I’m going to be there for couple of weeks, and then there’s maybe talk of an album. I’m just talking to the team at the moment and trying to figure out the next best strategy.
There could be a mad release of more music. I’m not quite sure yet, definitely an EP. That’s my first focus.
There’s a few more songs and I believe in them. I hope people enjoy them as much as the previous, if not more.
I’m looking forward to hearing what you release next. It’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you, you’ve definitely made me laugh and brightened my day. But before we wrap things up, do you have any additional comments or final thoughts to share?
It’s always nice when someone takes interest in what your doing, so thank you for your time.
I really want to sign off with, “Why don’t you come on over, Valerie?” but I know you’ve probably heard that your whole life. So pretend I didn’t even mention that and it’s all cool [laughs].
[Laughs], it’s gotten to the point where I’ve had people sing it to me when I tell them my name. Like, full-blown singing. I remember being at the amusement park many years ago and the guy working there was like, [queue silly singing voice] “WHY DONTCHA COME ON OVER, VAL-ER-IE” real loud in front of everybody.
I feel for you! I know someone called, Eileen. “Come on, Eileen!”
Ohhh, that’s gotta be even worse.
I try to keep names out of my songs just for that reason, to give people a break [laughs].
I appreciate that! Y’know, I’ve actually started using it to my advantage. When people ask me how to spell my name I say, “Valerie – like the Amy Winehouse song!”
Own it! Those’ll be my last words – own your name!
Give Waiting For Smith’s “Lines of Love” a listen on Spotify now!
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