Beethoven started playing the piano aged four, Mozart at three. Even Chris Martin, frontman of legendary pop/rock band Coldplay, dipped his toe in the acoustic pool pre-puberty. So when Archie Smith tells me he was hitting the piano before he could speak, I know we are onto a winner.
Aged 20, from a rurality outside of Bath, Archie had somewhat of a classical beginning to his musical education. At school, he sung in choirs and in musical theatre most of the way through. Pop and rock soon followed, and he started his first band, ‘The Aviators’, aged 12. A slew of other groups, in different incarnations, came and went throughout school, until a year ago when Archie decided to go solo.
As is the case with most of the artists showcased as part of the ‘Born in Britain’ programme, Archie does all of his creative work alongside his studies. In just the past months, he has performed with the likes of Gabrielle Aplin (also on the Born in Britain site here), Lewis Watson, Luke Concannon, Josh Record, and many other talented, young musicians. He was also a part of the late BBC Introducing programme in Wiltshire, and has subsequently moved to BBC Introducing South. It’s amazing then, to weight these accomplishments along with all of the other commitments he has, but it’s done through hard graft and a natural flair.
His first CD, entitled ‘Out of the Ashes’, was recorded and released in 2012. After the physical editions sold out, Archie turned to his next project, which was to be the ‘I Will Love You’ EP. A magical and touching ballad (which I feel the music industry is hard pressed to come by nowadays) explores themes of love and loss. Taken as a piece on it’s own, it’s extremely easy listening, and receptive to the ideas of the writer. Accompanied by a short film, that Archie tells me really came about by a chance encounter whilst busking, the result is a deeply moving piece of musical cinema. Elrose Media have successfully conveyed the core meaning of the song through a plot that ebbs to an overwhelming conclusion.
What is clear is the artistry is at the core of Archie’s sound. Never one to rush his work, the writing process is always organic, and his inspiration comes from the heart of artistic endeavour. In true New-Romantic fashion, galleries and theatres hold much to be enjoyed, especially dance, for as Archie says ‘there isn’t much that is more captivating than watching people move to music’. Musically speaking, Coldplay is a tangible influence: mellow chords and robust lyrics melt together to create something of an echo. The protegee isn’t hollow though, bolstered by other contemporary classical notes to the tune of Eric Whitacre, The Beatles, Cat Stevens, and Andy Williams. The list is endless: but the sights are high.
In relying on classical tones, his contemporary sound is given a starting point from which age old concerns meld with those that are perhaps more modern. From his first CD ‘The First Days of Love’ is a standout track. Subtle and creative, it’s a gentle tune with a heartfelt message that most of us can associate with. Stripping back the angst of young adulthood, Archie gives us a refreshing taste of honest upset and, in turn, elation. A young Chris Martin? Perhaps – but Archie Smith will no doubt soon be a household name of it’s own.