After breaking his back out in the French Alps during avalanche training, British singer-songwriter Harry Lloyd better known today as Waiting For Smith spent a year in bed recovering where he learned to play guitar.
“Normally you’d go, ‘Fuck, my back’s broken. Life’s over. What am I going to do now?’ But instead I went, ‘Brilliant! I can do music!’ I took it upon myself in that moment, when I was lying on the stretcher, to be like, ‘OK, this is a new chapter.’”
Ever since this life-changing incident, Lloyd has been prolific and has put out eleven singles in the past two years, spanning a broad sonic landscape. Some of them include “Windy Cities Of The Sun,” “Song For Grace” and this past summer’s single, “Trade It In.” The latter was produced by Tom Fuller, who has worked with Clean Bandit and Years & Years. “Trade It In” has had support from AWAL and BBC Introducing London.
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Learn more about Waiting For Smith in the following All Access interview-
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you?
I’m sitting in the very light Ibiza-styled upstairs bit to my apartment in Angel Islington, London. I always feel like I’m on holiday when I’m at home.
Now that we are in 2020, how has 2019 for you? What are some goals that you have for yourself this year? How close are you to reaching them?
2019 was an amazing year for me. I released 9 singles, got a feature in GQ, landed the biggest advert in Spain, Shot my first big music video with an absolute legend Kevin Godley, was played on 170 radio stations over 3000 times worldwide from Zambia, Peru and Nashville to New Zealand and did a 3 week tour of USA. I sat back at the end of the year, took a deep breath and said “how the fuck did that happen”. With the good came a fair share of mood swings of course, raining days and not much at all too. Everything always seems to be in balance. 2020 my goals are simple, be 15 minutes early for everything, as I’m normally 15 minutes late and If I’m going to do something; just do it. I feel very focused this year and grateful to continue the pursuit of my dream.
If you want to see the highlights of 2019 follow the link to my post about it here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B7Eq4-bgIxW/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Music seemed to always be something I loved. Even from a very young age I listened to a lot of things growing up. There was this song by Amy Grant, which I was obsessed with age 3 called “Baby Baby,” I used to dance on the sofa to it pretending I was on stage. Age 5 I broke open my head trying to do the moon walk to Michael Jackson on top of our bathroom toilet. By age 10, I had joined my first punk rock band as the drummer & singer, it was called Jester. At the time my dad thought we should go see some classic rockers called The Rolling Stones to inspire us. Danny the guitarist in Jester and I stood there in Wembley stadium, I remember thinking “fuck these guys are old”, they started playing this song Get off of My Cloud, I turned to Danny and we smiled. Then they came out to the circle extension at the end of the Wembley walkway…some woman said “I love you Mick” took off her bra and tank top and I her boobs literally tumbled out her shirt. The security guard saw our faces just light up, he thought it was hilarious so he lifted me up to the stage my little legs dangling in front of the whole stadium smiling like mad and I high fived Ronnie Wood. The crowd went mental, I heard them roar and as my feet touched down back on the floor I thought I want that guys job. I was never the same after that.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
I’ve tried so many jobs. Worked in bars, behind desks, door to door sales, in kitchens, catered, on photoshoots, tv sets, stand up, acting and was a professional ski Instructor too for a few years in the French Alps. I loved that life style in the mountains, but in everything I tried I always secretly yearned to do music. Acting would have satisfied me equally but I try not to rely on others to get me work. You can always take your music to the streets but not many people have time for a one-man play.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
Good question. I think maybe that you work so hard to reach where you want to go and every time you get there the moment is so short lived, but it really does feel like pure ecstasy. Somehow you always have to better and upgrade those achievements to get the same sense of elation. Like your first kiss I guess, it doesn’t ever get sweeter than that, until you go to the next stage etc. Similar to my first airplay on radio when I heard Dave Gilyeat, (the DJ say) and this is a new one from Waiting For Smith – It was electrifying. The moments are fleeting so I’ve learnt to enjoy the whole process instead of individual goals. The one constant is I never seem to get board of song writing, it’s as close to magic as anything.
Where did you come up with your artist name? I read that it was a past band member who was always showing up late. Why did you decide to by something other than your own name?
Waiting has always been a constant theme of my life, being a late person. When this drummer constantly failed to show up, called Smith, I thought that’s a beautiful image of a group of guys waiting for someone to show up in the early hours of the morning; sitting and leaning against their instruments. I thought it may motivate me to be on time, which it didn’t. I tried my own name but there’s an actor called Harry Lloyd, then my Christian name Hardress but it sounded too like Hoiser and felt too serious. Finally, I tried the combination of my Christian name Hardress with my middle name Anthony, but I sounded like a gay hairdresser. So Waiting For Smith was born.
What was the inspiration for your track, “Trade It In”? How would you say that it compares to your previous songs?
Trade It In came about asking myself questions one morning in South East London with a guitar in hand. It came almost fully formed like I was playing someone else’s song. I started writing “How long will I take, before I really make, my first mistake? And how long is a while before she learns to smile?” on a piece of paper. I realized it was exploring the idea that If something isn’t working today, we can have a new one in minutes, including love. Then I started singing “If you can’t buy love then take it back, You Trade It In” My latest release is called So Much Love go check it out.
When do you plan on releasing more new music and a full collection of new songs?
Over 2020 the first release will come in March with a video. It was already used on an advert in Spain last year, which was pretty cool. It’s called Long Life. Then I think I will start releasing single after single like I did last year, and If there’s enough interest, an album. So spread the word.
Where can people see you perform next? Do you plan to tour at all this summer or later in the year? What has been a favorite performance of yours so far?
Next performance will be in LA at MUSEXPO in March. I’m looking at a support tour just trying to find the right one, if you know of any. Please let me know. My favourite performance to date was Latitude 2018 because it was the first time I played in front of more than a 1000 people. It started half full and by the end was packed out! The cheers that crowd gave and the gasp when I shouted in a song was amazing, like conducting a huge ocean wave. I’ll never forget that. I think what makes for a great festival performance is making the crowd feel a special, by that i mean give them something they’ve never seen before, something that you’ve done for no one else, something spontaneous. Crowds have a sense for it, i don’t know why, they’re just very tuned in. And when the witness something only for them they can lose it, literally, it lifts the energy of the space through the roof.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music?
Well I’m 15 minutes early for everything now. I learnt my sound is always developing in ways i never expect, plans never really go according to plan but it’s useful to make them and opportunities appear in the most unusual of places. I’m trying to show more emotion on stage now then I used too, that’s what really interests me. How many sides of yourself can you show in 30 minutes –to an hour to keep a crowd interested. As we’re all many people who have many sides but we choose to package are self as only a few, I keep discovering new versions of myself. Most recently my Taxi Driver side, he’s switched on and very sensible.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now? What has social media done for your career so far?
I used to really not like it, it felt odd to me taking such an interest in myself. But once I explored my mind and realised I didn’t have to take awkward pictures of myself trying to smile next to a salad, it became a lot easier. My mentor Harriet Starling who’s also an artist, told me you should always be trying to add value to people’s life’s. “Why should people follow you?” She says “IT NEEDS TO BE EITHER: ENTERTAINING OR INFORMATIVE, OR BOTH showing pics of a cool recording studio isn’t the point but telling them how you got there and how you feel right now is human, sharing pancakes not cool but telling them you added cinnamon and it’s a vibe is useful – that is info they can use.” I like Instagram for this reason because it can be a way of motivating people to follow their dreams or simply read a book that helped you.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
The day I discovered JJ Cale I thought I had literally discovered a New Thing. I listened to it on tape in my beaten-up purple Ford Fiesta chaining cigarettes age 17 with the windows rolled down. It had a huge impact on me, that you didn’t have to shout to be heard…he practically mumbled and it was cool as fuck. I’d love to meet Bill withers here’s a hero of mine, massive fan of The Eagles, I love Mark Knopler & Dire Straits, Van Morrison, Billy Joel , Bob Dylan, Leanoard Cohen all had a huge impact on me. Randy Newman, Dave Brubeck influenced my piano. Most recently I’ve been inspired by Nick Mulvey, Tom Misch, Loyle Carner, The National and Vulpeck. I love Dermot Kennedy’s passion in performance and De Staat’s left field approach to production in the track KITTY KITTY. I’ve become friends with the music video director who shot the video for KITTY KITTY. I’m being inspired a lot by visuals. Have you seen the latest Coldplay video Up & UP, oh my god!! Unbelievable.
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
I have some pretty far out ideas for videos before like a clock in the room saying 19:91 and you look at it think that’s weird I thought there was only 60 seconds in a minute, the whole video takes place in one conversation with flashing images in between but you can’t work out what they mean, they appear to be memories. You look at the clock again it’s say 20:00 and you realise ok must be 8pm then 20:15 , 20:16 , 20:18 and 20:20. The clock is actually a date so it’s 2020 and your whole life has flashed passed you in what appeared to be a conversation.
Budget does get in the way though. Although like the great songs that work on one instrument, nothing beats a simple idea executed beautifully like Just by Radiohead. I think you’ll have to wait and see as the budget will come and I will make these videos, I’ve always loved film.
What has been the coolest place/TV show/commercial that you have heard a song of yours? Where would you still love to hear a future song of yours played?
I think I may have landed some series this summer but I can’t say yet. I got the biggest advert last year in Spain, which was pretty cool for El Cortes Ingles. But I’ve always wanted to do one actually for a sexy pair of jeans or tequila, not sure why. My dream come true would be to walk passed a stranger whistling one of my songs on the street, that is the ultimate, then you know you’re in the public subconscious.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
A sense that, in the end everything will be alright and it’s ok to fail. If possible to fail as much as you succeed, make mistakes learn from them and then be a little bit lighter. Having died for a period during my accident and that is supposedly the worst outcome in life, I always think maybe life is a big painful practical joke. I think we may actually just keep going around and round until we get it sort of right like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. So, it’s ok to fail because you’ll get right one day. I want people to feel hopeful and pursue their dreams after listening to Waiting For Smith. Experiencing as much emotion as possible.
Would you like to share anything else with our readers about your music?
Come to a show, see it for yourselves and if you quote this interview I’ll buy you a beer.
Terms & conditions: This offer only applies to the first 5 people, I can’t afford 80,000 beers