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The Talk Music of Listener

Interview with Dan Smith, lead singer
The Talk Music of Listener
Published on July 13, 2011

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Listener returns to Omaha with a special performance at the bemisUNDERGROUND on June 16, 2011. We caught up with lead singer Dan Smith to talk about his spoken-word style and his independent approach to venues and record labels. How would you describe the music Listener makes?
Dan Smith: We make Talk Music. That’s what we call it anyways. It’s basically Poetry and rock n roll, or whatever music we want to make into poetry.

How did you develop your unique style?
Vocally speaking, when I was younger I made a lot of hiphop music. I grew up in Missouri and just liked that genre. But after touring in that scene I realized I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. It just wasn’t challenging to me. I realized I wanted to make something totally different – both lyrically and musically. Doing hiphop allowed me to develop a kind of writing style that includes a lot of words. By practicing and touring a lot, things just develop and grow.

Listener in Concert
$7 ($5 members)
July 16, 8pm

What advantages does your spoken-word style have over traditional singing?
I’m not sure. There are times when we’ve tried to cover a song here and there and it sounds pretty good to make a song your own in that way. It’s just the thing I’m most comfortable with.

Briefly describe your process. Do the music or the lyrics come first?
It’s both. I just write the words and Chris makes the music and we come together. Sometimes we do that independently of each other in different states and rooms, and sometimes we are in the same room. Generally speaking, I usually have to have most of the words done to start working on tracking a song and molding it. But Chris makes lots of music without me too.

Listener concert posterListener concert posterWhat is it like supporting yourselves completely independent of a record label?
It’s a real adventure. I think it’s probably easier sometimes without one – at least sharing profits, etc. But it’s harder work to do all the promotion yourself. Thankfully we’ve had the help of a lot of friends.

You are known for playing some non-traditional venues. What’s the strangest place you’ve ever performed?
Rooftops seem to be pretty cool places to perform, but we’ve literally played in all kinds of rooms – basements, attics, kitchens, living rooms, warehouses – name it and we’ve probably played there. We almost played in a prison once, but that fell through. I’d like to play in a library. We recently played in a barn too.

Why should people come out to the show on July 16? (Besides the fact that it will rock.)
This will be the 3rd Omaha show Listener has done, and I think it will be the best. The album we’re touring has been the most challenging to perform, and it’s been amazing. We’ve been all over the world on this tour, and we’re excited to come back to Omaha for another show.

Shot in Paris, France.
By Ben Berzerker, assisted by Maëva Jaouen & Julien Benatar.


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