While writing my Top 5 releases of 2018 feature, there was a late entry by the artist known as The Lyrical. His album Remember the Roots is a refreshing listen which includes so many genres that range from acoustic, roots, hip-hop, beatboxing, reggae and so much more. You can feel that this was assembled with love for the art and resulted in something that was special to him.
The Lyrical is the musical project of Karl Smith. He developed his songwriting abilities thanks to feedback from people who watched him busk. Learning what was working and what did not in the live environment helped him mould songs which led to his debut self titled album in 2013. From then his sound and reputation grew. He got to share the stage and played with the likes of Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals, Angus Stone and Jack Johnson. More new tunes were to come with the King of Me EP (2017) and the recently released Remember the Roots.
At Indie Band Guru, we wanted to learn a little more about The Lyrical (aka Karl Smith). He was kind enough to chat with us about his influences, the latest album and more. Here is what he had to say:
What or who influenced you to become a musician?
So many things led to the dream existing and then becoming one I wanted to pursue with certainty. But the most memorable for me were:
– The soundtrack for The Lion King
– My primary school English/choir teacher in the Solomon Islands, Roger Rosser
– Seeing Ben Harper perform live
You have such an eclectic sound, which artists have influenced you to shape what you create?
See above, and add a massive love for 90s pop and hip hop. I’ve always loved the simple and fun melodies in stuff like Aqua’s Aquarium album, or Europe’s Final Count Down
And my music has always just been about the moment I write it in and whatever genre I happen to be in the mood to create in, more-so than about choosing one and always being forced to try to write within its restrictions
Because of this range genres within your music, how do you decide which direction to take when creating new material? Also, how did this affect your process when assembling “Remember the Roots”?
again, see above haha. Remember the Roots was very much about me celebrating the versatility and freedom of my writing style, both in genre and topic and giving myself the freedom to remember why I fell in love with music, and be open to all my influences.
It was also about finally releasing “Remember The Roots” which I wrote almost 15 years ago haha
Talking about your material, which is your favourite track from the new album and why?
My favourite track I recorded would have to be “Fight This War” Because of the unity it represents… but mostly because I have been wanting to record a song that was influenced by The Lion King for the longest time, but never had the right fit till that one.
Fun question, if there was going to be a movie about you and your music. Who would you select to play yourself and why?
If there had to be one, I would love it to be an animated feature. And I would love for the character to change form every time I performed with a different “Character” in my voice (Kinda like the Genie in Aladdin, I suppose) because that’s how I feel a lot on stage.
In which case, it would be more about the voice-over. and for that, I guess someone like Eddie Murphy maybe? haha! Because He has been in a bunch of animated stuff already and dude can sing!! Maybe a bit old but hey, that’s why animation rocks! You would never know.
Finally, what are your plans/goals in 2019 for you and your music?
I am doing a lot of things for growth this year. and have some great opportunities to learn from some amazing people in the industry. I’m excited to listen and to take in all that I can and really channel “Teach Me” from the Remember the Roots album.
Also, we are doing our first ever Yoga retreat in Bali later this year at Soulshine, which I am still beside myself at the idea of being a part of. So, all that and more for 2019!
Remember the Roots is an impressive collection of stories which have a lot to say. It perfectly showcases an artist who understands how free music should be. He is a firm believer that the journey is more important than the destination and doing what you love (as expressed during his TEDx talk). This belief oozes throughout the album.
The album opens up with the title track which instantly highlights his impressive songwriting talents. As the title implies, it’s a story about the journey of life with the reminder to remember your roots. The detail and depth within his lyrics is a common trend throughout the release which stand out with the outstanding “Fuck it All”. The Lyrical uses his words to cite the pressures of a materialistic, political world and its mixed priorities.
The Lyrical delivers honest and free-flowing music
Even though some songs tackle serious topics, this album continues to radiate a compelling upbeat vibe. Maybe this is due to The Lyrical having fun with this recording. “Beatbox” can testify to this as he blends a mix of old school tracks with various other elements including video games. There are many gems to be found during this release but “Her name was music” is a personal favourite. Its energy is what makes this artist stand out and his work so infectious.
There is something unique and special about what The Lyrical creates. Maybe it is how his sound flows freely or the positive energy that it gives off. Whatever the reason, this is an artist the world of music needs.