Four years ago a teenager by the name of Connor Smith got a guitar. Ever since, the self taught artist has been the songwriter, vocalist and guitar player for Blue Chairs, a Cincinnati band that started as a project of his own. Now, him and his friends perform live around the Queen City, becoming more involved everyday within the local music community. Just a week before graduating college, Smith agreed to an interview with a newbie interviewer. This is what he had to say about his project.
PG: Who/ What is Blue Chairs?
CS: Blue Chairs is my own musical project where I make music and I have three of my friends who come in and play for live shows.
How did this project start?
So in 2014 I got a guitar and then I just started teaching myself how to play it, and that let me just fooling around on programs on the computer, looping guitars and stuff. And so I just started creating my own songs and yeah, eventually I just continued making songs.
So you’re self taught?
Yeah I’m self taught.
What about the other members of the band?
They all have been playing music since they were kids; they are all pretty firsts in their instruments.
Who is a big inspiration music wise?
Well, the reason I got a guitar and taught myself was because this guy, Jackson Phillips, he plays and records his own music for the band Dave Wave. I heard in an interview of him that he taught himself how to play guitar and he mixed all of his own music, so I was like “Man that’s cool, I want to do that.” So that’s why I started making music.
I like to listen to Dave Wave, The Drums, they are cool. I also really like “New wave” music so like Joy division, New Order, that kind of stuff.
Cool! So how would you describe your music? What genre?
Chill Wave. I just say Chill Wave.
I love it.
Maybe even like almost Surf Rock or New Wave kind of stuff. I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s Chill Wave!
You write your band’s songs. What’s your songwriting process?
My process is like I’ll just have an idea in my head, and I’ll play a riff on the guitar, and then I’ll just record the guitar like riff and then I’ll find what sounds good with the guitar parts, layer them, and then I’ll add a bass part. Then I’ll add a drum track and then i’ll clean all that up, and then i’ll eventually, someway down the road, put lyrics on it.
So it’s pretty organic.
Yeah. It’s always on the spot, maybe late at night, I’m fooling around on the guitar and then i’ll make a whole song in like an hour or two.
You say that like it’s an easy thing.
Well look, all of the songs that I’ve made that’s always how long they take.
What are most of your songs about? What do you like to writ about?
I am not really into the lyrics as a lot of people are. And so they are the last thing I do
for the songs. So most of them are about a time or a feeling that I had i,n the past. It’s nothing defined, it’s open to everyone’s interpretation.
Do you have any rituals before performing in front of an audience?
You know, I always wanted to have that but every time we go on stage it’s fast because we are setting up and then we have to play, and they’ll be like soundcheck and then they’ll be like “Alright are you ready to play?” and so we don’t really have that much time usually. But when we have, we’ll get in a circle and have a big group hug. We did that only two times, but that’s something that I’d like to do more, if I had more time to do it after the soundcheck and before performing.
Have you performed in front of an audience a lot? Is that something early new for you?
It’s kind of new I guess. I only started playing live shows last year in April, and I’d say maybe I’ve played maybe 20 or so shows.
Oh okay..that’s a lot.
It’s not that many when you think about it.
No? Oh okay.
Well, I play in two bands.
What’s the other band?
The other band is called Spooky Dreamland.
Oh you were also playing in Live on Short Vine. And do you also play the guitar there?
You’re moving around. Cool.
So how did you get into performing live? Was it something that you wanted to do when you started playing music?
Actually not at all. When I started I had no intentions of playing live, I just liked making the music and if people listened to it, that’s cool. But then in 2015 I joined Bearcast Media and I went to the Live on Short Vine meetings and became friends with the person who was the head of it. And she was like “Why don’t you play shows?” Because I gave her my music and she was like yeah, and then I was like okay I can try and do that. So literally in that same five-seconds, I turned around and there were two guys at the table behind me and I said “Hey do you guys want to be in a band?” and they were like “Sure”. And so those two guys, Jack Tellman and Clarke Miller play in Blue Chairs and they’re both also in Spooky Dreamland.
Is it hard to combine this project with college and work?
It’s not really that hard. The hardest part is finding the time for it. But people do things to relax when they get out of work or they have hobbies, and this is just my hobby. So I love doing it, and it is a relaxing thing for me to do. I just love to make music.
That’s nice. Are you currently working on any future projects?
I have plenty of songs, I just need to master them and maybe record some. And then i’ll probably have an album or so.
How many albums/ EP’s do you have now?
Well, technically there is a lost album I put online, that’s right when I got a guitar so I had no idea how to do anything and it’s… I’m pretty sure it’s horrible. But it’s somewhere online, I don’t know where it is.
You have to find it.
No, I don’t think so. I’d probably be real cringe. And then I made another EP that was also similar to that kind of trash.
And then I have two more legit EP’s that you can find on Spotify.
I found them! I like them. Do you have any advice for people who want to start their own band?
Just do it. Yeah! Just do it! Nike. Hm let’s see…any advice? If you don’t know anybody who plays music already, maybe join a Facebook page or Reddit group to find people who want to play music as much as you. Because you know, not everybody likes music, for whatever reason. I don’t understand why because music’s great.
But yeah, just making sure that this people want to make music and not just like “Oh yeah I guess i’ll do this for whatever reason.” Making sure that people are passionate about the project.
Final question, because I’m really interested: Why Blue chairs? Do you love chairs and do you love blue?
Blue chairs. So the reason why it’s called Blue Chairs is that I was sitting on a blue chair when I made my first song. It was this big blue chair, and that’s why it’s called Blue Chairs!
Okay Connor! Thank you so much for your time. Is there something else you want to talk about?
I don’t think so. Well, check me out on Spotify, Facebook, SoundCloud, Farmers Only. Add Connor Smith from Blue Chairs!