Adam Blanchard, also known by his stage name smol, is a Canadian electronic producer out of Calgary who’s really starting to stir up some noise in the bass scene. With his genre-bending cinematic style, smol captivates his listeners through sound and vibrations, creating a sonic experience like no other. The Calgary producer is also proving to be one of the hardest working DJs in the game, dropping new music almost every week while running his own label called DoYu. From his Obsessions EP released with Headbang Society to his latest single, Touching reality featuring Fresh BVCKED, smol is on pace to becoming bass music’s next big thing.
The Daily Frequency reached out to smol to discuss his new EP, his passions, and much more!
Read the full interview below!
First off, congratulations on your new EP Obsessions! How has it been working with Headbang Society?
Thank you! Working with Headbang Society has been a wonderful experience so far, and I am really excited to move into the future with them and make it down to the US when virus things settle down. The team is really engaged and motivated by the love of music and bass music culture. They’ve been very kind to support my genre-bending ways and provide a platform to share my unique music.
How old were you when you started creating music? Was this a lane you always envisioned yourself going through?
I was 5 when I became obsessed with piano and music in general because my grandmother enrolled me in lessons and encouraged artistic expression as a way to pacify my intense curiosity and very high energy. Within a few years, I was already playing classical piano at a university level and knew I wanted to tour and perform. Over the course of my life, I fell away from my pursuit of a music career due to external pressures. After a full decade of pursuing music via the party in my 20’s, I realized I had spent the bulk of my time celebrating but not actually accomplishing much beyond my corporate leadership role in the grocery retail industry. As I approached my 30’s, I had a life-changing experience that led to me to create both smol and my label/community initiative we call DoYu. In creating both, I aimed to facilitate growth for both myself and others through the idea that embracing your true self and living a full life would bring on and sustain perpetual joy.
I wasn’t going to let anything or anyone else hold me back. I was feeling unsupported by my friends, family, and peers, so I created my own support network and started finding other ambitious people who just wanted to be themselves and express that through art, friendship, and community. Now that I am fully in this lane, there is nothing that could make me believe I am supposed to do or be anything else.
Your sound has such a cinematic feel in a sense where each song really takes the listener on a journey. Is this something you really focus on with your productions?
Thank you for taking notice! I am trying to replicate an experience I’ve had many times over the past two decades while experiencing our simulation from a heightened state of awareness. I hear rhythm, playful sonic expression, and life in the atmosphere and throughout my surroundings. From animals singing, to the flow of the wind through the trees, to the rumbling of thunder and slightly predictable rate of water dripping from an eavestrough. Our world is constantly producing a sonic story, and I aspire to replicate its chaotic ways in my own music. I have been diving into psychoacoustics since coming onto the idea a few years ago from a friend but have always subconsciously taken note. If any of the listeners out there appreciate this focus in my music, I invite you to check out my everyday listening project, ‘nwmi,’ which is grounded in the pursuit of taking the listener to a different space through listening.
Walk us through your creative process in the studio. Do you have any routines to get you in that creative state, or do you just go with the flow and find inspiration as it comes?
I always have piles of projects that I am working on with friends and family, and I aspire to do everything in my life with an artistic perfection behind it. My cooking, skateboarding, family life, hula hooping, label, and everything in between is what drives my inspiration. I don’t really believe in motivating myself daily, but do manage and engage in evolving task sheets to keep myself on track and break down big goals into small, executable directives. I think accomplishing all these goals, reviewing them, and creating more does lead to inspiration, though, so perhaps this is a foundational process that I have.
I really believe staying inspired is the key, and what it takes to facilitate that for yourself will be different for everyone and evolve over time. The framework I live within for a healthy life includes eating beautiful, healthy food, staying active, practicing introspection, taking time to rest and chill out, sustaining the mindset of trying to become better at life activities perpetually.
Like everyone, I experience procrastination and stress. However, my resolve and perception of both have evolved over the years. When I am stalling out, I just start with one thing, no matter how big my list is. When the next stair on my journey is too high to climb, I simply ask a friend or family to help lower it. I might be a smart person, but I would be a fool to think I know everything. This is why choosing who and what you subscribe to is important. There is not one person in my network that would be unwilling to help me and vice versa.
If you are just building a network of support, remember this formula for success. Give, give, give, then take.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
My grandmother, Minnie. Yes, she is very, very smol with a massive heart and all the patience in the world for my explosively curious, energetic ways. She showed me how to cook, how to garden, how to treat and communicate with animals, how to play instruments of all kinds, how to paint and draw, how to work on being a better human. She is the GOAT, and I love her and thank her dearly for the influence she’s had on me.
Math. I was blessed with a math brain and see everything as a set of data that can be tracked, analyzed, and manipulated to produce new, predictable results. I live in the land of facts and use math to affect and benefit my choice-making ability. This goes for both music and life in general. Even in skateboarding, I take into account the physics of what’s happening in order to position my feet and body to nail a new trick.
Music-wise it would be impossible to explain this quickly because I’ve explored so many genres over my 28 years of being music-conscious. But here are the most loved humans in my life right now that encourage me to pursue the best in me every day. My fiance Jenny and our daughter/collaborator, Keura. My best mons, TOFA and INNOCENT, and of course Riley SkyMillz, who is also my label partner at DoYu.
You just released a new EP, and you’re already announcing new music. Can fans expect more releases as the year goes on?
Fans can expect an extreme amount of music for this studio this year over multiple projects, including smol, nwmi, and our label DoYu Digital.
You can continue to expect biweekly self-releases of flips, beat tapes, sound packs, remix stems, and more on both smol and nwmi. There will also be label releases every month, but I guess let’s spill the beans here a bit and tell you who. I am extremely stoked to have worked out a release with Fresh Bvked (who is also on HBS with me) on Wavecraft Collective for May, and then a pseudo-riddim track with Camnah of Spicy Bois on Hybrid Trap the following month.
Other labels I aspire to release with this year are Sleeveless, Break & Enter Society, Wormhole Music Group, and Gravits – let’s see where 2021 goes….
It’s clear that music isn’t your only passion. As a skater and self-proclaimed foodie, how important is it to have interests outside of music? Do you believe having other lanes to put your energy into, such as skateboarding and cooking, helps your creativity when you are in the studio?
In my eyes, they are all essential to one another. The cooking, skating, creating thing is a beautiful cycle of activities that each feed a different part of my body, mind, or soul. It is important that everyone implements a passionate pursuit of something or some things and realize the synergies between these quests that they dedicate their time to in order to reach the goal of their pursuit. Basically, be present in the journey and build your awareness so you can intercept more opportunities and be fully present in all of the moments of your storyline. I feel the closer we get to maximizing our personal human experience, the more creative we become… but no matter what, it does come in waves, so you always have to be ready to harness it when it arrives.
Aside from electronic music, what genres would you say influence your sound the most?
I’m basically looking at every genre and asking, why do people like this so much? Or, why don’t I like this? What is the best thing about this, why and how can I take that back to my own writing? Sometimes the results of my self-questioning are paradoxical in nature. It could be a hit tune with the worst mix down you’ve ever heard, and it can be hard to make sense of that. I’ve learned to look for the advantage within the disadvantage. There is an exploit to each genre, an exploit to each social platform we use, an exploit at the supermarket where you can eat the best food and pay the least.
To intercept both the obvious and hidden opportunities, we must remain aware. This requires staying open to new ideas and evolving concepts to truly embrace their power and transfer maximum influence into our own writing.
If you could make a song with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I’ve been very inspired by Kaytranada’s writing for the past decade. I would love to see what his creative process is and how he develops that insanely catchy vibe in all his music.
Lastly, if you could say one thing to your fans, what would it be?
Thank you for reading this, thank you for your support and interest in my music and creations. I really appreciate all the back and forth on the DMs and encourage anyone who wants to talk to me to simply reach out on any platform and start talking. It’s been a lonely hibernation through covid for us all, and I am so grateful for this community of wonderful humans that help make life brighter.