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With Dralms, Smith departs from his minimal and subdued musical constructions of his previous solo albums to a much more complex and heavier sound. Still led by the cloud-soft vocals of Smith, the group veers off into cyclical dub rhythms on “Divisions Of Labour” while the spacey “Crushed Pleats” mixes OK Computer era Radiohead, rising post-rock arrangements and glitched-out electronic tones. Also contributing to the sonic heft of Dralms is producer and electronic artist Andy Dixon (Secret Mommy, Caving), whom Smith had previously trusted with a remix of Earning Keep’s “Pillars and Pyre.” The extra clicks, echo and ambiance layered onto the songs by the producer came late in the game, after being recorded by John Raham of Vancouver’s Afterlife Studios…

‘Shook’ is kind of that moment when everything changes. Where you hold on to what’s true to you for dear life, or let it all crumble, accept it, pick up the pieces and move on.



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Interview by Sophie. Photographs by Michela Cuccagna.
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DRALMS - shook - sodwee.comI want to start with the origins of your moniker, Dralms. You once said it sounds halfway between a drug and a classical composer. So out of the two, which one soothes you the best ?

I’m gonna play it safe and say a classical composer ! (laughing)

“If you go to London, you can do a tour and play a show every night of a week” – Dralms on the Vancouver scene…

You started out as a solo artist but now you’re fronting a four-piece band. Two is a company, three’s a crowd, what about four ?

Four is Dralms ! (laughing) There’s this solo thing and then I sort of just evolved and changed. Dralms was kind of formed with the same guys I was playing with on my solo project. As we got more comfortable playing with each other, playing more music and doing shows, we started experimenting more like a band. It wasn’t so much just about me taking my songs to them, it was more like « what can we do with this song ? » It happened naturally but eventually there was a gap between the recording of a solo album and the live sound. There was a real contrast and I committed to this new process and new sound.

When you say your sound evolved, how did it evolve ?

Well, I guess it evolved just like a taste for a changing. We were playing a certain sound and a certain quality of music just based on how I was writing songs but we learnt how to play with each other and I knew I could ask for them more and we just incorporated sounds that we were interested in.

On this record there’s a real dichotomy between the softness of your voice and the very black imagery and sometimes raw lyrics.

That’s definitely a thing. I’m really interested in juxtapositions. I like the idea of taking two themes and mashing them together to create this new kind of feeling. That’s what  I tried to do with the Pillars & Pyre video. It was an attempt to create an emotion. It was an idea I had in my mind for a long time. It wasn’t just aesthetic. I feel there’s a correlation between the themes of that song and black metal even if it wasn’t about black metal (laughing). A sort of criticism of the Church and the State and organized religion. This idea of taking this harsh image and slowing it down and putting a mellow music to it, you start of kind sympathising with him. There’s also a little teaser I directed.

Do you feel close to any band in Vancouver ?

No…. But I’m not really deep in the music scene in Vancouver. I’m more into visual artists, designers and stuff like that. I guess by choice. Vancouver has a great music scene but it’s very specific and we don’t fit into that. There’s no perfect match for us there. Plus, Vancouver is very small. You can only play there like twice a week. If you go to London, you can do a tour and play a show every night of a week.

Even if you’re performing with Dralms, do you still have time to work on your solo songs ?

Yeah, I’m always writing stuff and some of them are for Dralms and some are for myself. You never know. I will do another solo record and I’m already thinking about the next Dralms record.  The weird thing about making music, you have to support a project for a long time. If you’re writing earnest, heartfelt music, it can be kind of frustrating to pretend they represent you perfectly. Often it does but inevitably there are songs like that. Especially when the material has been written over like a long period of time. I guess I just have to suck it up (laughing), hopefully it doesn’t seem as weird for the first time listeners as it is to me ! (laughing)

Finally, since SODWEE stands for Sound of the Week, what would be your sound of the week ?

I’m listening to a lot of jazz right now, especially Yusef Lateef. He has this great album called Eastern Sounds and there’s one song I’m obsessed with called Love Theme from Spartacus and Queen of The Night is also very good.

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