Change is the only constant.
This idea is true in life, in art, and especially in the music and career of the Seattle-born band Dark Smith.
The group, which is slated to perform at Seattle Pride at Volunteer on June 4th, recorded some new music right when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. They had to adapt. Now, though, the songs are poised to be unleashed into the world and American Songwriter is premiering “Feel Nothing” today.
For the band’s lead singer, Di (formerly known as Danny Denial), the path to Dark Smith began when they started writing acoustic songs some seven years ago in the Emerald City. Di began by first learning chords from YouTube.
“I would play everywhere from open mics to dive bars and local venues in town,” they say. “It all happened so fast, it feels like a blur.”
Di formed Dark Smith in 2017 and the songwriting soon shifted with the four-piece, from songs “being ripped” from Di’s diaries to more about “building an atmosphere.” Today, Di says, the band works “as a collaborative unit and together we make songs that singularly sound like us.”
As the four-piece began to gain ground in the city, they enjoyed making music they called “dream punk.” Since, then, the four-piece has dabbled in many genres, “oscillating between post-punk, goth, and garage rock,” says Di.
“The songs are heavy and atmospheric but always hinge on a hook,” Di says. “We ended up being more genre-fluid—or sadfluid, as we like to call ourselves—and it’s so freeing as musicians because we can curate wholly different live sets out of our recordings. We’re thinking about going futuristic-country-western next time.”
Dark Smith’s newest single showcases the band’s sense of brooding combined with their skill at melody and hook-building. As Di notes, there are many elements to the track, but they aren’t in competition. Rather, they blend like a new recipe that makes a new dish in your new favorite restaurant. You can’t get it anywhere else, yet you crave it.
The song, Di says, despite its name, is “a song about feeling something. It’s about growing out of a coming of age, aging out of idealism, leaving behind a fantasy, and how to look yourself in the mirror without a filter. It’s about battling disillusionment in many ways.”
When the 2020 pandemic hit, Dark Smith had to stop in its tracks. The band, says Di, was “firing on all cylinders.” They’d performed a coveted live set on KEXP and they’d mastered their eerie, beautiful sound. But life changes, even when you least expect it.
“’Feel Nothing’ is the track we were most excited about because it’s a sonic departure from our typical doom and gothiness,” says Di. “It feels jubilant and upbeat, while still dealing with all of these daunting human feelings. It’s a miracle these songs still resonate because we are all—literally—different people three years later. But we’re ready to finally release the record in the extended form we envisioned it in.”
For Di, the message behind the song is that it’s okay to grow up and reconsider your dreams. It’s okay to fall for someone who doesn’t reciprocate your feelings. It’s okay to fall off a cliff and get back up again. Nothing is permanent when your whole life is your own.
“There’s incredible freedom in that,” says Di.
Photo by Trevor Williams / Dark Smith