James Taylor, Steven Tyler, the Pixies…
Over the years, the city of Boston has given us some iconic figures in entertainment; today we have the pleasure of introducing you to yet another. If you can for a moment, imagine if Jamiroquai and Steely Dan had a musical love child – well in our minds, the results would be Harry Jay Smith and the Bling.

We’re extremely proud to bring you an exclusive interview with Harry Jay Smith, who fronts this band on the rise, as he gets ready to blast off on a summer tour through the Northeast. Their debut EP, Truth, reached #1 on the Bandcamp neo-soul chart, as well as #3 on the r&b & soul charts within 5 hours of its release!!

Listen to Harry Jay Smith and the Bling on Earbits

On heavy rotation throughout Boston and the rest of the northeast, WEMF Radio DJ Ryan Carroll has been quoted saying… “They’re DAMN good!” And, we absolutely second that!

Check out our exclusive Earbits interview, right here!

EB: When did you start writing and performing music?

HJS: I started writing at around age 12, and had my first legitimate live performance at a talent show at my middle school when I was 13. As a band, we have all had individual performing/ writing experiences, but we have only been writing together for the past few months. We plan on following up our debut EP, “Truth,” with an LP to come out this fall or winter, and we’ve already written some new tracks for it.

EB: How was the band formed?

HJS: The formation of the band was quite a fortunate coincidence, actually. The core members of the band met at the Berklee College of Music during our first semester (fall 2015) and started jamming together. We realized that we all grew up in the DC area, which made it easy to work together when we are not at school. We started gigging together in Boston during the school term and in DC/ North ern Virginia over breaks, so we have easily been able to play together year round.

EB: Who do you dream to one day share the stage with?

HJS: We’ve all had different artists who have been major influences to us individually. For me, right now the first name that comes to mind would probably be Steely Dan, since I grew up listening to them and they’ve influenced my composition more than any other outfit to date. In terms of more modern artists, I think we would all love to join someone like John Legend, or Frank Ocean on stage as well. I also would love to play with Mac Demarco at some point. Although his music isn’t necessarily the same genre as ours, I love his energy and songwriting and think he’s a fantastic musician.

EB: Best live experience you’ve ever had?

HJS: Two shows come to mind here, and it’s honestly impossible to pick which one was the best. We played a show at Jammin’ Java in Fairfax, Virginia in January 2016. It was one of our first shows in the DC area as a band, as well as one of our first opportunities to play a legitimate music venue (rather than a restaurant or at art gallery with a small space for live music). We packed it with all of our friends who were home from college for winter break. Also, we had just finished writing the last song for our EP, and debuted it at the show to roaring applause. The success of the show really energized us to keep working together. The other show that was a stand out was at the Iron Horse, a bar and restaurant in Ashland, Virginia. We had some friends at school in the Richmond area who wanted to see us play, and I know the owner of the Iron Horse through my parents, so I was able to book a show for St. Patrick’s day at the bar. The place wasn’t packed that night, and we were gearing up to play for next to nobody – we figured it would be like an extended rehearsal. However, when we started playing, the folks at the bar all turned around and tuned in, people from the street heard us and came in to listen, and folks got up and started dancing. By the end of the night we had brought in about 20 people from the street outside, and when we announced the last song on our set list the crowd was begging us to keep playing – so we kept jamming for them. It was a sensational experience.

EB: Okay so we’ve all had them… what is your strangest or worst live experience?

HJS: We played a bar called the Middle East Corner in Cambridge, Massachusetts in February of 2016. The bar was tiny and had one small, crackly PA speaker on top of a stage the size of a typical dining room table. We are a 7 piece ensemble, so 4 of us had to play on the floor next to the stage with no monitoring whatsoever. I had also just come down with strep throat the day of the show and was running a 102 fever, AND it was the night of the Grammy’s, so literally nobody was there. We walked out of there with 40 bucks to split between the 7 of us, which we used to pay for a cab to take us back to our dorms with all of our gear.

EB: First song you ever put on your ipod?

HJS: Upside down by Jack Johnson was the first song I had on there. I got my first iPod in 4th grade right when the Curious George movie came out, and Jack Johnson’s album was used in the movie and was becoming pretty ubiquitous on the radio. I really liked the laid-back, easy listening vibe and loved the sound of Jack’s voice. I used to listen to Upside Down right before I would go to bed.

EB: What are you currently listening to right now?

HJS: I’m currently listening to Home at Last by Steely Dan (coincidence that I mentioned them earlier). Aja still remains my favorite album of all time; totally timeless.

EB: In your mind, what is success in music? Is it just following your passion, or are you after awards and acclaim

HJS: To me, success in music is about being able to sustain a living from your music. If an artist can achieve a standard of living that he or she sets for themselves entirely on their music, then they’re successful. Success is also based on a desire to improve and grow every day as a musician, whether it’s by practicing, or taking as many opportunities as possible. If a musician can be constantly working, practicing, and making enough money to sustain a life for him/herself, I would consider them successful. I think a lot of people want fame and riches, but those are superficial and don’t actually make you any better as a musician. As a band, we aren’t focused on how famous we become. We are just enjoying the fact that people seem to love our music and we are able to get out and perform and make this career a reality.

EB: Are there any causes that you are currently passionate about?

HJS: We are super passionate about ensuring musical education for kids around the world. There has been a noticeable decline in funding for and the availability of musical education in schools all around the world, even here in the United States. The education system currently is hyper focused on academic grades. But, all of us benefitted from musical education, and we want to see that same opportunity preserved for others. We believe that music offers both significant educational benefits and an important creative and emotional outlet for children -learning to play a musical instrument allows a child to explore an entirely different part of their mind, one that may never be accessed without the stimulation and influence of music. But kids are being deprived of this important opportunity. So, this summer, we will be working with an organization called Don’t Stop the Music, which helps collect, refurbish, and donate instruments to kids who can’t afford their own, as well as raise money for schools that can’t fund music programs. The organization started in the UK, but is now coming to America. We will be playing a benefit concert with DSTM in June.

– Luckily, you don’t have to wait till June to experience HJS and the Bling, you can listen to them right here. Check out their latest fire-storming release “The First Lady” now playing on Earbits.

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