Slackin' Pop with Heavy Chest
Heavy Chest is the musical project of Wellington based songwriter Andre Smith. Andre is a nice dude that makes nice music. And not nice as in watery Mumford & Suns nice, but nice as in pretty fucking good. Nice.
Andre has a talent for writing tunes that don’t need to be dressed up or produced too much. In September this year, he put out PRE HEAT, his debut, full length release. The result is an easy-going, eclectic and often gorgeous record. Go treat your ears.
We talked with Andre about slacker pop, parking wardens and PRE HEAT.
Hey mate, how are we doing?
Good bro, just got the bus to uni, my laptops a little bit facked.
We love it. Let's see how we get on. I don’t know a thing about you. So who are you? What's the story behind Heavy Chest?
Hey I’m Andre Smith originally from Auckland and now based in Wellington where I started this project when I moved here three years ago. The project started because I was sick of releasing music under my own name and wanted to start something completely fresh and separate to old bands I had been in before.
Nice. I read that you make ‘slacker pop’. What’s ‘slacker pop’?
Yeah I saw someone describe the album with that term! I guess to me its something that's not so polished, a rough edge bit of grit which gives whoever is listening something to notice on a recording. Slacker pop should be easier to listen to than the robotic pop songs on the radio.
I think that describes Heavy Chest music pretty well. Your tunes aren’t super overproduced or drenched in effects. It kind of just lets the song-writing do it’s thing which is dope.
Yeah it was a pretty clean, minimal sound on the album. I'm pretty happy with how it came out! I'm working on a bigger sound at the moment, adding some more texture to the songs.
Yeah for sure, it came out sweet. Do you ever get compared to Mac DeMarco?
It has happened before and it got me pretty stoked but not really that much! He is a big influence for me though, crazy dude.
Yeah for sure man, he's been massively influential over the last 5 or whatever years. It's not that I think you sound like Mac DeMarco. It’s just everyone seems to get compared to Mac DeMarco. It’s pretty funny sometimes.
Haha Mac sorta just took over aye? King of the slackers! Some of Macs bandy friends like Connan and Infinite Bisous make some of the coolest stuff as well. I’m really into Infinite Bisous at the moment.
The whole 'slacker pop' tag kinda makes a lot of sense when you think about it that way. Kinda just slow, lazy indie pop? Infinite Bisous is an outrageous band name.
Yeah totally lazy boy rock, I know it is so awesome! My flat mate Gregonce showed me his stuff not to long ago it's all amazing.
Are you a lazy man?
Hmm overall yeah but I try not to be. I’m pretty busy to be honest at the moment, playing in a few bands around Wellington as well as my own. Getting things done in a relaxed manner haha.
Lazy music for a busy man… shit man, just remember I gotta move my wagon. Damn parking, may have a ticket, I'll be back in 5...
Nah man, I live another day. Being a parking warden would suck.
Yeah being that guy all the time haha.
You'd really have to find a way to enjoy it to put up with people constantly giving you shit. It'd be hectic.
Powertrips and ego flexes. Album title right there.
Yeah man that's a goodie. 'Powertrips and Ego Flexs', a debut album by the Parking Wardens. I can imagine them listening to metal
Haha is all of this in the interview?
I don't see why not. Unless you know any parking wardens you don't want to offend
Yo sweet! A friend of a friend is a parking warden I’ll have to ask him his thoughts on starting a new project.
100% man. It would be an interesting job for sure. Someone's gotta do it you know? It'd be chaos if we didn't have parking wardens bring law and order to the city streets.
The past tense by the bad boy Infinite Bisous is a must listen.
I'll take your word for it and get it in.
Let's get into your album Pre-heat, released in September this year. Semisi from Marlin’s Dreaming showed it to me a coupley weeks ago and here we are. It’s a goody. When did you start working on it?
Yo cheers. I started the project in January when I was living in Melbourne and it slowly came together from there.
And you wrote and recorded it on your own?
Pretty much yep! I wrote nine of the ten songs on the album minus the single So It Seems, which my drummer Josh produced and I just did the lyrics and vocals for. The album was recorded on ableton and pro tools split between Auckland and Wellington.
It sounds fairly DIY.
Totally! I wasn't that keen to pay a studio to record the songs so the bedroom production was the way.
Studios are expenny and I think the bedroom production certainly isn't a bad thing for 'slacker pop'. Talk us through the your songwriting process? How do you get the tunes done?
Mainly I start on an acoustic guitar sorting out the skeleton and then work the songs up from there I don't like to rush the process so I can sit on a song for quite a while before its starts to sound like it does in my head.
What's your favorite tune from the album?
Haze! really enjoyed recording/writing this song it came together pretty much in a day which I was stoked about. The long writing process can be frustrating as.
What are your overall kind of thoughts and feelings about the E.P as a whole?
Overall I think the album communicates my progression as a muso. Having fully produced songs with the band, acoustic songs and completely electronic numbers as well shows where I'm at with my writing! I'm happy to share that and hope it's evident when people are listening.
That's pretty cool. I get the feeling that a lot of musicians end up kinda 'so, so...' about the songs after releasing them.
Yeah I can relate though. It's hard listening to some of the songs now without getting to over analytical now aye.
Yeah, shit, I'm pretty sure this idea comes up in pretty much every interview I've done for this mag.
Recurring themes mate. It kinda helps though because you want to create something fresh.
For sure. I think I'm out of questions. Have you got anything special to say?
Surround yourself with people you love do what you like coz its fun keep creating!
Aw man, fine words. Keep us posted on any new tunes on the way.
No doubt! They are preheating at the moment. See ya.
Get Heavy Chest on Instacrack: https://www.instagram.com/_heavychest_/
Interview by Sam Fraser-Baxter