Cam and Bryan started playing out together locally as Shakespeare & the Blues in 2019 performing free-flowing sets that never repeated ideas utilizing drums, bass, loops, samples, guitar and synths.
One day Watson Francillon recruited Smith to participate in a harp-percussion duet she’d been commissioned to perform at New Orleans’ Cathedral of Peter and Paul. He in turn invited her to a Shakespeare & the Blues set at Banks Street Bar and eventually to sit in with them, which led to her joining the group. The trio immediately felt so locked in, they decided to go straight into Nina Hwy Studio to document their undeniable chemistry. They cut what’d end up as e.g., Rhapsodic from this session.
What’s your story as an artist?
We all come from different routes: Cam Studied jazz and music production as a percussionist at University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is a phenomenal sound engineer at large venues in town. Bryan started out on bass and guitar and has covered major ground playing dynamic trad and modern cajun music with the Lost Bayou Ramblers. And I came into harp for mental health cures, then went on to study it seriously. We connected through different friends in music since New Orleans is peitit and realized we had a special sonic chemistry. Our story encompasses three side-players getting together and taking turns to share the mic in sonic direction.
What do you want your music to communicate?
Freedom, liberation, exploration, groove. Struggle and sweet transcendence. Variety.
What are some sources of inspiration for your storytelling?
I think the stories we’re telling constantly evolve. So the inspiration stays fresh. Sometimes we use samples that tell a story, or Cam will go and find one that matches exactly what the style of playing for that tune.
Who is an artist that you look up to more than others today?
Robert Glasper blows the mind and is a role model for actualizing modern black American music in an intensely deeply intentional and sweet context.
What’s the record or artist that made you realize you wanted to be an artist?
Leon Thomas Spirits Known and Unknown
Tell us about your latest release and how it came about
e.g., rhapsodic :we had played live sets and wanted to document the undeniable chemistry from our synthesis of chaos and soul. We holed up in Mark Bingham’s studio in Henderson, Louisiana for a few days and experimented to see what could be possible, only to discover that it was a fully connected hypnotic set of tracks. It was a deep challenge to trim the fat and narrow down the tracks after hours and hours of beautiful stuff that went in myriad directions.
What inspires your sound?
We’re inspired by each other bringing different things to the table and the challenge to mold and mesh and compliment that. Basslines that are filled with doom, but still wrap you in a warm sweater. Synth that penetrates your psyche. Harp needs to do what it’s going to do. The free and sweet spots of us channeling ourselves and our ancestors, specifically and futuristically.
What’s your favorite tune of yours?
It is so hard to choose. They all connect and paint a landscape. Cellophane Trees goes really deep with the bass and fx from Cam. There is a great deal of energy and warmth from that track.
Where are some things you really want to accomplish as an artist?
Bringing this sound to heal as many people as possible who dig it. But also, refine my listening for what’s needed since I write a lot of my own parts. I want to have a chance to tell the artists I admire how much they’ve impacted my style and life.
Favorite lyric you ever wrote?
We are more instrumental than lyrical, but I always say “Ain’t no’ought’ in ‘is’‘.
Was there ever a moment when you felt like giving up?
All the time. Each day is a surprise and a gift. Personally, there was a moment years back when I thought it would be good to sell my harp because I didn’t think I was putting in the work. Didn’t feel like I would ever fit any molds or catch up to the folks who are thin/blond/been playing since 5 years old. But the beauty of the journey is realizing that we each have a delicate and unique contribution to make in this world through what we create. There’s that tiny, mighty, personal power.
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
My grandmother, Margaret Cassandra Hardy, told me : It’s not about the messes we make. It’s about how we clean them up.
Where do you think the next game changer will be in the music industry and entertainment scene?
I’ve been enjoying the VR concerts that allow you to be in multiple places on the same day. Seeing everything close up has been beautiful. Something along the lines of that or seeing through the eyes of the player and their thoughts as notes are known to correspond to color frequencies.