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Idiott Smith has been capturing our hearts with his lovely locks and syrupy songs, and our rose tinted glasses are staying firmly on as we share you this letter from the man himself. It comes parcelled up with the news of an EP release this coming week…
Just now, I was outside, in front of the place I work, smoking a cigarette and thinking about what to write to all of you people, when a boy came up to me to ask if he could have a smoke. I handed over my tobacco and he immediately started telling me about his situation: He sleeps at his cousin’s house at night and walks around in town with a garbage bag full of blankets in case it gets cold during the day. He told me he does absolutely nothing, because he’s only twenty years old, so who the hell cares? He went on about his girlfriend, his two children and weed, and how he would lose the former if he indulged too much in the latter. A second conversation started, internally, with myself, twisting over my opinion about his statement and how to respond kindly. I’m not sure if everything I think he said did actually come out of his mouth, or that I confused words from the conversation in my mind with his words. Confusion makes me act really slowly, so the only thing I could come with, was to just agree: “O, yeah, that’s right”.
I hadn’t gotten round to lighting my cigarette yet. I was looking for my lighter, but the boy already had his lighter under my nose (this boy was fast). He told me that it was an original Playboy lighter, going on about the quality of the thing. The same way I used to talk to my friends when I was about eight years old, trying to be as cool as my older cousin, spending my pocket money on real burago or maisto model cars.
I used to spend all my time at my cousin’s house when I was a kid. My uncle was a hairdresser in a town in the north of the Netherlands, he had a really cool hairdressing studio called Hairstudio P.W. (his initials) in the front of his house. According to my memories, he always had the smoothest songs sliding through the studio – which is probably the main reason my cousin and I walked around in Fubu clothes during our teenage years. Think R. Kelly, D’Angelo and pretty much every close harmony group you can think of. All that smooth stuff. Nowadays, if I hear that kind of music, I feel at home. I think that feeling has even slipped into my first EP What’s Ur First Name at times, which will be coming out in July via Purple Noise Record Club.
Those days spent at my cousin’s house have shaped me a lot, I guess. Even though we’ve grown into pretty different people, we’re still really tight and I keep warm memories of our time as kids. Nowadays he always picks me up to visit our Beppe (that’s Frisian for grandmother, but it feels strange to call her anything else than Beppe. And she will kick my ass if she finds out I call her anything else). In my day to day, I’m still always looking for that special “hair studio vibe” and sometimes I find it in music or films. Four years ago I went to an Inc. concert. It’s two brothers from LA, making the smoothest, most elegant R&B I’ve ever heard. They were dressed completely in black and one of them had a really wet bobline haircut. They hit the spot, badly.
The same goes for Gus van Sant movies, like My Own Private Idaho or Finding Forrester. When I was working on the first Idiott Smith songs, My Own Private Idaho was on repeat on my laptop for more than a week. I had a list of words and titles that I had already collected on my phone and while watching the movie I tried to make eight lines of lyrics every five to ten minutes combining a topic from my list and a topic that appeared in the movie. Just to get into the “work mode”. A lot of cheesy, ugly and overly romantic shit came out of that of course (some of which did use for the songs), and that’s okay.
That’s something I learned from Finding Forrester. It’s about a young boy called Jamal with a great talent for writing and basketball. He’s invited to attend some fancy school, mostly because of his talent for basketball, but has a bit of trouble writing new stuff. The story continues, and eventually Sean Connery – fulfilling the role of a lonely, top class writer, suffering from agoraphobia – lends him a typing machine and tells him to “Punch the keys, for God’s sake”. What I learned isn’t so much about making mistakes, but rather about working physically. To me, that is so exciting.
It’s just over 2AM now. My new friend is probably back in bed. I’m kinda tired too… Must have been punching these keys for some time now… The “backspace”-key is blackened out.