Grammy Nominated Producers SMLE and Vocalist Calica Talk Musical Influences
During Splash House (June) weekend, I was able to catch the trio after their set to talk a little about what drives their inspiration and sound.
The duo talks about their personal genre biases and influences, as well as the journey so far as Grammy nominated producers. Something a lot of us can dream of and hope to achieve one day.
The high school friends began their journey six years ago in Miami, pulling inspiration and paying homage to many spheres of music. After seeing the duo play their SH set, it was clear that they knew how to move a festival crowd while staying true their motto of making upbeat, feel good music.
iEDM got to chat with the duo at Splash House June.
iEDM: For those who don’t know, who and what is SMLE?
SMLE: I’m Lewis and I’m Ruben, and we’re SMLE We’re a live electronic duo. We’re producers, we’re also a live kind of band, engineers and songwriters.
iEDM: And you guys are…?
SMLE: Both 24 year olds from Florida.
iEDM: You mentioned that you’ve been friends since high school?
SMLE: Yeah, since freshman year of high school
iEDM: You guys just released Love Note, tell me a little bit about that and the inspiration behind it.
WE ARE VERY PROUD TO PRESENT TO YOU THE ‘LOVE NOTES’ EP. It’s been a dream of ours to write RnB & what better way to do so than by reminding the world of how we were all born into it in the first place. 🙂 pic.twitter.com/fkah5nRjX5— smle ˚͜˚ [INTO SOMETHING OUT NOW] (@smlemusic) April 16, 2018
SMLE: Yeah, so we have two singles out and the rest of it comes out later this month. It’s a passion project. We’ve always wanted to do R&B songs and a lot of them are R&B.
iEDM: And that’s not what you played.
SMLE: No, haha. When we play sets, we like to have fun. When we produce music, we like to make people think and feel. I think just the whole project is about smiling, about having fun. Yeah, like why play turn down music at a festival.
iEDM: Ok, so what’s your guys’ take on heavier music? I’m sure you’ve experimented with a couple different styles.
SMLE: We love it. We’ve been there for sure. Honestly though, every time I try, it just never comes out as good as the songs that I love.
iEDM: No that’s fair, I can listen to bass for days but I’ll always go back to Lo-fi.
SMLE: Yeah, it’s the greatest. We make a lot of lo-fi too!
iEDM: I’d actually love to hear some in the future. So you guys just got a Grammy nomination, congrats. That’s really cool, honestly, at 24 that’s amazing. What was the reaction when that happened?
Lewis: It was insane, I called my mom and I was like, “Hey, I just got nominated for a Grammy.” And then she asked me if I had clean my room. A very mom thing to do, haha.
Ruben: I just kind of freaked out. My goal is to win one before I’m 30, so to get pretty close like that was unreal. It’s still unreal, doesn’t feel like it was us.
iEDM: I actually hope you guys win one! I was listening to your stuff before SH and it was all wholesome and chill, but then you guys played your set and it was like-
SMLE: “Oh my god what is this” haha yeah, the funny thing is we didn’t even play as hard as we normally do. We normally go dubstep heavy. Yeah, but because it’s a pool vibe, we turned it down a bit.
iEDM: I’m definitely looking forward to more of your shows then. Do you guys have individual styles that you each bring to SMLE, or is it more of a collective effort?
Lewis: Well you’re more Jazzy. [to Ruben]
Ruben: Yeah, I used to do musical and stuff. So, huge music nerd.
Lewis: He’ll get really chord-sy, or really out there. I’ll kind of bring it back.
iEDM: That’s a good combination!
Lewis: Yeah it is because we can do really cool stuff but I can bring it back into our style.
iEDM: What did you guys listen to growing up?
Lewis: I listen to a lot of John Mayer. I listen to a lot of hip hop so TI and all that.
Ruben: I had a crazy rock phase so Gun n’ Roses is my favorite band ever. Then I listened to a bunch of funk so like Jaco Pastorius. Or Jazz like Joshua Redman, and like everything. I went through so many phases. Heavy rock phase for sure.
Lewis: Heavy metal phase for sure. Asking Alexandria , they’re amazing. As Blood Runs Black, White Chapel, Job for a Cowboy, Bring Me the Horizon, Avenge Sevenfold. You don’t know how many DJs I’ve bonded with because of rock and metal specifically.
iEDM: What are you guys listening to now?
Lewis: Right now, it’s a lot of Jazz. Still some John Mayer. Every time I get onto a plane, I listen to Continuum all the way through.
iEDM: That’s my favorite album too.
Lewis: That’s his(Mayer) favorite album, it really is. I listen to Childish Gambino's Because The Internet, every single day. Literally the whole album. I listen to a lot of Droeloe. They’re a Dutch EDM duo. Both really good guys.
Ruben: I actually listen to a lot of my friends’ music. They have a band called XAXO, they’re one of my favorite bands (XAXOxSMLE cover) . There’s a singer named Alexander Savior, she’s amazing. I’m drawing a blank, I’ll have to open my Spotify.
Ruben: Oh, look John Mayer.
Louis: No, that was actually me.
Ruben: here we go. Toby Kyle, Droeloe, The Internet, DJ Snake, Toon Yards. The music from Steven Universe.
Louis: We listen to that (Steven Universe) all the time. We actually have a cover.
Ruben: Dwilly and Boy Pablo. So Dwilly is an amazing producer.
Louis: Yeah, Dwilly is insaaaane.
Ruben: Oh and Rex Orange County, right?
Louis: Yeah, Rex Orange County is amazing.
iEDM: Didn’t he have a show recently, did you guys go?
Louis: No it was sold out! And so was the Boy Pablo show!
Ruben: I wanted to see Boy Pablo so bad! I love Boy Pablo.
iEDM So you guys mentioned lo-fi, tell me what you've been doing with that.
Ruben: We listen to it but we also produce it.
Louis: We make a lot of it actually but we don’t sample the music.
Ruben: Yeah, we make our own sounds. Its all chopped so it sounds like we sampled but its actually all original.
iEDM: That’s cool, it’s one my favorite genre. So you guys are kind of spread out as far as genres and style goes.
Louis: Yup, we do everything and we also make harder stuff.
iEDM: How’d you feel after your set?
SMLE: We felt great after our set! We wad an absolute blast, the atmosphere and vibe was perfect for the type of hybrid live set we planned for the event! Plus all the splashing was refreshing amidst the desert heat haha.
iEDM: Moving across the country is tough, how has it been for you guys so far?
SMLE: Moving was definitely a mission and it took some adjusting between all of us but ultimately we are very happy to be in LA. It has been very fast paced so far and a lot has gotten done which is exactly what we were hoping for when we decided to move out here from Miami. We’ll always have our network of friends, family and studios in Miami that we can come back and call upon but at this point in our lives we felt we needed to put our time in over here on the west coast.
iEDM: Alright, last question. Who is better at CS:GO?
Ruben: Easy question, he is.
iEDM: Do you not play?
Ruben: I play Rocket League.
Louis: He’s better than me at Rocket League.
iEDM: Have you guys met Just A Gent? (Because he also plays Rocket League)
Louis: Yeah, he’s coming tomorrow! We wrote so many songs together and Calica!
Due to scheduling conflicts, I checked in with Calica at a later date to talk to her a little bit about her experience working with the guys.
iEDM: Tell me a little bit about yourself
Calica: I’m 22, I’m from Miami born & raised, my full name is Sofia Carrillo but my artist name is Calica.
iEDM: How would you describe your personal sound?
Calica: I would say my sound is like sassy indie-pop with some 80’s influences
iEDM: How has it been, working with SMLE?
Calica: It’s been absolutely amazing working with SMLE. They’re so versatile and they’ve definitely helped me a lot with crafting my sound. My project isn’t EDM and they did an incredible job on it. Its really nice to work with producers who can do everything from electronic music to R&B to indie-pop. Also, they’re not only amazing producers but they’re awesome people and they’ve become my best friends too.
iEDM: Are you guys currently working on anything now?
Calica: Yes! We just finished up tracking my debut album that’ll be out later this year!
iEDM: How was performing at SH for you?
Calica: Splash House was soo cool! I had never been to that type of festival before and I had a really fun time.