Change is the only constant.
This idea is true in the life, in the art, and especially in the music and career of Seattle-born band Dark Smith.
The band, which is scheduled to perform at Seattle Pride at Volunteer on June 4, recorded new music just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They had to adapt. Now, however, the songs are set to be released around the world and the American songwriter presents ‘Feel Nothing’ today.
For the band’s lead singer, Di (formerly known as Danny Denial), the path to Dark Smith began when they started writing acoustic songs about seven years ago in Emerald City. Di started by learning chords on YouTube.
“I would play anywhere from open mics to dive bars and local venues around town,” they say. “It all happened so fast, it feels like a blur.”
Di formed Dark Smith in 2017 and the songwriting quickly changed with the quartet, moving from songs “extracted” from Di’s journals to more about “creating atmosphere”. Today, Di says, the band works “as a collaborative unit and together we create songs that are uniquely like us.”
As the quartet began to gain traction in the city, they enjoyed making music they called “dream punk”. Since then, the quartet has dabbled in many genres, “oscillating between post-punk, goth and garage rock,” says Di.
“The songs are heavy and atmospheric but still depend on a hook,” Di says. “We ended up being more genre fluid – or sad, as we like to call ourselves – and it’s so freeing as musicians because we can put together completely different live sets from our recordings. We plan to do futuristic country-western next time.
Dark Smith’s new single showcases the band’s sense of thoughtfulness combined with their talent for melody and hook building. As Di notes, there are many elements on the track, but they are not in competition. Rather, they mix together like a new recipe making a new dish at your new favorite restaurant. You can’t get it anywhere else, but you want it.
The song, Di says, despite its name, is “a song about feeling Something. It’s about growing up after reaching adulthood, aging out of idealism, leaving behind a fantasy and how to look in the mirror without a filter. It’s about fighting disillusionment in a number of ways.
When the 2020 pandemic hit, Dark Smith had to come to a halt. The group, Di says, was “firing full throttle.” They had played a coveted live set on KEXP and they had mastered their mysterious and beautiful sound. But life changes, even when you least expect it.
“‘Feel Nothing’ is the track that got us most excited because it’s a sonic change from our typical doom and gothiness,” Di said. “It’s jubilant and upbeat, while dealing with all those daunting human feelings. It’s a wonder those songs still resonate because we’re all – literally – different people three years later. But we’re ready to finally release the record in the extended form in which we envisioned it.
For Di, the message behind the song is that it’s okay to grow up and reconsider your dreams. It’s normal to fall in love with someone who doesn’t share your feelings. It’s normal to fall off a cliff and get back up. Nothing is permanent when your whole life is yours.
“There’s an incredible freedom in there,” Di says.
Photo by Trevor Williams/Dark Smith