Up and coming indie pop songwriter Solomon B. Smith, better known as Love Montage, is one artist that should be on everyone’s radar.
His indie style surf rock vibe could clear a grey sky and pacify the Pacific, all while spreading an infectious aura of happiness. I can picture his sound flowing into a crowd of girls in bell bottoms doing the twist just as easily as I can picture it mixing with the wind as it blasts from the radio of an open top car headed for the beach. While not exactly the sound you’d associate with Nashville, Tennessee, Love Montage is inching his way up in the music capital of the world.
It’s clear that Love Montage writes his own music. His songs are perfectly tailored to fit his vocal ability. His voice is velvety and vintage, and his nasal sound makes it sound like his vocal cords are outfitted with a whammy bar. His use of tonal flux is so filled with emotion that the urgency of his music could be understood across language barriers. There is something distinctly raw, comprehensive, and authentic about his voice – if close your eyes, you won’t need a music video to see Love Montage singing.
Take the iconic guitar from Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA” and overlay it with a pitched-up version of Elvis Presley’s unmistakable whine, and you have the framework for Love Montage. He maintains the classic elements of surf rock and adds in elements of R&B, soul, and 2020 pop. In a lot of ways, his voice reminds me of Gavin DeGraw—powerful, soothing, and full in both heartiness and passion.
Love Montage’s new single, “My First Gtr,” released this month, is distinctly more mellow than his first two releases. It draws you in with a modern beat fit for a demo on Garage Band, which remains prominent and consistent throughout the song. The song features interludes of crisp eclectic guitar and is lightened by a xylophone accompaniment. While distinctly less “rock” than his other releases, Love Montage highlights his indie side on “My First Gtr.”
“My First Gtr” is nothing short of angelic, bringing the listener on a journey of what it feels like to buy your first guitar, both lyrically and instrumentally. The lyrics come straight from a child’s idyllic mind as he dreams of becoming a famous musician. While keeping the upbeat, infectiously happy vibe of his other music, Love Montage mellows out hard on “My First Gtr.” Consider the musical manifestation of a sepia filter—that’s what he gives us with this song.
Full disclosure, it only took one listen for me to immediately download Love Montage’s entire discography. His music introduced me to an entirely new genre, combining many existing staple elements of 50s surf rock, indie pop, and R&B, into something different and unique. Though he used many of the ingredients in those genres, his final product sounds nothing like the recipe they usually follow.
We were lucky enough to ask Solomon aka Love Montage a few questions about his music, his inspirations, and any upcoming projects.
Where did you grow up, and what got you into playing and writing music?
I’m from a suburb of Atlanta, called Mableton. My dad has dabbled in music for his entire life, so there were always instruments around — keyboards, basses and such. I started piano lessons when I turned 11, and that’s when the journey really started. My dad, brother and I had a covers band for a few years. I think that was the most influential experience in helping me craft songs and melodies.
Aside from music, how else do you like to spend your time?
I like to be lazy, honestly. I like going on walks, reading, and getting lost on Youtube. However, I started a podcast last month to help connect with my audience. Preparation, and post production takes up a chunk of my leisure time. Not that I mind, though. It’s all a part of the journey.
What is your songwriting process like?
My best work starts with a melody that I can’t shake — but songs don’t just fall out of the sky. Songwriting is a muscle you have to exercise, just like any other — so I usually sit down and program a drum track. That gives me a springboard to build a melody on top of. I try to let the melody dictate the chord progression rather than the opposite. So I pluck the melody out on a keyboard, and proceed to write a guitar part. Once I’ve got the basic structure I experiment with some counter-melodic elements to compliment the verses and choruses. I’m ultimately chasing the feeling of “completion.” I can’t describe that feeling to you. I just know it when I feel it.
You have your new single, “My First Gtr,” that just dropped July 3rd. What is the influence behind this track, besides the obvious?
The way this song came about was super organic. I didn’t set out to write a song about buying my first guitar. Hell, the narrative isn’t even a true story. When I wrote the basic framework of the song in January, I had been trying to write something everyday. It started with the drum track, and the bass riff. For whatever reason, the first words that popped into my head were “took a walk to the music shop” — so I decided to run with it. As far as the musical influences though, it’s a big cross between Mac Demarco and The Strokes. I’m a massive fan of both of those acts. I really wanted to combine elements of a sugary pop song and a lo-fi bedroom jam with plenty of guitar.
Tell me about the cover photo for “My First Gtr.” It’s so cute and unique.
I’m glad you guys liked it! I’m pretty sure that picture is from my 2nd birthday. My birthday is on Halloween (hence the Batman costume), and the toy guitar was one of my gifts. My dad came across that picture back in November — months before this song was even an idea or a concept — and he texted it to me. So I had it on my phone, and once I had the song, I was like “Well, this would be perfect for the cover art”. But it really is spectacular because the picture and the song were totally unrelated at the onset — magical even.
If you could open for any artist, who would it be and why?
I’d love to open for The Vaccines! I love their pop oriented approach to the post-punk revival of the early 2000s. I think that a Vaccines + Love Montage mashup would be one hell of a good time.
What is your ideal venue?
I think a 500 cap venue like the Roxy Theatre in L.A. would be my happy place. Plenty of room for people, but not too big that you’re disconnected from the fans. Intimate shows are where it’s at for me.
How would you describe your style?
Guitar pop that lives somewhere in between R&B and Surf Rock!
What do you see people doing while they listen to your music?
Awesome question. Ideally, I wanna see folks having a great time at a live show once those return. But, I think my music is perfect for long car drives, bike rides, and making margaritas for your friends at home. I try to write songs that people can shout badly at the top of their lungs. So anything that involves those things!
What do you hope to have done as an artist in five years?
I really hope to have a few tours under my belt by then. It’d be awesome to do some gigs in South America. Rock and Roll is super healthy down that way, and I think a South American tour would really be a blast. The internet is making it possible for bands and artists to determine their own destiny. I’m striving to cultivate an engaged community, build a creative and logistic team of people who believe in what I’m doing, and maintain ownership of my work.
What components do you try to highlight in your music?
First is melody, second is groove, third is countermelody and atmosphere. To be honest, lyrics are quite secondary to me. I think my inner monologue often speaks through my lyrics, but for me, they’re really a vehicle for the melody to shine.
What’s the first thing you plan on doing once life resumes on a more “normal” scale?
I’m really looking forward to doing karaoke again. That used to be my jam. Karaoke, and hitting up Inglewood Lounge.
What might the latter half of 2020 have in store for Love Montage musically?
Well, I’ve dropped two singles this year, and I’m finishing up number three as we speak. Counting the one in the works, I’m aiming to share three more singles before the year is out. The upcoming single was made in my bedroom, but I’m really itching to give you guys more live drums, so that’s a big goal. Follow me on Spotify, and stay tuned!