Artist info

Genre

Indie, Pop, Rock


band members

Roderick Smith


Website

www.north-arm.com

Bio

If Roderick Smith, the brainchild of North Arm, didn’t discover an old, dusty guitar in his sister’s cupboard at age 11, his life may have taken a completely different turn.

Growing up in Newcastle, Smith spent most school holidays with his large family in the sleepy coastal town of North Arm Cove – and the old guitar soon became a regular addition to these family trips. Smith says, “I used to strum this shitty nylon string guitar all the time. Eventually, I learned how to play a few chords and figured out some stuff. I was a pretty dorky kid, so the guitar was a great way for me to handle being a late bloomer.”

It’s no surprise, then, that Smith’s guitar melodies, which combine dreamy, hazy soundscapes punctuated with deceptively irresistible grooves, truly define his trademark North Arm sound.

Now permanently Sydney-based, Smith has spent the past few years focusing solely on North Arm, and under his project’s moniker, has already released two EPs and a critically acclaimed self-titled album in 2015, which was, “really contemplative, and a nostalgic glimpse of a time and place spending summer holidays in a sun-drenched place like North Arm Cove.”

North Arm’s prolific output is about to deepen with the release in 2016 of a new record, which Smith says is “a blend of past influences and music I’ve recently been listening to.” On this score, North Arm has been known to conjure the dreamy likes of Wild Nothing, DIIV, Broken Social Scene, Boards of Canada, but with an eye gazing at its own shoes. That said, North Arm has also persistently projected an enduring love of the popular song, so there’s always an easy going hook at hand.

Just like the first single, ‘The Lights’, the new record is a little heavier, a little pacier and whole lot more direct. The music isn’t just underscored by a dreamy, nostalgic, hazy fog anymore; it’s much sharper and more vivid, and surprisingly more upbeat, despite Smith admitting there’s some darker lyrical content. “If the first record was a snapchat of an 8-year-old red-headed boy on a BMX,” he says, “this record is more mature, a bit more insistent…a little more stressed out than blissed out.”

Even better, the evolution of North Arm comes with greater sonic texture, and Smith says, “I consciously set out to make sure the instruments could breathe and the vocals were shining through a little more. As a result, there are definitely some more bombastic moments over here and a sense of heightened drama over there.”

Although Smith forms the backbone of North Arm, on ‘Let Love Through’ he has collaborated with Melbourne-based artists, Robin Waters (originally from Brisbane band The Boat People, and wizard producer to the likes of Eves the Behaviour, Darling James, Ella Hooper, Wilding, S.J. Smith and Dan Parsons), as well as ARIA-nominated producer J. Walker (aka Machine Translations). Smith clearly embraces the collaborative process, and he says, “Collaboration introduces interruptive forces to shake you out of your mindset, and helps you and the music grow into a more truthful space. I’ve been really pushed to work harder by the guys and I think it shows.”

While the sound of North Arm is unabashedly ambitious, for which Smith has attracted some welcome local and international recognition, he claims, “I don’t think I’ve written my best music yet. But for now, I reckon this is the best record I could have ever made and I’m really proud of it.”

Review

Review by Dom Alessio Dom Alessio

11 Jan 2017

Triple J
35

A potent mix of urgent energy and beautiful guitar chords.

A potent mix of urgent energy and beautiful guitar chords.

Review

Review by Max Quinn Max Quinn

09 Sep 2016

Triple J
40

the way you overlay pacy, immediate drums with floatier chords and melodies is really clever.

the way you overlay pacy, immediate drums with floatier chords and melodies is really clever.

Review

Review by Maggie Collins Maggie Collins

04 Aug 2016

Triple J
40

This track is so instant and easy to love! It's got such drive and it sounds like something a band like Interpol would have wished they wrote.

This track is so instant and easy to love! It's got such drive and it sounds like something a band like Interpol would have wished they wrote.