After serving as a ski instructor in the French Alps and surviving an almost death during an avalanche training, Waiting For Smith realized that he should dedicate his life to music as he fought for his life in the helicopter on the way to the hospital.
Harry Lloyd is the singer and songwriter behind Waiting For Smith. He talked about his music video for “Long Life,” which was filmed in Madrid. Lloyd was featured in British GQ, Rolling Stone India and MTV Germany and also garnered extensive radio play from Radio 1, Radio 2, 6 Music and Radio X, to name a few.
According to Lloyd, his profound passion for music began when he was five years old. He busted his ear open after falling off of a toilet cistern moonwalking to Michael Jackson.
“I always loved music and dancing. I remember pretending to perform from a very young age. You know, the classic miming-to-a-hairbrush in the mirror gig,” Lloyd said.
The singer started his first band when he was 11 years old with three school friends. They were all guitarists, and he was the drummer. In addition, he was also the co-songwriter and lead singer.
Lloyd said that the mom of his lead guitarist, Danny (now in the band Self Help), was in the music business. One day, she took him and his dad to see The Rolling Stones at Wembley. Since she had connections, they were able to secure seats right at the front beside the catwalk. The singer confessed, however, that he didn’t know who the “bunch of old guys” on the stage were.
“Seeing this excited little boy yelling and waving his hands in the air, a security guard assumed I must be a fanatical Stones fan, so he lifted me up high in the air. To my astonishment, I found myself being high-fived by Ronnie Wood,” Lloyd said. “That was when I knew I wanted to make music my life. It was not for the fame and the money, but for the same ability the Stones have to bring millions of people joy.”
(Photo: Waiting for Smith)
The artist revealed that his songwriting formula completely varies. When he makes music with his guitar, he will start on acoustic and try to find the chords that make him want to tap his feet. On piano, he normally goes for simple and more moving. He compares his songwriting process to fishing.
“If I cast my line out often enough, I’m more likely to catch something tasty. A song generally starts with an idea — but who knows where ideas come from? I’ll talk gibberish until I find the melody. Then, the lyrics start to reveal themselves,” Lloyd said.
According to the singer, “Long Life” was written to cheer himself up when he was lying in bed recovering from his accident. It became his upbeat little anthem as he dealt with the sudden change of circumstances in his life.
Lloyd said, “I’d narrowly escaped paralysis, nearly fallen out of the helicopter, had two fits from an allergic reaction to morphine and died for five minutes. It felt like something out of that Simpsons episode — you know, the one where he falls out of the ambulance down a cliff.”
The singer hopes that listeners will feel happy and hopeful after listening to “Long Life.” He exclaimed, “I want people to believe in themselves and live every moment as it comes. Try not to worry too much about your troubles, about what you have or haven’t achieved, because you’ve got a lot more time than you think.”
Lloyd insisted that the most important words in “Long Life” were “Happiness a charm is more complex than your palm. Everybody yearns for some, but nobody’s calm.”
“The idea here is that the pursuit of happiness is futile. We can learn to be happy without doing anything at all, if we want to be,” Lloyd remarked.
The singer ventured to the song’s music video and pointed out that the director’s imagery was superb. “I love the symmetry Wes Anderson creates. It gives you the feeling that life is some sort of massive in-joke. In many ways it is,” Lloyd addressed. “We all take things too seriously. We forget how to laugh and how to express what we like. At some point, we have to learn to be ‘adults,’ but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun.”
The title “Long Life” is the opposite of the cliché that “Life’s too short.” The singer has always found life to be never ending. According to him, there has been a massively positive response to the “Long Life” music video.
“We’ve had an insane number of messages on Instagram, WhatsApp and email. They range from 15-year-olds saying it helped them feel better, to 20-year-olds saying they’re sending it to everyone they know, to 75-year-old grandmothers stuck at home movin’ to it in their kitchen. It’s a philosophy for life in 2:35 seconds.”
He continued, “We all have struggles in a variety of forms because we all have a mind that seems to stop us from becoming the best person we can be.”
In five years, Lloyd would love to have the chance to afford an abundant supply of feta cheese and to play in massive stadiums. Ever since he was a kid, he dreamed of huge crowds humming along to tunes that he made.
“The way music can make large numbers of people feel as one has always fascinated me. I got my first taste of it a few summers ago at Latitude Festival,” Lloyd said. “The tent was right by the entrance. We started with about 25 people and ended up with over 1,000! I love the idea of being able to make that many people happy.”
Lloyd encouraged aspiring singers to only make masterpieces that they believe in, to learn about PRS if they’re writing and PPL if they’re performing. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, his main tip for the public would be to think of the situation as a gift, not a disaster.
“Use the space to find out what truly makes you happy. When things return to normal, you can bring that into your everyday life.”
He concluded with his final advice as a musician, “Find a way of connecting to as many other musicians as you can. Joining an online community can help you stay in the loop and feel supported. Also, feta cheese goes with everything!”
Contact Ron Rocky Coloma at rcoloma ‘at’ stanford.edu.