He released new songs in November and December, but former Nashville star Riley Smith considers “Radio,” which is premiering exclusively below, to be “the official launch of this new thing I’m doing.”
That “thing” is a project that will see the actor and musician release a new song every month throughout 2019, with an accompanying video. Eight of the songs are already locked and loaded, while Smith is hoping to come up with the final four during a “songwriting lock-down” session he plans to host after wrapping the filming of his new series, Proven Innocent, debuting Feb. 15 on Fox.
”I thought it would be less work and kind of easier to do one song a month, but it’s not,” Smith tells Billboard with a laugh. “Putting it all out at once, that’s a hard deadline to make, but then it’s done. Doing it this way the music thing has been a full-time job. As soon as I get done with the song I’ve got to start the video, and then as soon as I’m done with that I have to do the next song. But it’s fun.”
Smith calls “Radio,” co-written with Rick Ferrell and Alden Rest, a “hopeless romantic type of song” about a man driving around with his girlfriend becoming a little jealous as she sings along to songs by other men playing on the radio. “I can’t tell you how many times that happened to me growing up,” Smith says. “You’re in the car with the girl and she hears some guy on the radio who she likes and she starts singing along. So the guy (in the song) figured if he can get on the radio, that’ll be the way to her heart. I think that might resonate with a lot of people.”
The video for “Radio” is a performance clip filmed for a Live at the Loft series Smith is launching, shot at a photographer friend’s space in Los Angeles.
Smith, who will be performing in England and Germany during the spring, opted for the song-a-month approach as the most effective way for the individual songs to get attention. “The way everything is going I feel like putting all the songs out at the same time is just burning them,” explains Smith, whose last EP, I’m On Fire, came out just after his Nashville tenure as Markus Keen ended in 2016. “People can only focus on one thing at a time, I think, so this way we’ll make each song its own little event and keep ’em from getting lost.”
Smith, who also had a band named the Life of Riley in Los Angeles during the late 2000s, isn’t planning to give up acting. Despite the workload, he’s happy his music schedule is more consistent, and that this year’s model may allow him to release more music on a regular basis,including his next single, “Hard To Kiss,” which comes out on Valentine’s Day accompanied by a video featuring crowd-sourced love photos.
“I try to write what I know and write what I see,” Smith explains. “It’s kind of loner music. I’m on the road so much for acting, constantly living somewhere else even though I have a place in L.A., a girl in L.A. a dog in L.A. I’m constantly on the road, and a lot of stuff I write about is about being alone, being away from the people I love, and none of the new stuff is much different. It’s just the way I feel, and I put that out in the songs.”