Eli Smart has just released his debut EP Boonie Town. STREAM / PURCHASE THE EP HERE. With the release he also shares the video for the EP’s newest single “Highschool Steady.” The track exemplifies Smart’s ability to craft idiosyncratic pop that feels like a bridge between his two worlds. Blending the tropical vibes of his Hawaii home with chops sharpened in Liverpool, England, he writes restless tunes drenched in hypnotic guitar, rendering his laidback angst in masterful psychedelic swirls. Smart unites these seemingly disparate worlds—21st-century unease and maximum chill—on Boonie Town which was recorded in his bedroom in the South Pacific and, yes, a flat in the UK. It’s an inimitable sound that has already see him become a staple on BBC Introducing, as well as winning him a handpicked slot on Tom Windish’s tastemaking Homeschool show.
Of “Highschool Steady” he notes, ““Highschool Steady was the first song I wrote when I can back home to Kauai from Liverpool after the initial lockdown in March. It doesn’t have really anything to do with Highschool but more about the culture shock I felt when coming back to my hometown after three years of university in another country. It was very strange to come home under such wild circumstances and to put my “little independent adventurous Eli out in the real world” life on pause and to get back home to my childhood bedroom and feel like I was 15 again doing work around the farm and asking my parents if I could borrow the car! It got me feeling particularly blue realizing that I was beginning to feel as if I’d proper outgrown my hometown. It was a very bittersweet acceptance to realize that while home is and always will be the most comforting place on earth to me, I know I’m drawn elsewhere. As music always does for me, this song helped ground myself back home and appreciate everything special about it knowing that I would miss it like crazy the second I had to take off again.” The video was directed and shot by Smart, along with some of his friends, on the island of Kauai.
Raised on the Island of Kauai in Hawaii, Eli Smart moved to Liverpool to attend Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institution for Performing Arts. It was there that his musical inspiration reached new levels as Smart found himself pushed to create his own wildly colourful musical world. He soon found himself releasing this new output, drawing the attention of the music press (the UK’s Clashhave said he, “matches neat indie pop tropes to a superbly relaxing sense of 80s soul and R&B”), music fans, and music industry alike. With Boonie Town, Smart is stretching his pop sensibilities into new territories by juxtaposing hazy malaise and sunshine (“Come Down”), unfurling complex musicality (the quicksilver fretwork of “High School Steady”), and experimenting with form and delivery (the staccato flows of “No Destination”). The synthesis of these two places he now calls home is what the EP is about, Smart explains. “I’m feeling a little torn about getting my own life going outside of Kauai, which will always be my home. It’s just a bit of a melancholy realization, you know?”
Photo Courtesy: Sami Livé