We’re pleased to present the July installment of our New Moon Spotify playlist—it’s filled with our favorite new music and selected carefully to accompany your summer activities. This month we feature Avid Dancer, the moniker of Los Angeles producer/songwriter Jacob Summers. His song, “Smile in a Frown”, plays like the soundtrack from an early-morning epiphany, staring at your lover’s silhouette against a glowing desert sunrise. Find out more about Avid Dancer in the interview below, and be sure to check out the recent Buzzbands.LA article premiering his full album.
Featured Artist: Avid Dancer
Q: The silky, phased-out production on your song, “Smile in a Frown”, fits the storyline of the song so well. When you’re writing the lyrics to a song, do you have a production style in-mind, or does that come later in the recording environment?
Not at all. Actually I write lyrics after a lot of the production has already been done, unless I happen to pick up a guitar and immediately start writing lyrics as I’m writing the song. Most of the time I record different chord progressions, start building out the track, then go smoke a joint with some headphones on and start figuring out what I want to say.
Q: We read in an interview that your were part of the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps in a past life. Does that discipline and work-ethic play into your life as a working musician?
Yeah, I think so! I mean, I was a world champion snare drummer even before the Marines—so timing is a huge thing for me. The main thing I’m listening for in every recording is that the song doesn’t sit in a pocket. I really like starting a song with a beat that feels good on its own, then I try making every other instrument have it’s own rhythm that plays off the other instruments. Kinda reminds me of writing drum line parts, but with rock instruments.
Q: When we’re working through big projects, collaboration and dialogue with our creative peers helps bring new dimension and perspective to the process. How does collaboration play into your songwriting process?
I really like starting off with a general idea of what a song might be about. I start writing things down that I resonate with, as does the other writer. It’s always crazy to see what different areas people cover within any topic. It definitely opens doors and gives new insight as to what kinds of things we can use to tell a story.
Q: The New Moon is associated with new beginnings. Do you remember the initial creative spark that kicked off the writing of your new album, “Sharaya”?
Do I!? Sharaya is actually my wife’s name. We met a couple years ago when I was on a trip to Los Angeles to play some shows, when I had taken a hiatus and moved to Texas. During that trip we started a romance, and she ended up convincing me to stay in LA. Also at that time, my publisher (Warner Chappell) fired my A&R guy and gave me a new guy (Tasso Smith) who set me up with hundreds of co-writes that ended up being the material for this album. When I got my album back from mastering I was like, damn, what am I going to call this? When I listened to the master the title became immediately clear: this is all because of Sharaya.
Q: How has the southern California landscape and culture affected your life as an artist? Can you remember any specific moments that signaled a big change?
Moving to LA was definitely the thing that got me writing my own music. I moved to Los Angeles in my late 20’s, after serving in the Marine Corps, and started smoking weed around 30 I think? I remember getting stoned as an adult for the first time-driving around areas like Venice Beach while listening to K-Day (93.5) like: What the hell is this place? Something about LA really soothes my temperament—I’m a pretty anxious person and this city chills me out in a way I’ve never experienced anywhere else. So far I’ve lived in Alabama, Mississippi, Maryland, D.C., Alaska, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Texas, and California.
About the New Moon Playlist
On the New Moon, the earth, moon, and sun align making us unaware of the moon’s presence in the sky. Without the visual presence and glow of the moon, other celestial bodies typically hidden now shine brighter. Our chances of seeing the sky clearly are heightened on this day, making it a day of clarity and new beginnings. Creatively it’s the perfect time to set intentions for a new cycle of dreams and goals, and ways of manifesting them.