Nexus Meets… Night’s Bright Colors
The solo project of multi-instrumentalist Jason Smith, Night’s Bright Colors embraces elements of pop, indie-rock and tinges of folk in his music. We speak with him about his album Palette, future plans and much more.
What drew you to music? My grandfather was a choral conductor and professor of music and my mother played piano so there was always music in my house growing up. I remember being drawn to the layered vocals and choral arrangements and the classical textures and instrumentation on their records. I’ve tried to recreate some of those elements to the best of my ability within the constraints of a home recording project.
What can you tell us about your album Palette? Palette is a compilation of tracks from my independent releases over the last 15 years that I hoped would serve as a kind of introduction/encapsulation of this project. Night’s Bright Colors has been a long-term creative outlet for me and I wanted to include tracks from all eras going way back to analogue 4 track up through more modern recording equipment, hopefully maintaining some sort of consistency.
Did you face any challenges when recording the album? There are always the pragmatic challenges that face every independent artist: finances and time. Trying something creative in a society that doesn’t necessarily value creativity for its own sake can be really frustrating. In terms of the process, the biggest challenge for me was finding my voice as a lyricist. I had 100 melodies in my head but absolutely nothing to say until I found a narrative framework that gave me some direction and maybe lessened the self-inhibition a bit.
Do you have any favourite tracks? If yes, which ones? I think one of the consequences of working on something for so long is you lose all subjectivity. I remember being really excited at certain points in the recording process when something came out better than I expected (the piano outro on ‘The Art of Misdirection’), when I heard my friend Lauren Brown’s string contributions on ‘Secret Smile’ for the first time, or maybe something technical like the recording tricks to get around equipment limitations on ‘Woke Up’. I find myself looking back most fondly on the collaborations with the friends that helped me make this dream come true.
What about least favourite tracks? For the same reason, it’s hard to be dismissive of anything as well. Not that the end result is flawless, far from it. When I hear recordings done in professional music studios with a production I can only dream about, I can get super critical of what I’ve done. But comparison really is the thief of joy and that joy, for a long time, was coming home tired from work and picking up the guitar and making small, incremental progress on something I really cared about. That said, if I were sequencing the album again, I may replace the instrumental ‘Snow Day’. I wanted something to represent the ambient side of Night’s Bright Colors, but I think there better options.
Do you feel there is genre diversity on Palette? Because these songs are taken out of their original context, it was very interesting to try to create some sort of flow that made sense to me. I still see them in their original narrative function, but I also wanted to create a casual listening experience that touched on each of the genres I’m personally interested in.
What do you hope people take from this album? Ideally, someone might be curious about the narrative and overall concept that is behind the series this album introduces. There is more information on my website that I am continually updating as I get more supporting material (videos, summaries, etc.) at www.nightsbrightcolors.com. On a more general note, I would love anyone who has the faintest creative urge but may be feeling discouraged to know they can do it. I was so inspired by the DIY movement, hearing people release music on often borrowed equipment, not as a commodity but as their own unique perspective.
Do you have any future plans for Night’s Bright Colors? I’ve been talking to a couple of labels about potential re-releases of the original albums that I hope happens. I’m also currently remastering another project, Absinthe Twilight, that I’m excited about in addition to just creating supplemental material for the website. I’m always cataloguing new snippets and ideas so if that new narrative framework ever pops up, I’ll be ready.