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Dai Smith - Biography

Music has been a vital part of Dai’s life since a very early age and for as long as he can remember he’s been excited by it – hearing it, playing it, writing it, recording it and producing it. He lives and breathes music and frankly, if you cut him in half like a stick of seaside rock you’d find the word ‘music’ running through him.

Early inspiration came from his brother;

“When I was young I remember dancing outside the room where my older brother used to play his DJ decks and when he was out I used to sneak in and play his records!”

Pocket money was duly spend on building his own record collection……The Beatles…..Fleetwood Mac…….Kate Bush……….Jimi Hendrix……… but it wasn’t long before Dai was itching to start creating some of those sounds for himself. He first picked up the guitar at thirteen years of age and has not looked back since.

By the age of fifteen, with his brother-in-law’s help and a Tascam Four Track he learnt how to record. This opened the door to the wonders of songwriting. Looking back, Dai recognizes this as a pivotal moment;

“I remember the magic of realizing how it all came together – recording overdubs, Using EQ, programming the drum machine…picking the right sounds and getting the right takes, if you can do all of that and mix it all in the right way then you are really making music. It was then that I realised I didn’t want to do anything else”.

The pocket money soon started being diverted into buying musical instruments, (keyboards, percussion, effects boxes and guitars a plenty) in order to create the sounds he wanted.

Attending the Performing Arts course at Neath College, South Wales for the next four years meant that Dai was surrounded by likeminded souls and, truly immersed in music, he loved every moment.

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Babyface, his first band (1994) was a product of his College years, as were the innumerable songs he wrote during that time. During college Dai also began to build up his recording gear – and what started out as a few bits of equipment, bought to be able to record both his and other people’s music, soon grew into a pretty tidy studio, which he christened Daisy Stores. Such was his passion for recording and producing that even driving lessons were foregone in favour of buying vintage instruments.

Real life post-College beckoned and whilst making ends meet with the obligatory ‘day jobs’ Dai’s heart remained firmly rooted in music – songwriting, recording and performing in a band called ‘The Flame Trees’. And Daisy Stores studio really came into its own too with Dai recording and producing all of the band’s material.

Dai says of the band

I was really excited by what we were achieving – the songs I wrote with the boys were the best I had written up to that point and I felt the recordings I had done of us were both really true to the band and also commercially engaging”

Clearly, he wasn’t the only one to think so, on the back of Dai’s demos, the Flame Trees were signed to Sony S2 (A&R Muff Winwood, Sam Winwood and Lincoln Elias) in 1997 and they also signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music.

"We all left our jobs to concentrate on music 24/7 and the whole experience from 1997 to 2000 and working with industry giants like Sony was a massive learning curve…but a fantastic one!"

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The Flame Trees album was unfortunately never released, coming as it did in the late 90’s when the music industry was changing beyond recognition. Dai says he has no regrets though;

“We worked with some legendary people, recorded in top studios around the country like Olympic and Metropolis and performed our hearts out all over the UK. I got to work with string arrangers and hear our songs with great orchestral parts. On top of the mind-blowing experience of all that I learnt so much from working alongside great mixers and producers like Trevor Curwen, Jeremy Wheatley, Conn Fitzpatrick and Matthew Vaughan”.

Inevitably the Flame Trees eventually disbanded, but Dai was already writing and recording stacks of solo material as well as co-writing with established artists and songwriters.

In 2000 Dai co-wrote a song with Mike Terry and Tim Woodcock called ‘Just Hold On’ which went on to become a top 20 hit for the hugely successful band Toploader.

Dai recalls how he first realized the benefits of working with others on a song;

“Just being able to bounce ideas off each other is really great…but the best bit is seeing my ideas meld with other people’s and the end product being so much more than the sum of all its parts – the song really is the winner in collaborative songwriting”

During this time Dai also co-wrote with a host of other noteworthy songwriters, including; Paul Stacey, musician and producer who played guitar for Madonna/Oasis/Finn Brothers and was a member of The Lemon Trees with Guy Chambers; Pascal Gabriel, Producer/Songwriter who wrote for Dido; Katherine Davies, solo artist signed to Atlantic Records who has also written for Randy Crawford; Robert Hodgson (Bobby Bluebell, songwriter, member of the ‘The Bluebells’ who’s written for Texas and many others and Simon Tauber.

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Another song-writing collaboration came in the form of Steve Balsamo, a coming together which eventually led to the creation of the band ‘The Storys’. Dai’s journey with this band would see him support world class acts such as Elton John and Tom Jones.

The Storys’ songs started life around a kitchen table in Swansea with Dai and his 3 co-writers (who would go onto become fellow performers) writing profusely and producing songs with such startling harmonies that they would go on to be compared with The Eagles and Crosby, Stills & Nash. In the event the songs were of such high quality that they led the writers down the path of forming their own band. The Story’s first official gig was to over 70,000 people outside Buckingham Palace, playing on the same bill as Rod Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne and James Brown.

With initial gigs receiving a fantastic reception, the band’s thoughts soon turned to recording their own album. It was at this point that Dai’s talent as a producer came to the fore and he, his studio Daisy Stores and all of the classic recording equipment he’d built up over the years transferred to a former cinema hidden away up in the Neath Valley in South Wales to record their debut album.

With his studio newly set up in the unusual but acoustically superb venue the band set to work performing, and Dai (along with co-producer Rob) set to producing and engineering. Closeted away for 6 months Dai found great inspiration up in the lush valley as well as some lifelong friends, whose generosity in feeding, watering and generally looking out for this music-producer-on-a-mission he will never forget.

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Months of production and engineering paid off and the self-titled debut album ‘The Storys’ was released on their own label ‘Hall Recordings’ in 2005. Dai looks back on the album process;

“I worked so hard on the album – from the songwriting to performing to producing and engineering it…but we had a vision and we knew it could be phenomenal. And we weren’t wrong – when it all came together at the end the results were amazing and I knew it was an album to be proud of. I’d given so much of my life to it but it was such a thrill to be holding an album in a record shop that I’d not just written songs for and played on but also recorded and produced.”

Here history repeats itself…as again, Dai wasn’t the only one who rated the album; in 2006 it was picked up and released in the UK and Europe by Warner/Korova and by Ryko in America. What followed were extensive tours with Elton John, Katie Melua and Joe Cocker with the band playing all over the UK, Europe and America. Songs from the band’s debut album were featured on TV (in teen US drama ‘One Tree Hill’) and in film (‘The Bank Job’ starring Saffron Burroughs and Jason Statham, and in which the band also made a guest appearance performing their own songs!). The Storys’ follow up album ‘The Town Beyond The Trees’ was recorded and produced by Jon Kelly (Beautiful South, Kate Bush, Paul McCartney) at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios in 2007 and released in 2008.

A few months after the release of that album, Dai realised that, despite the wonderful experiences he’d had as a band member, the calls of his first loves of songwriting and production were too strong to ignore. Taking the tough decision to leave the band Dai went back to his roots and once again committed himself to the craft of songwriting and production; the areas where his heart truly lay;

“I love performing, but not as much as I love the process and magic of songwriting and production”.

And there, in a nutshell, you have it. Or rather him – Dai Smith, songwriterproducer.

Dai is currently writing with various artists, including a band who are enjoying success across the UK, especially on Radio 2. Keep checking the News page for the most up to date goings on.

Writing the best songs he can and producing both his own – and others’ - music is Dai’s past, present and future and he's never been happier.

“it’s always been about that” he says “it began with that when I was a kid recording on the four track and it’s still all about that, but I’ve got more tracks now! … recording and producing music so that it sounds good enough to make your heart miss a beat…that’s what it’s all about”

If you are interested in working with Dai as a songwriter, musician, producer or engineer, just get in touch; he’d love to hear from you.

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