SARAH SMART - FLUTE, SYNTHS AND VOCALS
Sarah, you're a classically trained pianist and flautist, did you ever imagine you'd be playing with a band such as Magic Mountain?
If you'd have told me a few years ago I'd be playing live on stage as part of a three piece indie rock band I'd have thought "I can't possibly do that, where would I even begin?" The thought of playing without written music was scary enough, let alone playing together with electric guitars and amps and creating a style of music I'd never even contemplated before.
How did you become involved with Magic Mountain?
It all started on a weekend visit to Nottingham in 2010. Ash had an early demo of Velvet that him and James had put together. He wanted to try putting some flute sounds played backwards as an extra layer to the track. After discovering that playing a flute backwards sounds pretty much identical to a flute played forwards (apart from the sound of the player taking a breath!) we decided to try a flute solo as an outro to the song instead. It worked surprisingly well.
Soon after that Ash and James decided to start performing live and they asked if I could help out playing a few notes on the keyboard and being in charge of the drum machine as they couldn't manage everything themselves whilst playing on stage. It would mean I could play my flute part on the velvet track too. We started rehearsing together and my keyboard and flute parts developed from there. Before I knew it I was part of the band and about to play a live gig. I've even managed to be persuaded to do some backing vocals.
Who would you say is your musical inspiration and how do you think this shapes the sound of the band?
It's hard to pinpoint one key musical inspiration. I enjoy hearing lots of different types of music and being part of Magic Mountain I've been introduced by Ash and James to artists I didn't know a lot or anything about before - people like Bowie, Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Nirvana, Kraftwerk. I am drawn towards beautiful/catchy melodies and I think that this influences how I try to use the synths and flute on the magic mountain songs.
What was your favourite part of recording the Innocence EP?
I really enjoyed working with our producer Justin. It was great to be able to bring out new elements in our songs that we hadn't heard were there before, particularly with the innocence and velvet tracks which I think developed the most from the demo recordings we did ourselves. It was really fascinating to be a part of the whole recording process.
Of all the bands that Magic Mountain have played with are there any that stand out as being particularly memorable?
The most memorable for me were two of the bands we played with at the JT Soar gig on Halloween in 2013. The ethereal Purple pilgrims and then the sheer force of nature that was Gary War. I've never seen a one man band quite like it and I've never seen anyone using a guitar and effects pedals like he did, it was really breathtaking to watch.