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Interview: Jakub Vanyo/ SMALLTALK

Courtesy of Melissa Zhuang

Let’s start with the basics, what is SMALLTALK?

Hi! I guess SMALLTALK is a juxtaposition. I love the idea of using pop music as a medium to communicate things that are difficult to talk about. It’s like sneaking vitamins and minerals into your bowl of sugar cereal. Over the last ten years, I went through a lot of growth and change, and I felt that writing some pop songs would be a good way of working through that change.

Your new single “Grand Prismatic” sounds amazing, it also sounds like it was a lot of fun to put together. How did the song come to life?

Thank you- it was a lot of fun putting it together. My wife and I went to Yellowstone National Park in 2018, and I was blown away by the Grand Prismatic Spring. It’s absolutely breathtaking, and I knew immediately that I had to write a song around it. I had recently gotten a new synth, and as soon as I got back in the studio, I made the sound that you hear as soon as the song starts.

Your “Thoughts on Death” video was beautifully shot, edited, and narrated where you talk about dark times in your life and how death has impacted you. How did the video come together? Any of your recent songs inspired by the ideas stated in the video?

That’s very kind. My wife and I were walking through the Bernheim Arboretum outside of Louisville, Kentucky. There’s an art installation of these massive wooden sculptures throughout the park, a pregnant giant mother, and her two children. I had brought my camera with me, and took some shots of the giants and the surrounding nature. The video was released along with the song “So It Goes”, which was inspired by the writings of Kurt Vonnegut. A lot of these songs talk about different aspects of death, Grand Prismatic included.

You mentioned that Smash Mouth’s Astro Lounge album was an inspiration to you. Any other musical influences?

Smash Mouth was HUGE for me growing up. Other records? Ben Fold’s ‘Rockin’ the Suburbs’, LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Sound of Silver’, Beck’s ‘Guero’, and The Hive’s ‘Tyrannosaurus Hives’.

You’ve done a lot of music for film and TV, what’s a recent project you’ve worked on? Is writing music for film different than your other music projects?

Writing for film and tv is like working a different set of muscles. It’s really satisfying to write music for a specific purpose, to evoke a specific feeling. I had a song featured on Grey’s Anatomy last year, written with a good friend, Kate York. Having a song featured on that show felt like a rite of passage.

Any shows/films you dream of working on?

Anything science fiction- I’ve been working on some things that are focused toward that genre, so fingers crossed!

You started the band Heyhihello and have done covers with Poppy. If you were to get together with the members again in 2020, what song would you guys cover?

I’m sure we’d cover something like Never Let You Go, by Third Eye Blind.

On the isayheyhihello Youtube channel there was a series of videos titled Monday Minute, where you would chat to fans about life updates and band updates. If you were to do one today, what would you say?

I’m genuinely trying to figure that question out for myself in real life, right now- it was a lot easier to turn on the camera and talk about what was going on when I was younger.

If you found $20 on the ground and no sees you pick it up. What would you spend it on?

Honestly, I’d probably leave it as a tip somewhere.

If you were to make a Pinterest board of 10 pictures describing SMALLTALK, what pictures would be on that board?

It would be 10 pictures of me trying to figure out what to use Pinterest for.

If an alien from outerspace came to visit you in Nashville and asked you to take him to the best restaurant in the area, where would you take him?

The Wild Cow on the Nashville’s east side. They’ve got good nachos.

Ok, last question! If you were a LEGO character, what would you look like?

Can I be the little space guy?

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