Smokey Brights, made up of husband and wife duo Ryan Devlin and Kim West with Nicholas Krivchenia on drums, was among the first bands to sign to Freakout Records. They chose the label because “their intention was to be part of the process, not part of the problem.” Frontwoman West went on to say that, “As an up and coming band in a sea of up and coming bands, it is amazing to have a strong community of family in your corner. That’s what Freakout is, family.” Their most recent album, Come to Terms, was made in collaboration with Sam Bell, a British producer who has previously worked with REM, Weezer, and Minus the Bear. West says Bell is “the shit, bottom line,” due to his “incredible ear, a killer work ethic, and great bedside manner.” The band appreciated Bell’s willingness to speak up if things ever start to sound discordant and say, “The recordings we’ve done with him have definitely elevated our tunes to a new level.” Additionally, the level of trust between them enables each party to “try each other’s ideas because we know we’re on the same team and there is a serious level of mutual admiration and respect there.”
Audience members can expect a Smokey Brights show to radiate positive energy because, as West explains, the group recognizes that the audience is made up of people who have other options for their evenings, but chose to attend the show. She says, “As a performer, it is easy to forget it’s not actually about you at all, but about the collective experience… not only have [we] worked to make music, but people have decided that music is worth hearing AND seeing performed live. People have taken a night of their lives and dollars out of their wallets to see your show. Make it worth their while, that’s the mantra.”
Their favorite songs to perform are, “ones that get people moving and connecting with the music both mentally and physically.” One song, The Other Way, from their last EP “has morphed into one hell of a live rock song, usually involving Ryan climbing on something and doing a guitar solo.”
Their music is largely written in their small northeast Seattle home and is inspired by happenings in the world under the current administration which “has brought a new level of terror and constant disruption that can be disheartening to a lot of people and invite people to turn away from the news.” Though she feels it’s certainly necessary to prioritize your mental wellbeing, West also explains that disengaging “is not an option right now… [Because] apathy will be the death of us if we are not careful. Democracies don’t go out with a bang. They go out with a whimper.” West hopes that, after listening to Come to Terms, fans walk away with a rejection of apathy.
Since much of their musical inspiration comes from current events and the world surrounding them, the things which keep them informed of the current goings-on contribute to their musicality: “We read the news, we volunteer, we donate, and we vote in every damn election. Every. Damn. Election.”
The decision to make music wasn’t made out of a burst of inspiration but instead out of a lack of money during one holiday season: “Ryan and I… [were] dead ass broke during Christmastime.” Though West had played music since childhood, she was never a member of a band. Devlin, on the other hand, had been in DIY bands since his teenage years. When they decided to merge their voices on a Christmas EP, hopeful that funds from sales would afford them the ability to purchase Christmas gifts for their loved ones, they “realized pretty soon that, hey, our voices actually work pretty well together!” After the holiday season passed, West “hopped onto the demo” that Devlin was working on with other band mates. It “got some good buzz right off the bat,” and thus Smokey Brights was born.
As a couple on tour, West says they are able to maintain a feeling of “home” while touring by realizing and addressing their individual personal needs – which for her is as simple as a pair of slippers. Additionally, Devlin and West had travelled together prior to touring, so they each had the necessary experience and knew each other were “flexible enough to make the uncertainty of life on the road doable. She’s also thankful to have “incredible bandmates who also travel well. It’s really a family out on the road.”
In September 2018 Smokey Brights will release Different Windows, their second EP on Freakout Records. The band will be touring in support of the album release and will be around the west coast in August, the east coast and UK in October, then Reno in November. They will then come home to Seattle where they will be, “capping it all off with a killer event.” They can’t say more than that, so they leave you with this: keep your eyes peeled for exciting announcements!