Singer, songwriter, and YouTube sensation Von Smith tells us about the next big thing

You have an amazing vocal range, does that come naturally or did you have to work at it?

Thanks! It’s a mix of both I think. From a young age I was always the vocally ambitious type, and I think the younger you start something, the better the chance that you’ll have an edge when you get older. I did have to work at it a lot through out my teens when everything physically was changing. I think really I just stayed true to myself and my passion throughout all that.

Your EP On to Something, what was your goal aesthetically when creating it?

The reason it’s called “On To Something” is because I felt I was finally on to something when I started the project. After collaborating with a lot of different writers and producers over the past 10 years on different projects that never saw the light of day and finding that I never landed on a true sound of my own, I decided to write something completely myself, and to not judge it or edit it as it came out of me. To just vomit something out and let it be what it wanted to be. In doing that I found that I enjoy writing quirky, theatrical, symphonic pop rock… but I don’t really know how to define it and I don’t really want to. I like not knowing what it is. That excites me. That means it’s new territory for me and I love discovering new vibes and new perspectives. Each song is it’s own moment of discovery, hence the title. I’m very proud that the entire EP is completely written and composed by me. My genius producer Matt Appleton took just me on piano and turned it into what you hear on the album.

One of our favorite tracks on the EP is Carnival of Life, can you tell us the about its background and development?

Thank you! That means a lot!  Carnival of Life is about an experience I had almost 10 years ago when I was showcasing for major record labels for the first time. Most of those showcases were positive experiences, but one, perhaps the one showcase I cared the most about, was discouraging when the very famous industry mogul I was showcasing for was bored and disinterested. Carnival of Life is my fantasy response to that apathy I remember seeing in his face. It’s my way of dancing through the rain, laughing through the struggle, overcoming the feeling of failure associated with that memory.

How did you get involved with Postmodern Jukebox?

I became a fan of Postmodern Jukebox around the time I was finishing my EP early last year (2014). I was such a fan that I happened to do a cover of their arrangement of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” at my EP release party in LA. I put a video of the performance on YouTube and tweeted the video to Scott Bradlee, the creator and leader of Postmodern Jukebox. I didn’t think anything would come of it, but he then contacted me and we ended up doing the song “Rude” which now has five million hits on YouTube, and now I’m on the road with him having a blast! I’m so grateful for the ride it’s taken me on.

You did a cover of Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off, which blew up YouTube and was featured in numerous news outlets like the Huffington Post, did you know it would be that popular?

We certainly hoped it would be, but you never really know. We were ecstatic when it did well.

 You have a busy touring schedule this summer, how do you like life on the road?

I love it! My favorite part is looking up where I’m going to have lunch and coffee the next day in the next city. It’s also of course great to experience the different crowds each night.

What impact has social media had on your career?

From the very beginning when I had my first viral video in 2006 when YouTube was still new, it’s always had a great impact and I think it will continue to. It’s definitely where everything is going.

You were on American Idol, what was the experience like?

Idol feels like a lifetime ago (2009). It was a great learning experience, but I wasn’t ready for it. I did it because my record deal failed and I needed something to wake me back up again. I didn’t go into it with an aggressive mentality, so I wasn’t upset when I was sent home. I also felt that the further I made it onto the show, the more I was pushed into being someone else, which made me want out. I’m grateful it opened so many doors, but I’m also glad I didn’t let it define me, or turn me into something I’m not.

 You are a very stylish guy, who or what inspires your personal style?

Thanks! I used to like to dress quite outlandishly when I was growing up, and I sometimes still do, because why not? But I do also enjoy the old fashioned, classic vibe. There’s something very romantic about it. I love Sinatra and Gene Kelly and all that golden era stuff.

What’s the next big thing for you professionally?

I have a 2nd EP called “The Mystery Of Mister V” that I’m putting the finishing touches on next month. Hoping to get it out late this year or early next year. I also have a bunch of new videos coming out every two weeks on my YouTube channel (vonatron), and of course there will be other Postmodern Jukebox videos coming as well, so lots on the horizon!

We at Favorite Color Rust always have to ask this last question, what is your favorite color?

The hardest question! I like earthy colors, but I also love the colors of the sun. It changes daily. Lately I’ve been in a dark purple mood, but today I’d probably say dark forest green.

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