Here's How a BC Teenager Got to Record with the Flaming Lips
Nell Smith, 13, tracked nine songs with Wayne Coyne and co. remotely in the pandemic
Published Dec 21, 2020Time without touring left artists of all stripes to create in quarantine this year, and a 13-year-old in British Columbia can count the Flaming Lips and frontman Wayne Coyne among her collaborators.
As CBC News reports, Nell Smith of Fernie, BC, got up to some remote recording with the group during the pandemic. Of course, travel restrictions due to COVID-19 prevented Smith and her family from traveling to the Lips' native Oklahoma for in-person sessions.
Smith's collaboration with Coyne and co. comes three years after she first caught one of the band's inimitable live concerts in Washington State at age 10. "I thought their shows were really cool, really interactive with the crowd, everyone sings along and it just makes it a different experience," she recalled to the broadcaster.
Smith soon caught the colourful spirit as she continued to attend Flaming Lips live shows, singing along through the set while dressed in a parrot costume.
A video shared by the CBC from a 2018 show in Calgary (found below) sees Coyne take notice of Smith's get-up through his plastic bubble. The two soon sing the lyrics of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" to one another.
This led Smith and her father, Jude Smith, to exchange phone numbers with the frontman before a show. Coyne and the family would become friends after sharing music Nell had been making at home. "How he comes across on stage is kind of how he is," Jude told the broadcaster of Coyne. "He seems to be the kind of guy who says yes to everything, but there's no pressure on anyone for any of this stuff."
At Coyne's suggestion, Nell began the remote recording with a cover of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds' "Girl In Amber." CBC reports that a total of nine Cave covers featuring the British Columbian will be produced by the band with the goal of making an album.
"I think Nell and I just wanted to start to make some music and see what would happen," Coyne told the CBC of his suggestion in an email. "Doing cover songs is a fun way to get things rolling along."
Nell added, "Not being able to go out [during COVID], being locked down, it's been a really interesting and tough year. But I think working with the Flaming Lips has made it a very memorable year of my life. I think it's been a really, really lucky experience."
The Flaming Lips recently postponed two January shows that would have seen their audience inside COVID-safe plastic bubbles, not unlike Coyne's. The band shared sixteenth studio album American Head earlier this year.