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New Interview:

Riley Smith
Part 1 and Part 2

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2 DAY EXCLUSIVE WITH RILEY SMITH!

DAY TWO: THE INTERVIEW

 

Riley Smith may play Markus Keen, a huge Rockstar on one of today's hottest shows "Nashville" but in real life he remains grounded and down to earth. Saturday I met up with Riley and his mom in the lobby of their hotel. I was greeted with a big smile, a hug, and an apology for the delay. He clearly wanted to make me feel at home. Before we even started the interview, Riley wanted to know about me and how I liked the show at the Bluebird last night.

Starting off our exclusive interview, my lead question was the similarities between Markus and Riley. "I've been told we look alike." he cracks, but says that's about it. I joke "No Rockstar Diva?" and he laughs, saying "No. I have nothing to draw from in that department." And I can attend to that. He is the complete opposite of a diva off screen.

We flashed back to Motocross, one of the first movies he made years ago. Riley had no idea it would become so big, and to this day still gets asked about it. "It helped me get used to the situations I'd face one day as an entertainer. One day I was filming a movie for Disney, the next I couldn't walk into a mall or Six Flags or anywhere there were 13-18 year old's" he recalls. "It was crazy but I guess some of it prepared me for a character like Markus Keen."

When talking about the rest of the cast (and they came up often) Riley had nothing but great things to say. I get the feeling the cast of Nashville is very close. Markus and Deacon may play foes on the show, but in real life they are good friends. Riley gushed about how much Charles Esten has helped and given him since the start of the show. Posing for photos outside of Highway 65 where they film the label scenes Riley relays a scene where the producers wanted the two to glare at each other, saying they had the hardest time. "Why would we do that?" Riley was thinking. He also had high praise for Connie Britton, Jonathan Jackson, Chris Carmack, Sam Palladio, Clare Bowen, Lennon & Maisy.

In the winter closer of ABC's Nashville, Markus Keen announced he was leaving for LA to work with his band and walked out.  "Markus will always be around. I think he just had to get away from the situation from the moment and take a breath. I think he wants to be a good guy. He's used to getting what he wants, and he couldn't in that situation with Rayna so he left." Riley assessed.

We discussed the town of Nashville in comparison to LA. "The parallels of Markus moving here and not understanding the country scene and becoming a country singer is very similar to me moving here." Riley notes. He wasn't sure what to expect but quickly fell in love with the town, and it's country vibe.

"I think the beauty of Nashville is that it's the perfect hybrid of from where we're from in the Midwest and Los Angeles. The people are very genuine, with Midwest  values. And yet you have a great entertainment industry here, which is why I think I took so well to the city." Smith adds.



A musician in real life Riley comments "When I got this job I thought this would be a great opportunity to really dive into the music scene." He is thankful that the show has opened so many doors, allowing him the opportunity to work with many of his idols. Writing with various songwriters in Nashville, this newcomer has learned a lot. "Each guy has a different style. That was the most fun thing about each of these experiences, adapting to their writing style, taking something from what they are so successful at and trying to incorporate it into my style."

When asked about his show the night before at the Bluebird, Riley confesses to being nervous. "I always get nervous playing in front of my mom because I know how important this is to her." Riley shares. His mother had flown in from Iowa for the Bluebird appearance, and he was so excited to have her there, and show her around town. Smith adds "I was definitely out of my comfort zone. There were four #1 hits that were played last night. Almost every time I had to follow a number one hit. I thought that's a lot of pressure." But he pulled it off nicely. "I felt like last night was seamless, everybody brought such good personality to the set. I couldn't have been happier."

 And how did his music journey begin? It all started with the trombone in 7th grade band. Riley relays the story laughing saying "Every other instrument was taken." When asked if he was a band geek, he says "I wanted to be." adding that he did drama and sports as well, wanting to take advantage of everything.

Riley has a solo album coming out this year which he is very excited for. "I wanted to make an album that was inspired by Nashville, written and recorded in Nashville, with Nashville writers, but still incorporate who I am." Smith shares. The first single is slated for release in May, with an EP in June and an album possibly by fall. He calls his music style a hybrid of singer-songwriter, pop and country with a jazz influence. "Until you really know yourself it's hard to make people believe what your selling. Throughout the years of working on music and writing, because it's a passion, doing this all the time I've found who I am."

The subject turned back to acting and other projects of his. "I enjoy music because it allows me to say what I want to say and what I feel. I enjoy acting because it allows me to be someone else."

Riley has a few projects coming out. The first is an independent dark comedy about relationships called Control: A Love Story. "This was a passion project and we all left every ounce of our soul on the floor." Riley states.

Another project Riley is really excited about is a comedy/drama he's been working on for three years. It's about a musician and his trials and tribulations. Riley is the writer, the producer, and he will be acting in it as well. They are planning to shoot a pilot in the near future.

Nashville fans will be thrilled to hear that Riley announced he is looking forward to returning to his role of Markus Keen. "Without guys like Markus and Jeff Fordham, they are the fuel behind the fire of the show and a contrast between the people you love on Nashville."

DAY ONE: BLUEBIRD SHOW



The previous night I had the honor of being Riley Smith's guest at the Bluebird, which meant sitting at a front row table with his  producers. Seeing the Bluebird on TV, I was surprised at just how small and intimiate the setup is. The performers were so close that I had to lean back to take photos. At only 100 people this was a sold out show, and the room was packed.

One by one the artists took their stools, and the crowd went quiet. Riley Smith welcomed everyone to the Bluebird and shared his love for this iconic venue. "It's about the lyrics and about the love so let's have some fun." It was his first singer songwriter round and on the bill were Rick Ferrel, Earl Bud Lee, and Nashville friend Charles Esten. "I am a bundle of nerves. This is an honor." Riley confides before playing his first song, an original called Hang.  It was a new song, and not as country but still good. His nerves seemed to go away as he played.

Riley's next song was more personal. It was called A Perfect World, and it was written about his friend and roommate. "He was dating a girl for 3 years but because of her religion he couldn't tell people about their relationship. Watching that killed me." Riley shares. This song was more country acoustic, and full of emotion.

On a side note, his great comraderie with Charles Esten was an added delight onstage. Halfway into the show the other artists started playing drinking songs. Charle's Esten performed one called Whiskey Lips and after Riley jokes "I am sorry I tried to kiss those whiskey lips. I read the script and was like man they are going to hate me."
Riley's third song was another original, entitled I'm On Fire. Riley wrote it a month ago with Matthew Perryman Jones., and can't wait to record it next month.

Before the last song Riley relays an episode of Nashville where Markus recorded a song of Deacon's, only he stole it and changed up the words to fit his character. Charles Esten stood up and announced jokingly "I'm Outta Here". Riley then played his last song of the night, Markus Keen's biggest hit from the TV Show Nashville, titled They Don't Make Em Like You No More.  It was my first show at the Bluebird, and I couldn't have picked a better experience.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO PERFORMANCE OF "FORGET ABOUT ME"

FULL VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH RILEY SMITH : PART 1PART 2

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