EXCLUSIVE: Guitarist Chris Smith Talks Session Career, Touring with Sarah Darling, Future Plans and More

London based session musician Chris Smith has recently wrapped a UK tour with Nashville based Country Music singer/songwriter Sarah Darling and is currently gearing up for a Summer full of festival dates with Darling.

Here we chat exclusively to the guitarist to discuss his career, touring with Sarah Darling, future plans and more:

How old were you when you decided to learn guitar?

My Dad bought me my first guitar when I was 9 years old. It was a green Squier Stratocaster. I didn’t know how to play it at that point, I’d just plug it in and make a racket.

Growing up what kind of music did you listen to?

My Dad would always play Beatles and Led Zeppelin records around the house. When I got a little bit older I discovered Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine which was pretty much the soundtrack to my teenage years. All the 90s grunge music was really fun to learn on guitar too.

How did you become a session musician?

Before I was ever a session musician I played in my own bands for years. I think I was 13 or 14 when I played my first gig. I moved to London to study music and joined a band as soon as I could. While I was at uni and playing in my own bands, I was gigging a lot and always meeting new people. From there that’s when other bands and musicians started asking me to play for them.

You recently wrapped a tour with Sarah Darling, what was that experience like?

Well the first date of the tour was actually on my birthday and it was also the 3rd year in a row I’ve been touring on my birthday! So that made me happy to be doing what I love to do. Sarah and the team are all amazing people and It was a great experience, plus I love being on the road!

Along with working as live session guitarist, do you also feature on records?

Only really on records I’ve made myself in previous bands of mine. I feel like in this day and age a lot of producers either play guitar or know someone who does and it’s fairly easy to record yourself at home too. But occasionally someone will ask me to record guitar stems for them or perhaps do a live studio session.

Along with playing guitar for artists you also perform as a back up singer, is singing full time something you would consider? 

I think at some point I’d like to record my own music again and it would be fun to sing on it too. It’s something I’ve not done before so it could be interesting!

What would you say has been your career highlight so far?

I think all the recent touring and festivals I’ve done have been a big highlight for me. I love travelling and I love playing music so the fact I get to combine those two things is a blessing.

This Summer you have a few festival slots lined up, is there one in particular you’re most excited about?

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Cambridge Folk Festival which I’ve not been to before so I’m definitely excited about that!

What goals do you have left to achieve in your career?

My main goal is to still be playing guitar when I’m older and keep pushing myself to improve and most importantly enjoy my work. I like to ask myself if someone took away all the gigs and successful moments would you still do it? And the answer is absolutely yes. Most people only really see the highlights of what you do. In reality when all that’s over, I’m at home playing my guitar still loving life and my goal is to never lose that.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to learn guitar?

Love this question! I would say everything you need to know is in all the greatest recorded music. Pick a song and study it to death. That way you’ll learn more than just the guitar part you’ll learn about the elements of music such as groove, dynamics, tone, theory behind the harmony, techniques required to play the parts etc. One song can actually be a huge music lesson when it’s broken down in detail. That was a big lesson one of my teachers showed me.

Make sure you follow Chris Smith on Instagram @cmsithguitar to keep up date with all his latest music and tour news!

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Written by Laura Klonowski

Qualified music journalist! Writing single/album/live reviews, feature articles, interviews, and news pieces.
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