EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Sean Smith Discusses New Single “Do Or Die”, The X Factor, Same Difference, And His Forthcoming Debut Album

Last week saw Sean Smith drop his brand new single “Do Or Die“, which we had the honour of premiering right here on CelebMix. The song is his first release of 2019 and easily is one of our favourite tracks from him. Today, he has released the remixes EP of the song, and we were given the opportunity to interview him.

Sean Smith made a name for himself when he competed on the fourth series of The X Factor as part of the brother-sister duo, Same Difference. They went on the achieve moderate success, selling over 300,000 records. They released two albums, Pop and The Rest Is History; a third had been recorded, with the title Superheroes, but it was never released. Since the group disbanded, Sean Smith has gone solo. He previously released singles “Turn Me On“, “Magic”, and “Fire“, with the latter track becoming his most streamed Spotify song to date, at almost 200,000 streams. He has also collaborated on Peter Wilson’s single “Verona” which is a cover of the Koit Toome & Laura track of the same name that represented Estonia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017; as well as this, late last year, he featured on Ben Davidson’s album track titled “Dirty Mirrors”. This year will see him release his debut album and it’s bound to be amazing if all his releases to date are anything to go by.

We chatted to Sean Smith about his new single “Do Or Die“, the music video which we premiered, his time on The X Factor, performing with his sister Sarah Smith in the duo Same Difference, and his upcoming debut studio album.

Hi Sean, we hope you are having a good day today. What have you been up to lately?

Thank you, Yes I’m having a great day although I’m always a bit nervous on release day. Just hoping all goes well! Since finishing playing ‘Britney Spears’ in We Will Rock You and the prince in panto in Horsham, last year, all of my focus has been on the “Do or Die” release and getting everything ready for the release of my debut album. It’s all so exciting.

Your brand new single is out now, titled “Do Or Die”. Can you tell us more about the song?

When I signed to Energise I received a CD from A&R with a bunch of great demos that outlined how they saw my album developing. ‘Do or Die’ was on there along with a whole load of other songs, some of which made the cut and others that didn’t. I loved ‘Do or Die’ as it had so much energy and the lyrics seemed powerful to me. I felt they were a great metaphor for how my music career was shaping up. I was told that the original demo was taken up by The Wanted as a possible single but luckily for me, they never recorded it before they split. The demo sounded a little bit old fashioned but I knew that the song was strong and had huge potential to be updated. I was very happy with the eventual production by Nalle Ahlstedt. I think he kept the energy that made the demo so enticing but gave it that laid back feel that a lot of today’s records have.

What does this song mean to you?

As I said before, to me it’s a metaphor for how things are in my music career. When I was in Same Difference I always felt with Syco that we were built on sand and could get blown away easily. X factor acts tend to get a year or so to really blow up as a world top-selling artist or they cut their losses. Now, with Energise, I’m building on solid foundations from the ground up! At the same time, though, I know that it offered a huge platform and if things are going to get huge for me as a solo artist I’ll have to take huge risks and be strong as I grow as an artist. So metaphorically it’s time to “Do or Die” – wow, I guess I’m still a bit cheesy after all these years.

What was it like to release your first single of 2019?

It’s been nerve-wracking but incredible! It certainly feels like it’s been a long time coming. Although I released my last single “Fire” last year, I was away working in We Will Rock You so I never felt close to the release. This time I’ve poured and immersed myself in it fully. It feels like it’s been forever but now I want to stick around for a while! I feel emotional that it’s finally here.

What can we expect from the remixes that will be released on 7 March?

Energise stumbled across a gem when they found Mr. Root. I’m a big admirer of his work. The remix has a really cool groove and reminds me of a daft punk record. I loved it instantly.

CelebMix premiered the music video to the song. How did that feel?

It was an honour when I found out that CelebMix would be premiering the video. It’s huge for me and I am overjoyed. I hope that your followers are enjoying it.

What was it like to film the music video?

Filming a video is the best and most exciting part of my job. I loved every minute. It was shot over two days and was a gruelling process particularly with it being so action filled. I actually did a hilarious epic fail when I first jumped over the railings that you see in the final video, I was shattered from a long day and from sprinting across a quarry and on the first take my legs hit the railings and I embarrassingly crash-landed onto the concrete, ouch! It was so different for me to play a role rather than just singing to the camera.

Who plays your love-interest, and what was she like to work with?

The girl in the video is actually my girlfriend. It made sense for her to be in it as she’s an actress, she’s gorgeous and we’ve already got the connection that was needed to make the storyline work.

The visual was directed by Ash Stanley, what was he like as a director?

I haven’t got enough great words to say about him. I feel like he pulled off an incredible feat with this video. From organising the many locations, the stylist, and the makeup artist to making sure that we had continuity throughout the shoot, he really came through for me. It was his imagination that dreamed it up and he was meticulous about every last detail.

Also, this year, you plan to release your debut album. How excited are you to release it?

For me ever since I was signed it’s always been about my debut solo album. I’ve dreamed about it since I was a little boy and now I’m so close to it being realised. I literally can’t wait!

What can we expect from the album?

I’ve always been careful to make sure that I don’t alienate the ‘Same Difference’ fans by going too far away from the type of music they know and love me for. They equate for the best part of my following and I want them to be able to feel like they can happily come with me on my solo journey too. Music is continually changing and growing so I’ve had to go with the times. The album will bring the energy that I’ve always been known for but has deliberately been made to give me a chance of hitting the mainstream. There are some incredible tunes and I’m lucky to have been able to work with some unbelievable producers. Those who still know and love me from Same Difference have been catered for and I hope to attract new fans that can appreciate great pop music.

Do you have any more collaborations on their way? We love your duet with Peter Wilson on “Verona”.

I’m so glad that you love that track. All credit has to go to Peter Wilson for finding it and getting Matt Pop to do such a great job on the production. I’m not sure you know but I’ve already collaborated with an incredible new artist called Ben Davidson. You can listen to our song ‘Dirty Mirrors’ on his album ‘No One Knows’ and I’m proud to say that it will feature on my album along with a remix by Matt Pop that will be available as a bonus track on the deluxe physical copy. I’ve got no immediate plans to collaborate with anyone else but I’m always open.

“Verona” is a cover of the Estonian Eurovision 2017 song, which didn’t make the final – although it was one of CelebMix’s favourites. What do you make of Eurovision? Would you ever consider going?

I’m a big fan of Eurovision and I think it might be a great career move for me one day. Same Difference once entered Melodifestivalen and had a song that got quite far in it. I’m proud to say it has been re-recorded for my debut solo album. I can’t wait for people to hear it.

From one competition to another. Looking back on The X Factor days, what are your favourite memories?

I will never forget the feeling of our homecoming on the week of the final. The Guildhall in our hometown of Portsmouth was completely full inside and out. Thousands came to show their support. Previously, I had worked behind the bar there so it was an unbelievable turnaround. The feeling was something very special. Playing a sold-out O2 Arena was something I will always cherish too, it was a day to never be forgotten.

Simon Cowell has announced two new versions of The X Factor, a celebrity version and a former-contestant version, what do you make of these? And would you ever do it again?

I don’t really know how to feel about it, it’s something that I put in the past and I’m happy with our legacy. I don’t feel like I need to revisit it. I know for certain that Same Difference wouldn’t be able to participate. Sarah has no interest as she’s stopped performing. I would never say never as I don’t know the circumstances but my gut tells me it’s not quite right. I think it will certainly make The X factor more interesting though. A great idea.

What’s it like performing and releasing music without your sister, Sarah? And, how is she doing since Same Difference parted ways?

At first, performing solo felt alien to me as I was so used to singing together. I’ve slowly started to get used to it now. I’m so proud of Sarah. She’s happily married, her performance school business is thriving and now she’s started a family. One day I hope she comes back to performing because I think it’s a waste of great talent but no-one knows what the future will hold.

Your music differs a lot to the Same Difference releases. How has your music changed over the years?

I think I’ve just been forced to grow up and move with the times. I always make a conscious effort to be true to myself now that my music is a reflection of me personally. Same Difference was a split reflection of both of us. The biggest change is that Same Difference could never sing about love, sex and relationships because it just wouldn’t work with a brother and sister. Now I can explore those avenues freely.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

I’ve had different phases throughout my life. To list a few of the profound ones for me I’d have to say, Meat Loaf, Bon Jovi, Robbie Williams, Michael Jackson, Deacon Blue, Oasis, and The Killers. I’ve had phases loving artists that certainly made their marks like The Spice Girls, S Club 7, and Steps along with loving the big diva females like Celine, Whitney, Christina, and Britney, etc. If music makes me feel something it has an influence on me.

How would you describe your upcoming album?

It’s a reflection of the person that I truly am along with making a conscious effort to appeal to the mainstream. It’s balanced and makes sense with brilliant writing and production.

What is it like releasing your music through Energise Records? What is the record company like?

It’s just a dream releasing through Energise. They allow you to be true to yourself and give you the resources to run with your own hunch. Then, they will offer their years of experience that will sprinkle fairy dust over it all!

What else can we expect from you in 2019?

You can expect someone that is raring to get back into the spotlight after a long time out. Great music and the expression of truth. I can’t wait to perform my new music live and I’ll be continuing with my love of theatre and performance too. Just continuing to be who I truly am and I’ll make my decisions from my heart like I always have.

And, finally, is there anything you would like to say to your fans?

You all know who you are and what you mean to me. I thank you at times like this for coming through for me like you always have.

Thank you, Sean Smith, for taking the time out to answer our questions. We are loving “Do Or Die” and we’re obsessed with the new remixes that have been released today. We can’t wait for more new music and the release of your debut album.

“Do Or Die” is available to download and stream right now, through Energise Records. The Remix EP was dropped today containing remixes from Mr Root. Sean Smith’s debut album is expected to be released later this year.

What do you make of our interview with Sean Smith? Let us know on Twitter @CelebMix.

Written by Jonathan Currinn

26-year-old writer, blogger, author, and journalist. Graduated from Staffordshire University in 2015. I write under the name Critic Jonni, on my blog. I also write for Channillo, Outlet Magazine, SPECTRUMM, Fuzzable, Modern Magazine, and Electric Mode. In the past, I have written for Fox & Squirrel Photography and the Daily Star. Follow me on Twitter @CriticJonni