Welcome to Smoakland: Duo Talks Rise Amidst ‘Smoak Sesh’ Tour
The Oakland-proud duo known as Smoakland has exploded to the forefront of North America’s electronic music scene in 2022 — fueled by multiple national tours and festival appearances across the U.S.
In 2020, Smoakland graced the sole cover of MP3DU, our former sister outlet, as their fiery passion and honesty radiated through digital stream-land and caught the attention of many. This year, they capitalized on the return to live music — commanding 15k fans at their debut Electric Forest set and plotting their own 26-date headline Smoak Sesh tour that runs through the new year.
While today it seems like there’s nothing Smoakland can’t do, it was only a few years ago that full-time careers as touring and recording artists seemed like a lifetime away.
This past October, during a highly clamored-for set at Liquid Stranger’s WAKAAN Festival, MP3 MAG caught up with Harrison Hays & Anthony Battaglia to once again reflect on their journey and what is fueling their fire today.
Since connecting as student athletes at Boise State, both artists have remained inspired by their passion for the scene and ability to push each other to create. As they’ve gotten closer, this has manifested in a consistent ability to evolve their project and maintain success at the next level.
Expressing emotion through art that requires color, sound, and words is a daunting task, but ultimately rewarding when it allows us to express how we feel to the world. This emotional aspect in musical storytelling plays a big part in the story of Smoakland.
Since forming in 2018, Smoakland has released an array of music, including a full-length album, singles, collab EPs, and their most recent work, the Smoak Sesh EP on Zeds Dead’s Deadbeats label. The project packed five tracks that have propelled them to the top — capitalizing on their success and an incredible amount of love from fans. Shortly after its release, the EP climbed its way to No.1 on the Beatport dubstep charts and had each track chart in the top 100.
It impressively offers a journey of sound that of course packs the heavy hitters, but also flexes the melodic masterpieces these two are capable of. It starts with “Welcome to Smoakland,” which perfectly depicts the energy the duo exudes. This track features former Mersiv collaborator, Attitude, slapping that classic dubstep sound right in your face and making it near-impossible not to dance to. Following the journey to the dream-like state comes the track, “I Need a Dream.” This track wraps up the EP with its blissful melody, while still including the hard drops that Smoakland is known for.
In addition to the EP release, Smoakland recently began their run on the Smoke Sesh Tour. This tour hits 19 states from September to December and gives the duo the opportunity to showcase their new EP to fans all over. With numerous tour stops selling out and massive crowds all over, Smoakland finds the support from fans the most invigorating aspect of their journey.
“What’s really keeping the fire under my foot right now is all the love we’re getting,” said Battaglia. “The fact that people are actually responding to it and want to see us play just makes me want to make cooler edits and even better songs. I swear every show is going to be the best show you’re going to see.”
In a scene full of elitism and attention to genres, Smoakland has been incredibly successful with mixing up their style of music. Whether it be experimental, dubstep, or liquid drum and bass, the duo continues to see positive feedback with everything they’ve been releasing.
Many artists tend to narrow their genre of music down to one category, but Smoakland would rather use the umbrella of “bass music” when being asked what kind of music they produce. The fluidity of their sound would make it nearly impossible to narrow it down to just one.
One of their hottest releases right now is their side project, “Liquid Smoak,” which consists of liquid drum and bass tunes they love and have been working on creating.
“Our project really started off with dubstep, but I could see us at 40 years old doing nothing but producing drum and bass and touring Europe,” Hays predicted. “It’s awesome to see people who have never liked drum and bass come up to us and go, ‘Your liquid smoke mixes have literally gotten me into this music. That’s something I think we really take pride in.”
For many, it is hard to find success in a music industry that is so saturated, yet Smoakland’s hard work and dedication to their craft have elevated them to this level in just four years.
Fans can expect them to continue growing even more as artists and as people. It is always refreshing to speak to artists who care so much about the true meaning of music, and these two deserve every bit of success that comes their way.
Be sure to catch a stop of the Smoke Sesh tour in a city near you!