It’s not every day that youngsters get to collaborate with some of their biggest musical heroes. For 13-year-old Nell Smith, however, that dream came true by way of an album of Nick Cave covers, recorded with none other than The Flaming Lips. That album, Where the Viaduct Looms, arrives October 25th, and today, Smith and The Flaming Lips offer a preview with their rendition of the 2016 Bad Seeds track “Girl in Amber.”
Smith first became enamored with The Flaming Lips when she attended her first show of theirs about three years ago. It didn’t take long for her to become a regular at their typically over-the-top performances, and after nabbing front-row spots a number of times, she caught the attention of the band’s frontman Wayne Coyne. Just like that, Smith and her father exchanged contact information with Coyne and stayed in touch. Their shared passion spawned the idea of a covers album, which was recorded remotely due to the pandemic.
In a statement, Coyne said, “It is always great to meet excited, young creative people. With Nell we could see she is on a journey and thought it would be fun to join her for a while and see if we could get things going. It was a great way to connect with her and help harness her cool attitude to making music.”
Smith added, “I still really can’t believe it, it was hard to get through all the songs but Wayne was so encouraging when I was struggling with a few of them that I kept going. It was a really steep learning curve. I hadn’t heard of Nick Cave but Wayne suggested that we should start with an album of his cover versions, and then look at recording some of my own songs later. It was cool to listen and learn about Nick Cave and pick the songs we wanted to record.”
“Girl in Amber” was the first track Smith and the Flaming Lips recorded together, with Smith taking the lead vocals. She flips Cave’s original ballad into a hushed bedroom-pop jam, embellished with the band’s psychedelic guitars. Listen to it below, and read more about how this collaboration came to life via CBC News.
Earlier this year, The Flaming Lips approached live music in the time of COVID the best way they knew how: by dividing themselves and their audience members into human-sized hamster balls. In Novemeber, the Lips will be embarking on a massive world tour. Meanwhile, Coyne has also been dabbling in entrepreneurship by launching his own cannabis brand.