Proven Innocent star Riley Smith dishes on his new music

Riley Smith stars in FOX's Proven Innocent, but is also a talented musician. Photo Credit: Bjoern Kommerell/Courtesy of Mora May Agency.
Riley Smith stars in FOX's Proven Innocent, but is also a talented musician. Photo Credit: Bjoern Kommerell/Courtesy of Mora May Agency. /

Riley Smith is currently starring in FOX’s new drama Proven Innocent, but he’s also built an impressive music career, and just released new music.

TV fans will recognize Riley Smith as Levi Scott in FOX‘s Proven Innocent, or from his other roles in shows such as Nashville and True Blood. What they may not know is that he’s spent just as long in his other career as a musician.

When he’s not acting, Smith is a singer-songwriter with an impressive list of credits. He just dropped the single “Radio” in February, and the video for “Earthquake” last week. He took time out of his busy schedule to speak with Hidden Remote about being both an actor and a musician, and if his acting influences his songs.

Learn more about Riley Smith and his music in our interview below. You can listen to everything he’s released so far on iTunes and other digital platforms, and watch him this Friday in Proven Innocent at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Hidden Remote: How did you develop your musical career? Was it along with acting, or was this an interest that’s emerged more recently for you?

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Riley Smith: I’ve been doing it my whole life. My sister at Christmas this year was pulling up videos of us when we were little, and I was literally hamming it up in front of the camera and all I wanted to do was sing the song that I just wrote. I was like nine and my sister is like yeah, look you were doing this before you could walk.

I did the musicals in high school, and then I was singing in a band in L.A. called The Life of Riley that I created with three of my best friends [in] like 2006. It wasn’t until I did the show Nashville [that] it really opened up a lot more doors for me, as far as working with professional writers on a daily basis and professional producers.

I went to Nashville to do the show, and the band in L.A. kind of dissolved because everybody had other jobs and were moving away, so then it became an opportunity to go solo. I had always kind of thought about it, but I just had never had the right path in front of me. Nashville, being in the city, really opened up that path.

So that’s been about three, four years and I’m on my second project. I had a debut EP a couple years ago, and then since then I’ve been slowly working on the sophomore project. But instead of doing it in one record, I decided to split it up amongst the whole year.

How much did the sound of Nashville influence your music? Does it sound different from what you were recording in Los Angeles?

100 percent different. It’s a lot of different reasons that play into it. In Nashville you typically do a lot of co-writes, so instead of me sitting in my house in L.A. writing the songs alone, you’ve got two, three, four people in a room kind of talking into it like a therapy session. There’s a lot of different influences and a lot of different ways to look at an idea; some writers have a more old-school country approach, some writers have the new millennial country approach. When you get all these guys in a room together, my music just kind of comes out of it.

There’s a few of my new songs that I actually wrote 100 percent myself while I was away working and things like that, so I try to keep it true to me. There’s other songs that I really love, and I’m like I’m going to hold off on finishing this until I get with some big-time writers in Nashville and see where it can really go from there. There’s no rule; I’m just always constantly creating.

Speaking of working, have you found that any of your acting roles have given you ideas for music?

I think one meets the other in some way, shape or form whether it is intentional or unintentional. Sometimes when I’m playing a role and I get into the character and I’m kind of living it, those emotions start to feed into how I’m feeling and it’s hard to break away from that. You’re constantly in that frame of mind and emotional space, and so then what you start writing about is that.

But I’m just always trying to tell a story that’s true, whether it’s true within something I’ve lived or something I’ve seen, or sometimes unintentionally the subtext is something my character’s gone through. It’s always something that I know is real.

For people who just know Riley Smith the actor, what songs would you say they should listen to to start learning more about Riley Smith the musician?

It just depends on what everyone’s into. I’ve got a little bit of everything in there. There’s some stuff that’s very country, there’s some stuff that’s got more of an urban influence, there’s stuff that’s got more singer-songwriter influence. Whatever people want to connect to, hopefully it’s somewhere in my catalog.

How are you balancing pursuing music with your acting career? Anything you want people to know about this side of Riley Smith?

I think I’ve done a really good job at navigating it throughout the years. Doing a song and a video every month, I thought would be a slower rollout than having to finish a whole album all at once, but really what it does is keeps the pressure on to get something done every month, especially with a video and a song. It’s just so much work and my schedule’s crazy.

One minute I’m in Chicago working on a show, and literally the next day I get a call and have to go to Vancouver and start a new show, and now I’m talking to you from Vancouver. I’ve got to fly back to Chicago this weekend and pack up my apartment [then go] back to Vancouver to start working. And in the middle of all that I have my music manager trying to line up the stuff for Europe in two weeks, and make sure the material’s ready for the next roll-out. It never stops, so I have officially hit that point of going crazy.

I’ve really been working hard on these videos every month. We put them up on YouTube through my YouTube channel and I try to tell a story and make every one different and its’ a lot when you do it every month, trying to be original and unique with every video. That’s one thing I’m proud of and want people to see.

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Proven Innocent airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on FOX. For more on that and other FOX shows, follow the FOX category at Hidden Remote.