Bastille frontman Dan Smith joins Nile Rodgers on the latest episode of Deep Hidden Meaning Radio on Apple Music 1 to discuss their recent US tour together, amongst much more. Dan tells Nile about the fear Bastille felt following Chic onstage and experience same fear following The Roots on stage previously, They also discussed Dan’s experience working with Hans Zimmer on the soundtrack for the BBC’s ‘Planet Earth III’, stepping outside his comfort zone to work with Marshmello on the global hit ‘Happier’, upcoming projects, their contrasting recording process and the story behind meeting long time idol David Lynch.

Nile Rodgers and Dan Smith from Bastille on touring together (Chic and Bastille were supporting Duran Duran on their recent US tour) and Dan’s terror of following Chic onstage...

Dan Smith:
It's been so nice. It's the first time we've really gone on tour with anyone else and not been headlining. So it's been really fun for us play to a totally new audience, to get to play on the same stage as you guys, and obviously Duran Duran as well. It's very surreal, but also it's just been really fun.
It's a very different, as you will know, playing to your own crowd versus going into a gig with a mentality of like, right, let's assume nobody here cares. And your job tonight is just to win them round. And if there are moments that they know and moments they connect with, that's brilliant. And for us it's been, particularly with the opening slot, if by our last song, everyone is standing up, then I feel like we've done our job well.

Nile Rodgers:
That's our concept, nobody knows us, but we got to show you who we are by the end of this album.

Dan Smith:
I've got to say, the nights that we've had to go on after you, we're all like, "Fuck. Oh fuck." I remember once having to play after The Roots at a festival. We were just stood side of stage watching them be The Roots and just do their thing. And we're such huge fans. I remember seeing Questlove, get a text message, and he picks up his phone, doesn't drop a single beat, sends a reply to the text as he's doing the most insane rhythm, then puts it back down and carries on. And we are just watching from ... head in hand like, oh, we've got to follow that.

Dan Smith from Bastille on working with Hans Zimmer on the music to the BBC’s natural history show Planet Earth III and on the new version of Bastille’s hit Pompeii recorded for the TV show with Hans Zimmer…

Dan Smith:
I met him and his team and they asked me to help with the music. So I'm working with Hans and these two other incredible composers. For me, I'm such a huge fan of so many of the scores that he's done. And they're iconic, from the Lion King through to True Romance. I love True Romance so much that we actually sample the score from True Romance on one of our mix tapes. So to have come full circle and get to work with him.
I worked on the opening theme for Planet Earth III and have been doing choral scoring over a bunch of the scenes. So it's just been really fun. In a room like this, where we are backstage, windowless, arena room to then put some headphones on and watch a clip of a snow leopard. And then just try and add all of this vocal work to that.
And then basically Hans and his team said that they wanted to do a version of Pompeii. He wanted to re-orchestrate it for the closing credits and for the trailer for the show. So we've now got this collaborative version of Pompeii with Hans and this orchestra. And it's so amazing. For me, it's my absolute dream getting to work on a score and on a TV show like that.

Dan Smith from Bastille on his upcoming projects, Nile Rodgers and Dan on their differing recording processes, Dan on a new heavy rock album he wants to make…

Dan Smith:
I'm sure you're the same. But I thrive off having really different contrasting projects. At the moment, I'm writing multiple albums for the band. I'm working on a musical. And writing for a bunch of movies and helping score this TV show. And I'm absolutely loving it all.

Nile Rodgers:
In the early part of my career, every single record was done in an eight-hour shift, that was the difference between what I call black budgets and white budgets. Like rock bands, "Way to go, man, we got the studio locked down, where are you? We're in Montserrat and we're doing this." And I'm going, "Huh? My record costs $3,500."

Dan Smith:
And that's one of the records that we are doing at the moment, I want to call two and a half weeks, and basically just do a really grungy heavy rock album that is rough as anything and loose. But I want to write the songs, I want us to go and practise, and then we have two and a half weeks strictly just to make the entire thing, track it all live. And just because that's so the opposite of my process, sitting with headphones on, a little midi keyboard, working away on logic, doing loads and loads and loads and loads of takes because I can, and because I want to. And that for me is part of the fun. And layering and layering and layering. Take all of that, chuck it in the bin. And go back to the old school way of doing it because even though that was the norm for us, it's not.

Dan Smith from Bastille on meeting his lifelong hero David Lynch…

Dan Smith:
When I was a kid and I saw Mulholland Drive in the cinema when I was 13, 14, and it just blew my mind. It is obviously visually gorgeous, the music's amazing. It's shot incredibly.
So I wrote this song, Laura Palmer (from Twin Peaks), which was this epic pop thing about her, about that character. I think a lot of our first album was me trying to talk about my life, but relating it via other stories and pop culture and moments in history. Because I guess there's probably a part of me still that just doesn't think that I'm interesting enough to really warrant songs being around me. But I do obviously want to talk about things that are relevant to me. So I think using other stories is a helpful way for me to do that.
We were lucky, people were coming to the music and finding the songs and the radio was playing them. But our managers and our label were pulling their hair out. They're like, "Why are you not embracing this?" So I just used interviews to talk about the things I loved, like David Lynch and the inspiration behind the songs. And it basically led to David Lynch hearing about us and he asked us to do a remix of one of his songs from his second album.
And when you hand something in, it's always nerve wracking, particularly if it's the person that I idolised more than anyone else in the world. So we sent him the remix. I was like, oh God, oh God, oh God. The next day his manager and he got back to us and they're like, "We love it. We're going to put it on the seven inch." And they're like, "Next time you're in LA ..." As if that was something I did, I'd never been to LA. He's like, "Next time you're in LA, just pop around for a cup of coffee." And I was like, "Okay."
So the first time we ever went to LA I ended up going around to David Lynch's house, which could not have been more Lynchian if it tried. Up in the hills, you ring on this doorbell on this house. And out of a little Tannoy it said, "Come around the side." And I was like, oh my God, I'm in a David Lynch film, this is amazing. So I went around the side alley and this door opens. And David Lynch is head to toe covered in splashes of paint in these overalls and he's like, "Hey Dan, welcome to my house."
We go in, it's this screening room, cinema come art studio come recording studio. And he just gave me the most intense rocket fuel cup of coffee I've ever had in my entire life. And we just chatted at each other for two, three hours. It was amazing. As this kid who just wrote these songs about things I liked in my bedroom, it just never occurred to me that we'd be in Hollywood in David Lynch's house.
That's one of my favourite things to have ever happened. And the fact that it came off the back of this remix and this production that we'd done is obviously super gratifying as well.

Dan Smith from Bastille on how his biggest hit Happier (with Marshmello) wasn’t supposed to be a Bastille song…

Dan Smith:
It was interesting for me, I think it came at a time where, I guess, you slightly grapple in your head with will we ever have anything as successful as our first single? Which I'm sure is a wonderful champagne problem to have because some people never have a song that does that. But I always like to think that it didn't affect me, but I think it must've done on some level. The song just went and went and went and went and went.
And it was interesting, it was a really interesting lesson. It was like I always challenged myself to write about different things. And then with that song, maybe what resonated with people was it's so on the nose. There's some metaphor there, but it's very much like, this is what I'm singing about.
And it was fascinating to read people react. People loved how direct it was. And that speaks to me. And as a songwriter, it was a fascinating lesson in sometimes stop trying to be fucking poetic. Just say what you want to say. Just fucking say it. Because it's music to be enjoyed and to make you feel something. It's not meant to be mental acrobatics all the time.