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The Smile Syndicate drops fourth album

Mr. Blue Hullabaloo is weird, funny, and offbeat
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The Smile Syndicate, aka Jason Medwid, releases Mr. Blue Hullabaloo, a 10-song track designed to make listeners chuckle and enjoy life, on June 23, 2022. SUPPLIED/Photo

During the last two pandemic years, it would have been easy for musicians to wrap themselves in a dark mood like a wet blanket. And frankly, there were more than a few downers spun out to the masses. 

There were also recording artists who never stopped pumping out something upbeat and funny — music and jokes that release dopamine, the brain’s feel-good chemical that gets everyone’s juices flowing. 

The Smile Syndicate, one of St. Albert’s mellower musicians, is dropping its fourth upswing album, Mr. Blue Hullabaloo, on all digital platforms June 23. 

“They are 10 fun songs that are catchy, positive, and something someone can listen to over and over. It’s OK to enjoy fun things,” said Jason Medwid, aka The Smile Syndicate. 

Medwid is into writing “weird, but catchy songs.” He compares his song style to Donovan’s 1966 internationally-acclaimed psychedelic pop song Mellow Yellow. But instead of Donovan’s satire about sex and ladies’ vibrators, Medwid lampoons an eccentric, cranky character who turns into a parody of himself. 

“My idea was to do folky, pop psychedelic songs where you sing about different things like sunbathing in the rain or flying high on a submarine,” said Medwid. His previous album releases included Lovestorm (2013), I Want Waffles (2015), and Banana Bus (2019). 

After releasing Lovestorm, Medwid realized that online platforms were extremely crowded and it was difficult to get noticed. Despite external pressures, Banana Bus received 20,000 streams. 

Looking at various marketing strategies, Medwid, a manager for tech company DevFacto, and his wife, Elizabeth, owner of Bright Art Media, a company that builds websites for small firms, opted to create a weekly, 50-minute podcast. 

The variety show format takes place at Smileton, a fictional town with a passing resemblance to St. Albert. Medwid takes on the role of a grumpy, armchair podcaster who butts heads with everyone, including the mayor and community theatre. 

“Music and a comedy segment were always key pieces in the podcast. I was always over the top. I’d get my blood pressure worked up. My wife was always Zen and gentle. That’s where the comedy came from.” 

When COVID was at its peak from April 2020 to September 2021, the couple amped up their creativity, releasing two 50-minute podcasts weekly. 

“It was challenging finding the rhythm and delivering consistently. But I also felt we got better twice as fast and got better at improvising. But maintaining that pace meant I didn’t have as much time to write music. So, we dialed back a bit. That helped in the consistency.” 

Mr. Blue Hullabaloo is a 10-song collection from Smile Syndicate’s podcasts that includes four new titles. 

One of the frothy bits is Dirt Bike, a catchy rock song about a person so wrapped up in his bike, he is even buried with it. Who Is That Over There is a deliberately obscure song about someone watching another person dance without inhibition. And then there’s New Planetoid, an off-the-wall song about an exciting migration to a new planet until the spacemen discover they don’t like their new home. 

Although writing songs was Medvid’s first volley into the creative world, the accompanying podcast has taken on a life of its own. Despite the album and podcast forged as individual entities, both are like conjoined twins, each dependent on the other for its existence. 

Medwid’s story showcases some of the challenges 21st-century musicians face in finding an audience, and the extra work required to stand above the crowd so listeners can hear their voice. 

“I’m just happy to have something silly my wife and I can work at together — something that’s not career related. When I perform, I’m always trying to make Miss Elizabeth laugh. And we’re lucky we found something we can enjoy together.” 

The Smile Syndicate podcasts are dropped every Monday at www.thesmilesyndicate.com/tsspodcast/.     


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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