It's difficult to get a dream off the ground.
Valley native Seth Smades knows it as much as anyone. The 23-year-old singer-songwriter had fits and starts trying to steer his passion for music in the right direction, but none of them seemed right until he and a high school friend, drummer Devon Quartullo, decided to write songs influenced by pop folk. Taking cues from OneRepublic and Coldplay, the duo added bassist Tracy Haddad and keyboardist Nullin Hasan, becoming a quartet called Luxxe. ("Our heart and soul aren't in the band name, but we're content with it for the time being," quips Smades.)
"Devon and I work well together," Smades says. "I thought I should bring him the stuff I was writing, and he was rapidly becoming a good producer. Over a six-month period, we had ourselves a full 12-song set. I knew [Hasan] when we were in a band in high school, and he came back and asked to be in [Luxxe]. Before that, we were looking for a bass player. My friend said, 'Come and listen to my roommate.' Immediately, [Haddad] knew what she was doing. It just clicked."
The single "One" hooks you with Smades' buoyant vocals channeling Justin Timberlake and a bubbly guitar sound that glistens like the Arizona sun. The song sounds like what you wanted your first kiss to be: seeing fireworks ahead filled with love and possibilities. Dig a little deeper on YouTube and the full range of the band's potential emerges. "Pick a Dollar" shows a melancholy side to the band, with Smades' vocals going from bright to bluesy, giving his own vocal cords the same kind of abuse Paul McCartney's received on much of Abbey Road.
Smades struggles to find where that song came from, attributing its inspiration to Led Zeppelin. "It kind of comes out of left field," he says. "One day I heard it and felt it. I showed it to Devon and he said, 'Let's do it.'"
Smades and the band are seeing their hard work paying off. The group's first EP will see the light of day on June 26, with a full-length tentatively scheduled for release in November. In addition, Luxxe won the Vans Warped Tour Battle of the Bands, which got them a lot on Warped Tour's Mesa stop. which took place on Tuesday, June 23.
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"I haven't seen this much growth and support like I have [with Luxxe] in other bands [I've been in]," Smades says.
Smades attributes his determination to his family. His mother, a musical minister at her church, has what her son describes as a "powerhouse voice" that motivates him to belt out earnest lyrics. When his father, whose guitar playing gave Smades the inspiration to teach himself the instrument, was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, it gave him the determination to fulfill his dream of making music his full-time job.
Smades seemed hesitant to open up about how this event helped chart his course. "I always loved to sing, but I would put myself in these positions where I couldn't sing very much or sing at all," he says, "When that happened, it made me realize I don't have that much time to waste by doing something I didn't love."
Looks as if we're witnessing the first chapter of Luxxe's success story.