You’re walking to class at Everett Community College, and you pass by a groundskeeper trimming the grass. Unruly blonde hair pokes out from underneath a stocking cap perched atop his head. He smiles as you walk past, but you don’t notice because you’re running late for class and have shin splints because you had to walk up the hill from where you parked. You don’t give the moment a second thought; unbeknownst to you, that groundskeeper was a certain Scotty Smith — the frontman of Fauna Shade, a band which has quickly become the poster child of the growing music scene in Everett, Washington.
Smith has worked at EvCC for over three years, initially working in the bookstore. He eventually left for groundskeeping, which he finds more enjoyable. “Selling overpriced textbooks to younger kids, I could see the pain in their eyes,” he says. “I felt so bad.”
It was in these days when Fauna Shade began. Inspired by Tame Impala’s home recordings, Scotty started privately making music without many lofty ambitions. “I didn’t have big dreams,” he says. “Big dreams within Everett at that time were naive.”
Now, however, many would likely call Fauna Shade Everett’s biggest band. In the year since the release of their debut album, Baton Rouge, Fauna Shade has drawn the attentions of the music blog Consequence of Sound and local tastemakers at KEXP. This year, the band played at Sasquatch, one of Washington’s largest music festivals, sharing the bill with acts such as The Cure, Sufjan Stevens, M83, and the Alabama Shakes.
It’s almost hard to believe that only last year Smith recorded a cover of “Only Time” by Enya in the Whitehorse Art Annex where he was working. The song has stuck with Smith due to a “very New Age experience” involving a BMW belonging to a friend’s dad. Armed with frequent isolation in the annex — nothing much more than a concrete box, according to Smith — he recorded some guitar tracks while on the clock.
The same sense of wonder that drove Smith to cover a song he discovered in his pre-Fauna Shade days has not departed as successes have arrived. For example, Smith says some highlights of his weekend at Sasquatch were interacting with actor and comedian John C. Reilly and being able to sit stage-side to watch his favorite bands.
This sense also manifests in Smith’s current aspirations for his music now that it has a wider reach. Smith hopes that the music can become a gathering place for those normally isolated, noting that growing up Nirvana has a similar effect on him. “I’m hoping that my music finds people like Kurt found me,” he says.
However, this wonder and and idealism doesn’t equate naivety. Speaking of the attention Fanua Shade has been receiving, Smith admits, “It’s kind of a double-edged sword.” While it is certainly a good thing that success is now comes from Everett, he says “Everett gets a lot more attention just as a byproduct of us.” This doesn’t sit well with Smith, who wants to bring other passionate creators into a true community. And as he finds a way to make this happen, Scotty Smith insists one thing: “All are welcome.”
Fauna Shade can be found on the interwebs. Their latest EP, Floral Hall, can be streamed below. Fauna Shade will be playing a show with Crystal Desert on July 12th as a part of Wetmore Theater Plaza’s Sets in the West summer concert series.
All photos courtesy of Scotty Smith/Fauna Shade.