This past Friday, LA-based producer/keyboardist Smile High shared his highly anticipated LP The Vibetape, a dynamic fusion of R&B, Jazz, Funk, and Hip-Hop, in collaboration with internationally known jam band The Main Squeeze. Featuring over a dozen vocalists, including 6LACK, Chuck Inglish, Tiffany Gouché, and Felly, the ten-track project cements Smile High (AKA Ben “Smiley” Silverstein) as a need-to-know producer and A&R.
Smiley, who got his nickname from his “resting smile face,” co-founded The Main Squeeze while studying at Indiana University, and has been the band’s keyboardist since its inception. Spontaneous jam sessions were a hallmark of the band’s founding, and they’ve maintained this emphasis in the decade-plus that followed, whether in Indiana, Chicago or their current home of Los Angeles.
The studio sessions for The Vibetape were assembled with the intent of breaking a pattern of excessive seriousness in LA’s music scene, which Smile High & the Squeeze began to notice as they partook in industry sessions and went to concerts. On The Vibetape, the band created space for collaborators to express themselves freely and without fear of judgment, resulting in a warm, cohesive body of work that feels like an afternoon barbecue with friends.
“I’ve always found the most joy in collaborating with others and combining what I do best with what other people do best, and just being pleasantly surprised with the end result,” shares Smiley. “That’s always been the essence of what I’ve been doing, and The Vibetape is truly the culmination of that.”
The first single from The Vibetape—“Real” (ft. Tiffany Gouché & Abhi the Nomad)—arrived September 29 and the band has released singles on a weekly basis since. Each track has been accompanied by a visualizer shot at the Squeeze House, in a series they call the “Treehouse Sessions.”
The Vibetape is Smiley’s second project with Nettwerk of 2023, following April’s Snack Pack LP, a chillhop-jazztronica fusion project created with instrumentalists Horace Bray and Teddy Roxpin.