The lessons from Jaden Smith's debut album come by way of his Lost Boy alter ego, named in the album title.
“SYRE: A Beautiful Confusion” details Syre’s missteps and shortcomings — he’s meant to serve as an example and an anti-hero for fans to learn from, he said when VICE News met him in his trailer on set for his upcoming film "Life in a Year."
Not surprisingly for a part-time actor, films are the biggest influence behind Smith’s music. Each song from this first album was teased on his Instagram with a cinematic video snippet. He admires Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd’s Hollywood influence and aesthetic. And in his world, Syre’s life is similar to Leonard DiCaprio’s in "Inception." In the real world? Smith's own life is more like "La La Land."
Smith picked up a guitar and started singing the chorus of “Lost Boy,” the nine-minute standout from the album, another film reference, to the 1987 horror-comedy "The Lost Boys."
He didn't exactly write it: At his Misfits studio in California, he works with a team of producers who build upon the stems and ideas he brings. The electric drums and bass were courtesy of Mateo Arias and Tyler Cole, whose combined sound he described as "just cobwebs and rust, people playing the dust off of some drums.”
And his girlfriend Odessa provided background vocals, in a way that reminded him of the Gamma rays that are invisible to the naked eye.
“So like we have like radio waves coming through us at all times, like Gamma rays, X rays but we can't see them because of like how our eyes work with the electromagnetic spectrum of light. That's kind of like what the background vocals are like," Jaden told VICE News.
Smith started his North American tour April 4 in San Diego, California.
This segment originally aired April 4, 2018, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.