Bastille began as a solo project by singer-songwriter Dan Smith. He started writing tunes in his southwest London bedroom at the age of 15, but kept them secret from his friends. "I wrote songs very much for myself and thought it was really embarrassing," he recalled to The Independent. "None of my friends ever knew. My family knew because they overheard it coming out of my room – these weird warbling noises."
Smith continued writing music in his student gigs whilst studying English Literature at Leeds University. A friend of his stumbled upon his songs and was impressed enough to enter him for a local competition, which he won. The prize was studio recording time and performing a gig.
Smith befriended a band at Leeds, Kid iD who heard his songs and encouraged him. Kid iD later evolved into the well regarded rock group To Kill a King, who supported Bastille on many of their 2013 UK tour dates.
After finishing his studies Smith returned to London where he continued pursuing his solo career. He decided to form a band and recruited Chris 'Woody' Wood, William Farquarson, and Kyle Simmons for their line up.
The name of the band derives from Bastille Day – an event celebrated on Smith's birthday, July 14th.
Bastille gigged relentlessly throughout 2011 and signed with Virgin at the end of the year. Smith told The Daily Telegraph that with Virgin they have the resources and clout of a major label without losing touch with those who buy their music. "I run our Twitter and Facebook pages, because I feel it's important to maintain a personal relationship with fans," he said.
Smith is a huge fan of the television TV series Twin Peaks
and its creator David Lynch. Both Bastille's debut single "Overjoyed" (released on April 27, 2012) and the title track of their first EP "Laura Palmer
," were inspired by the show.
Bastille's fourth single "Pompeii
" was their breakthrough hit, peaking at #2 in the UK and #5 in the US. Smith originally wrote the song in 2010 on a laptop in his student bedroom.
Bastille won the British breakthrough act trophy at the 2014 BRIT Awards, following such previous winners as Arctic Monkeys and Ed Sheeran.