Getting Personal with
Mindy Smith

Born in Long Island, New York, Mindy Smith is one of the best up and coming vocalists to come out of the Nashville scene. Her debut album, “One Moment More,” is out now on Vanguard Records. Mindy recently called in from Lawrence to discuss her writing method, making it in Nashville and playing pool.

Is there anything that you wish the press wouldn’t ask you? 
I think inquiries are fine. As long as people are asking questions, I’m doing ok.

Do you have a favorite song off of One Moment More? 
Yeah, that would be the title track. I dedicated the record to my mom. I wrote [One Moment More] for my mom, who passed away in ’91 of breast cancer.

How did she have an impact on your life? 
She was a vocalist, and she was one of my best friends. I adored her. She was a tremendous individual on so many levels, on a spiritual level, on a musical level, on a loyalty level. She was very loyal and kind-spirited, a very anointed spirit.

You’ve been quoted as saying that your whole life is on this record, is it hard for you to write such personal songs?
Well, I find it hard not to. That’s how I cense, that’s how I clear my head when I get around to it.

Do you have a certain method to your songwriting? 
Well, I start with the music. I try to be melodic first and then I go ahead and see if the words will come after that. Generally, if the music isn’t happening, the words aren’t happening; nine out of ten times.

Do you feel that there is one common message within the album? 
I don’t know if there is a message, I think it’s just honesty. It’s just the way I’ve experienced it rather than trying to put my opinions on other people. I’m just expressing myself. It’s like looking at a painting. [Songwriting] is an expression of my personal experiences, and if people find that interesting then that’s icing on the cake.

Does song writing help you to get through those personal experiences? 
I think any creative avenue, any creative outlet you can find it a way to sort out your issues or your emotional distress. A lot of people are encouraged to do that, and I definitely encourage that. Be it art, be it music, be it poetry, be it journalism, like yourself, creativity is important. People who lack that gift appreciate other people’s ability to do it. [People say to me] “Thank you, I didn’t know how to put that in words or how to get that image on paper.” That’s been my experience; people are very kind to me. Creativity is definitely a great element I coping with life.

What inspired “Down in Flames”? 
Let me reflect…I was just down, I think I was depressed, I had just come out of a relationship and I was all alone. I was moving on with my life, and just trying to cope. I was in a relationship for a year and a half, which is unusual for me; I’m a very short-term relationship kind of gal. “Down in Flames” was definitely a coping song. [You feel like] you’re trying so hard to be positive and there is so much negativity around,. And a lot of it I press on myself, as do most creative people. We tend to reflect and hold on to things that bring us down.

What role has religion played in your life; it seems to be a big theme on the album. 
The role of spirituality is the same for everybody; I think we are all just sorting it out. That’s what life is about, it’s about sorting out everyday and that can be love, that can be sadness, that can be joy, it can be spirituality. I’ve always felt guilty if I don’t do certain things. I’m not your typical church-going girl like I should be. I feel bad about that, but I can’t do it. I’m committed to my spirituality and my faith, and sometimes I stink at it.

What are your hobbies outside of music? 
I enjoy catching up with my friends, ‘cause I rarely am at home nowadays. With that said, my favorite recreational thing to do is to go play some pool. I also like to go see one of my friends’ bands play. I also enjoy painting or drawing, when I get around to it, which is an expensive hobby.

Do you remember your first gig? 
I was in a band for a short stay when I lived in Cincinnati and we did a show. I think the band broke up like two weeks later. We didn’t have a name for the band, but it was fun. When I got to Knoxville, I started playing at a place called Manhattan’s in an area of Knoxville, Tennessee known as the Old City. Those were really my first gigs, and I didn’t even play guitar at the time, I just sang a cappella. I didn’t know how to play the guitar until about twenty-four.

Describe yourself in three words. 
I’m complex, free spirit, and I just love making music. Three words: complex, free-spirited, musician. How’s that?

It’s good.
It’s good because I don’t make any sense. You could say that, “I don’t make any sense.”

That would be a great title for the piece.
I can’t make one cent out of me. Well, maybe a dime, but not any sense.

What’s the hardest part about trying to make it in Nashville? 
Making it in Nashville.

That’s the hardest part of it…
Well, there’s so much talent. There’s a plethora, an abundance of talent. You just have to be on your toes and respect other people with talent. In a sense, they will return that [respect] to you, and it’s a good support system. However, [Nashville] is tight on resources. It’s not as bad as New York or L.A., but it’s tough. These people are really gifted. That’s what makes for a great record when you hire the right players in Nashville ‘cause there are so many of them. The ones that are doing the good work are…on my record! I got lucky.

Do you have any tips for aspiring singer/songwriters? 
Take criticism constructively. It’s not fun when you get criticized, but it does help you with endurance. If you learn early that not everyone is going to love what you do then it’s easier to cope. Nine times out of ten, if one person gets it then everyone else wants to get it. I think just stick with it if you’re driven and that’s where your heart is. I would keep writing and keep making my own music if I were you, because it’s hard to do it that way and when you do it it’s so rewarding. When it does work out, it is so incredibly rewarding to have your own material, and your own expression, and your own record that you believe in and sometimes it takes awhile. For me it took ten years, for some people it takes significantly less, and for some people it never happens. Maintain your love for music, and that’s going to carry you through. Don’t make it about money and don’t make it about fame and I think it will be a lot easier road.

For more information on Mindy Smith, check out her website: www.mindysmith.net


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