I thought that headline would get your attention. Good, now that I have you here, stick around for a few minutes to read this interview I did with Mindy Smith.
Before we get started, let me give you a little background on Mindy on the off chance that you are not familiar with her and her music. Mindy is a native New Yorker, more precisely Nesconset, Long Island. She normally tells people Smithtown because most folks have no clue (if you’re not from Long Island) what a Nesconset is or how to pronounce it. I know to fellow Long Islanders, it doesn’t seem like a tough thing but for folks that did not grow up there, seeing names like Hauppauge, Ronkonkoma, Quogue and I could go on and on, but those are not common names and hard to pronounce to outsiders. Mindy is a free spirit who is very attuned to her surroundings and her environment. Mindy’s music is actually not a specific genre and although she currently lives in Nashville, she is not what anyone would consider a country artist or writer. We will get around to talking about all of these things as we dive into this interview about her new Christmas release, “Showed In,” and her upcoming Opry appearance at the Ryman. The weather was frightful and we had decided to do this over the phone. I was hoping we wouldn’t get disconnected during the call and the fates were on our side so this is a complete interview. This is how it went:
Q You have a show coming up at the Ryman?
A Yeah, it is considered a Grand Old Opry show but during the holidays they have the Radio City Music Christmas Show at the Grand Old Opry over by Opry Mills so they do their other shows at the Ryman.
Q So it’s basically titled Opry at the Ryman but the shows are physically taking place at the Ryman Auditorium?
A Yes. I am on the bill with some wonderful other people. EmmyLou Harris, Rodney Crowell and Clare Bowen are also performing that evening. I am not sure who else is in the line-up.
Q What night is that happening?
A December 14th.
Q What are you going to be performing?
A Christmas songs.
Q How many are you planning on doing?
A Usually it’s two when I go there, it is usually two songs.
Q Your own original songs?
Q Very cool. What made you want to do a Christmas Album?
A Well I was actually just writing a couple of Christmas tunes just to have them and it just seemed like a good fun idea to throw a couple of them together and toss them out into the world and share them with people. We are a small company so we have to go “all in” whenever we do anything.
Q Do you think Christmas is different in Nashville than on Long Island?
A I moved to Nashville in 1998.
Q Wow, that’s a long time ago already.
A Yes it is.
Q Do you find Christmas in Tennessee different than Christmas on Long Island?
A It has been so long since I have been on Long Island at Christmas time. I guess to me Christmas has just changed over the years just because it has. I don’t know how much it has to do with where I am as much as it has to do with the changes and the journey that I have been on. I wish we had more wintery weather but it looks like we might have some of that this year in Tennessee.
Q Yeah, it looks that way doesn’t it?
A Yeah, I don’t even know if I still lived in New York if I would get into the hustle and bustle there. I mean I just sort of stay out of it because it just becomes too much and you can see how people get so intense during the holidays because they want everybody to be happy but then their just miserable with all the work and rushing.
Q What does Christmas means to you?
A Well first of all I was raised Christian so for me it’s about celebrating the birth of Christ but it is also about the fun side of it. Acknowledging people a little extra and more than you would throughout the year. It gives you the opportunity to acknowledge and spoil people a little bit.
Q And make sure you tell them because life gets so busy, don’t you think?
Q Do you get to go home for the holidays?
A My mother’s family still lives on Long Island. My father and siblings live in the North Carolina, Virginia region now so I am sort of in the middle but a little bit out of the way. I tend to not travel during the holidays so it is kind of bittersweet. For me it’s nice to be home for Christmas.
Q Do you find that it’s a very inspirational time for you so you can get a lot of writing done?
A I wish. Any inspiration for writing, I just take it when it comes. Definitely seasons affect my creative process. I would say seasonally because I have always attached different artists to different times of the years. There is so much sentiment attached to music so it tends to be seasonal. I would like to be creative more so than I am. I wish I were.
Q I think you are very creative.
A Oh thank you.
Q Recently, one of my high school friends posted a link to your album and said, everybody check this out, she is from Long Island. I was like that’s great, now my contemporary’s are discovering you. I grew up in Brentwood.
A That is a neighboring town. You know I love New York and I miss New York but it would have been nearly impossible for me to get going and leave the nest when I needed to had I not decided to try a different state out and live in a different city.
Q Physically to have to try and afford to travel back and forth from Long Island to Nashville would have been really costly. What genre would you classify your music?
A I am kind of stuck with not having a specific genre but sometimes I think it would be easier. I think it is just sort of all my influences muddled together and it depends on the mood I am in and what chords I decide to try out on the guitar. I am sharing what is truthful but in terms of like genre it’s different. I have walked into different stores and I have been in pop or I have been in country or it’s in folk or it’s in Singer/Songwriter. Singer/Songwriter and Americana is more and more being recognized as a genre. I would sort of align myself in there with a little bit of pop in it.
Q I was going to ask you because with some of these genres and words, there almost seems to be a stigma attached like to the word Folk where people would view that as folksy or not cool. I think that is changing.
A I think some people think like that. There are a lot of great folk artists, John Prine comes to mind. He is pretty awesome.
Q Right, I know so many folk artists that are awesome and that make great music.
Q I think that is changing and I think the whole feeling in changing. If I had to market you, if you came to me and said market me, I would definitely say that you are Singer/Songwriter as the main genre and category and then I would probably put you in Americana.
A There are so many musicians that I am thankful to be in their company regardless of genre. It is hard to describe people when you don’t even have a description of your own music. So sometimes we gravitate towards the basic, oh, she lives in Nashville so she must be country or oh wow, and she is from Seattle so she must be grunge rock or whatever.
A I think there is an element that because of the way the music industry is now, it’s changing so rapidly it’s hard to sort of pinpoint anymore what’s what. I think it can be good. I think it can be really awesome and I think it can also be detrimental.
Q What do you want to make sure the people out there reading this, what do you want to make sure is the take away for them? I know you are doing a lot of interviews promoting the album?
A Yes, we are around the clock promoting this one but we also have some irons in the fire for putting together a full length record this coming year. We are also just always trying to come up with ways to communicate with people. I think that every time I get an opportunity to share music, I want to be able to grow from somewhere for myself and I just hope that people are digging it? Everything that we are doing is independent of a major label and it’s a lot of work but it’s also very rewarding.
Q Don’t you also have more creative input this way?
A I do but you know I was always pretty fortunate with that. I now have more of the residual rewards if you will, come back to me rather than signing everything away to a label. There’s a lot of strength in having ownership just like anything you do but that also comes with a lot of responsibility. I am not always that good at responsibility but I am doing my best.
Q I know because you are just working all the time. You are never off right?
A I wish. I guess you are right but when you love what you do it doesn’t feel like you would want to stop. I don’t take vacations. It doesn’t even occur to me because this is what we do, living and breathing music. I do like to have fun and play games on my phone and take my little mini Mindy head vacations in my own head. Yeah, I do that, it’s crazy. I think it is really important to really have a balance but for me what I like to do is Thrift. I like to go searching through Thrift Stores.
Q Yeah I saw that Gibson.
A Oh yes.
Q I was jealous. I can’t tell you how many times we go hunting for those finds.
A Yeah, I found that guitar. It was a giveaway.
A We ended up donating monies to the Dave Thomas Foundation; we were trying to raise awareness to the Dave Thomas Foundation because I have a connection with being adopted. It was kind of a fun thing to be able to do. It was a crazy find.
Q Are you saying you were adopted?
A I am.
Q I didn’t know that. Do you want to touch on that?
A It’s a blessing. I feel really strongly that I was put in the home I needed to be in to get where I am at today. My family is awesome and I think adoption is not something that should be as difficult as it is. I think there are children out there that people are missing out on, great people and great kids. I think it is so important to sort of exercise awareness and try to find a way to get those little kids their own families. I mean I am very fortunate. I was one of the lucky ones but there are so many people that don’t have that.
Q Were you adopted at birth?
A I was very very young yes. I was a couple of months old. I am very fortunate. There are all different scenarios but I think that adoption should be spoken about.
Q Getting back to the new album, have you written anything yet for the new album?
A We have quite a few song candidates for the new album yes and I am always writing.
Q Now do you only record songs that you write and do you co-write?
A Yes, I co-write and I co-write often. I only occasionally sing songs I didn’t write. I don’t know why but that’s just how I’ve always done it. I really do enjoy singing other peoples song; I just haven’t put a lot of them on my album.
Q Well legally it’s just easier if you own the songs.
Q It just cuts out a lot of paperwork. You don’t have to get involve with those agencies to get licensing.
A Yeah, it is easier without all the red tape for sure.
Q And also on a financial aspect of it, it all comes back to you.
Q I hope so. Mindy, this has been great. Is there a quote or some special thing you want say that I can tag at the end of this interview?
A What I would want to say to the people that have been around for a while listening and staying in touch with me, thank you very much for your support. I would also like welcome new listeners and invite them to come along and check it out.
Q And the readers can find you where on the internet at?
A Yes they can. I am at MindySmithMusic on Facebook, Twitter and my website. It is all Mindy Smith Music so it’s www.MindySmithMusic.com, Mindy Smith Music on Facebook and on Twitter.
Q Okay, so the same all the way around. That’s great. This way you have continuity.
A We try to keep it simple.
Q With the continuity, people can remember it more easily.
A Yes, exactly.
Q That’s great.
A Well it has been lovely speaking with you.
Q You too. I really enjoyed talking to you. Before you go, where can people pick up, “Snowed In?”
A On my website there are links to Amazon and iTunes and also limited press of the hard copy.
Q Are they autographed if they order directly from your website?
A Yes, I have been autographing this album. All the albums that we are offering that are hard copy are being autographed.
Q Okay, great.
We wrapped it up shortly after discussing a little of this and a little of that. The big takeaway here is that if you don’t know Mindy and her music, you should take the time to get to know her and definitely get, “Snowed In.” with Mindy. Download or order “Snowed In,” so you can enjoy it this holiday season and while you are at it, check out her other albums as well.
Find Mindy on the web at: www.MindySmithMusic.com
Twitter at: https://twitter.com/mindysmithmusic
You can buy tickets to Mindy’s performance at the Ryman at: http://www.ryman.com/event/calendar.html
Make sure to watch the music video!! http://youtu.be/kSP3fbL7PFI