Born in Long Island, New York, Mindy Smith is one of the best
up-and-coming vocalists to emerge from the Nashville scene. Her debut album, "One
Moment More," is out on Vanguard Records. Mindy recently spoke to me about herwriting
method, making it in Nashville, and playing pool.
that you wish the press wouldn't ask you?
No, inquiries are
fine,because as long as people are asking questions, I'm doing okay.
youhave a favorite song off "One Moment More"?
the titletrack. 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 impactyour
She was a vocalist and one of my best friends. I adored her.She
was a tremendous individual on so many levels: spiritual and musical. She wasvery loyal and
kind-spirited, a very anointed spirit.
You've been quotedas saying that
your whole life is on this record. Is it hard for you to writesuch personal
Well, I find it hard not to. That's how I clear
Do you have a particular method to your
Well, Istart with the music. I try to be melodic first
and then I go ahead and see ifthe words will come. Generally, if the music isn't happening, nine
out of tentimes the words aren't happening.
Is there one common message
I don't know if there is a message, I think it's just
honesty. It'sjust the way I've experienced it. I'm just expressing myself. Songwriting is
likelooking at a painting. It is an expression of my personal experiences, and ifpeople find that
interesting, then that's icing on the cake.
Doessongwriting help you
get through personal experiences?
I think anycreative avenue, any
creative outlet, is a way to sort out your issues oremotional distress. A lot of people are
encouraged to do that, and I definitelyencourage that. Be it art, music, poetry, journalism like
your creativity is important. People who lack that gift appreciate others' ability. [People say
tome] "Thank you, I didn't know how to put that in words or how to get thatimage on
paper." That's been my experience; people are very kind to me.Creativity is definitely a
great element in coping with life.
Whatinspired "Down in
Let me reflect ae I think I wasdepressed, I had just
come out of a relationship and was all alone. I was movingon with my life, and trying to cope. I
had been in a relationship for a year anda half, which is unusual for me, I'm usually a very
short-term relationship kindof gal.
"Down in Flames" was
definitely a coping song. [Youfeel like] you're trying so hard to be positive and there is so much
negativityaround and a lot of it I press on myself, like most creative people. We tend toreflect
and hold onto things that bring us down.
What role has religionplayed
in your life? It seems to be a big theme on the album.
ofspirituality is the same for everybody. I think we are all sorting it out. That'swhat life is
about, it's about sorting out every day which can be love, sadness,joy, or it can be spirituality.
I've always felt guilty if I don't do certainthings. I'm not your typical church-going girl like I
should be. I feel bad aboutthat, but I can't do it. I'm committed to my spirituality and my faith,
butsometimes I stink at it.
What are your
I enjoy catching upwith my friends, 'cause I'm rarely at
home. With that said, my favoriterecreational activity is playing pool. I also like to see my
friends' bands play.I also enjoy painting or drawing, when I get around to
Do you rememberyour first gig?
in a band for a short time when I lived in Cincinnati and we did a show. I think the band broke up
two weeks later. Wedidn't have a name, but it was fun. When I got to Knoxville, I started playing
ata place called Manhattan's in an area known as the Old City. Those were really myfirst gigs, and
I didn't even play guitar then, I just sang a cappella. I didn'tknow how to play the guitar until I
Describe yourself in three words.
I'm complex, a free spirit, and I just love making music. Three words:
complex, free-spirited, musician. How's
It's good because I don't
make any sense. You could say that,"I don't make any
That would be a great title for
I can't make one cent out of me. Well, maybe a dime, but not
What's the hardest part about trying to make it
Making it in Nashville.
hardest part of it ae
There's so much talent. There's a plethora, an abundance
of talent. Youjust have to be on your toes and respect others with talent. In a sense, theywill
return that [respect], which is 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. Thesepeople are really gifted. That's what
makes for a great record when you hire theright players in Nashville 'cause there are so many of
them. The ones who aredoing the good work are ae on my record! I got lucky.
Do you have any tipsfor aspiring
Take criticism constructively. It's notfun when
you get criticized, but it does help you with endurance. If you learnearly that not everyone is
going to love what you do, it's easier to cope. Ninetimes out of ten, if one person gets it,
everyone else wants to get it. Youshould just stick with it if you're driven and that's where your
heart is. Iwould suggest to keep writing and making your own music. When it works out, it
isincredibly rewarding to use your own material that you believe in, which sometimes takes a while.
For me it took ten years, for some people it takes significantly less, and for others it never
Maintain your love for music that will carry you through. Don't make
it about money and don't makeit about fame. I think that will make it a lot
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.