A Conversation with Mindy Smith
Puremusic: Although I think it is in every way fitting, it's amazing to see all the great things that are happening for you now.
Mindy Smith: Thank you.
PM: How are you processing all that?
MS: Well, I'm still sort of developing the tools I need in order to process it all.
MS: You know what I'm saying? I don't really know what to expect. Everything is different every day. There's always something--it is kind of becoming an interesting situation, more than I've ever anticipated. So as far as dealing with it, I haven't gotten around to that yet. [laughs]
PM: Everybody has dreams, but making dreams come true in a world like this, I mean, it just seems so far-fetched.
MS: It is far-fetched. I've always had to cope with it not working out. That seems to be easier for me to deal with than the things that are starting to work out. It is great, but it can drain you. So hopefully it'll all start to make sense, because come February things are going to hopefully pick up and I'll be able to actually go out and meet and greet people and start to build an audience. And that might help me understand everything a little bit better. But right now I'm still kind of sitting in my apartment getting calls and getting reviews or interviews or stuff like that.
PM: Right. "I'm tired of being the next big thing. Just let me get the hell out and there play, please."
MS: [laughs] And that's another thing, too, that extra added pressure, knowing that some people are going to expect a lot. But I'm excited that some people who are jaded in this industry are excited about this record, because I think it speaks for other people in Nashville who are capable of making the same kind of record and just haven't been given the opportunity.
PM: It's a beautiful thing to say, and it's a good point. When you do go out and tour, who's it going to be with? Will it be a duo or a combo?
MS: Well, as of right now, we're just going to have Lex out. My mandolin player Lex Price, who is an extraordinary musician in his own right, is going to come out with me on the beginning of this tour, and we're going to just kind of rough it a little bit and hope that people respond and come see a live show.
PM: Yeah, and Lex, on top of being a fine musician, is just such a cool person to have with you on the road. He's even and deep, great cat.
MS: He's very tolerant.
MS: I'm not going to say I'm the easiest person to work with, but I try. We all have our days.
PM: Yeah. Well, I think you're pretty nice.
MS: Thanks, Frank.
PM: I don't know the story, even though we're friends, so maybe for the sake of your present and future fans, let's talk some about growing up in Long Island and thereabouts, what your early life was like.
MS: Oh, I certainly had a struggle--my childhood was a struggle. But I was fortunate that I had a strong family around me to support me when other people wouldn't. I ran into a lot of problems with teachers and schooling. For lack of a better word, I was a loser. [laughs]
MS: Oh, yeah. I mean, I was really just--I didn't have--I was kind of the kid that no one would play with at school. I mean, seriously, that's the truth--
PM: It's hard for me to imagine that.
MS: We all compensate as adults...
PM: It's hard to imagine now.
MS: No, it's true. It's true. I had friends in my church that I played with, but nobody at school. And it just kind of started to feed into itself, because you know, kids can be cruel. That's just it. I mean, it's no sob story. I'm certainly among good company, I'm sure--people who have had to deal with that sort of thing. But yeah, I had a rough time. My music teachers didn't support me at all. They were, in fact, quite the opposite, very negative and very destructive.
PM: Did you show an interest from the get go?
MS: Oh, God, yes. I was three years old, I think, wanting--all I ever wanted to do was to sing. And I walked around the house all day long singing, playing with my stuffed animals and singing, that's all I did.
PM: And so did you grow up going to regular public school, or some parochial or private school or--
MS: I went to public school.
PM: And you couldn't get any support on your artistic side from the teachers you ran into in the system?
MS: There was no support from them musically. But when you're creative, you're a creative person. You can't get around it. You can't get over it, you can't get under it, you just have to kind of get through it.
MS: So I turned to visual arts, and that was a really good outlet for me creatively. It gave me a way to cope. It was actually a wonderful, wonderful part of my life then, because I was so beaten down. I was really fortunate to have support from that side, to have the attention in another way of being creative and refocus that energy--at that time it was so necessary for me.
PM: So do you mean you were drawing or painting?
MS: Yeah, yeah. I did all that stuff. I'm not saying I'm any good at it. [laughs]
PM: Do you still?
MS: No, no, I don't. Songwriting takes a lot out of me.
PM: Well, you put a lot in.
MS: I'd love to paint if I could afford it. Mostly the reason I stopped doing it was because it's so expensive to be in that kind of creative place. It costs a fortune, and I can't afford it. Supplies are expensive, and if you want good ones, if you want to project the right image... Anybody who's in a creative place is going to be spending more money than they're making. [laughs]
PM: Yeah. God knows music is an expensive habit.
MS: It is an expensive habit, but it seems easier to do. For some reason, for me, to be poor doing music was much easier than to be poor doing art. And you can make an investment in a guitar and just have that one guitar and that's all you need.
PM: That's true.
MS: You don't have to go out and buy a new guitar every time you finish a song--you don't run out of guitars like you run out of paint. continue