“Colourful, moody, melancholy” | Interview with Micki-Lee Smith

Can music be therapeutic? Can music be used as a medicine? Micki-Lee Smith takes us on a journey which tries to respond to difficult questions, from a songwriter’s point of view. But in the end, it is the audience itself that has the last word. Click play!

Describe your sound in 3 words

Colourful, moody, melancholy.

This EP is about the impact of the pandemic on mental health. Tell us few things about it.

Shattered Glass is a journey. It starts with a blend of real and synthesized instruments all mixed together representing the beginning of a loss of clarity. The following tracks each represent a different mindset: disappointment, melancholy, grief, disbelief, and longing.
The final track shatters the haze of emotional turmoil and we are hit with clarity. The sound of a pure grand piano and acoustic instruments awaken the listener from a dream and bring to light true reality.
My own personal struggles throughout the pandemic is how Shattered Glass came to be. Writing the songs was very therapeutic… in addition to actually attending therapy. I remember going on 4pm walks during that time, and little things like a pink cloud in the sky, or watching a kid play in the park would nearly bring me to tears.
I had just moved to Toronto and touched a Nord Electro 3 Keyboard for the first time, which was also very exciting for me and is heard throughout the album.

In Shattered Glass the listener wakes from that long dream into reality. Are you optimistic? Are we on a slippery slope towards dystopia?

I think when a person is ready to wake up from living in a state of mental protection or even denial, they will be able to make sense of things and gain perspective on why it happened in the first place.
I am optimistic in the power and strength of young people. We are resilient and we keep trying. When you zoom out it’s easy to view humans as a resistant species of bedbugs. Life is relentless, and when dystopia hits, I think we’ll figure it out.

Artists and people that have influenced you?

My love of vocal harmonies stemmed from folk music and artists like Dala and Brandie Carlile. I remember being especially excited to hear harmonies that were a bit harder to pick out, such as in songs by Andy Shauf and Matt Maltese. Faye Webster has influenced me more recently by being authentically herself in the lyrics or subject matter of her music. Arrangements of bands like The Punch Brothers or The Fretless definitely make me want to push my boundaries compositionally. I love a good major 7 chord, so the Jazz standouts for me are Bob Brookmeyer or Stan Getz, specifically their albums “Out of This World” and “Cool Jazz Strings”. I can also hum every single song that’s available of Luiz Bonfa’s so that must be influencing me as well!

Why does criticism last longer than praise?

People just want to be loved. Criticism exists in the folder of self improvement, which you really have to be in the right mindset to unpack.

If your music was a book, which book would that be?

A colouring book. But not an adult colouring book, a children’s one with blue, purple, and green crayons.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

The things you seek from others, are things you already possess. I’d also want to give myself a heads up that things are going to harder than I can even imagine, but that it will be ok. I’d validate myself in having a quarter life crisis at age 20, because it later dawned on me that no one really lives to 100 anyways.

What is the first album you remember hearing as a child?

I just had a flash of the console in the gold van we had as a kid, and I am mentally scrolling through what those 10 CD covers looked like….
I think a couple of the earliest I can remember are The Judds album “Rockin’ with the Rhythm”, or Alison Krauss and Union Station’s “New Favourite”.

Thank you!

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