Mindy Smith Makes "Ballsy" Americana
After four highly successful albums with Vanguard Records, singer-songwriter Mindy Smith took the bold and daring plunge into self-releasing her work, forming Giant Leap Records.
Fairlight Hubbard Mindy Smith
Interestingly, Smith did not go off the handle and embrace genres unbecoming her trademark mix of folk and country, some with a rock and roll edge, but instead stripped down to warmly embrace a return to her roots. It's solid ground, a down-home sound blending the above styles with some Appalachian melodies and homespun tales. Many of the songs actually go back many years, Smith explained in a recent phone interview, but never found a proper home on previous releases.
So is the independence paying dividends? It's a little early to tell, but it's clear from the interview that Smith is "all in" and committed to her new venture. Given the stirring mix of songs, it's likely the transition from musician to musician/label operator will be a smooth one.
Up on the Sun: You've started your own label. It's called Giant Leap. Is that a telling name in moving from musician, songwriter and performer to handling aspects on the other side of the business?
Mindy Smith: Most definitely. There's something to be said about testing yourself in a way that...I think risk is how this industry is going anyway. But it's about ownership and where your energies are being used. Making albums and music is so permanent, and to turn around and not have any control of that, it's tough. And that's part of it.
I've talked with so many bands over the years that have been out there 20 to 30 years and always had a label controlling everything, so they have no money and end up playing so-so venues to survive.
I think for me the label was what I needed at the time, but when the opportunity was there to leave, I opted out. I think often times artists are stuck and can't free themselves. Unless you're getting vast quantities of tour support you're going to play dives and drive a minimum cost car to the venues, but you're doing it for the music.
In the notes on your publicity sheet about the song "Closer" you say you realize "now is the moment." Is this a reference that now was the moment to make a break from your label?
Absolutely. I have thought on it for so many years and sometimes timing is everything. I have the right people in my life right now that support me in a way that two years ago when I started this process wouldn't have worked. Actually, I started this three years ago and it wouldn't have worked if I didn't have leverage. You need leverage to make this work. I wasn't investing in myself so much as waiting and cooling out waiting for the right fit. As time went by that leap of faith has taken its own form. I have great people invested in me; not only financially, but spiritually and musically. They dig it, they get it and they want to be a part of it. Hopefully we'll all reap the rewards from it.
You say this all began three years ago, which is when your last album (Stupid Love) came out. Did this give you more time to reflect more on life?
It has. I'm older and when you get older it's easier to see... that's what my life was, but it's easy to see what you needed and how to change your future. They only way to do it is look at the past.