Jessica Alkire

Get Inspired with Caroline Smith

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Twenty-year-old Caroline Smith, a fellow Minnesota native, is fast on the path to success. Already considered one of the best up-and-coming musicians in the indie folk music scene, Smith has recently released her third studio album, “Half About Being a Woman,” with her band, Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps. I got the chance to talk with Smith about her passion for music and how it has influenced her life and work.

At what age did you become interested in music? How did you become interested and how did that interest develop?
I have always been interested in music. I have been writing songs and forcing people to listen to them for as long as I can remember. I used to dress up like T-Boz and choreograph dances in the bathroom mirror for hours and hours. My parents were a little worried about how much time I spent singing to myself in the mirror.

What is your inspiration?
I love writing with other musicians and working with other creative people. I try to work at my craft every day and take lessons from people who inspire me. My producer and long time friend, Jacob Hanson, just gave me a lesson today in funk guitar playing. It’s those types of things that keep me inspired and excited to write more music.

What do you hope to convey through music to listeners?
It sounds cheesy, but especially with this new record, I just want people to feel good about being themselves. I struggled a long time with finding my voice and being comfortable with who I am as an artist. When I finally found it – turns out you don’t have to try so hard to be yourself – I became pretty passionate about people, especially women, and helping them to start appreciating themselves inside and out.

What does a typical day on the job entail?
Well, let’s see: last night I met up with Lizzo to talk about her record, fell asleep on her couch watching music documentaries; woke up and went to a guitar lesson with Jake Hanson; went directly to my amazingly talented voice coach and back-up singer, Ayo Awosika, for a lesson; Sat down at my desk to catch up on emails, and tonight I’m going out to a Dub Step show to watch Jake shred and to meet some folks. So basically it’s a constant interplay between work and play. Business meetings turn into wine, guitar lessons turn into dub-step concerts. I can’t really complain.

(c) Joe Ahlquist

(c) Joe Ahlquist

Are there any musicians from the UK or USA that you would like to collaborate with?
I would love to work with Stokley Williams from Mint Condition, and it would be a dream to work with Feist and Quest Love.

What is your greatest achievement thus far in your career?
It was pretty surreal when I sold out First Avenue in 2011. First Avenue is a club here in Minneapolis that all my favourite artists played while I was growing up. It was such a dream of mine to play that stage, let alone sell out my own headlining show. It felt pretty amazing, and I promised myself to always appreciate those experiences and never forget how many talented people fight to be up there everyday and how fortunate I am.

Where do you aspire to be in five years?
I would love to get to the UK in the next five years! Other than that, I just want to keep making good music and keep playing shows to more and more people.

What barriers do you and/or young musicians in general today face? What is your advice for young musicians?
With the shift of power in the music industry, the power now being in the hands of the independent artist, it’s really easy to lose yourself in all of the work an independent artist has to do to stay afloat. Most of us aren’t on labels, which means we do all of the promotions and funding and financing and branding and web designing and on and on and on and on; an independent musician’s job is never over, and it’s really easy to neglect your musicianship- the reason why you’re doing all of that bullshit to begin with! My advice is to make sure among all of the other things on your to-do list, that you are finding time every day to play music and to stay inspired.

Head over to Caroline Smith’s website, Facebook, and Twitter to learn more and hear her music today.

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