ARTIST NAME: Mally Smith
SONG TITLE: Dive In
ALBUM TITLE: Free
RELEASE DATE: 2 July 2021
GENRE: Singer-songwriter, Folk, Indie-Folk
Mally Smith is a singer-songwriter from Boston, now living in Edinburgh Scotland. Mally’s childhood love of the melancholy ballads of the British Isles and poetic, political songs of the American folk revival fuels her thoughtful and honest songwriting. Reminiscent of Anais Mitchell, Shawn Colvin, and a young Joni Mitchell, Mally combines tasteful guitar and poetic lyrics with a clear voice that will melt your heart. Mally’s fourth studio album entitled “Free” is set to be released in August 2021.
The water’s cold, the water’s cold
I know, I know
What you hold
You carry such a heavy load
The summit’s near
The summit’s near
Across the air
You can feel him there
Discuss your approach to music production.
My approach to music production changes with each project. For this album, I really wanted to explore a more restrained production style and to be really intentional about what layers to add to the song. I recorded the full album in a home studio in Balerno, Scotland during a weeklong recording session in early February 2020. My bandmates, Evan Hamilton and Mike McKenzie, and I spent the week immersed in the songs. For “Dive In”, Evan adds electric, acoustic, and bass guitar, and Mike plays piano alongside my simple fingerpicking guitar style. Together, we aimed to craft a simple yet powerful, almost meditative, soundscape for the song.
Elaborate on how you come up with your lyrics.
My lyrics generally begin with a personal experience. “Dive In” was written in the summer of 2019 as I mourned the loss of my beloved Uncle Rob. The song was a way to process the grief, beauty, and immensity of death. Somehow, in death, a person becomes both nowhere and everywhere. For me, I find my uncle in nature – in the lochs and hills of Scotland, the mountains and forests of New Hampshire. I feel him in music – in the sounds and rhythms of my family. So the lyrics for ‘Dive In’ were really born out of both the love I witnessed in the days and months after my uncle’s passing – the words are about finding peace and communing with what is lost through nature, community, self, and song.
Discuss your songwriting process.
Generally, my songs begin with a small idea or feeling that then evolves into a short combination of words. These words then tumble around in my brain for a while, gathering moss and momentum until the day comes when I pick up a guitar and being to experiment with weaving the words into a melody. Sometimes this part of the process is arduous, full of re-writes and edits. Other times it is remarkably easy. “Dive In” was one of those songs that felt like it just fell out of the air and into my voice and hands. I wrote it in about twenty minutes one rainy summer evening.
Tell us about your next project.
My main focus right now is the release of this single “Dive In”. Next up, is the music video for the song, which premiers on my Facebook and YouTube channels on Friday, July 9th. I can’t wait to share this music video with everyone! It is a beautiful compilation of home videos from my childhood and really captures the magic of my family’s connection to nature and each other.
Tell us what you won’t do again in your music career.
No more playing unpaid gigs!
Tell us how you ensure your music is engaging.
I think writing from the heart, with honesty and vulnerability, is the best way to engage with listeners. I know for me, that is what I look for in music – artists like Anais Mitchell, Adrianne Lenker, and Rose Cousins are just some examples of the kind of songwriters that really capture me.
Tell us your definition of harmony in music.
Harmony is when the layers of the song come together in a way that makes something inside of me vibrate and hum – a kind of full-bodied experience of the song.
State your opinion on the income from digital streaming.
It is incredibly difficult to make a living as an independent musician solely via digital streaming. Platforms like Spotify have really put folks like me in a tough situation – we need the platform in order to share our music and ensure that it is heard, while at the same time we get paid next to nothing for our work.
Suggest ways that artists can make a living.
Every artist is different – some teach music lessons, others have more traditional day jobs. I suppose the best advice I can give is to stay true to yourself and do what is best for you and the music.
Tell that special moment you discovered music.
One of my favorite musical moments was listening to Joni Mitchell’s album “For The Roses” for the first time. I bought the vinyl secondhand back in 2014 and listened to it by myself in my apartment just outside Boston. The entire record absolutely captivated me.
State your best song and the reason.
I don’t know about the best song, but right now my favorite is the upcoming single “Dive In” because it is so personal and I love the way the sound and production turned out.
Discuss the difference between recording in a professional studio and a home studio.
One of the main differences is the kind of sound you get. In a professional studio, it’s easier to get a cleaner more isolated sound. In most home studios, there will be more ambient noise in the recording. Ultimately, neither one is better nor worse; it just depends on the kind of sound and energy you want for the recording.
Discuss your interaction with your fans.
I love meeting fans! I’ve really missed that part of the music process since the pandemic hit. Live gigs are the best way to interact with fans and make connections. Hopefully, we can get back to live gigs soon!
Tell us how you create the time to promote your music online.
Promotion and marketing is a really time-consuming job! It takes a lot of consistent hard work! I try to make a schedule and do my best to stick to it, but sometimes that can’t happen.
State the tools you know can be of help to a musician.
One of the things that has really helped me is having a community of other artists and musicians to connect with and learn from. I would say being a part of a musical community is the best thing I did for my own career, creativity, and wellbeing.
Elaborate on the song.
The song is about my connection to my family, especially to my Uncle Rob who passed away in 2019. It is also about my connection to nature and the natural world brings me closer to myself and closer to my family.
Elaborate on your artist’s name and the title of the song.
The title of the track is ‘Dive In,’ which is a main lyric throughout the song. I wrote the song during a summer when I was spending a lot of time wild swimming in lochs and reservoirs here in Scotland. The lyrics and the title of the song came from those experiences.