Introducing Bet Smith

I received an email through my site from Rob Currie asking if I would check out an EP called ‘Loose Ends’ from Bet Smith featuring the Currie Brothers (Rob and Andrew). Not knowing what to expect, I clicked the link and listened to the music. Wow, it was beautiful. It was Bet’s voice that initially stood out for me as she has a wonderful tone and control. The more I listened the more I really appreciated what I was listening to and I had to find out more.

To find out more about Bet Smith and her collaboration with the Currie Brothers on this EP, I thought I’d ask the lady herself. I asked her about her influences, working with the Currie Brothers and much more. This is what she had to say.

Who or what inspired you to become a musician and which artists/bands have helped to shape your sound?

It was probably my father – first and foremost – who inspired me. His singing and guitar playing was a constant throughout my youth and it was he who taught me my first chords on the guitar and gave me his Epiphone to learn on. My parents kept some pretty great folk music playing in the house at all times, and somehow remained open minded or at least tolerant as I experimented with listening, at full volume, to everything from Hanson to Tool in my teenage years.

It is very heard to say which artists or bands helped to shape my sound. I write and play a lot of country music when I’m not busy being dark, dreary and alt-folky. The two types of music I write are in strong contrast to one another. But on the subject of the Loose Ends EP, I might have to say… hmmm… there’s probably a bit of Tool influence and I definitely heard a bit of Marilyn Manson when I sang my harmonies, (ha) but also, I adore the haunting and meaningful music of Natalie Merchant, the complete vibe of Gillian Welch, and quirky artists like Hawksley Workman and Tori Amos taught me that I could be a bit odd as a songwriter, and possibly still find listeners.  These aren’t all artists I necessarily listen to often, or even at all anymore, but they have had some influence.

How did you and The Currie Brothers get together to work on this ep? Also, what have they added to your sound?

The Currie Brothers have lived so close to me for most of my life, but I only just met them a year ago.  I’d been told about their shop and studio by a friend, and thought about going to meet them, but I certainly wasn’t making it a priority.  Until one day last spring when I was out walking my parents’ dog, trying to figure out what to do with my life and if music would be  a part of it anymore, and thinking about maybe going to meet the Currie brothers, when a woman I hadn’t seen in years pulled up in her van, and the first thing out of her mouth was, “YOU HAVE GOT TO MEET THESE CURRIE BROTHERS IN GRAVENHURST!”  And so I emailed them that night. And that was that.  It’s a longer story, but that is the crucial beginning of it.

Andrew was the one who sat me down to listen to some of the work Rob had done in the studio. In fact, Rob wasn’t even there that night. I hadn’t had huge expectations of a young guy with a studio in a small town, but what I heard seriously impressed me.

By Rob’s general appearance and the recordings I’d heard, I had an inkling that we might have fun working on some of my strange alt-folk songs together, as opposed to the upbeat country stuff.  So I brought the strange stuff, with no expected outcome, just a hope that we would click and make something cool. And I think that’s what happened.

Rob quickly fell into a producer roll and he and Andrew worked together and with me, layering instrumental tracks and ambient sounds, turning my alt-folk songs into something rich and lovely.  I don’t even know how to describe what the Currie Brothers have added to my sound, I just know that I never want to be completely without the Currie Brothers ever again.

What is your favourite song from the EP and why?

My favourite song is the title track, Loose Ends. It was the second song we recorded. Talisman was the first, and after realizing that the guys were actually into the “dark” aspect of that song, I thought, “heck. I’ll show you dark.” I believe I played Dynamite for them at that point, but we still didn’t know each other well enough to make that one happen yet.  But I just love how Loose Ends turned out. It was a brand-new song at that point, and I was uncertain I even liked it yet.  But now I am certain. It is also the song that inspired Johnny Fay of the very well-loved Canadian band, The Tragically Hip to volunteer some cool ambient percussion tracks, and it is the song that ended up as the title of the EP. I chose it as the title because it was my favourite, but also because every song on the EP was, until now, a loose end. Songs I wasn’t sure about, songs I thought were too strange to play in public, songs that weren’t quite finished, or were rarely played in front of other people.

What have been your career highlights so far and are there any others music related goals you wish to achieve?

Definitely recording Loose Ends with the boys. And we continue to record together… so that is on going. I have played a handful outdoor folk festivals, and that is one of my favourite things to be able to do.  I hope to do a lot more of that. I hope I can drag the guys out of the store and studio once in a while to do festivals with me.  I love road trips and travel, and roughing it, so I do love to tour. I’ll be touring Canada mostly alone this year, which will be different, but interesting, I’m sure.

What are your future plans and goals for your music?

Well! If there was only more time. We are working toward a full-length album, continuing on the feel of Loose Ends. I expect that will be out next spring.

I also have a country band called The Wretched Mathildas. It is a duo with my friend Cody, and we play original music that is unlike the music on Loose Ends in almost every way, except for that I am still pretty crafty with the song writing, and Cody is also a fine composer.

I am working on creating a portfolio of country songs to pitch to artists who will take them further than I ever will or want to.  Rob and Andrew have been helping me with that.

Music has been my passion for a long time, and I feel like this EP is a breakthrough for me. So I have my fingers crossed that it will find its listeners and I will at least feel validated enough to keep dumping time and money into the bottomless pit that is every independent musician/s career for a few more years. Things are looking up!

How good does the EP ‘Loose Ends’ sound? It sounds great and it actually gets even better with every listen as I keep discovering new favourite elements to their sound. What Bet has created with Rob and Andrew Currie is a great blend of country and folk that is as grounded as the musicians themselves. Throughout the EP you have the winning formula of Bet’s highly impressive vocal talents which are equally matched by a great musical arrangement delivered by Bet, Rob and Andrew. The formula may be the same on each song, but each one is individual enough to stand out on its own. I love the way these musicians have blended together to create this sound that is beautifully layered to give the music so much depth to match the lyrics which have a must hear story telling quality. Again I need to mention Bet’s vocal abilities as they are such a delight to listen to which is perfectly demonstrated on my favourite song called ‘Lone Wolf’. This song is simplistic in sound which leaves the centre stage for Bet to deliver a delicate tone that is spellbinding. The control by her voice and the music is also great to hear. I need to highlight the song ‘Dynamite’ which is a musical journey that needs to be heard.

Overall, ‘Loose Ends’ was more than I expected and even though it sounded great on my first listen it keeps get stronger with every play. If you like your music honest with a country/folk sound delivered by an amazing vocal talent then this is the EP for you. Head over to Bet’s Bandcamp page (click HERE) to listen to the EP in full and you can also grab a copy while you are there. I highly recommend you go check it out, even if it is not your usual sound it may surprise you.

I can’t wait to hear what Bet Smith and the Currie Brothers will musically cook up next as I am a huge fan of what they have created already. If you want to keep up to date with Bet’s music then check out her website at Betsmithmusic.com or check out her social media pages at Facebook and Twitter. While I am waiting for this new music I plan to check out Bet’s other project ‘The Wretched Mathildas’ which she discussed during her interview.

As always, independent music needs the support of the fans to help the music grow and it is your duty to help spread the word about the music that matters to you. If you are a fan of the music by Bet Smith then purchase the music and tell the world about her music! Music this good needs to be heard!