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In this episode Mark interviews Meaghan Smith about her life as a musician and a painter, about what it’s like to win a Juno Award, about collaborating with her husband, releasing music as an indie artist, vs being signed to a label, about the origin of her “Our Story” projects and so much more.
Prior to the interview, Mark shares a word from this episode’s sponsor which includes a new resource about tips on marketing audiobooks.
You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at starkreflections.ca/Findaway.
Mark also shares comments from recent episodes, shares the winners of a copy of Goal Setting for Writers by Holly Lyne, abd also a personal update which includes:
- Hosting the 2020 Aurora Awards
- Work on the forthcoming Wide for the Win
- Promotional activities related to the August 18th release of his Canadian Werewolf novella Stowe Away
- Progress on a Kickstarter he’ll be launching on Sept 25th
During their conversation, Mark and Meaghan talk about:
- An interesting way that being in specific beautiful studios can actually be distracting from Meaghan’s songwriting prowess
- How her creativity really flows when she is in discomfort
- How Meaghan proposes to her Muse that she’ll be there in the studio ready to work if it wants to meet her
- How music has long felt like breathing to Meaghan and it’s something she has always done
- Meaghan’s inability to read sheet music due to dyslexia
- The distinct moment by which Meaghan realized that music was her main path and the giant leap of faith that she took to make her first album
- How Meaghan learned about sound and recording via the animation program she was in and studying
- The process for that first album (The Cricket’s Orchestra), saving up for four years to hire a producer (Les Cooper), writing the songs on her guitar, spending years scraping by, sleeping on friend’s couches while staying in Toronto to record the album
- The way that Meaghan likes to paint a scene with her music
- How a song has to come to Meaghan all at the same time when she is song-writing
- The process of just sitting down and starting to play and building upon that, discovering the elements that work, and the ones that don’t
- Going from playing open mics in Halifax to playing the Viper Room in LA
- How Meaghan managed the contract so that she retained the rights for her songs, even though a label has the rights to the recordings for the albums
- The surreal experience of winning a Juno Award, and how she almost didn’t end up going to the event
- Reflections on what winning an award like the Juno Award means, or doesn’t mean, and why, though she is appreciative and thankful for the awards that she has won, that she doesn’t like to focus on such things
- The advice a fellow artist gave her to manage anxiety – just think about what you’re going to do next
- How it sometimes feels like she has two muses at times – one for music and another for painting
- Meaghan’s first pregnancy (and the Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) – a pregnancy complication that is characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and possibly dehydration, which she suffered the entire time) which dramatically changed her ability to tour as well as her career as a musician
- The incredibly powerful love that she felt and feels for her two children
- The clarifying moment she had, after losing all of the momentum of her growing career, where she wasn’t able to write about her own life and started looking other stories and other lives she could write about – which evolved into creating the “Our Song” project work
- How Meaghan and Jason collaborate on music, and the two different studio spaces where the art is created and produced
- Advice that Meaghan would give her younger self
- And more . . .
Mark then reflects upon a couple of things that the conversation made him realize.
Links of Interest:
- Meaghan Smith’s Website
- Meaghan Smith Art
- Meaghan’s Our Song Website
- Bookbub – Ultimate Collection of Audiobook Marketing Examples
- Wide for the Win (Pre-Order)
- Wide for the Win Submission Form
- Episode 145 – Leveraging your IP & Hybrid Publishing with Robert J. Sawyer
- Episode 144 – 10 Tips for Winning with Wide Publishing
- Episode 143 – Unstoppable Goals with HB Lyne
- Episode 142 – Strategies for Launching a Book During a Pandemic with Suzy Vadori
- Mark’s Canadian Werewolf Series
- This Time Around (Book 0)
- A Canadian Werewolf in New York (Book 1)
- Stowe Away (Book 1.5)
- Fear and Longing in Los Angeles (Book 2)
- The 2020 Aurora Awards
- Findaway Voices
- Patreon for Stark Reflections
Meaghan Smith is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, and visual artist. Her independently produced début album, The Cricket’s Orchestra, was released by Warner Music Canada-Sire Records in 2009. Smith, who performs with her husband, Jason Mingo, has been acclaimed for her Christmas concerts, which feature interpretations of traditional carols as well as the songwriter’s own popular yuletide composition, “It Snowed.” At the 2011 Juno Awards, Smith won in the Best New Artist category. Her album, Have A Heart, released in 2014 won a Video of the Year for the lead single at the 2015 East Coast Music Awards. Smith continues to paint, as well as write and produce music via an independently label, is the proud mother of two boys, and says that making music and painting are among her greatest passions.
The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of www.incompetech.com and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
Automated Transcription of Interview Segment (Has not been human-edited/verified). Also, timeline is in respect to when the interview begins, not the timeline of the full podcast.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Hi, Meaghan. Thanks for joining me here today.
[00:00:02] Meaghan Smith: Hi, thanks for having me.
[00:00:04] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: So, it is the evening. As I understand it, the little ones are with your husband getting ready to go to bed and you’ve put some time aside in the day to do this interview. I’m curious about how being a creative person works in terms of juggling all of those aspects of your life. How does that work in your situation?
[00:00:24] Meaghan Smith: Oh my goodness. That’s a great question. Uh it’s it’s. Just not easy. Um, it’s not, it’s really challenging. It’s really, really challenging, but I have a really strange story to tell you about that. You want to hear it?
[00:00:38] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Oh, I’d love to. Yes.
[00:00:40] Meaghan Smith: So, uh, I used to be signed with a major label and when I was initially signed, they wanted me to do a lot of co-writing with some very famous and very prestigious, uh, songwriters.
[00:00:53] So I went on all these co-writing. Um, trips, like a lot of them were in LA somewhere in New York. Um, and I would go into these studios and there was one studio in particular. It was so beautiful. Like. I cannot. I’ve never been in such a nice space. So like you walk in the main studio room. That was, it was just like this huge library, very out of Harry Potter, like all the sounds yeah.
Or taken up by these like color coded books that were like all these really dark, rich jewel tones. And they were like lamps and their shade uses and microphones hanging from the ceilings. And there were drum kits everywhere and just like. Every imaginable instrument. It was so gorgeous. And then there was another room.
The whole room was just like this glowing pool that had like water under the, under the water. The lights were lit and they, they changed color and their mix in that room. And it’s the most distracting, like I couldn’t write anything in that space. It was so amazing just to be there. I couldn’t. I couldn’t stand it like it was too beautiful.
[00:02:05] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Wow.
[00:02:07] Meaghan Smith: You’re not away from me. My creativity really flows when I’m. In discomfort. Like a lot of times. Yeah, it’s really strange, but it really works for somebody in my situation with two little kids at home all the time, you know, they’ve never been to daycare. And my oldest, he went to school for about four months before COVID kicked in.
So I’m having to work from home. In a smallish house with two kids at all times. You know, I have specific times during the day in which to be creative. So I get up at five usually. And then I work from five to 12 and my husband has the kids and then we switch and I take the kids from 12 till six, and then we hopefully try and put them to bed.
And then sometimes I work in the night too. So like, Aye. Inspiration must strike between the hours of five and 12. And so for me like that one particular writing experience, but really a lot of those co-writing experiences where this people just had the most beautiful homes. Like they were like palatial studios in the Hollywood Hills and it was too distracting for me.
So. Come away from that, having being complete, completely unproductive because it was just too distracting to be like, okay, with the situation that I’m in now, where I’m a lot of times I’m, you know, I’m writing songs. In chaos, there’s children screaming and, and wanting and climbing around on the floor.
And I’m just continuing to write lyrics. And, you know, so I don’t know. I don’t know what that is, is probably like I could do some therapy on that, but,
[00:03:49] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: It feels like, Hey, if I go in, I’m this beautiful picture as mountain, a cabin in the woods with beautiful streams or anybody? No, that’s too beautiful. It’s going to distract me from getting writing done. Is that the same sort of thing?
[00:04:00] Meaghan Smith: Yes. You know what I think it is. I think I need to get out. I want to get into my own head. Like I need to leave the situation to go into myself and like retreat within myself and just kind of like, you know, be in my creativity, which is really in my own self.
So if there’s too much awesome stuff going on out here, I just want to be out here and like experience it. But then. You know, if it, if it kind of sucks around here, it doesn’t suck. Like I love my kids, but you know, if I, if I know I have like a certain amount of time and then I’m going to be like dealing with, um, you know, kids and stuff, then I I’m able to, I feel, I feel horrible.
It really doesn’t suck, but it is a challenge and it makes me want to like go into myself. Before I then go out of myself and be with my kids.
[00:04:55] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Okay. And, and, and it does sound, uh, since you and Jason have divided up the, uh, the parental roles in such a way that you can both get your creative work done and business work done that you don’t wait for the muse to find you, you basically say, Hey, I’m here. You’re, you’re, I’m putting you to work now. Like you you’re pretty much forced it into that time.
[00:05:16] Meaghan Smith: I don’t, I don’t want to say I force it because. It won’t be forced. Yeah. But it’s more like I meet it there. I say, okay, I’m, I’ll be here. And if you want to be here too great. We’re not here. We’re going to miss each other. So you should show up when I show up so we can work together.
[00:05:39] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: This will be nice. I’ll leave a plate of warm cookies and milk,
[00:05:44] Meaghan Smith: but otherwise I’m, you know, I, it gets to 12 o’clock and I’m like, Okay, well, I guess, I guess that’s it for today and now I have to wait to meet the muse or whatever to be. I have to wait another, I don’t know how many hours, like, you know, hours and hours until I can work on it again.
That’s that can be, it can be like, sometimes it feels like, um, you know, when you first fall in love with someone and you just can’t wait till you see them the next time, it’s that kind of like desperate feeling where I’m like, I just need to get back and work on this piece or, you know, um, but I have to wait, so it’s better if it shows up when it, when I’m available.
[00:06:21] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Okay. Now, uh, because you brought it up, um, was it love at first sight with you and music? Or how, how did you get into that? Was it just this magical moment where you discovered the beauty of music and said I have to do this? Or, or was it some other, uh, some other romantic comedy.
[00:06:39] Meaghan Smith: Oh, I don’t remember. I don’t remember.
I just, music just feels like breathing. It’s just something that’s, I’ve just always. I’ve just always done. It’s always been a part of my life in my, um, in my younger years, growing up, my family was really, really musical. There’s always music playing and people playing instruments. And, uh, I, I had some, like, I had a really hard time learning.
To play. Um, and later I would come to find out that I had, I have dyslexia, so I can’t actually read notes on a page. It’s not possible for my brain to differentiate between the dots and the lines they’re just too close together. But, um, so that was, yeah, it was really weird, but I just played by ear, like, and it just is just feels really natural to me.
So I don’t for a member. Like there’s never really a moment for me where I was like, I’m into music now, but there was a distinct moment where I was like, I’m going to try to be a musician. That was, that was a moment. But as far as my relationship with music, it’s just, it’s like, it’s always been in me.
[00:07:51] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: So when did you know for sure that musician is that career that you wanted to?
[00:07:56] Meaghan Smith: Uh, that was, that was a distinct moment. So I studied. Animation. I actually went to school for animation because I, you know, I really love visual arts as well. Um, but had really, really horrible, um, anxiety is I used to call it stage, right. But really it’s just anxiety so I could never perform. So I, I love to sing like by myself and I thought, I sounded great by myself, but as soon as I get in front of people, it would just, it was downhill.
So, um, I ended up. Just assuming I would never be a musician, um, and going to school and studying animation, which was like a practical use of my love of drawing as well. So, um, but while I was there, I learned about recording and vocal recording and cause that’s part of the animation process is you hear, or at least like the North American way of animating is that you start with, um, the sounds like the voices and then you animate to the voices.
So, um, I started to watch a record. Some of the songs I was like secretly writing. And so that just sort of developed over time where I kept writing and recording songs like for myself and sharing them with like, my sisters are like, you know, a very few select people. Um, and then I moved out to Halifax, Nova Scotia for a job in animation and I.
Was enjoying my job. It was great. Like, it was fun, but it was so creatively unrewarding. And it’s weird. Cause you would think it’s a creative field because you’re drawing. But really like creativity is like my definition of creativity is to bring something into existence, like to create something is to bring it into existence.
So if you’re. Bringing something into existence. That means it’s somewhere else. And then it comes through you into this realm, which kind of is like a little Louie, but that’s just how I like to think about it. And I wasn’t doing any of that. I was just getting a script from a director and then he was like, draw it this way, draw these characters, doing these things.
And there was very little creativity on my part. And so I, I. There was an exact moment. Um, I was sitting at my drafting table at work and I just was like, you know what? This is cool. And I was surrounded by friends and people who were 10 years older than me still doing it. Yeah. And I was like, I could, I could see myself doing this for another 10 years or, um, or I could take a giant leap of faith and see what would happen if I were to say make an album.
[00:10:48] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Wow. Well, you went from secretly singing, sharing, maybe with your sisters to make an album. That’s quite a bit, that’s quite a leap.
[00:10:57] Meaghan Smith: Yeah. Uh, and my, my thought process, I mean like you do, I know you work with writers and authors, my thought process behind that was it’s probably the same, maybe for so many of your authors is like, I just wanted to make something that I would be happy with.
And, and like, I just wanted to like, make that dream a reality, whether or not anyone else cared about it, I wasn’t up to me, but if I could just make an album that I was proud of and put it out there and let it go, um, I could die happy. I wouldn’t have this thing in me that I. Like, I felt like if this unfulfilled promise or something, like, yeah, it was like really ignoring this huge dream that I had to make an album, which I assume a lot of people have a huge dream to write a book.
Right. Or tell a story. It’s kind of the same thing. So I told myself, like, all you have to do is make the album, whatever else happens with it. It’s not up to you. It doesn’t have anything to do with you really. You just have to make this album that you could die, feeling proud of. And that’s that’s it that’s as far as we need to go.
[00:12:04] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Were you already working with other musicians or was the album of concept that you had, you wanted to write everything and then it was okay. Now I need to find now you were going to be the vocalist, obviously. What instruments were you playing? What did you need to bring into
[00:12:18] Meaghan Smith: this? I wrote all the instruments or, sorry.
I wrote all the songs on my guitar and, um, yeah, I just wrote a bunch of songs and hired a producer. His name is last Cooper. He’s extremely talented producer. Um, who also. Did these like amazing string and horn arrangements for my album. Um, and so I, I saved up, it took me four years to save, to make the album.
I saved up all my money and hired him. And then he knew a bunch of players who were amazing. And I stayed in Toronto, um, sleeping on various couches and like, you know, really just getting, it was like a, it was a real, um, Like it was a real labor of love. Like I, you know, I was scraped by to try and do that.
And Jason was supporting me by, you know, covering our apartment and our bills and Halifax, but yeah, I paid for the album and in cash and say, I saved up
[00:13:18] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: into wow. Not on credit I’m now what, what was that first album?
[00:13:22] Meaghan Smith: It was called the crickets orchestra.
[00:13:24] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: That was, that was your first album. Oh, well, okay, cool.
[00:13:28] Meaghan Smith: Yeah. Yeah. So anything on it that I wanted, I, it was a splurge. It was just like, don’t hold back. This is your chance. This is the album. You know, this is the die happy album. So go for it. So I, you know, less than I were like, what do you want on this? And I was like, I don’t know, what’s the twinkly stars. And he’s like, let’s.
Call that a vibraphone I’m like, okay. So that’s kinda how it went. Cause you know, I don’t read music, but I I’m really visual. So for me, a lot of the songs were like imagery using sound that would be equivalent to imagery. Like if I was to paint the scene, we tried to use sounds that would symbolize like various colors, textures.
[00:14:16] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: So many questions. I had so many ways I can call with a question. When you talk about visual imagery, I’m thinking about some of the music that he use you’ve put together and, and the visual presentation. I know. I mean, I think it snowed, it looks like it was shot in downtown Toronto at city hall. The skating rink.
[00:14:35] Meaghan Smith: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. So like a lot of the, well, all of the videos for that album, a label had been a label came on it.
[00:14:44] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: So that was the, yeah. The label came afterwards, right?
[00:14:47] Meaghan Smith: Yeah, but you know, some of the ideas in the videos remind it was just really exciting to make videos at that point and have a label and be in Toronto and stay at a nice hotel as opposed to be on their couch.
[00:15:02] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: So the other thing I’m curious to ask is when, when, uh, when you were working on a song, what comes first? Is it the melody? Is it the guitar? Is it the vocals? How does that all come together for you?
[00:15:14] Meaghan Smith: Yeah, I know this is an interesting question. I know it works different for everybody. And a lot of artists can write all different ways.
[00:15:21] Like sometimes the lyrics come first. Sometimes I like melody comes first. For me, everything has to come all at the same time. So lyrics and a melody and chords. I just sit down and start playing. And, um, I think it’s cause like, I can’t fit words into a melody. I can’t because the melody dictates what the words are going to be in the words dictate what the melody is going to be.
So, um, when I write a song, I sit down and start playing and, um, sometimes parts of it sound good. And then I just build on that and. Yeah, that’s how it works for me.
[00:16:07] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: So you’re just kind of jamming with the muse and recording it and then saying, well, I like this part, I’m going to keep that I’m going to modify that. Okay.
[00:16:16] Meaghan Smith: So how I do it is I turn on a video program and cause I can’t, I don’t write, I can’t write down. The chords just takes too long and I can’t read them anyway. So, um, I can see what I’m playing. So I, you know, if I forget or whatever, um, and I just I’ll just start singing random. Stuff that just comes out and playing along with what I’m singing and I’ll do that for like eight minutes, 10 minutes, and then I’ll go back and listen to it and be like, okay, that works.
And it should probably then go here. I put these two pieces together and then I have like, I’ll have the beginning of a verse or the beginning of a course. And, you know, with a song, the way that I write them, it’s more traditional where there’s, it’s like an AB. Maybe see patterns. So there’s a verse chorus, verse chorus, sometimes a bridge and then a chorus.
And so all I really need is a verse and chorus. I just need the format for those two things, and then I can plug in lyrics. And, uh, so you know, it’s not, I I’ve, I’ve kind of gotten to a point where it’s not, it can come rather it’s starting to come easier for me, but I mean, I’ve been doing this for like, 25 years.
[00:17:32] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: So I want to go as a Cricket’s orchestra. It was an independent produced. And then a label came along. Was, was that when you were working on the second album or did the label come after somebody heard crickets orchestra?
[00:17:45] Meaghan Smith: That’s a pretty cool story. Um, yeah, I made the crickets orchestra. It was fully finished and I was trying to get a manager here in Halifax and nobody would manage me.
Um, they, you know, everybody’s just busy and, uh, And then I went to the Halifax film festival where I met a lot of film and TV people, um, publishing and they listen to the album and loved it. And they, they arranged a, um, They like put together this amazing, um, show for me at the Viper room in Los Angeles.
So I went from playing open mics, like a few open mics here in Halifax to playing the Viper room in Los Angeles for five major labels. Like there were five, so people who came out and I’ll tell ya, Like as soon as people knew that that was happening, everybody
[00:18:36] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I’ll manage you now. Yeah.
[00:18:39] Meaghan Smith: Like, Oh, okay, great.
I’m so glad you believe in my music. So I, you know, I had a lot, I had like three or four major label deals. And no one to help me understand like what the deals were saying or so, I mean, I had to get a manager. I had to get a lawyer, a booking agent, like all of that had to happen really quickly. Um, in order for me to sign a deal, which I ended up signing with sire records, who’s under the Warner brothers umbrella.
And, uh, yeah, that, that was so exciting. It was just so exciting. So they bought the masters of my album. I kept the publishing. I I’ve kept all the publishing of my music, so they own the masters.
[00:19:25] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: They have the masters, but you still have the rights to the actual song itself. So you can rerecord. I
[00:19:31] Meaghan Smith: can. Yeah.
[00:19:33] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Yeah. I’m curious how that worked because yeah. Rights are really critical to creatives because new rights come along, new digital rights and all kinds of other forms. So that’s cool. So you’ve, you’ve managed to maintain some of that control, even though you’ve worked with major labels.
[00:19:48] Meaghan Smith: Yes, I made sure that that was in the contract that I retained the royalties. So
[00:19:54] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: you talked about the, you know, playing open mic in Halifax, beautiful, gorgeous city, you know, world class, city. Excellent. But open mics in Halifax and then going to the Viper room in LA and other places like that. That must’ve been startling thing at what point? So I know you’ve won a general award at what point did that happen? And that must have been a, a different sort of experience as well. I can imagine.
[00:20:22] Meaghan Smith: Yeah. Winning the Juno was, was so, so shocking. Like, um, so, um, You know, I signed with my label. We started Jason and I started touring. So he quit his job and I hired him as my, and became my husband just started touring. And then we got a Juno nomination and I was like, Oh, that’s that’s fun.
Uh, you know, I’m not going to go, I’m not going to win or anything. So, um, and then. The day the Junos were happening. I eventually decided to go. Everybody’s like, no,
[00:20:59] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: no,
[00:21:00] Meaghan Smith: you have to be there. They were in Toronto. So, um, Jason and I went and just before the Junos, I was like, you know what, I’m not going to win.
And it’s going to be really awkward and. Do we have to go. And Jason was like, yes, we need to go see all these amazing bands that are playing at the show. Oh. So I was like, all right, let’s just go watch the show. Like let’s just go have fun and be at the show and yeah. I was, I remember the moment they called me, I had my shoes off cause they were really uncomfortable.
Like my category came up and I was sitting next to Jason and Richard Frye. Who’s buck 65 and he’s like, Meaghan, you should put your shoes on. Right. And you could get called. I was like, Oh shoot. I got to get my shoes on. And then I like had to walk through this huge stadium. That was another thing. I was like way in the back.
So it was like, they’re not going to call me. I’m. I’m in the back of the stadium, but yeah, so it was really surreal. Like I kind of felt like I was floating outside of my body. I think the whole time. I don’t remember what I said. Um, and it was really exciting, really exciting and special and yeah, it was really fun.
[00:22:14] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Awesome. Awesome. Does it have a prestigious place, like in your studio, above the mantle? Like where do you keep it?
[00:22:20] Meaghan Smith: It doesn’t. And, um, It doesn’t aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. I have like a certain feeling about awards. I mean, I know that I won this Juneau award and I’ve won other awards, but it doesn’t mean that I was the best, anything like, um, it just, it it’s.
It’s based on voting and sometimes, you know, it can be based on popularity. And a lot of times it’s based on merit and credit, I would rather not really focused on those things. I’d rather focus on what I’m, what I’m working on now. Like what, what am I doing? What am I creating next? I actually got that tip from, um, a visual artist.
Um, I’m going to have to email you his name. He can put it in the show notes, but. Uh, I did, uh, I did a gallery show one time, um, while I was playing while I was on tour, I did a show at a gallery for some of my paintings and so stressed out. I was like more stressed out about that than my wedding. Like it was so stressful that paintings in a gallery and I, an artist, this artist came, he’s a really.
Wonderful experienced artist. And I was like, how do you do this? Like, how do you get through this? And he’s like, yeah. I just think about what I’m doing next. And I was like, yeah, I’m going to do that. So, yeah, that was a really useful way for me to manage my anxiety. Um, You know, when it comes to music and albums, I mean, you’re only pink has said it.
You’re only as big as what you did last and you just gotta keep going.
[00:23:55] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Yeah. Cool. Um, let’s talk a little bit about your painting. So sometimes when you’re in your studio and you’re waiting, you’ve got a date with your muse. Does the muse visit you with a visual inspiration sometimes instead of music, is that where you get some sort of.
You get something and then you know that this is going to be a song and this is going to be a painting.
[00:24:17] Meaghan Smith: Yeah. It’s like, I have to, it’s like I have two muses, which can be kind of frustrating at times because, um, I mean, I have deadlines for things, but I don’t know if there’s a really interesting question.
I don’t know if they’re the same thing or if they’re two separate things, but, um, I need to take breaks sometimes. Okay. As an author, do you find this, like, you need to just take a break from what you’re writing. Yeah. I
[00:24:48] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: usually switch from fiction and nonfiction, so, yeah.
[00:24:54] Meaghan Smith: Right. And you’re just switching from fiction.
Okay. It’s like that exact same thing with me, but. With art and music. So, um, if I’m really, really stuck on a song I need to do, I need to paint. And if I’m super frustrated with a painting, I need to write some new. And so I just go between the two and I’m constantly, constantly trying to keep up with and produce.
In both of those arenas. Yeah.
[00:25:21] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Cool. Cool. So you and Jason had traveled a lot. I actually saw you guys perform live in Hamilton. I can’t even eight years ago. Maybe I’m not even sure how long ago it was. What’s that?
[00:25:34] Meaghan Smith: Is it a Christmas
[00:25:35] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: show? I think it was, I think it was a Christmas show. I remember it was cold.
It was it with jackets and everything. Um, And, and it was just the two of you with, you know, with a company, which I like the music box that, that did some of the, some of the other backgrounds for you guys. But, um, and, and you’ve traveled extensively. Now I was gonna ask how Kobe changed that, but I know that you had children and that probably changed it well before the pandemic.
Is that true? Like, did you change the touring schedule for family?
[00:26:09] Meaghan Smith: Yes. And actually like. I’m I’m really grateful now at this point, but, um, so what ended up happening was it was w you know, it was hell it was hell, basically to go through what we went through, but then to be here now in this position, I’m so grateful that everything.
Happened the way it did. But, um, after we won the Juno, you know, of course our label was like, well, now we gotta get another album out really fast. We put out a Christmas album, like months later, and then they’re like, okay, let’s start working on the next one. So at that point in my life, I was dealing with major anxiety, the, um, you know, the pressure I felt.
Well, not put on me by my label. Like the label was really amazing. My management was great. It was all just me being like, I have to like exceed everyone’s expectations and be unbelievable and astounding. And of course, you know, I can’t, I couldn’t write, I was feeling and thinking that way. Um, so it took a long time to get the second album ready to go.
And finally we did. And. You know, I wanted to try and take it in a different direction, which we did, and we started doing promotional touring for it. And on the promo tour, I started to feel really, really sick. And I thought, you know, okay, I’ve got the flu, I’ve dealt with the flu on tour. I’ve dealt with like everything on it.
Or I just think through it, something happens to me when I get on stage that, you know, whatever it is, the migraine or the anxiety or whatever, it goes away for those, you know, that hour that I’m on stage or those minutes that I’m on stage and comes, it comes right back as soon as I’m walking off stage.
Um, and I was like, I’ll just sing through it, but I couldn’t do it this time. So I knew something was up and I actually, we were in Toronto on our way back to Halifax. We were on our second, last stop on the tour and I had to be hospitalized, um, because I couldn’t keep anything down for like eight hours. I just threw up constantly.
And Jason was like, okay, we have to, I’m taking you to the hospital. So we went to the hospital and found out that I was pregnant. Um, and you know, we had been married for 10 years and I just assumed. We were just going to music was going to be our main focus. And, um, I was really happy with that. And then, you know, to find this out, when we’re doing a promo tour for my second major label, album release was just like really, really scary and shocking and exciting.
And so we planned, you know, I had. I had a bunch of really big tours lined up to promote the album we planned to, um, go home for a couple of weeks. Hopefully like, you know, my morning sickness would go away and then we could get back on the road and then we would tour it. And then I, you know, my label was like, we’ve had other musicians who have had kids, so you can take like six weeks off and then we need you back on the road.
[And I’m like, yep. Got it. Okay. I’ll do that. Um, but it didn’t work out that way. Um, I ended up having hyperemesis, which is, I don’t know if you’ve seen the new Amy Schumer documentary called, um, expecting any, but it’s constant nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. So it’s no joke. It’s, it’s really not a joke.
If you watch that documentary, I watched it and I was like, this is my exact experience. Like, wow. Just not, you know, just driving and throwing up and sitting and throwing up and just throwing up everywhere.
[00:29:54] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: It’s for the, for the whole,
[00:29:56] Meaghan Smith: whole nine and a half months.
[00:29:59] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Not just like one trimester or, Oh no. Oh, wow.
[00:30:04] Meaghan Smith: My label was like, okay, Meaghan, you know, I was like, I literally can’t really go anywhere without barfing. So, you know, getting on an airplane and flying to a show and getting on stage, it was just like, I, I mean, I can do it, but is going to be really gross and hard and throwing up constantly is really exhausting.
Like I. Hold muscles. Like my, you know, my, my AB muscles were all like, just painful all the time. I started getting cavities just from like, you know, it’s no joke. Like it’s really, really serious. And there’s of course there’s no cure. Nobody knows what to do for you. They’re like, just try not to be stressed out.
And you’re like, okay, my career is disappearing and I, you know, I’m sick all the time, but I’ll try not to be stressed out. Well, I mean, it was just really, really difficult and. My label did wait for me, but they said, you know, after you have your baby, you’ve got to, you’ve got to do these tours. We have these major, major tourists lined up for you and you have to do them.
So I, of course, you know, I was absolutely going to do that. And everyone was like, Meaghan, your pregnancy was so bad. Like your delivery can’t be any worse than this. So don’t worry. You’re going to have the baby and then you’ll be fine. Um, but once again, That’s not how it went. I’m at a really bad delivery.
Um, it was, it was, I’m going to not talk about any details, but just let you know that I had to get over a hundred stitches and I had an eight month recovery from that. Yeah. So it was two years of hell from, um, my first initially finding out I was pregnant on. You know, during the promo tour. And then till when I finally had the, all clear from my doctor that I had healed from the, from the delivery.
So by that time point, I had told him label, I am not going to tour. I can’t, I can’t be away from my doctor for over a week. And I also can’t, I couldn’t walk for three months. So. I couldn’t get on a plane. I couldn’t tour, I couldn’t walk on a stage. I had like a, an actual cane, like I had to use a cane. So I was like, I, you know, I can’t walk on stage with a cane and I can’t stand playing my guitar with a cane.
Like it just, I couldn’t, I just couldn’t even imagine it the whole time taking care of baby. Like, so everything. Went away. Everything went away. Wow. Yeah. Crazy.
[00:32:44] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: You said like his music is breathing to you as well. Right? So, and then I’m curious, because what you’ve done is you’ve taken your talent, your skill, your passion, and you’ve helped other people channel their own story.
Into music in a way that you’re giving you mean them wings in, in ways to describe moments in their lives, whether it’s a wedding, child, love, loss, whatever it is. Um, where did our song come from first, for those not familiar with, to explain what our song is and how that sort of evolved.
[00:33:25] Meaghan Smith: Well, okay. So I had my baby and I was completely devastated and exhilarated.
I loved him. I could not believe the insane love that I had for this baby. Like it was. It was supernatural. It was unbelievable to me. Um, and I said, okay, Jason, we have to have another one. And he was like, you’re insane. You’re totally insane. And I was like, I know I am, but it’s just this love. I feel it it’s so crazy.
Um, so we had, after, you know, I had healed somewhat. We had our second son and it was just as bad only I had a C section this time.
[00:34:11] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: So it wasn’t two years of recover.
[00:34:14] Meaghan Smith: It was once it was 10, like nine and a half solid months of throwing up again. But then it was like a six week recovery. Like it was like going to the spa, getting a C section was just like the best.
I couldn’t believe how amazing it was, but after my second son was born, Uh, I knew I could never have children again. Like my body was like, please don’t ever do that to me again. So I was like, okay, I know I’m done. I’m done feeling this, you know, need to have children. Um, and I was once again, like this craziest love, I felt for this baby and for my other son to these children, I could not believe and still can’t believe how much love just exploded out of me when you know, I I’ve I’ve.
First met them. Um, but at the same time, it started to hit me, like what had actually happened and, and the loss that I had experienced in my career. Um, because everyone left, you know, understandably so. And I, I’m not angry at my label or my management, but you know, if you don’t have an artist, a touring artist, not touring is not making you money and you’ve.
They’ve got to support their families too. I completely understand, but it just started to really sink in after my first son was born or sorry, after my second son was born and I also had postpartum anxiety, um, with him and I could feel myself sort of slipping down and down and down and down. And I had another kind of really clarifying moment.
Where I thought to myself, I can keep sliding or I can try to pull myself out of this. And it was, it’s kinda similar to like, in a way it was kind of similar to being in those studios that were really, really gorgeous. And needing to be in a place that, you know, needing to be in a different place. I did not want to be in my life.
I did not want to write about my life at that point. It, there was like too much, I couldn’t process what had happened. I needed other stories I needed other people’s lives and other people’s stories to go into. And I just thought, you know, like, How healing music is for me, it’s so healing for me. And right now I, I didn’t want to use it to heal myself.
Um, but I still wanted to use it for good. So I just, I put a post out on social media and was like, Hey, I would like to write a song for you about you, anybody interested, and like just, you know, the flood Gates opened and people were. Yeah. And that’s how our song started. So I, I started writing other people’s experiences.
As if they were mine. So I would like go into to their life and become them in a, in a way, like really empathize with them and their, their loss or their love or whatever it was they were experiencing. And I would write their song for them. And a lot of times, you know, their song was about a spouse or a child or, um, a parent or somebody really close to them.
And so I wanna, I wanna just call it our song because. It’s like their song, but it’s also my song. Cause I wrote it and everybody, you know, can find themselves somewhere in one of these are songs like, you know, everybody shares all of the same experiences. So that’s why I called it arson.
[00:37:57] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Oh, that is beautiful.
I love that. I didn’t, I didn’t know the behind the, behind the story. So how did, how does that work? I mean, you said when the flood Gates open it, there’s gotta be potentially, um, people who want something and you’re like, I’m booked up. I can’t do another song until X date or something like that. Almost like writers hiring an editor.
So, sorry, I can’t help you until X or producer for your album.
[00:38:23] Meaghan Smith: Yeah. Or, you know, it’s the same, it’s a, it’s a commissioned. Piece of art. And I do, I also do commission paintings. So it’s the same. I have time slots that get booked and I’m like, people sometimes message me and they’re like, can you write a song for me for next month?
And sometimes I can, and sometimes they can and they have to wait like six months or however long. It’s it’s it’s yeah. It’s it works exactly the same way. Yeah.
[00:38:48] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: So when you’re commissioning either, um, uh, having, uh, art commissioned or music commissioned, are you still meeting with those same two muses or have they changed a little, are they wearing different hats? What’s the deal.
[00:39:00] Meaghan Smith: They’re the same. They come and go. Uh, and I entertain both of them. It’s really complicated. You know, I feel like I have in a, in a way. I feel like I have five kids. I’ve got my two boys. I’ve got art and music and myself. I also need to attention is not one of my kids. I don’t ever feel like I need to take care of him.
We have to have like, such an amazing relationship where we both. Work hard to take care of our kids and we take care of ourselves and we just really enjoy spending time together. And I mean, we help each other out, obviously, like I take care of him when he needs me too. But for the most part, you know, we, we really kind of just do our own thing together, but art and music.
My kids are really demanding and art and music is really demanding as well. They’re, they’re both demanding. So yeah. Yeah.
[00:39:56] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: One last question. Uh, when, when you collaborate with Jason, um, how does that collaboration work, particularly when you’re, you know, you’ve got the different, the shift work, you know, for, for, for the yard, how does, how does, how do you work on that stuff
[00:40:12] Meaghan Smith: together? It actually, it works really well. Um, I write the songs and then I pass them on to him and he produces them. Okay,
[00:40:20] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: cool. And you produce everything in your home, right? You have studio art studio and music studio.
[00:40:26] Meaghan Smith: Yeah. So this is, I’m in our music studio right now. Um, you can’t see, there’s a bunch of gear over here and gear over there and there’s guitars everywhere.
[00:40:32] Um, and so this is where he works during the day, making the music. And then, um, I have a studio space upstairs in our house where I. Create art and write songs. Yes.
[00:40:45] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Awesome. So one last sort of two last questions. The very, very last question before just the closing is what would you tell Meaghan? Who was sitting there at the drafting table in the art studio and had this vision of I’m going to take a leap and I’m going to produce an album. Is there any advice you would go back and give young Meagan?
[00:41:12] Meaghan Smith: No advice. I would just tell her that I love her.
[00:41:18] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: That’s beautiful. Mean where can people find out more about you learn about you, your art, your music, your, our story, where can they find you online?
[00:41:27] Meaghan Smith: Um, they can find me a bunch of places I’m on, um, Facebook and Instagram, uh, and they can also find me. I have an art website, Meagan Smith, art.com and also our song music.com. And, um, I don’t know, you can put those in the show notes too, if you want.
[00:41:46] Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Well, Meaghan, thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with me today.
[00:41:49] Meaghan Smith: Thank you so much for your wonderful questions. It’s really great to chat with you.
1 thought on “Episode 146 – Finding Yourself in Our Song with Meaghan Smith”
Great interview Mark.
I like how they split up their creative time. But i also agree that creative time is usually on the edges when you are dealing with children. I am always more productive when my kids are asleep.
Is the automated transcription new? I like it. Let’s me review the episode to ensure I get all the takeaways.