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A Dirty Dozen with RACHEL McINTYRE SMITH – October 2022

| 3 October 2022 | Reply

Photo credit: Rachel McIntyre Smith and Margie Smith

According to a recent press release: “Chattanooga, TN-based Americana/country singer-songwriter Rachel McIntyre Smith is set to release her debut EP, Glory Daze, independently on September 30, 2022.   With her lyrically driven songs, Smith’s comfort twang music reminds listeners of the classics while also adding a relevant and fresh perspective. Three Chords Country writes that her “flair for storytelling and her killer voice set her head and shoulders above the rest.” Upon graduating from college, she compiled 13 demos of her original music and began sending them to venues. Due to the quirky subject matter of one of the tracks, “The Kitten Song,” she became a regular performer at cat cafes. “It’s like playing a cozy house show with 30 or so cats,” comments Smith. “It’s amazing.” In early 2020, she launched a concert tour of those feline-friendly venues. Her brightly colored style, smooth vocals, and small-town charm leave a lasting impact on audiences.” We get Rachel to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Glory Daze is my debut EP and I’m so excited for people to finally hear it! If a quarter-life crisis was an EP, it would be Glory Daze. It’s full of nostalgia, regret, humor, and small-town life. One thing that people may not catch is the storyline that the EP tells. I was really intentional about the order of the tracks on the record, because I think it tells the story chronologically of how I fell into my quarter-life crisis and eventually emerged on the other side of it. A funny coincidence is that I came up with the title Glory Daze about a year and a half after I released “High School Reunion.” I had decided that I wanted the EP to have that theme and had even figured out the tracklisting before I realized that one of the lyrics in the song “High School Reunion” is, “We talk the glory days and the weather – think how we all used to look better.” So the first song and the last song on the EP both say that phrase, and it was completely by accident. It just made me even more confident in the theme that I had chosen.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I started piano lessons in third grade for a myriad of reasons, but primarily because my classroom rival had started piano lessons. It’s so weird looking back on it now. If I wasn’t hyper-competitive in academics, I may never have learned an instrument. I’m not sure if there was one moment that made me realize I wanted to be a musician. My whole life, I just assumed that’s what everyone wanted to be. I used to get red markers and color streaks in my hair to look like Christina Aguilera. I was also obsessed with Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Hilary Duff, Hayley Williams, and Taylor Swift. I started writing songs in middle school in a Snoopy notebook that I kept hidden in the bottom drawer of my dresser. I was really bashful, so I didn’t start singing until I was a junior in high school.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Pageant Material by Kacey Musgraves. That album was kind of the gateway drug that opened my eyes to the world of country music. I discovered it at the end of my freshman year of college. I realized that I could channel all my small-town stories, sense of humor, and vulnerability into country songs. That album made a huge impact on me.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Lukas Nelson. I’m such an admirer of his songwriting and musicianship. I love that he has found his own voice in his music while also carrying on his father’s legacy. He was one of my most-listened-to artists on Spotify last year. My current favorite songs by him are “Start To Go,” “Just Outside of Austin,” and “Four Letter Word.” I would love to write and perform a song together!

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

My favorite activity is going on really long walks with friends. It’s the perfect way to have good conversations while also getting some fresh air. I go for hour-long (or longer) walks almost every day. Being in nature really calms my brain down. To unwind, I love taking long showers, burning candles (my current favorite scent is Wildberry Jam Donut from Bath & Body Works), putting on a face mask, and baking cookies. Over the course of the pandemic, I’ve perfected my cookie recipe. It’s so fun to make different color icing to decorate them. Once I’m all snuggled up in my pajamas with fresh baked cookies, I like turning on a good show. My current favorites are Only Murders In The Building, Stranger Things, and Gilmore Girls.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Comfort twang. I think that my music has a comforting element to it because it has a lot of classic country production, but it also has a fresh perspective since I’m writing from my point of view as a 25 year old. If people in my generation loved listening to music with their grandparents, but could never relate to the lyrics, I think they’d like my music. I’m not sure anyone has ever compared me to someone that made me cringe but there have been a few interactions with folks after shows that are cringy. Once after a show, a grandpa came up to me with his young grandson (probably 8 years old). It started off as a normal interaction, and the older gentleman was complimentary of my music. His grandson had colored in one of my custom coloring pages and handed it to me. It was all fine and dandy until the grandpa asked his grandson to kiss me. When his grandson looked at him anxiously, the grandpa asked ME to kiss this 8 year old. I laughed it off and said I wasn’t going to kiss him then quickly got as far away from them as possible. For the record, I won’t be kissing anyone after a show. Maybe a hug. Or a high five. Or a fist bump. But not a smooch.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

When I have band practice with the two musicians I perform with most, Ivy Carter and Emerald Butler, it usually is about two and a half hours of making stupid jokes and then about 30 minutes of  rehearsal. They always laugh at me, because I make really weird noises to describe the sound that I want Emerald to make on the fiddle. Ivy is an incredible athlete who competes in marathons for fun, so she’s usually doing some sort of stretching to recover from her workouts while we hang out. Emerald always has a deep question for us that makes us think. We’re a very eclectic bunch, but we have a lot of fun.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

It was 2016. It was at a Mattress Firm in Chattanooga, TN. My best friend and I had just left our classes early because we saw that Wells Adams (former contestant on “The Bachelor”) was in town. He said if anyone wanted to meet him that he would be at the Mattress Firm for a few minutes. My best friend, Chelsea, and I were HUGE fans of “The Bachelor” at the time. Wells was our favorite contestant. On our way over there, I started laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my face because I was so nervous/excited to meet him. The tears wiped all my makeup off. We got into the parking lot and my teeth started chattering uncontrollably. Chelsea kept on being like, “PULL IT TOGETHER!” but I just couldn’t contain myself. We accidentally walked into the side door of the store. So we opened the door. We were scooching between mattresses. My teeth were chattering. I was shaking. There were only about five people in the store, and they were all there with Wells. They just turned and looked at us as we awkwardly tried to get past all the mattresses. I made such a fool of myself. We talked to him for a bit and got our picture made. He was really kind. After that interaction, I promised myself that I wouldn’t go out of my way to run into any stars because CLEARLY I cannot handle it. Here is picture proof of this incident. Please note that we both wore music t-shirts to impress him since he’s a radio host.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

My favorite part of being a musician is articulating a complicated emotion and being able to share that with others. My favorite comments people say to me are along the lines of,  “I relate to that song so much. That is EXACTLY how I feel.” I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to share my music in that way. Most of my life, I think everyone assumed that I would become a veterinarian so I would probably do that. I’ve always been really drawn to animals. I think it’s because I’m an introvert. I usually would choose hanging out with animals over hanging out with people. When I go to someone’s house for the first time and they have a pet, I instantly feel more at ease. Unless that animal is a snake.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I’ve been wanting someone to ask me about the marching band uniform I wore on the cover of “Glory Daze”! I know some people think that it’s an odd choice because there are definitely other outfits that I could’ve worn on the cover that would’ve been more flattering or stylish. However, when I knew that Glory Daze was going to be the title, the first thing that popped into my head was marching band. I think Glory Daze is very much a fall EP. If it was an ambience, it would be a Friday night football game where the whole town was packed into one stadium. You smell the concession stand. The sun has just set. It’s the start of the weekend. The team scores a touchdown. The marching band starts playing “Rocky Top” while the cheerleaders dance on the sidelines. When I was in high school, I was in the marching band. I remember feeling like everyone I knew was there (including those I hated and loved). It kind of felt like for a few hours on a Friday night that the whole world was huddled around the football field. When I feel nostalgic, that’s what I think of. Once I had that vibe in my head, I set out to find a purple marching band uniform. By a strange coincidence, my high school marching band was selling old uniforms as a fundraiser so we were able to buy that purple jacket and matching shako. I love how it turned out, because I think it grabs attention while also capturing the mood of the project. I’m not tired of answering any questions yet – thankfully! I’m at a point in my career where I’m really happy to share my music and story to anyone who will listen.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Right when I graduated college, I released 13 demos that I had worked on recording by myself when I was in school. I didn’t promote the album at all. I just released it on a random day of the week. 13 songs. No promo. The demos were also kind of garbage. I wasn’t a professional producer by any stretch of the imagination and barely knew how to operate Garageband. Those recordings and the way I released them really make me cringe now. However, those recordings are what landed me my first gigs, which led me to other opportunities, which led me to where I’m at now, so I’m also grateful that I was naïve enough to release them.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I love this question! I would go to the studio when Carole King was writing and recording her album Tapestry. I love her songwriting and feel like that record really paved the way for a lot of female singer-songwriters. There are so many timeless classics on it. She is also such an incredible pianist, and piano is my first instrument. I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall when she created the piano riff in “I Feel The Earth Move.” I close out almost all of my shows with that song.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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