SM: I have work to do. One time I lost my voice and I got it back and I was stressed out and I was crying because I had no voice and everything, I was tired, but it was overall an awesome experience and ultimately convinced me that I really should do this with my life and it’s just amazing.
Smitty: So you’re still a student at the university?
SM: Yeah, I am. I’m calling you off campus now.
Smitty: Very cool.
SM: I had a brief mid-term yesterday. I’m still very much a student part of the time, so I balance my life between that and music.
Smitty: So what advice would you give other musicians and singers or entertainers that are sort of juggling, you know, two different atmospheres of school and then doing the gigs? What advice would you give them to make that work?
SM: Well, depending on what they study. I mean, I think it’s not very hard for a musician to study music and then do gigs at night. I think it’s very complementary. You get your professional experience at night and your academic experience during the day. I study commerce. So it’s really different what I do during the day and what I do at night, and my mind really has to go from one complete, really, from one area to something completely different. I have to get out of the logical, I have to get out of the sensible, and go into my creative phase, which is quite the transition.
I’ve had so many instances where I’ve had exams on the day of the show. I think if people are doing what they love, I mean, you know, I really enjoy school and I’m good at it and it’s very important for me to kinda stay in that academic environment and finish my schooling. So I kind of make it happen and I think it’s….even though it’s challenging, you know, I’ll be tested by both parts of my personality and both parts of my brain which is tough. So I’m kind of actually stimulated by the stuff I study, and then I’m emotionally and, you know, spiritually and physically rewarded by the great career that I have, so I don’t really have a lot of advice. The most important thing is if you’re doing a lot of stuff at the same time is to kind of go easy on yourself and give yourself some time to take care of number one. I don’t do that enough, but I know it’s something that I should be doing more.
Smitty: Yeah. So, now, you’re what, you’re 23 years old and you’ve got your whole life in front of you. Can you see it as an entertainer for the rest of your professional life?
SM: Yeah, for sure.
Smitty: Very cool.
SM: I mean, my career in such a short time picked up a lot of momentum and I’m at a really positive phase in my life right now where I’m really discovering who I am as a performer and as a singer, and I get to really experiment with varying styles and I’m really looking forward to some of the things that I’d like to play around with in my future career, so I really enjoy it and I really love it, and I think I’ll be doing it for as long as there are people out there who want to hear me and as long as I have something to say. I don’t think it’s anything that you quit now because it’s just too involving and it’s engaging. It’s no fun really, to say to yourself at a certain point, “Okay, no more.”
Smitty: (Laughs.) Yeah, when it’s in your blood, you can’t stop, that’s for sure.
SM: For sure, that’s right.
Smitty: Yeah. You’ve been compared to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Krall…you know, how does that make you feel when you hear that?
SM: I think, you know, people exaggerate. But it makes me feel awesome, definitely. I mean, Ella is an absolute idol of mine. I think she’s one of the most important and influential singers, not only jazz, but in the world ever. And Diana is the one that really paved the way for singers like me. I mean, she started out in the 90’s, struggled for many years and now she’s reaping her awards and creating kind of opportunities and demands for other jazz singers, so I have a lot of respect for both of them. I don’t think I sound anything like either, but it’s definitely awesome when people leave a show and have the impressions that they had, let’s say when they saw Diana or when they saw Ella. Obviously they become very happy when they hear those accolades. So if they finish hearing my record or leave my show feeling the same way, it’s a great feeling.
Smitty: Yes it is. I must say that listening to your album, your new release, I feel this unique stamina and unique sophistication of your voice, and above all that, I said, “You know, this is a very confident 23-year-old.”
SM: (Laughing.) You know I can fool you?
SM: No, I’m kidding.
Smitty: Really, you have such confidence in your range and I said, “You know, she goes there with ease and it’s like she does that and says ‘Yeah, I can do this.’”
SM: Yeah, I’m very kind of a high stress, high strung person, but at the end of the day I deliver and I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well, and I think once I’m cornered and I’ve created a vibe, I can really do a lot more things than I give myself credit for. So it’s really fun to be in a studio surrounded by great musicians and just going for it. It’s really a great band, and we do that on stage as well. I think, if I’m working, my current band….and hopefully my band forever….is this wonderful group of musicians from Montreal, and they also really help me increase my confidence level and my singing because even though I’ve been on this tour, my performance experience is quite limited and I’ve only been singing really professionally for about three years, so I still have a lot of work to do, like confidence level and my range, etc., but I have a great support system around me that makes me feel like I can do it.