MARC SMITH is a Brooklyn based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist currently self-releasing his first solo album Nothing Is Ever Lost in “monthly singles” through marcsmithmusic.com and all online vendors.
“The songs capture a broad arc of my life. Each recording feels like assembling the evidence of many years.”
Twelve songs are currently slated for a full-length album, which began an innovative “single release” schedule in May 2013 with Anywhere With You, a reflective duet featuring his wife that offers no hint of louder things to come.
“The songs are released to coincide with dates that are personally meaningful. I wrote Anywhere With You for my wife on our third anniversary because she requested a song we could perform together. I released it for her birthday months later and love that it was the song that got the ball rolling. Half Way to Grace was my next dedication to her written on our second anniversary and released recently on our fourth.”
Alligators and Snakes releasing Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2013
"This is a homecoming song but not a joyous one. I wish as much honor was paid to those servicemen and women who speak out against war as those who have been ruined by it. It’s a tribute to the troops and a stand against war."
Ghost - ”I enjoyed releasing this song for Halloween. I wrote it years ago in the dead of winter at a farm house in Maine where the silence was deafening. I was told there was a ghost who lived in the house, and sometimes I believed it. Being up there, I got to thinking about what a ghost must go through. Ghosts are cultural images the world over that embody loneliness and despair. They are the fear and isolation we all carry around inside when all outward appearances have people believing the opposite. It’s a sorrowful song for sure, one of many voices that I feel need to be heard.”
Half Way to Grace presents solitary acoustic strains that recognize a country ballad before bursting open with electric guitars and finishing on a harmonic chorus. It was followed by New York City, an anthemic personification of Smith’s hometown that levels blame and admits fault to a walking beat that builds to a shouting match with thick guitars and crashing drums.
New York City and the Single Release Concept
“With New York City I decided that releasing a new song each month would be a promise to myself to complete a collection of recordings while also a way to present the music to fans in real time. We’re all consuming music in such diverse and instantaneous ways and the album is no longer a signature event for musicians the way it used to be. I can’t remember that last time I sat and listened to even my favorite musicians’ albums all the way through. My own listening habits are like a lot of people’s, so putting out a monthly single feels natural to me, and hopefully it’s more exciting for fans to receive new music on a regular basis – something to look forward to.”
The single release concept mirrors the asynchronous nature of the internet and social media itself.
A story or song has limited timeliness—a few days of tweets and shares may represent the climax of a new release. But stories and creative works can resurface in unexpected ways, recombine and reenter the collective pulse at any moment.
Marc Smith was born in Bucharest, Romania to American parents whose Foreign Service careers took them abroad regularly, including to Jakarta, Indonesia where he attended high school. Saxophone was his first instrument in grade school until the drums drew his attention in the school band. Playing in rock bands throughout college, he eventually picked up the guitar. “I was ecstatic the first time I set words to a guitar line,” Smith says. With a musical temperament that swings between rock, folk, and country, he settled in New York City, where all points converge.
“Living here is pure rhythm, tempo and emotion, compressed and constant,” Smith says, describing his relationship to New York and its creative influence.
“You accelerate and decelerate in response to everyone surrounding you. I think my songs behave accordingly. But I feel that I rarely set out to write a song consciously. They develop in me somewhat beyond my control, until I take the wheel. I’ll hear someone in the street speak a word or phrase that triggers an idea in my head that will stay with me for five minutes, or maybe five months. Or I’ll noodle on the guitar for a few hours until a tiny progression happens—a kernel. I’ve written songs in a day while others have developed over years. Right now I have one waiting on the shelf that is bars away from completion. At some point I’ll play it through again and the ending will present itself as it’s meant to be. I can’t say when that will happen and it’s doesn’t much matter. To me, that’s the joy of writing music. There are no parameters and no one to answer to.”
Producer and Multi-instrumentalist
As vocalist, guitarist, drummer and more, Smith set out to perform all instrumentation himself, simultaneously engineering much of the material he records in the studio.
“My growth as an audio engineer is a blessing and curse with my own music. I tend to go through cycles favoring the recording process over the music itself. Recently I’ve sought out musicians who can bring that third dimension I was missing as the sole performer and producer. It changes everything in the most positive way. Now I have the best of both worlds, musician and engineer of my own record.”
DIY Music Equipment
Smith goes deeper than most into the sonic details of his music, hand-building essential pieces of equipment used to record. “The more I wrote songs and learned recording, the more interested I became in what distinguished good equipment from bad. I couldn’t justify spending thousands of dollars on a mic pre if I didn’t understand the qualitative differences behind the front panel knobs.
Nowadays, there is a huge DIY community online and so many boutique equipment designers that you can literally build any classic piece of gear for your studio. Building my own amps, pedals, compressors, EQs and more just brings me closer to my music. I love being responsible for every aspect of my record, from the song idea itself to the performance, arranging and editing, all the way down to the smallest components that process my voice or guitar in the signal chain. Root to branch as they say.”
Sharing Knowledge With Those In Need
In addition to his own music, Smith engineers projects with independent artists around New York, and for five years has directed a unique recording and music therapy program at Phoenix House, a national drug and alcohol treatment provider.
The Phoenix House music studio program is underwritten by Kara DioGuardi, a Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, record producer, music publisher and former American Idol judge.
“Kara gave a very unique gift in support of a cause she truly believes in. As one of several studio directors around the country who implement her music program I feel like I’m as much a recipient of her good will as the clients I work with. She has given her personal time, even by visiting the facility to hold personal studio sessions with clients. She’s really incredible and I thank her, wherever I can, that I get to do what I love due to her gift…
I honestly have what I consider a dream job.
I wake up every day and make music with people who are going through recovery; complete strangers when they step into the studio but friends by the time they leave. I help people come out of their shells to discover talents and motivation they never knew existed within them. Their stories are both heartbreaking and totally inspiring. Telling them through music captures the full emotional range of their experiences. I teach our clients the mechanics of recording, songwriting and arranging and provide individual instrument instruction.
There is no doubt in my mind that music is a fully therapeutic activity—it tames the beast within, a client once said to me. I couldn’t agree more.”
*Follow Marc Smith, for updates, concert dates, and monthly single releases.
Subsequently all Marc Smith singles are available on iTunes, Amazon, and all online vendors.