Lawrence singer-songwriter Sky Smeed has been honing his craft long enough to know how to make it feel effortless. A gifted storyteller in the folk tradition, Smeed’s blend of soulful Americana can swing from melancholy to comic to rollicking all with in the span of a handful of songs which leaves the impression that he could be the second coming of John Prine. Smeed’s excellent new full-length, Leaving Again, came out earlier this year, and we spoke to him about the album's recording, his songwriting process, and more. Enjoy!
Please introduce yourself. Where do you live and work? Describe your music for new listeners
My name is Sky Smeed. I'm a folksinger originally from Chanute, Kansas. My family and I have been living in Lawrence for five years. We love it. I try and tell a lot of stories in the songs I write. I also make sure I have a good mix of emotions and styles in what I create.
Your latest album Leaving Again, came out earlier this year. How was the recording process this time around?
I released Leaving Again in April. I love recording and my favorite way to do it is by capturing the song as live as possible. I asked some of my most favorite musicians in town to spend a week in the studio with me, and my good friend Mike West produced this album. I'm proud of the work we did.
When did you start writing songs and how would you say your sound and songwriting has evolved over the years?
I started writing songs when I was about eighteen years old. When I started out I was way too serious and mopey. I do my best to have fun with whatever song I'm working on now. Try not to get too picky.
How often are you writing songs? Do you typically have to wait for an idea to strike you or do the songs come relatively quickly?
If I were to wait around for a song to come to me I'd probably only have about five songs to my name. At the moment I'm writing a little bit every morning. I usually think about a song for a few weeks before I start writing it. I'm an excellent procrastinator. Ideas really don't come to me unless I give myself plenty of creative time. My main goal when I begin a song is to see it through to the end. Finish it.
Who are some of your biggest influences and what music are you currently raving about?
I can always find inspiration in Willie Nelson's music and guitar playing. Tom Waits has been one of my favorite artists ever since I first heard the album Nighthawks At The Diner when I was twenty years old. I try and listen to stuff I haven't heard before on a regular basis. Right now I can't get enough of Hiss Golden Messenger, Marty Stuart and Terry Allen.