Monday, November 21, 2016

Meet Gideon Smith, Musician

Based in North Carolina, Gideon Smith got his start singing in rock bands in 1989, and he founded Gideon Smith & The Dixie Damned in 1996. His music is classic rock, psychedelic bluesy retro rock music. His songs have been featured on television and film, including placements on well-known shows like The Sopranos and Sons of Anarchy. He's influenced by sixties and seventies rock, and he also loves anthropology, studying world religions, archery, yoga, etc. He focuses on the positive!

Check out for much more about Gideon and his music.

1. As someone who has lived in many countries and is an avid reader of texts from many cultures, what do you see as the key influences on your work when you sit down to write a song?

Hail and how're you? Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I celebrate and enjoy many cultures that bring knowledge, inspiration, peace, power and beauty to my life. When I create art, whatever the style or theme may be, it all figures in there somewhere. My music may be seen as southern American rock and roll for the most part, but I believe music belongs to us all and is universal. Rock music and blues came from the southern states, but music is ancient with tribal rhythm, singing, poetry and lyrics which know no singular time or culture, so all of it comes together with any songwriting. As people are the sum of every experience they have ever had, creating art of any form can come anything they have experienced in whatever way that had an effect on their life. As for southern America, blues singing or rhythms, things like that, actually come from many cultures and blended here into music people identify with the culture. Mountain folk tend to enjoy bluegrass or Celtic/Irish sounding music, but also there are reggae bands way up in the Appalachians. Beach music tends to be island sounding, and swampy southern music like you'd hear in New Orleans ranges from blues to zydeco, jazz and very heavy metal. I think without exception, tribal drumming calls everyone and people like to dance or sing: it strikes with passion and excitement, and it's all part of the way nature takes control over the listener. Way back to ancient Greece, the god Pan with his pipes and forest stories, Apollo with his lyre, mermaids and nymphs singing. Women love music and dance, and men love beauty and rhythm which brings out their sense of passion but also empowers their strength like a war chant.

2. Do you feel that your music keeps changing over time, and on the other side of the coin, do you see any constants or themes in your work?

Yes I do, each piece I have done has captured the time period and moment and the next definitely changes and grows like the next chapter, or just a few new pages of a book. Some of it is of course similar, but also there are no walls around my music, so I just play what makes me happy or comes out. While I have always just created without calculation, I also have made a point when necessary that my music would not be painted in a corner so to speak that I was only known for one thing over and over. All artists should be free to be real natural and create as allows and they are inspired. But yes, I think if you dig what I do, for the most part, all my music runs like a river a listener may be familiar with, and it becomes like a well-loved old friend you just have different conversations with but it remains the same you knew and loved to begin with. I try not to look back on my music history too much--there are hard times I’m glad I left behind and happier ones I’m thankful I had. But one must always look ahead and keep creating with eyes on an awesome today and tomorrow.

3. How did you break into having your music on TV and in movies?

The first big show one of my songs was on was The Sopranos, and I am so thankful for that. I think at the time my music was just spreading around a lot in Europe and the USA, and after that happened, it opened a new avenue in the music industry I had previously never even thought about. I had always concentrated on shows and recording albums not necessarily other forms of media entertainment industry, so after that I became aware of all the awesome ways my music can reach people if you expand your vision and work very hard, and work only and always with professional people who have your best interests at heart. It opened the world for me that way, and so music just expanded in my life beyond shows in my area or recording for a specific fan base. I'm so thankful my music has been in film and television and equally thankful for people who knew me otherwise, I give them all the same music and gratitude. Artists should treat their fans well: if you're a rock star or indie musician or whatever, it's an exalted gift, the position to provide music for the world. Big love for everybody who supports what I do and all the good you send my way.

4. What projects are you currently working on, and do you have any plans for 2017 that you want to share?

I have several side projects going. One is my doom metal band which is very heavy called Cemetery Crows--it is doom metal, gothic rock, psychedelic heavy music. I have a few others on the way in the future, too, and my usual music which is known under my name. In 2017 I hope to release new records and eventually get back to performing live when the stars align.

5. For other musicians and indie writers/artists who are looking to find wider exposure for their work, what's your advice?

I would say don't pay attention to trends, as in worry over what's popular right now. Make your own trends and be yourself, and don't try and imitate something you see is popular exactly right now because the people who created that did so a few years ago. Make the trends and stand your ground. You have to be yourself to make your mark. Don't get too caught up in social media. Social media is a great communication tool, and for an artist networking and promoting your band is important on some levels, but it's also a huge sea of completely lost people vying for fleeting attention and recognition. I think it can be very unhealthy to be too preoccupied with it, personally and as a musician. Don't let social media run your life.

I think if artists focus on their songwriting, delivering their best live performances, working on their instrument and singing, they will gain recognition. Put yourself out there, and just don't follow the crowd or you're just a number in a "scene." Take the road less traveled and make your own path. All of the greats in any field carved their name by being original, so don't seek to imitate. Look inside, not outside, and write songs. Recognition will come if what you give is emotionally pure and high quality. On a work ethics level: work hard but more importantly work smart. The industry itself can be a strange place full of tricky smoke and mirrors, so keep your eyes ahead and sing from your heart. Minimize your weaknesses and maximize your strengths. Treat everyone you deal with with dignity. Treat them well on all levels and deliver great music, and you will be respected. If people you deal with treat you badly, rid yourself of them and keep moving. The best way to succeed is to be real, work hard, and keep your heart pure while you're doing it. The rest will unfold as it should.

Thank you for the great interview and wishing you well, friend. Follow your heart to the adventures of tomorrow.

Thanks, Gideon!

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