About this Playlist
‘Strong Woman’ by Nicole Cassandra Smit was premiered on 6Music, on the Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show by Ashley Beedle during his ‘Trunk of Funk’ interview and as ever with a new Ramrock release it comes with a remix from the North Street West production crew, Darren Morris, Ashley and of course his wife and label owner Jo Wallace, the North Street West studio is turned into the legendary FAME studios of Muscle Shoals as the remix teases out the Country Soul elements with tight piano, hammond and horns.
The song was submitted as a demo to Ramrock Records by BBC 6Music album of the year winner Joseph Malik and Nicole featured on this album ‘Diverse Part 3‘, on the track ‘Looking Right Back at You, Pt 1‘
‘Strong Woman’ was originally written in the male perspective about a man getting ready to go out to meet his girl, the song was shown to the Edinburgh based singer/songwriter who rewrote the lyrics to reflect a woman going to meet her man. Produced by Joseph Malik with long time musical partner and arranger David Donnelly.
‘Strong Woman’ is a positive affirmation of confident womanhood, currently Nicole is working on a solo album ‘Third In Line’ with Joseph Malik and Chris Greive, it will be recorded in Leith Edinburgh with the best musicians in the city at present and will be released independently in 2022.
The Hoof caught up with Nicole for a chat..
Tell us about yourself and how you got into music
I’ve always been singing and writing songs for myself, my parents introduced me to all kinds of music early at home – from Elvis to Beatles to Carole King to Tori Amos – as well as taking me to jazz bars, pubs, anywhere there was live music from when I was 4 years old.
This was in Jakarta (Indonesia) where I was born and raised. When I moved to Sweden as a teenager I began to sing a little with my friends and developed my voice and writing even further but it wasn’t until I moved to Scotland in 2012 that I started getting involved with a real music scene. I got my professional start at the 2014 Edinburgh when I joined the Blueswater for their annual show “Blues!”.
Within the next two years I was headlining my own show “Queens of The Blues” as well as starting the band SMITTEN with Charlie Wild and Alex Palmer. After 5 years of gigging and touring around UK (and some in Germany and Italy) I began to make plans to do a proper solo project and, in a somewhat blessing in disguise way, the year 2020, turned out to be the quiet time I needed to start this in earnest.
So how have you kept busy during the last year or so, did the pandemic stifle your creativity or did the free time allow you to experiment more.
The last 12 months has been spent writing, recording and creating my first solo album. I have returned to live performing once again as venues re-opened but not as frequent as I would have before. The pandemic turned out to be my most creative time to date, I’ve written more songs than I have in the space of 18 months than I ever had before.
Other side projects (some library music work, guesting on other people’s records, etc) cropped up and I was able to pick them up because of the creative momentum I was already on. It also afforded me the luxury of exploring music that I had wanted to create but never got the chance to due to the sheer volume of other work I was doing before the lockdowns.
What’s the inspiration behind ‘Strong Woman’
The inspiration behind the ‘Strong Woman’ vibe and lyrics is that quiet confidence that only comes from when you are content in your own skin. I spent a lot of my life being self-conscious and trying to hide away my imperfections (I have a brachial plexus injury in my right arm) but in that first lockdown for some reason I felt a new acceptance for myself and it all came out when I wrote for Strong Woman. It is probably the most bare and honest I’ve ever been when writing and the melody and words flowed out of me in one fell swoop.
What is your 2022 looking like, what are your hopes and dreams, do you have any exciting plans, new releases, tours or gigs.
I am in the last stages of making my album at the moment so the new year will be all about completing that process and beginning the campaign for its release. I have a couple gigs planned to promo this new material and a big show for the album launch in early June.
Can you give us a classic track, something that has inspired you or simply one you love and never get sick of listening to.
This is always a tricky one to answer because there are many to choose from but this time I’d like to highlight “Noah’s Ark” by Coco Rosie. It’s a unique track that sounds like nothing else and I always get drawn into its world whenever I hear it. It has hooks, beats, weird sounds and you can still sing along to it!
Can you recommend any new music, something that you’ve just discovered or are just really digging at the moment.
Most recently I have been getting cosy with Swedish pop artists. Mainly LEON and GRANT. I discovered both of them in the last few months and their production values have inspired my work as well. I would recommend “Hell Yes, I’m betting on you!” by GRANT to try out first.
Do you think playlists are important, what types do you enjoy, in your opinion, what’s the future of the playlist.
I realise there are several ways to interpret this.
1. Love playlists. They’re not as amazing as making mixtapes or mix CDs for people but it’s the closest thing to it we have now.
2. I see how playlists (the curated, editorial kinds) can be really helpful for lesser known artists to get noticed and for the listener it’s a good way to discover new music. I personally don’t often listen to curated playlists, opting instead to compile a list of songs I enjoy currently myself or listening to whole albums.
How do you prefer your music to be heard, streams, downloads or physical product sold. Why?
I would prefer my music to be heard on decent headphones or speakers at the very least but there’s no way to control this so I focus more on making sure the music will translate in any medium possible. Of course I want everyone to be compensated for the work, skill, creativity that they put in something but at the same time I don’t mind how you consume my music as long as you enjoy it when you do.
How do you connect with your audience, email, social media, PR firms.
I’d say I’m pretty off grid in comparison to what is expected of me. My favourite way to connect with audiences is in person but you can reach me on social media if you wanted and like to engage. That said with the upcoming releases I might have to eat my words and get active online more! I will very likely start a mailing list via Bandcamp in the near future and I will be working with a PR agency for the new album.
What’s the best way a fan could help you today if they had just ten minutes to spare.
The best way would be to give me a follow on Spotify so they get notified of new releases and on Instagram to find out what I’m up to next.
What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your career in music.
I have no idea what I would be doing instead or even where I would be in the world. Before moving to Scotland I was thinking of moving to Canada, so maybe I would be there. I studied Film Studies in university and was making my way through Stockholm and then Edinburgh Film Festival so perhaps I would’ve ended up working with that in some capacity. Whatever it may be I know with full certainty that I would still be singing and writing songs constantly, even if no one was listening.