NMV Sit Down: Smiley
Blooming female vocalist Smiley, speaks on creating her new music, keeping herself motivated and receiving an unexpected Chris Brown co-sign.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Smiley as she spoke about her experience thus far in the music industry and how she keeps her motor going to prove her limitless potential.
SM: Steven Mainzer
SM: Hey Smiley, how have you been what have you been working on lately?
Smiley: I’ve been great, lately I been working on music, I am coming out with an album pretty soon, like an EP and I been working on my visuals.
SM: You recently released “Love Song” with D. Gainz, which has gained some steam. How did that video and record come about?
Smiley: That video came about -- every time I go out of town I record a song and we shoot the video for it. Honestly, one of my people D-- we just got in the studio and he helped me write the song, basically I just sung the song and we got the visual done, D. Gainz came up with a plan for the visual for the song.
SM: Where do you guys shoot the video?
Smiley: “Love song” video was shot in New York.
SM: You and D. Gainz have a couple videos together. How did that chemistry come about?
Smiley: When D brought Lyrical on to work with me, because of who she was in the industry, she has a lot of connections and past relationships that are still in good standing. Dgainz was one of them.
He was telling me how D. Gainz was a videographer and shot everybody’s video that came up from Chicago. He gave us the price and we shot the video, every video we went to a different city, first it was Cali, then it was NY, then it was ATL, next year will be in Miami with it.
SM: Can you talk about your Alicia Keys “Unthinkable” remix and how it went viral?
Smiley: It had gotten noticed because of this video of me being funny goofy and being me, and I got recognized by Chris brown, and other big artists -- they posted me on their page and I got mad followers and a drew fan base from there, I had started to post my singing videos and stuff like that because I already had everybody’s attention. I was coming out of a breakup, and my feelings were hurt so my favorite songwriter is Alicia Keys and I thought, “Yo I’m going to remix this and that’s when I started writing. Its good for me to write when I’m feeling some type of way because the song will become a hit. I had started to write and I had recorded myself singing in my bedroom on IG, Snapchat and Facebook so I woke up the next day with mad numbers. I went to the studio at my school, and went up in there and produced my song and it went mad viral after that, it went viral from me singing in my room to a song that is at 22 million views.
SM: What was your reaction?
Smiley: I was proud of myself and I felt like I deserved it and how hard I been working to get it, the hard work pays off with the videos. I was really excited. I could cry literally cry because I didn’t know that my numbers would jump that high for me to not be a famous person, because I wasn’t It was kind of shocking and I was really excited and proud of myself.
SM: What was it like growing up being the oldest child?
Smiley: I mean the oldest, I have to set an example for my siblings to look up to me, but it’s also frustrating because not all baby siblings listen, all my siblings are young, it is a good experience to be the oldest child, sometimes it can be tough but I’m a strong person- I can get through it.
SM: How many siblings do you have?
Smiley: I actually have three siblings, two brothers and my little sister.
SM: How did you meet your current management team in Lyrical?
Smiley: I met my team through Demetrius, he was telling me about Lyrical and they were having a conversation and they talked to my mom and all that, and my mom approved me working with Lyrical because I was a minor. I met Lyrical through Demetrius; I met D. Gainz through Lyrical. It all connected after that. We made the team, we got things together, and we got things done. They make me comfortable and other types of sorts. They make me comfortable enough to work; it’s amazing working with them. They make everything fun.
She handles my business and we get things done. She is like a big sister to me but she teaches me how to boss up and to think before I react which is not always easy. She genuinely has my best interest in mind at all times and because of that I'm growing. Its not about all the fame and money, if my mind is not right, my business will suffer. She's teaching me and I'm learning.
SM: What is a dream collaboration of yours?
Smiley: I have three: I want to collaborate with Alicia Keys, Summer Walker and Riley. Riley’s fans be screaming that I’m just like her. She be coming up just like me.
SM: How do you keep your singing voice in tune?
Smiley: Well, Lyrical always tells me to drink tea, water and lemon --my mom and my auntie too, also honey and water, and to always keep my neck covered as possible to protect my vocal chords. Basically I would do a cover everyday, then see how much I’ve grown compared to my old videos from now. I have really improved a lot in my singing, using my stomach and diaphragm more. I want to keep practicing that and not lose track.
SM: What is your favorite thing to do away from music?
Smiley: Sports. I’m a basketball player. I love listening to music and also shopping. Being different.
SM: What are your plans for 2020? Anything special in the works?
Smiley: Make another hit that people can relate to, the hustle never stop. Somebody going to try and knock me down I’m going to get up and keep going.
SM: What did you listen to growing up to and what are you listening to now?
Smiley: I grew up listening to old school music and that’s why I really love old school because I grew up around it, my mom use to clean she use to play it around the house, I listen to every type of genre, I listen to everything now. I don’t want to be that artist to only sing R&B, I want to sing pop, I want to sing anything that I can put my mind to. I listen to everything now. If it’s an instrumental I’ll listen to it.
SM: How do you plan to stay diverse with your music?
Smiley: Well when I was in the studio, when I was in ATL, people basically told me I have to ride the wave, if it’s summer time I should make a pop song, like a groovy song like Ciara, look at what the other superstars are doing and ride up on the wave and surf with them. Surf with them because people want me to be on genre with the wave, It’s basically -- if its throw back its throwback, if its R&B its R&B.
SM: Who is your biggest role model?
Smiley: I look up to all my family because they are all doing something good. They all are there for me when I need them to be. Industry wise I look up to Taraji.
SM: Have you been watching other shows lately?
Smiley: I don’t watch TV I listen to music all day, I’ll watch a movie or two, but I listen to music all day and write music. I rather go to the studio than watch shows. If you really want this stuff you have to really work hard. I go to this performing arts and performance school and they provide everything we need the: producers, the studios, and the time. Even outside of school I go in the studio. Every time I can pick up the pencil to write try to, I try to go to the studio everyday.
SM: How do you keep yourself motivated?
Smiley: I keep myself motivated by my family. I’m trying to make it. Not just my family but my friends also. Even though sometimes it gets stressful and hits me in the face, and I’m having an emotional breakdown, they’re my motivation because they’re trying to help me get where I need to be.
I never cared about the fame, I always had it since freshman year, it’s nothing that really excites me; I’m trying to get where the money is and finish doing music. If I’m just worried about the fame, it’s not even the music; it would be I just want all eyes on me. I always been the nervous type but fame is not what I always wanted I’m just trying to make it. But I made it real far to be my age and it only happened all in one year, so 2020 is just the year to just take off -- nothing can stop me, I came up in one year, now it’s nothing but straight business.
SM: Do you plan on pursuing music full time after high school?
Smiley: After high school yes, I still am going to go to college too, I’m still going to do my music just like Megan Trainor/ Solange, she rap, she still go to school, she still go to college, I haven’t done too much research on singer’s with degrees but I want to get mine.
SM: How do you plan to balance that?
Smiley: Easy, I don’t want to take many classes but I know I want to go to school for business so eventually I can run my own business. I have other things that I can do besides music and basketball, I’m balancing it now, still getting on flights, just the same thing I been doing in college. It’s already balanced now I just got to stay focus. This is what I always wanted. My team here and my family are here to have my back. This is what I always wanted, I want to do what I love to do, I’m never tired. I use to work; I don’t want to work. I want to do what I love to do. I am never tired. You’re never tired when you’re doing what you love.
SM: What is some advice that you would give to up and coming female artists especially those that getting more notoriety at an earlier age?
Smiley: Don’t let it take over you and don’t let the negative comments get to you. People always try to be in competition because you’re young. Do what you do is best for you, don’t worry about what anybody has to say, I learned that this year -- about my singing or that I can’t sing, no matter who wants to take you off just keep going. Keep God first. Try your best to stay as relevant as possible.