Getting an artist to define herself can be a difficult topic to approach. With Simone Schmidt, a soulful voiced singer-songwriter who’s made an effort to explore different genres while fronting alt-country stalwarts, One Hundred Dollars, and psych-rockers, the Highest Order, a self-reflection can be an honest exercise.
“Much more dignified than alt-country or roots-y,” she writes in agreement with the label of psych-folk for her latest project. “‘Psych’ is right because this record draws on certain tones and recording techniques present in ‘60s and ‘70s psychedelia – backwards tape, delays, plate reverb, repetition. Folk is also right: the lyrics are very character driven, structured with verses and choruses.”
Fiver, Schmidt’s newest project, was formed as a new arm on the creative spiral, allowing her to explore a more solo-oriented route and introduce herself as a guitar player. “I could play with whatever musicians and sounds I was interested in, without feeling the limitations of other people’s wills,” Schmidt explains. This can be felt immediately on the debut LP, Lost the Plot, which finds Schmidt exploring new ground sonically and removing herself from being labeled merely as an alt-country crooner. The lyrics, however, continue on with her style of storytelling and having the ability to grow on you after repeated listens. “Much is hidden in the songs by way of double and triple entendres and so they call you to listen and try to understand.
“I think my earliest influences are buried deep in me and keep rearing their heads anew.” Schmidt lists Michael Stipe of REM, Gene Clarke, the Gosdin Brothers, and Jackson C Frank as frequent points of inspiration. “You can hear Clarke in some of my chord changes and Frank in my picking.”
Schmidt, a Sled Island veteran, has toured this project as a solo project and with a backing band. So how does Fiver fit in with the festival this year? “I’m doing this Sled with Will Kidman (of the Constantines) and I assure you it will be strange.”
Strange is good. Perfect, really.
See Fiver on Thursday, June 19, at Local 510 and Friday, June 20, at Wine-Ohs.
By Cory Jones
Photo: Jeff Bierk