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The Power of Unity with Cammie Gilbert


Metal Maven Podcast Transcript: Episode 3

The Power of Spirit with Linda Smouse


Welcome to the Metal Maven Podcast, where we explore and discover the process and passions of artists in the metal music and art community.

Metal Maven: We have reached the third episode of Metal Maven Podcast and my guest today is operatic theatrical metaller, Linda Smouse, and we’re going to dive deep into the mystical world of her first studio album, A Deer In White. Thanks so much for joining me today Linda, how are you?

Linda Smouse: I am great. It is wonderful to be here.

Metal Maven: Well, you must be very excited now that you’ve released your first music video and your album comes out May 17th. It’s almost here.

Linda Smouse: It’s been a long time coming and I’m very excited about it. Looking forward to seeing the music actually all the way out there and everybody to be able to actually, you know, hear the songs in entirety. Yeah, and get the feedback and see what everybody thinks.

Metal Maven: I’m so happy for you Linda because I know it takes a lot of work to reach this point and I’d like to for a moment talk about you a bit more. Who is Linda Smouse? What is your musical background, and how did you reach the point where you can now share your unique visions with the world?

Linda Smouse: Wow.

Metal Maven: I know that was a lot of questions!

Linda Smouse: That’s a loaded question right there! Yeah, who am I? Well, you know, I’ve been singing for quite some time, but I never actually decided to make a full on presentation to put out there. But you go through a lot of things in life and, and then it’s like, you know, you see things and it’s like, “I have this within me and I want to put it out there,” and, you know, get it to people and enrich their life in any way that I can and hopefully that it will touch them. And you know, as a friend of mine quotes, he says, “If you can reach people and do something positive, it’s a beautiful thing.”

Metal Maven: That is a beautiful thing, indeed. Did you ever encounter outside resistance to how you wanted to express yourself or make music? You know, getting to this point, did you have any challenges along the way for that?

Linda Smouse: Oh, absolutely! I mean, when you’re a singer, if you want to stay true to yourself and to what you know is within you, there’s always going to be people that like what you are or what you do, but then they want to take it and they want to craft it and mold it and shape it the way that they want for what their purposes are and their agendas are. You have to stay true to yourself. And that’s part of what this album is really all about. And when I went through experiences that I went through, yeah, I had some very difficult experiences with people wanting to not allow me to do what I do. And they’re kind of like loving me in the beginning, and then once, you know, you’re in the picture, it’s like, “Oh yeah, let’s change you now.” And I’m like, “Well, you know, that’s just, probably not going to happen.”

So yeah, I went through some experiences like that. And, you know, sometimes it gets you really to a place where you’re like, “Wow, can you ever make it? Can you ever do it?” And that’s another part of this album because it’s like everything that’s malignant out there has always tried to steal everything from you. But then there’s this overpowering, benevolent type thing that’s always like, “No, don’t give up. You can always do it. And everything else that says you can’t is just a lie.”

So I keep pressing forward and, one day I came across, Dark Passion Play from Nightwish and I literally sat and listened to that song, the songs on the album, mostly “Poet and the Pendulum” and “Meadows of Heaven.” And I just sat and listened for, I don’t know, 12 hours straight. And every time I listened, I heard something new. And I was like, “This is the kind of music I want to do. Where everything is expressed – soft tones, loud tones, growls – whatever you needed to put to get the story across.” It’s made like a picture, you know, like a movie for the imagination. And I think that that’s wonderful because every person is a unique individual with their own ability to imagine and create. And so to trigger all that within a person’s soul and allow them to just create art within their own mind is a wonderful thing. And to come across that music and to know like, “Yeah, this is what I want to do.” And then to have the opportunity to do it – wow, what a gift and what an opportunity. And I’ve been extremely blessed with the ability to be able to pull this off.

Metal Maven: Well, it seems like Nightwish has had a huge impact on you, but I was also wondering, were there any other perhaps non-musical sources or books or art that fueled your creativity as well?

Linda Smouse: Oh, yeah, yeah. I am a huge, huge fan of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.”

Metal Maven: I thought so!

Linda Smouse: Oh yeah. I mean, I look at the Elves like, they got it going on, you know what I mean? You want to stay on their good side – they’re perfect, they’re beautiful, you know? They’ll be so wonderful to you, but you just never want to get on their bad side. And I look at that as a good thing to endeavor to be like. And if I could live with Elves in Lothlórien or Rivendell I would be just… yeah, I’ll go live there. A lot of my characters in the music are based on the Elves. I’ve got a lot of multi-layer characters throughout all of the A Deer In White album. Yeah.

Metal Maven: Are there any of those characters you can speak about today or are you keeping that on the down low?

Linda Smouse: Um, I mean…

Metal Maven: Well, I know on your website there’s the demon.

Linda Smouse: Yeah, absolutely.

Metal Maven: And then from the samples, I’ve heard the name, “Michael.”

Linda Smouse: Yes, yes. Yeah.

Metal Maven: So I’m not sure. I’m trying to match it up with the music video. So I’m not sure if Michael is kind of your right-hand man who’s with you, traveling with you.

Linda Smouse: Um, not exactly.

Metal Maven: Okay.

Linda Smouse: That’s one of those things that like, you know, I don’t want to like, uh –

Metal Maven: You don’t want to reveal that.

Linda Smouse: Yeah. I don’t want to ruin the experience. It’s like when you play a video game and you’re looking for all the little – where’s this thing? Where’s that thing? You know? And part of the fun of it is to discover it and search for it and figure it out. So I don’t want to ruin it for the listening audience.

Metal Maven: So what I found interesting is you’re inspired by Nightwish and all of these magical stories and then mixed in with your own experience as a singer and you know, meeting that potential or, actually, actual resistance to how you wanted to express yourself. It feels like all of these elements together transformed you into the Gothic Prophet. So my next question would be, what is a Gothic Prophet, you know, a noun? Like if you had a Mythical Bestiary description, what would that be?

Linda Smouse: Wow. That’s probably the most difficult question that I have to answer. Within myself, I know exactly what and who a Gothic Prophet is. But it’s such a multi-layered answer because an individual can be a Gothic Prophet, but the message itself is a Gothic Prophet. It’s taking all that benevolent voice that’s in the world, and hearing it, and then doing something with it – being led with it, either in song or in artwork, or in whatever gifting an individual would have – and shining something truthful and positive into such a darkness that it overpowers it and causes, betterness and change and something more positive. And there’s specifics within the A Deer In White and the whole brand of Gothic Prophet, but it’s almost like you have to experience and start to build a relationship with the brand in order to understand it. You know, because just like if you were in a relationship with a person, there’s no way you’re going to really know that person until you just spend time with them and get to experience them. And then you start to go, “Oh, I get it. I see what it’s like.” And then it starts to get clearer. And I think that’s the best I can answer that question at this time until the album is out there and everybody can hear it.

Metal Maven: Gotcha. So I would think it’s like an adventure in the theater of your mind, kind of.

Linda Smouse: Most definitely!

Metal Maven: Most definitely. What led you to the creation of this album? So, in your timeline, did it begin further back as just a small thought in your mind, an unseemingly situation that came up that procced this idea that one day came together as a larger body of work? How did that begin for you, that creative process? Sometimes people say, “I remembered something from when I was younger and I held on to that moment. And then I didn’t actually think about it again until I was older and had this other idea.” And just things begin to link up and then something beautiful is made from that. So I was just wondering how you got to this point?

Linda Smouse: You know, it’s a combination of many events and just a refusal to let go of what I know within myself. And there’s an inward presence of spirit that, if you just stay true to it, you can do anything you set out to do. You’re going to battle, and it’s going to be an adventure, but it’s always going to tell you that you can do what you’re trying to do – but there’s always going to be that other voice that’s telling you, “You can’t.” I cannot tell you how many times throughout this whole process and throughout experiences in my life where people in situations would say, “You can’t do this. You can’t do this.” And your own thoughts will tell you, “You can’t do this.” And yet, if you can shut all of that out with the voice that says, “Oh, yes, you can,” then you find out that you can do it.

And I look at this whole experience as I’ve done it. So, all of those voices that said, “You can’t do it.” Well, you know, something’s amiss because I’ve done it, and I’m still doing it. We’re still adventuring here, where every day is still things to do and I’ve got things that I learn every day in the process of getting this out. And discovering the audience that is interested in the album – I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about the individuals that I’m coming in contact with and get an idea of what they’re looking for and how I can do what’s good for their interest and make the experience of a Gothic Prophet in their life be something wonderful for them. So yeah, it’s always, wow, it’s a lot.

Metal Maven: It is indeed. I mean, it’s this huge message of positivity. It’s quite an endeavor to have an album that is meant to be like almost a spiritual experience and to uplift someone potentially out of a really negative mindset. How did you balance and maintain ambiguity to get this kind of end result for your music, for your album?

Linda Smouse: Wow. Yeah, that has been a challenge. I guess then that’s why I’ve been so quiet about myself and talking about me. Because it’s really more about the brand and the spirit of the whole brand. And by focusing on that causative message, on that spirit of the brand, that’s what’s most important. It’s not about any individual, it’s not about me as a singer. It’s about the message and people being able to go and listen to the music, and to the message, and the whole feel of it. Kind of like when you go to a movie, you know, you go into the movie and you know you’re safe within that movie – you’re sitting in the theater, but you get drawn into the movie and it’s like you feel like you’re in the movie, and then you’d come out and then if it was an action movie, then you’re charged, but if it was a drama, maybe you’re in tears, you know. It moves people, and that’s what I’m trying to do. So I focus more on that to keep the ambiguity, as opposed to focusing on any individual that’s been involved. And yeah, that’s the best way I know how to answer that one.

Metal Maven: Well, it seems like your live performances of this are going to be amazing from what this sounds like. I know you haven’t announced any tours yet, but I’m extremely excited for when you do start to tour because I know you’re based in the US so I should be able to make one of those shows. I would be honored to go to, especially since the music has this theatrical feel to it – the performance and the lighting and just the sound and the hearing it with you and seeing you sing, I feel is going to be a great experience for people to actually be there and witness spirit instead of, you know, if they’re just listening, that’s a very personal experience. But once you start getting into the arena of sharing your music in the community, like with them physically, that’s a whole other magic that happens. So I really look forward to when you reach that point because I will definitely be there.

Linda Smouse: Oh, well I would love for you to be there. Yeah, I look forward to that. Being in a live presentation is probably my happiest place. And I think that the energy that comes with that, because you have everyone coming together – your audience, their energy, and their adrenaline, and what they feel from the music, affects the whole atmosphere. And it’s a wonderful encounter when you’re sharing what you have with people and they’re sharing what they have with you. I look forward to that greatly myself and I’m already working on more music and this album was done in the studio, and I’m still trying to decide if I want to do the next one as a studio. I think what I’d really like to do is start to incorporate actual band members so that I can write with them and start to build that part of the brand.

But initially, I did it with the studio because that was the best way to accomplish what I was trying to do since nobody had any idea of the brand except for myself. But after the album is released and people are able to hear it, they’ll get a much better understanding of what the brand is about, so then I can incorporate other individuals and I hope to actually do that. And I think when you listen to the album, you’ll see that there are so many layers of singers and so many characters. And sometimes you’ve got multiple characters singing the same words, but yet, they’re not meaning the same thing. One’s saying it from a negative perspective – one’s saying it from a positive. So that creates a field where I can have four or five singers. And I would love to incorporate having a much bigger production. I have lots of big ideas, but one step at a time.

Metal Maven: Exactly. Little bites, right? But I feel like, when I picture it, especially since you don’t have band members at this moment, it almost has a Sarah Brightman feel to it with how she comes out, just, you know, a goddess. And she just has beautiful lighting, and I’m excited to see what you do next. I know a little bit at a time. I can imagine though, right?

Linda Smouse: I imagine all the time, it’s partly how you get it accomplished. And Sarah’s presentations are amazing, absolutely amazing.

Metal Maven: Last question, Linda.

Linda Smouse: Okay.

Metal Maven: What musical spirit do you want to imbue in your listeners?

Linda Smouse: I think to sum that up in a clear form is: the musical spirit I endeavor to breathe into my listeners is one of, “I’m still on your side – an unstoppable, prophesying, benevolent truth – unconditional love.”

Metal Maven: I love it. I needed to have this talk with you tonight. It was the perfect night for it.

Linda Smouse: Awesome.

Metal Maven: And it was just, you know, a good, positive chat with you, and I’m so happy that you’re able to join me tonight and take time out of your day.

Linda Smouse: Thank you for having me.

For more information on the enchanted world of Gothic Prophet, and to pre-order A Deer In White, out May 17th, visit gothicprophet.com.

Visit metalmavenpodcast.com for links to Gothic Prophet’s social profiles, videos, and read the full transcript of this interview. Thanks for tuning in, and be sure to subscribe to Metal Maven Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and Google Play.