Emerging from the Minneapolis music scene, Caroline Smith quickly found an audience with a quavering and soulful singing style that has drawn comparisons to Joanna Newsom and Leslie Feist. With her band The Good Night Sleeps – drummer Arlen Peiffer (Cloud Cult) and bassist Jesse Schuster — Smith has released the albums “Backyard Tent Set” (2008) and “Little Wind” (2011).
The band is currently working on a new album, but before that’s completed it will perform Monday, May 27, at The Vintage Theater in Scranton along with opening act A Fire With Friends.
We recently chatted with the indie-folk singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist about the new album, what fans can expect at the show and a number of other important and humorous subjects.
H81R: How far are you into recording the new album?
CS: We are mixing it now, and we’re beyond happy with what we’re getting!
H81R: Where are you recording it? Are you working with a producer?
CS: We recorded the record at Near North studios with Brett Bullion with Jake Hanson as our producer. Jakey boy is killin’ this shit, too.
H81R: How would you describe the direction of the new material compared to your previous albums?
CS: This new record is a completely new direction. I would say our listeners can expect estrogen-forward soul music.
H81R: Do you have a release date in mind?
CS: Fingers crossed for fall, but you can never know when; it’s still far from being pressed.
H81R: How would you describe your live show? Do you stay relatively close to the recorded versions of the songs?
CS: We’ve been working really hard on our live show. We try to keep the energy up and do special things live that you won’t get on the record. I think recorded art and live performances can be approached as two different branches off of the same tree.
H81R: I’m fairly certain this will be your first time playing in Scranton. Do you approach a show differently if it’s a new audience that might not be as familiar with you, or at least not as familiar with your live show?
This is actually our second time in Scranton! We had such a fun show with A Fire With Friends. We definitely wanted to stop back again. I think when it’s a new crowd, we (the band) have to focus more on our energy and keeping everything feeling good. Sometimes new audiences won’t give you the same amount of energy that a familiar audience will, so you have to do a little bit more guidance work. Like, “Hey guys, here is where the fun is! Follow us!”
H81R: You also recently completed your first European tour. Was it your first trip to Europe personally as well? How would you describe the experience?
CS: I’ve been to Europe a few times before, but it was Jesse’s first time and he absolutely loved it. We had a very good reception and everyone was so sweet and accommodating. We can’t wait to get back there!
H81R: The Minneapolis music scene has been pretty strong for quite some time. How did that city play a role in shaping your music as well as your career?
CS: The Minneapolis community is very supportive of their artists, and because of that we are able to do things like tour and make new records. We are very lucky to have a home base that supports us so much.
H81R: Cliché question but an important one: Who are some of your major influences as a singer and as a writer? And as an instrumentalist?
CS: I don’t have just one, I am always changing up who I am listening to. Recently I’ve been listening to a ton of Erykah Badu. I absolutely adore her.
H81R: What did you listen to growing up?
CS: Hip hop and r&b mostly. I definitely went through my punk rock phase, though, like every other Midwestern girl who was mad at the world after she got her period.
H81R: How would you describe your writing process? Do you write when an idea hits you? Do you set aside specific time to write?
The older I get, the more I realize the importance of setting aside time to write. I believe that writing powerful songs is more than a practiced art – there’s definitely something more transcendental that happens — but the more you sit down to write, the more the chances go up that it’s going to hit you.
H81R: Do you primarily write on guitar?
CS: I would say it’s 50/50 between piano and guitar.
H81R: What plans do you have for the summer and the rest of the year? Any festivals or special shows in the works?
CS: We are currently on tour for a couple weeks and we have a few local festivals and small regional tours set up for the summer.
H81R: If you could be on a bill with any current band or artist, who would it be?
CS: Justin Timberlake. Let him know if you see him.
H81R: What was the first album you ever owned?
CS: Montel Jordan.
H81R: What’s your favorite album of all time?
CS: TLC, “CrazySexyCool.”
H81R: First concert you attended?
CS: My dad’s.
H81R: Favorite concert you’ve attended?
CS: Sparklehorse in 2007.
Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps and A Fire With Friends perform Monday, May 27 at The Vintage Theater (326 Spruce St., Scranton). 7 p.m. doors, all ages. $7. http://www.thegoodnightsleeps.com/, https://www.facebook.com/afwfmusic,http://scrantonsvintagetheater.com/