Maddy Smith: Diving into words

text by Brent Cole

photo by Adam Smith

In the world of Bellingham folk music, local Western student Maddy Smith is among the very best. Having gained a reputation for strong and honest lyrics, set on wonderful melodies, the music scene has watched her grow. Now, with an upcoming graduation, Maddy will be saying good bye and hello to the Seattle music scene.

Maddy made her way to Bellingham four years ago, as so many in this area have, to attend college. She had picked up the guitar a year prior after 12 years of cello, and it was instantly love. “When I first picked up the guitar, it was an instant obsession,” she stated. “I loved cello as well, but I didn’t have the intense passion I did for the guitar.”

Over the last four years, she’s made a name for herself in the Bellingham music community – releasing two EPS, Hudson Bay and Further to Fall, and last month putting out No More Time to be Afraid. In January, she also won the What’s Up! award for best folk artist (Axes of Folk).

Unfortunately, with her pending graduation in the spring, Maddy will be leaving Bellingham, moving back home to Bellevue where she can focus on music, making it her top priority. “It’s only become more and more important to me in the last four years,” she added, “having released this new music, it’s a good time to really work hard on it.”

Over those four years, Maddy’s songwriting has evolved with her life. She initially used it as a means of dealing with her new reality, as a freshman living away from home for the first time, stating “she needed an outlet” for the transition. As she has grown, so have her lyrics, and she expects to write heavily about her transition back to the Seattle area. “I write about these experiences and have it reflected in my music.”

For Maddy, the focus on her music is the lyrics. “The lyrics are extremely important,” she said, “I love music and creating melodies, but I want people to hear every word and reflect on that. It’s such a huge part for me and I hope for the listener as well.

I’ve had it such a huge point to sing clearly and annunciate,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t have an issue of being vulnerable and putting my raw issues out there. I enjoy it,” she stated. “My audience meet me with a willingness to reflect and I appreciate that about them.”

Maddy has also recorded her three EPs in Burien at Bulb-O Studios, thanks to a connection through friends. The producer, Tim Holeski, has become a good friend, playing on her record and working with the finances to make it so she could record. She’ll be reciprocating the favor, playing on a new record of his and the two, along with a third member, might put a grass roots band together – though much of that is still in the works.

As Maddy readies for the  change, she’s incredibly thankful for her time in Bellingham. “I love being part of a community in Bellingham! I wouldn’t be as far along as I am today without that sense of community instead of competition – really appreciate that about here for sure.”

With the move she hopes to gain traction in the Seattle music community, with her eventual goal of surviving as an artist, though in the mean time, she wants to tour and will be writing more songs. “I’m going to be able to deal with this transition effectively. I’m looking forward to the songs that will come out of it because it’ll be an emotional time for me.”

For more about Maddy Smith, see