The other day we got ahold of Meaghan Smith to talk about what it feels like to win a Juno. The "New Artist of the Year" was in Halifax at the Carleton doing some press about the win before heading out to play a couple of shows in Quebec. Smith is a genuinely delightful person. A week later, she's still blown away by the win, but also happy, proud and ready to work. In a climate where, to poorly paraphrase Yeats, many musicians either lack conviction or are filled with passionate (fake) intensity, she is a breath of fresh air. Here are the best bits:
What was it like to walk the red carpet? Did it match your expectations?
It was so different from what i thought it would be. It was freezing cold. Seeing all these photos of artists wearing sleeveless dresses, just hanging out - in reality they suck it up for the cameras and make it look really easy. I walked past Shania Twain who is stunning. She's just hot, hands down. She looks great in person. And then you're walking by Bryan Adams, Neil Young, and seeing them up close. I felt out of my element - it was a little too much for me. It didn't feel real. It was just a crazy ride. I felt like a spectator, but also a participant.
Your dress was beautiful. I read you got it in Halifax - where?
I got it from the Clothes Horse (1530 Queen) - it's a vintage piece. I bought my earrings there too. I loved it as soon as i saw it. It made me feel glamorous. My grandpa was watching the show at home, and he gave me the nicest compliment - he was like, "You look like a movie star from the 1930s."
So what happened when you actually heard your name called for the award?
Well, first of all, I had no expectations. I thought I was just going to go and enjoy the show - I was looking forward to watching a lot of great bands like Arcade Fire and Sarah Slean. I was excited to watch the show. I really wasn't expecting to win. When Buffy Sainte-Marie called my name, I was taking my shoes off. She said my name and I had to put them on really fast and then walk the three mile walk up to the stage. I was sitting next to Buck 65, so I gave him a hug, and then I kissed my husband. And then I went up. I was so shocked - my expectations were blown out of the water.
Were you freaking out?
Leading up to the award, I was really calm. I was so happy to be there. I didn't expect anything. After I won, I gave my speech and then they started sending in the press. As I stood in front of 100 photographers, that was when I started to feel like, "Oh my goodness, this is real, this is happening."
Did you meet anyone awesome or inspiring?
Yeah. K'naan came up to me backstage and congratulated me. I was in total shock still, kinda freaking out a bit. He was like, "Your record's awesome, you just won, just enjoy it." He was so calm. He was some sort of guru of winning or something. He made me feel so comfortable just by saying "You got this, you just won, you're doing great." He was so so nice to me. He's totally grounded and I felt like he was really self aware. He could see that I was kinda freaking out a little bit. It was exactly what i needed. I'll never forget it.
This may sound like a dumb/obvious question, but what does it actually mean to you - to win a Juno?
Career-wise, it seems like I'm taking the next step. Being in the papers and press has been surreal and great. I've been getting new fans on Facebook and requests for shows. That's what's important to me. What matters is that I can keep doing this, keep making music. I couldn't be more thrilled about that.
I always struggled with stage fright when I was just starting out. It took me a long time to get enough courage. I always had encouragement from friends and family - people were so sweet and kind - but I didn't feel like I could always trust it. It's one thing for your mom to say you can do it, but she's supposed to do it. To win a Juno, though - there are a lot of people who had no real reason to vote for me other than the fact they thought the album was good and that I'm doing something right. That means a lot, that these people think I'm going to do great things. A lot of people have said, "Do you feel pressure now?" And I guess I could feel pressure, but I'd rather just feel inspired by the faith people have in me and make another record that I'm happy with.
Now more than ever, I have a lot of work to do. I feel like I'm just starting, and I have a lot to do. I've gotta get to it.