NEW TIMES What draws you to the cello?
SMITH The path of least resistance. My folks started me at an early age. I was successful playing cello in school and won competitions and scholarships to college, and went on to do studio work in LA.
NEW TIMES What inspired you to design your own cello?
SMITH Vegas, baby. My main source of income is corporate events, and I do them all over the world. John Deere, FOX, or the NFL will have a party on a boat in San Diego for 2,000 salesmen, and I will be the entertainer in a white officer’s uniform. When I perform in Germany, Italy, or England, I perform in my gold armor; the cello I am playing currently I designed to match the armor. When I play conventions in Vegas, I often have a different uniform and matching instrument for each set. I just made a John Marston from Red Dead Redemption outfit.
NEW TIMES Why don medieval battle armor?
SMITH It’s gotta be heroic! My music is heroic. If you dress like a duck, walk like a duck, and sound like a duck, YOU’RE A DUCK. I flipped a coin and decided I did not want to be a duck.
NEW TIMES What is your advice for prospective music students?
SMITH So you want to be a musician. Are you good? Real good? Sorry, it does not matter. What matters is that you love your music and are able to transmit emotion into it. If you do not love every note you make, then you cannot expect your audience to care. Even if you are playing a convention center, and are just background, and can't believe anyone is even listening … play with all the emotion, sensitivity, and virtuosity that you can muster. Eventually, every time you stand in front of a mic or plug in your instrument, you will be TURNED ON, you will be free, and you will devastate any audience in any location. ∆