North Preston singer-songwriter Reeny Smith, a self-confessed introvert of 9.5 on a 10-point scale, jokes she usually only comes out of hibernation to perform.
So the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t changing up her day-to-day groove much, except for creating a lot more downtime for her to refine her song-writing, keyboard, singing and production skills.
“I love my alone time,” says Smith, who was just hitting critical mass last year with a couple East Coast Music Awards and a spot in the top 10 in CBC’s Searchlight competition. “The quarantine wasn’t that big an issue for me. It just felt like normal days for a while. You do miss the stage and being able to play with your peers, of course. But for me, I’m trying to take advantage of the time I have to hone in on some stuff.”
That includes more hours for two of her favourite pastimes: scrolling YouTube for random videos and watching reality TV for inspiration. TLC is her go-to channel and her latest binge-worthy pick is 90 Day Fiancé, an American series following the drama as international couples figure out if they’re a fit under the timeclock of a three-month visa.
“I’ve definitely felt more inspired during this period,” says Smith, a self-taught musician whose debut EP, I Am Reeny, came out in 2015. “All of these ideas I didn’t have time for over the years I’m able to work on because I’m not worrying about a schedule of shows.”
She’s trying not to let COVID-19 infiltrate her lyrics.
“My days looks identical. It would be the most boring song of all time,” she says with a laugh. “It’s one of those situations where I don’t want to dwell on this certain period of time. I’m trying to focus on the positive aspects. For the most part, I’ve done a good job.”
She’s been bubbling with her family. She’s been helping her pastor grandfather navigate COVID crackdowns with video recordings of services and playing the keyboard once the church opened again.
In October, she released a new single, “Love Trumps Money,” written at her home studio with Cymba Music label-mate Dennis Ellsworth of Charlottetown.
In some ways, the pandemic has made it easier to collaborate.
“If we want to work with someone in L.A., we don’t have to fly to L.A.,” Smith says. “You can do it over Zoom or Skype. Virtual song-writing sessions have been happening all year. I’ve been in sessions across the country.”
Her recent collaborations have stretched from Toronto to P.E.I. to Japan, where she spent 10 days a couple of years ago when talent scouts expressed interest in her song-writing skills after the release of her single “Good Girl Swag.”
When pandemic restrictions eased over the summer, Smith performed a few shows with small audiences. She hopes to confirm dates for 2021 performances soon.
“At the beginning, when shows got canceled, I got kind of down. I was looking forward to the ones I had lined up this year,” she says. “It’s good to see things come back to normal a little bit… You want to make sure you’re able to perform and haven’t lost the beat.”