Stress Jingle #17: Linda Smith

Linda Smith is a singer/songwriter with roots that can be traced back to the underground Cassette culture of the 80s, which eventually led to the emergence of the 'indie pop' scene of the 90s and the continuing trend towards self released music. She wrote and recorded her albums on 4-track cassette and 8-track reel to reel tape at home from 1986 to 2001, and released it on her own Preference label. Considered as a minor lo-fi masterpiece among the Cassette culture obsessives, 'The Space Between Buildings' (1987), is her first tape.

The music has a unique sound, featuring stripped down and creative arrangements over which haunting and beautiful melodies unfold. Music writer Richie Unterberger described it as "ideal for moody types who want something that complements their mood without being either sappy or overly morose." Her voice has a dark, soothing quality, somewhere inbetween Nico and Kim Deal. "I think somewhere in my mind was the idea that with the songs I could speak to individual listeners in a personal way," Linda recalls, "it was never the kind of music that was meant to be played loud, but preferably heard through headphones. The 4 track cassette recorder (which had just been introduced to the market at the time) allowed me to find another way of making music, a method more akin to painting a picture. Writing songs became a more immediate and personal experience." Prolific UK pop home-recorder Keel Her recently mentioned Linda as a musical influence and kindred spirit. These days, Linda Smith dedicates her time to painting. You can find her complete recordings here.

Now you can hear her on

"Back around 1990 the home recording scene was a globally scattered bunch of people who taped music on 4-track recorders, dubbed cassettes, xeroxed covers, mailed them to magazines with tiny press runs and traded with others doing the same. This was a wonderful pre-Internet artistic democracy at its best and a swirl of indulgent junk at its worst. So when you found something good, it was a real prize. Linda Smith's cassettes were a quiet little jackpot."
Tomsun, Tapewrecks blog