Miss Machina (aka Ashleigh Smith) is a mega-talented L.A. artist who previously lived in Dallas and Chicago. Her songs are insightful, beautifully sung and immensely hooky.
Her latest single “Nirvana” is a haunting look at how the end of a relationship can torpedo a lot of the shared experiences and memories that were once so powerful.
There’s a timeless quality to Miss M’s music. Some of the great 70s/80s producers like Quincy Jones and Todd Rundgren would have had a field day producing her music. She’s definitely a songwriter and artist to keep your eye on in 2024.
What’s the backstory on “Nirvana”, a song that has such heartfelt emotion?
“Nirvana” is one of my more personal songs. It’s about the aftermath of the ending of my first adult relationship. Specifically how it felt to have so many of my favorite things in life become painful. My favorite bands were bands my ex showed me. Some of my favorite shows and films were ones we watched together. Even specific drinks or locations now felt connected to this person. I find that the hardest part of breakups isn’t letting go of a person. It’s realizing that there are things now in life that remind you of them that you can’t let go of.
Who came up with the brilliant idea to do a parody of the Nirvana “Nevermind” album cover on the artwork that accompanies your song “Nirvana”?
Haha!! That was my idea! We were originally going to do a baby doll or Barbie doll… but then I was like, “It would be hilarious if I was the baby…”
You have very unique vocal phrasing and cadence in a lot of your songs, like the way you sing “locking all the doors til you call me a psycho” on your song “Talk”. Do you draw inspiration from specific singers?
Thank you! I actually pull from a ton of 70s and 80s pop. Some of my biggest influences that I listened to growing up were Michael Jackson, Queen, Bee Gees and Abba.
Tell us a little bit about your upcoming single “Oblivion”, which thematically sounds like the exact opposite of “Nirvana”.
“Oblivion” is a high-intensity dance banger. It’s all about being overwhelmed by the pressures of societal expectations, the enlightening moment when you realize everyone struggles with these feelings, and then choosing to dance through it. Very fun song.
With your background in theatre, do your live shows feel “theatrical” – or do you mainly focus on conveying emotion and energy?
I am actually itching for the opportunity to play live again. I’ve been focusing more on writing and recording recently, but I miss the stage! I think I’m a naturally theatrical person, but for me the most important thing about performing live is letting the songs do the work. Let the stories and the music speak to the audience. Add some embellishments, fun lights and costumes when appropriate, but the music should always win.