Westchester's Newest Artist 'smudegeout' Brings Chill Sound To Music Scene
Music was one of the most — if not the most— important and loved parts of high school for Deanna Fielding, who goes by “smudgeout” in the music world and is a 2020 graduate of Valhalla High School. The switch to online learning may have put an end to her participation in chorus, band, jazz band, vocal ensemble and jazz combo, but it gave her time to work on her own music. The rising freshman at the University of New Haven, who plans to study sound technology, recently released her first short album, “There is so much to eat and so much to drink, so why waste?”
The Valhalla native began piano at age 8, drums followed at 13. A little guitar got thrown in along the way as well. A brief obsession with videos at 11 — making them, recording them, editing them — had Deanna convinced her future was in cinematography. But that changed to music for good at 13 when she took digital music production courses at a local camp and at her school. For a while in high school she was even in a band.
“I used to host jam sessions in my back yard with 30 to 40 people,” said Deanna of those days. “We’d perform at school concerts and little acoustic nights.”
"It's really hard to define."
“There is so much to eat and so much to drink, so why the waste?”, released May 1 on Spotify, YouTube and SoundCloud, was recorded entirely in Deanna’s bedroom. It’s mostly made up of short instrumental pieces, but it gives a taste of her musical influences and preferences. She had hoped to use the spring to work on her stage presence with live performances, but COVID-19 put a halt to all that.
“No live gigs, no dj-ing,” Deanna sighed. “That bummed me out. So I stayed home and worked on things that were my weaknesses, teaching myself more music theory. It’s been a learning period.”
She credits many female artists with inspiring her. Among them: Beach Bunny and Girl in Red, new artists in their 20s. Deanna also listens to the Marias — she’s a fan of their “dream pop” sound.
“I guess I would put my music into… maybe pop, very mellow, lowfi,” said Deanna of her style. “It’s really hard to define. There are songs that are kind of jazzy, maybe alternative.”
One of the songs that stands out on Deanna’s mini-album and one she recommends you listen to (if she had to pick one or two—she recommends you listen to them all!) is “Bruised.” It’s the most “conventional” song on the album and shines in its lyricism, melody and Deanna's true voice.
“It was probably in 8th grade when I came up with these chord progressions on the piano and felt it was so dramatic and sad, but I didn’t know what to do with it,” she recalled. “So I recorded it. Then my best friend at the time sent me four of her poems and I took phrases out of them and rearranged them to match the melody I heard in my head. They’re her words and then I added in the percussion with the piano.”
The second song Deanna highlights is “Stutter,” a piano piece with a pop beat evoking a stuttering piano with its choppiness.
"It often starts with a poem or catchy phrase..."
Writing songs is a long process for the budding performer.
“My lyrics come from poems I write,” said Deanna. “I tend to write about nature and where I find beauty — connect feelings to nature, the wilderness. It often starts with a poem or catchy phrase that will just come to me messing around on the piano and then I’ll record it to keep it for later to use in a song.”
Deanna says her music is still changing.
“I have one song called ‘You Have Stars’ where I just wanted to create imagery of a rainy night-time setting that is just having fun and full of joy,” Deanna shared.
Deanna is working on a song called “Moonchild” with a Valhalla classmate, Izzy Klein, and hopes that they’ll be able to record a video for it. A work in progress, you’ll find it on SoundCloud.
With college in her near future, Deanna is ready to learn as much as she can about music. With the support of family and friends, this musician is ready to go wherever the tune takes her. Who knows? smudgeout could be the next big name you hear in new music.