Madeline Smith and Scott Helle

Madeline Smith and Scott Helle perform.

PALMER — Local musicians Madeline Smith and her former teacher Scott Helle recently participated in a question and answer interview to discuss their recent performance in the Palmer Alehouse Unplugged music series, how they started playing music together, and how they ultimately combined their mutual passion, talent, and overall goals for the craft.

Q: How do you feel about your performance at the Alehouse?

Smith: “This was a good one. This was really fun.”

Helle: “I thought it went pretty well… The biggest issue that we have is that we’ve only been together since April… We’re just not quite there yet, as far as having a large repertoire. I felt like the first two sets did really well. It can kind of go either way. It can get a little looser.”

Q: What do you think of the Ale House as a venue?

“I do work here so it really is a full circle moment here,” Smith said with a laugh.

Helle: “Oh, it’s the best. It’s such an intimate thing with the audience. It’s really special up here.”

How did you two first start playing together?

Helle: “She was a former student of mine. I was an English teacher and she sang in my classroom because I always had a guitar in my classroom. I was just blown away by her vocal ability. I said, that’s an amazing voice and if she needed a backer, to let me know, and she did… She ended up winning a talent contest, and we did put together a set and we’re still trying to. When we got this venue, we knew it was a three-hour venue and we just knew there was no way. We just had too many weird things happen. She ended up with COVID, and we couldn’t get our practice schedule together. Right now, I think we have a total of 20 songs, and a couple of them we’re just not really comfortable with. They’re not our favorites. Clearly, the things we do, we both really love. I always say I have the best seat because I love her voice, and I love hearing her sing… It’s really cool to watch her grow in her music.”

Q: How do you two feel about performing together?

Helle: “The cool thing is that it was actually a little hard for us to get our groove out because we had to become friends, not that we weren’t, we just had to become friends in a different way than a student/teacher relationship. The first couple of performances, I realized that we weren’t quite connecting, and we kind of had a heart to heart and said, ‘we got this figured out. If we’re going to be on stage together, we’ve got to break through whatever that weird barrier is.’”

Smith: “It’s good. It’s definitely unexpected… I knew that he was a great guitar player so I was totally comfortable with it. I was never second... There were just so many differences between us, but still so, so much alike musically. So, finding songs, finding things that we really enjoy doing, it’s been kind of challenging but also really rewarding and fun to get onto the same page. It’s definitely been a learning experience for all of us now.”

Q: What are your goals for your music?

Smith: “I just want to make my own music. It’s definitely a process… My goal is to put out all my own songs by like, New Year, but I have to finish writing them. I have like 20 written songs that I haven’t finished yet… It’ll be exciting for sure. It’s definitely new for me because I don’t know if people will like it. I don’t know, I think that’s what the art is all about. It doesn’t have to be any specific way. It’s music. It’s art. You can do anything you want with it. That’s what’s been pushing me to want to keep going… This is just my passion. I just thought that I was good at it and to keep going with it. Now that I have an opportunity to do it, it’s like, why not go for it?

Helle: “We’re just here to do the best we can do. And we practice... It’s important to just love music, for sake of music.”

The Palmer Alehouse Unplugged music series regularly invites local artists from across the Valley and beyond to perform acoustic songs at the upstairs lounge, similar to the “MTV Unplugged” show.

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Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at

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