creativity

The Randomness of Existence by Simeon Smith

As more time passes, I’m less and less sure if effort, or hard work makes a difference at all to productivity. I mean we all know, deep down, that hard work doesn’t equate to higher earnings, otherwise nurses would be millionaires. But does greater effort lead to greater… anything really?

Here’s a track that came out a few days ago that I produced with Eleanor, in an afternoon. Sure, we could have done things a lot differently if we’d had longer, we could have spent longer on the mix and post production, but what this captures is something very special; raw creativity (mostly hers!), done and dusted.

We could have spent a month on this track, we could have used better gear, found a better space to record, but we didn’t. And not only did we express something in a creative and energised way, people seem to be enjoying it.

The same with my little side-project Carry The Martyr, which has been composed mainly on headphones on my laptop in lunch-breaks, on trains, and outside my kids evening swimming classes. Just add 10 parts inspiration to every 1 part effort. There’s now 5 tracks of the thing in just a few weeks, and sure I’m enjoying it so much that when I have a more significant body of work I’ll mix everything down paying a lot more attention to the process and master everything to make it flow a bit (a lot) better.

https://carrythemartyr.bandcamp.com

One of my favourite artists is Salventius, who creates amazing one line drawings in seconds. This kind of reminds me that he’s standing on a mountain of practice, experience and work to get to the place where he can create these beautiful images in a few seconds, but at the same time the product doesn’t match the speed or effort he puts in at all!

And, because I’m naturally pretty pessimist this eventually leads me to think of all the times I’ve sweat blood and tears over projects and they’ve turned out… okay. Today marks 5 years since Bex and my last single as Kinetic Monkey. The whole album took ages, took a lot of headwork, we promoted hard, and… yeah. it’s okay. It’s a decent job, but it’s not by a long stretch the kind of music I’d hope would come from 100% effort.

And I’m not knocking effort. If something’s worth doing it’s worth doing well. Passion and dedication are important to us as humans, but this myth of “hard work pays off” needs to die. Who is it that said “The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good.”?

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New Eurorack Module: Talos. by Simeon Smith

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Talos is passive clockwork electroacoustic module for eurorack synthesizers, featuring a wind up toy motor connected to a piezo. The motor drives a small cog on the front of the module that can then drive... well... anything you come up with.

The piezo works best with a preamp, but most systems will have something that can amplify the module.

The cog can be connected to other cogs; it's lego-compatible.

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-Passive Piezo Tranducer attached to jack output - best used with a preamp module, or mixer.
-10hp acrylic panel.
-Hand assembled.
-Includes mounting screws and swag.

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Break Up and Move On by Simeon Smith

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An interview that really stuck in my mind years ago was one with Bjork where she said that for every good songs, she has to get a thousand bad ones out of her system first, or something like that. 

It encouraged me through times when I wasn't happy with my writing. "Never mind," I'd tell myself, "just another 999 bad songs to go before I write a banger."

The same with that Cartier-Bresson quote, that your first ten thousand photos are your worst. It gave me great solace; "Click-click, motherfucker, I'm getting through these photos faster than anyone else!"

The difference between the two though, is that a photo takes a second to make. A song, often much longer. 

This week I've put hours and hours into a track I can only describe as "Not Good".

Write a melody. Patch up the modular. Record a few different versions. Write a harmony. Go searching for the perfect drum sample. Layer up some sounds. Get some side-band compression going. Write some extra parts. Crack out a microphone and a few real-world instruments. Realise that the original melody wasn't good. 

Realise that the original melody wasn't good. 

Now I don't want to get all philosophical about what good is, and how we define quality, I'll leave that to Pirsig. Hopefully we've all got a rough idea about what we want our art to be like, and can recognise when we've done ourselves proud. 

In music, you can spend so very long on an idea before realising it's not particularly good, and at that point, it's tempting to keep going. To tough it out. More parts. More studio work. More harmonies. More time wasted on a rubbish idea. 

I'm trying to teach myself not to do this. Just break up with the idea quickly, and move on. 

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Mango Bikes, shot to film. by Simeon Smith

The lovely guys at Mango Bikes sent me a one of their new single speeds, called The Gus. It's an absolute delight to ride. 

Here's a film I made about it, with my mate Rhys.

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140818 - Ambient Modular by Simeon Smith

Tonight I sat down to record the demo for my new Eurorack Module, but... then this happened instead.

I often sit and mess with really simple ambient patches like this, and this time I left a camera running while I got myself a coffee. 

I still haven't recorded the demo for the module, and didn't use it in this patch, but i think you might be able to spot it if you can make it out on my super blurry camera.