New Eurorack Module: Talos. by Simeon Smith


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.


-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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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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On the Importance of Community by Simeon Smith


A friend and I often tell each other about our frequent existential crises and turning points of faith and belief. During one of these conversations I asked him "Why the hell do you still go to church, then?" He replied "It's the only way I know how to make new friends." 

Which is a pretty shitty indictment for our current society. 

My mental health hinges on community. Proper community. Meeting real people at real physical venues and doing something more than drinking beer. 

Recently I've found little communities all over the place. I mean, if church works for you, sure, but if not, maybe you'll find some inspiration here. 

  1. I've been doing some 3d printing and laser cutting (yup, the laser cutting is exactly as fun as it sounds) of synth modules and camera parts at a local "Hackspace",a kind of shared co-op working space with all the fun things that you might want to make prototypes and small runs, but might not have the cash for. It's full-to-the-brim of creative people fixing, soldering, drilling, cutting, sewing, programming and generally not only sharing their ideas and skills, but also their enthusiasm. It's just beautiful and really encouraging to go along and see people's projects develop, and it definitely inspires me to get my arse into gear and step up my maker game. 
  2. Want to know a secret? ShhhhhhhhI'mnotthatintofolkmusicShhhhhh... Now don't tell my band, Captain Cat and the Sailors that! I mean, I enjoy a bit of of a jig as much as the next post-celtic brit, but I'd much rather be in a club with a DJ. Being in a band, though, is the closest thing to family I've ever experienced. For a band to work, it takes trust, commitment, and just enough friction to make things interesting. Plus, everywhere we play we meet new people, have new conversations, and hear other amazing artists. 
  3. I'm a massive geek. I love gaming, be it on a tabletop or an xbox, but playing a single-player game after the kids are in bed for a few hours just leaves me feeling empty and unfulfilled. Pop down a game shop, though, and you can meet new people in a way that gets rid of the social awkwardness because YOU'RE ALL FOLLOWING THE SAME RULES. Literally. The difficulty I've found with game shops is that often the most-played games aren't great games, they're just commercially successful, but that's not the point! Sure, it'd be nicer if everyone shared my taste in games, but I'm not just there to play (and win!) I'm there to meet people, have a chat, unwind in the company of other humans. 

How long should my Kickstarter campaign last? by Simeon Smith

This morning I got sucked into a Twitter thread that I should have ignored, around the question of how long a crowd-funding campaign should last. I love Twitter, but for complicated questions like this, it sucks because people often give an answer, but don't say why or give any evidence. 


The person starting the thread was attempting to avoid the mid-campaign slump simply by... having a shorter campaign! A perhaps simple idea to a problem few have been able to solve. 

You see, regardless of how much funding a campaign receives, it almost inevitably will get most of it's funding in the first couple of days (people backing the campaign as soon as they see it), and then another huge surge at the end (people who are undecided about the campaign and back it out of urgency). Now this blog post isn't about the psychology of urgency in sales, or managing campaigns, but I simply wanted to provide some questions people should consider when deciding how long their campaign should be. 

Hopefully if you can answer these few questions, you'll have some good insight into how long a particular campaign should run for. 

- What does the data say? Most platforms will have an FAQ where this is answered, giving you the best time/profit ratio and it varies slightly from one platform to another. The general consensus seems to be that it's around a month. More important though is the day you want it to start and end; different social media platforms will have different days that have better engagement or more traffic than others, make sure that your campaign doesn't end on a Saturday night if no one is going to be around to impulse-back your project. 

- What's wrong with a mid-campaign slump? Apart from delaying the project an extra couple of weeks, most of the down-sides to having your backer numbers stall for a couple of weeks can be managed. Campaign Fatigue? Low morale? Public perception? All these things can be managed. Sorry to say that if you haven't raised the bulk of your cash in 48hrs, chances are you've already failed, so the biggest fear of the first-time crowd-funder can be that their campaign will fail in the first couple of days and they'll be left looking at a failing campaign for a month. Sure this sucks, but only really for their ego. There's a lot of things you can do to avoid your campaign failing (most outside the remit of this article) but the length of your campaign will rarely be a deciding factor, so take the emotional hit on the mid campaign slump, and tell your ego to suck it up. 

- Who is your target audience? If you expect most of your backers to be people already on a mailing list or following you on social media, then running a shorter campaign might make sense. If you're hoping to gather a larger audience, getting picked up by relevant blogs and news sites will be one of the biggest contributing factors that will widen your backer pool. The thing with these sites is that they take a while to pick stories up, so a week-long campaign will probably have ended by the time they pick it up.

- How many backers do you want or need? Campaigns with cheap rewards and hundreds of backers are "impulse buys" for most people. "Oh look, Joe Blogs is releasing an album, and I can get a digital copy for 8 quid" In this situation the few backers you may or may not pick up during the mid-campaign slump aren't going to make or break the campaign. However, if you're hoping to find a dozen people that will back a limited edition product for a couple of hundred quid each, the psychology of the purchase changes. Trying to find fewer backers doesn't necessarily mean a shorter campaign. 

- Why do you want a shorter campaign? You can probably already tell if your reason is a bit shitty, but here are some good reasons: Completing a project in a manageable timescale due to other commitments. Creating a splash because you're looking to promote your product, not necessarily fund it. Using a perceived lack of time as differentiation for the campaign. 

Simeon's book Every Shot Matters was fully funded in just 4hrs. The first run of his synth module, The Jackalope, sold out in 90 minutes.

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10 Ways to Get Shit Done. by Simeon Smith


(Thanks to Ben who suggested, months back, that I write "How to write an album and a book and make short movies, and keep a band going and design synth modules and volunteer at a local community project while having three kids"... I changed the title to something more snappy)


My grandparents, in perfect contrast to my hippie parents, were prim and proper. Their house was always immaculate and their lawn always cut to a precise 1.5 inches, long enough to hide the occasional clump of moss, short enough to look like Wimbledon's Centre Court, and perfect for a game of french cricket with my cousins (which my tiny but sprightly grandmother was surprising good at). 

When visiting they had a lot of code language to discuss my parents (sorry, mum, I know you read this blog). My favourite of which, when something had been left and left, and never completed, was "...Always had a square one", meaning that my parents often had good intentions, but never got around to it. 

A "round" to it. 

Hilarious, I know. 

This kind of lead me to see productivity as something to aspire to, and it's certainly true in our society that "hard work" is seen as something worthy. And, sure, there are times when things need to get done. 

But rarely is doing more important than being. The weird thing is that the more I concentrate on being the best I can be, the more things I get done. 

And that bit of pop-self-help-mindfulness-baloney is the deepest thing I have to say on the subject. 

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The rest of my advice for people who want to become more productive is much more straightforward, and probably more worthwhile. This is just stuff that works for me, though, so take it with a pinch of salt. 

  • Drink coffee. Or yerba mate. Or water or whichever natural and relatively healthy stimulant gets you going. Humans started out as hunter-gatherers, and that only takes a few hours of hard work a day. Want to compete in the 21st century? You're going to have to hack your half-arsed body. Caffeine makes me more creative, more positive and is a great hunger-suppressor leading to...
  • Don't eat butt-tonnes of carbs. This is a really difficult one for me. I love carbs. Big plate of pasta? Yes, please. Sharing bag of crisps? Get me one just for me. 12-inch Sub? Sign me up. Following every carb-fest I partake in, I feel like I want to take a nap. Carbs kill motivation. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Not so great for the rest of the time. I find that also since I've stopped eating meat, it's harder to avoid the carbs because some of the best vegetarian food is carb-heavy. Every day it's a battle. 
  • Take your pills. As a society, we're probably over-medicating, but many of us, myself included, often need reminding that if we've got a medical problem that requires treatment, we need to listen to our doctors. I have depression and generalised anxiety disorder, for which I take Sertraline every day, but every now and then I think "Do I need this? Could I do without it? Should I...?" The answer being, for me at least: YES. Yes, if I want to be a productive member of society, if I want to be a good dad and do some good work I need to take my pills. And I see this time and time again. If you're in pain, take some painkillers and get on with being the best version of yourself. Don't let preventable illness stop you from getting shit done. 
  • Get a sleep routine. I don't sleep much. I joke that sleep is for the weak, but the truth is that everyone needs a different amount. I find, though, that when I have a good routine around sleep, I sleep fewer hours. Weeks when I'm in bed by midnight and get up at 7 every day seem to go smoother than when my sleep is all over the place. In fact fewer hours sleep on a regular routine seems to leave me less tired than when I sleep more! Ever had a lie-in until 10am and then felt dreadful the rest of the day? That's me all over. And don't get me wrong. I love sleep. I always want to sleep. But I need to right amount; not too much, not too little. 
  • Throw away your television. It's not that TV is bad, it's that TV is bad for productivity. There are some shows I love, Preacher is a current favourite, but man does TV kill my productivity!  I still have a TV but I try to limit my consumption to 2 shows a week. Same with video games. I love my gaming, but an hour of Final Fantasy followed by 3 hours of photography seems to work better than vice-versa for me. As for movies, it'd better be good for me to invest 2 hours of my life in watching it! 
  • Keep lists. I use Trello, which I find useful, but you could equally use a biro and the back of your hand. One area where I find I lose time is the space between tasks. Lists help me move quicker between activity. I especially use lists when working on music when I might listen to a recording and list a dozen things I need to change. I can then change them all and listen again, rather than having a listen between each change. 
  • Get outside. Especially at midday. My parents used to chuck me out of the house for half an hour every day in the hope this weird, home-schooled kid would make friends. It didn't do that (as a kid. I have friends now. Real ones!), but it did teach me how energising getting out for a short walk or to run an errand can be. 
  • Exercise when you don't want to exercise. The Oatmeal described this better than I ever could so, here goes: 
  • Self-cannibalise your own art. I get a lot of energy from the first couple of hours of any activity, and the last couple of hours of any activity. The dirge in between, though, nearly kills me. So I start another project. My creative process goes like this: Start new project, get excited, realise it might be hard work... Start another project! Get excited, then do a bit more work on the first project until I've run out of steam and I need to... Start another project! Get excited, work a bit on projects 1 and 2 until it all gets a bit much and I need to... You guessed it. Start another project. Eventually, one of these projects will near completion and that gives me more energy to hopefully finish a few projects. Which is why I released a book and an album and a synth module in close succession. So when people ask me "You're always doing so much! How do you do it all?!" The truth is, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO LESS! The energy I get from one project feeds another project which feeds another project which...
  • Collaborate. We're social beings and productivity takes a mix of co-working to stimulate constructive criticism and creativity, and lone-working to finish things. Don't neglect either area! When you're collaborating, also try not to be a leech, draining others of their ideas without giving back. I work with some amazing creatives, and hopefully they get as much out of the collaborations as I do.

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