folk music

Captain Cat and the Sailors and Dead Man's Uke at the Ukulele Festival of Wales by Simeon Smith

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.

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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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.