Interview: Simon Smith

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During my ten months meeting local bands I have come across some exceptional talent, but a particular artist that stands out above them all is Simon Smith. Calling himself a multimedia artist Simon writes, makes music, takes photos, and paints. He is a man whose talents are only exceeded by his likeable character. We met up with the man behind the music, and he had this to say.

Many of our readers are unfortunate enough to have not heard much about you; tell us about yourself.

Simon Smith: I’m Simon Mark Smith. I’m a multimedia artist. I work as a recording artist, painter, writer, and photographer. I’ve been writing songs since 1989, this is my second album. I kind of moved away from making albums to just putting my music on line in order to build up a following. I’ve now got over 80,000 followers and a lot have asked for me to bring out a CD, which I guess is a compliment seeing as most of my songs are available for free from my website. Some people prefer the higher quality or convenience of CDs and others want to support my work which is very touching.
I often work with Steve Dumelo now. He’s a multi instrumental musician, singer, engineer, producer and film maker. When we go out he’s a bit wayward and I have to rein him in, whereas in the studio it’s the other way around.

What’s your sound?

SS: I try not to pin my work down to a style however ultimately the range and tone of my voice and the instruments we have at our disposal as well as the limits of our abilities kind of create a style, but if you want to pin me down on this it’s very melodic, there’s a lot of time spent not only on sound quality but also honing the music. We mix modern rhythms and sounds with older values such as meaningful lyrics, musicality, and feelings. People we’re often associated with include: Bruce Springsteen, Mark Knopfler, Leonard Cohen, David Gray, REM, U2, Spankox, Dylan, Ron Sexsmith, Roxy Music and Robbie Robertson.

You have an album coming out soon; what can you tell us about it?

SS: Nearly all my work is about a multi-layered approach to life, so each song takes a situation and looks at a process many of us will encounter, whether it’s the attempt to keep hold of someone we’re losing, letting go, healing, yearning , meeting people on the Internet, feeling lust, feeling pain, scientific understanding vs emotional experience, searching for a romantic illusion, how society tries to hide what we’re really like, and a whole lot more. There’s more to life than boy meets girl, and that’s my approach to song writing.

Most artists have favourite songs on their releases, what are yours?

SS: Facebook ; this is one of our most commercial songs, lots of people like it and it kind of captures a bit of the Zeitgeist right now. It also has a dark side to it, kind of you don’t really know who’s on the other end of a profile till you meet them. It’s meant to be funny as well, and a little bit sad, the way we can fall in love so easily with people we don’t know.  In The Middle Of The Night: I’ve often had that feeling, a restless feeling in the middle of the night, where I don’t know if I want to run away from everything, just get in my car and go, well this song is a bit about that feeling. But it’s also about how intense we can feel then, the middle of the night can feel a long way from everywhere and everyone. My songs normally try to look at things from odd angles, I don’t really have any answers but I wanted people to know that they are amongst lots of other people asking similar questions.

Last time I checked you had over 80,000 fans on Facebook which is more than many well-established bands. You managed that while remaining unsigned; what do record deals mean to you?

SS: The world is starting to feel the effect of technology on business, as with all change there are those who cling on to the past, but ultimately change happens. So the point we’re at at the moment is one where many of the things record companies offered to artists are no longer viable. Studio time has now been replaced by people having their own home studios, which might not be as good as proper ones, but they can do the job. Distribution is now being catered for on the Internet, so that now leaves mentoring and development, publicity and marketing, and administrative tasks. With social networking a lot of people are finding their way to their audience and for some that can be a big enough one to actually get a living from. So unless a record label is going to pour a lot of money in to marketing an artist one has to ask whether it’s worth an artist going near a company. Some companies offer fantastic support and guidance, but again you also hear of the opposite.

Who should listen to your music?

SS: I think my work will appeal to people who know what it’s like to have loved and lost, who think and feel about life, who love to feel the music they listen to, who want to feel connected to others. I hope that in some way I can help people feel less alone at times.

Originally published here http://www.bn1magazine.co.uk/frontpage-featured-articles/37-articles/382-simon-smith-interview

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