An Interview with Simon Mark Smith August 2011
I asked Simon Smith if he considers himself to be an artist and he answered "On Sundays I paint, the rest of the week I'm an artist" he pauses then looks at me "I stole that line from a thief, I mean another artist. All artists are thieves in a way, the Roman god for artists was the same as for thieves, it goes with the territory". Who knows what it is that makes someone an artist, but Simon did do his degree in Fine Art Painting at the prestigious Chelsea School of Art in London, so does a qualification qualify you? Simon seems to shrug the question away as if it's not really important. After a few years exhibiting following his degree he felt that music suited his needs as an artist more. "People in galleries spend more time reading the labels than looking at the paintings, I wanted to reach out to people and I loved making music so I started to develop as a singer songwriter". As time went on he also became a photographer and writer. His work has been used on television, published in magazines, books and of course on the Internet. Currently with close to 80,000 followers on Facebook there must be something about this man that's drawing so much attention?
“I hope it's the work” he says and laughs. “Although personality can play a part in what interests people about an artist, I imagine most artists would like to feel their work had played some part in the process”. Indeed his work has something about it. With vocals in the vein of Springsteen, Knopfler, Cohen, and REM he's also incorporated dance rhythms that give a modern feel to a style that might have appeared as retro had they not been incorporated. "I like the combination of old and new, it's a kind of reaction against the typical attitudes you tend to meet from both the young and old that cause such unnecessary divisions, it's an attempt to show the value of both their worlds." Much of his work is about trying to understand what's going on both around and inside of us and that combined with lyrics that will sometimes make you laugh and sometimes touch you to the core, it's no wonder that so many people have linked up with him.
There's something else about what's going on here that's capturing people's attention and that's the people power behind this artist. There's no company in the background pouring money in to this project. It's just people, passing on his website or Facebook page to each other. Simon is one of the older new kids on the block and has his own take on what's going on. “Before social networking took off, an artist was still at the mercy of record companies. Even with home studios, or on line distribution, or Myspace, it was still near enough impossible to get off the ground but it's Social Networking that is the final part of the jigsaw. It allows real communication and involvement between artists and followers and, within this process engagement takes place in both directions. Instead of artists becoming untouchable and consequently isolated they are now very much connected with their audience and back to being part of “the community”. This is new territory and it's going to change the whole landscape of the music industry”.
Simon's own musical history follows a similar path to many. Critical acclaim, but no support from the record industry, so it's no wonder he's a keen advocate of the New Musical World Order. With over 300 recordings under his belt, he's proved he's got staying power but it's when you see that he's also a published photographer and writer (Microsoft even paid a five figure sum for one of his poems), occasional film maker and, on top of that he's still painting, it's then that you begin to get a sense of the energy behind this man. “I don't sleep much” he jokes, and it's true (he mainly works through the night) and when it's time to pay the bills, he's also gone out in the day and earned his crust. On top of that he gives most of his songs away for free, charging only for premium membership of his website and his CDs.
His latest album, entitled “Wonderful Life”, a title that's more about how life fills us with wonder, as in questions rather than joy, is currently available for $15 (around £8) inc p&p (worldwide) OR for the deluxe version it's £10 inc p&p to the UK.. Both CDs have 19 tracks but different running orderas and booklets. If you're not sure, do as Simon says, “just download them for free from my website and see what you think."
If you want to see what all the fuss is about go to www.simonsdiary.com or www.simonmarksmith.com and be prepared to be surprised by what you'll find there.
Simon Mark Smith
- Eastbourne, East Sussex, United Kingdom
- Postal code:
- BN22 7AQ
- Folk Rock, Rock
- Mark Knopfler, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Spancox, Elvis