vanity project title


FRIDAY – 05:57
HI – 13:47
HOME 2 – 26:57
JUPITER – 32:28

Please play and share widely. If you’d like to add a review, email me or contact by twitter.


Fake Floor – Waves of Words

I had the privilege recently to be involved in a workshop and performance night called ‘Waves of Words’, which was about writing inspired by and responding to the Poppies:Wave sculpture that is currently on Plymouth Hoe.

My contribution to this project was ‘Fake Floor’. I wanted to write something that was based in reportage of what I saw and heard when I visited the project. I saw lots of people taking photos in front of the sculpture, including wedding photos. I heard a guide explain to everyone passing that the floor the poppies were installed on was fake.

And that seemed to me to be an interesting metaphor which captured something of what was going on. Something that looked simple was more complicated. People were weaving the artwork into their own timelines, as well as remembering.

Here’s the poem. It was first performed on 10th November at the Plymouth Athanaeum in a sequence with works by Laura Quigley, Gabi Marcellus-Temple, Thom Boulton, and Laura Reinbach.


She assures everybody,
‘It’s built on a fake floor.’

Silver heels and blusher
for the bride framed by
the pretty red poppies.
Flash! The camera fires.
Gather up the petticoats
and back to the car.

‘There’s 6000 poppies.
It’s a fake floor.’

A dad gets a close up of
a 3 year old pushing
his pedalless bike.
A boy bumps a knee
dismounting his scooter
for a family portrait.

‘It’s a fake floor.
There’s 6000 poppies’

and sixty thousand selfies;
keepsakes we carry home.
If we capture our best side
memorializing, overlay filters
of all we would want said
and done, if we promise,

if we really promise;
it couldn’t happen here.

No brides without husbands,
no fathers without sons,
no missing generation
from the family portraits,
no one to remember at the
going down of the sun,

just the slow Plymouth rain
drumming on a fake floor.

Simon Travers, November 2017

Vanity Project Track by Track – Eating an Elephant

As a part of the launch for Vanity Project, I am writing a series of blog entries that give a bit more background detail and making of for each track. All these blogs will be collected together in the Vanity Project area of the site.

Watch Vanity Project

See Vanity Project Live


This was the track that I discovered how to work a vocoder on. Instantly, one of the challenges for the rest of the project was not to overuse the vocoder. I think in the end, this track, Hi Vis Ghosts (the drums) and Home 2 (the waves) were vocodered. There might be more I’ve forgotten about.

One of the challenges of making the project that I knew I was going to face beforehand was that to make it work, I was going to have to work backwards. Usually, recording happens with the instruments being built up and then the vocals being added on top. Because all I really had was the acapella melody lines for the songs, I started with the vocals and added instruments with FL Studio 12 that matched.

At one point, I was hoping for a more orchestral, opulent feel for the songs, but that proved impractical. I was also conscious of not wanting to use midi for instruments that didn’t sound right. On a previous project, I had tried to make a saxophone solo that ended up sounding like a honking car horn. This meant that I gravitated towards sounds which were more obviously synthetic, giving Vanity Project its early 80s feel.

Vanity Project Track by Track – Embrace the Glut

As a part of the launch for Vanity Project, I am writing a series of blog entries that give a bit more background detail and making of for each track. All these blogs will be collected together in the Vanity Project area of the site.


When I was about 13, I got a second hand skateboard. I thought skating was cool until the first time I properly fell off it and left myself with a scar and my mum told me I had to wear knee pads and arm pads if I wanted to skate and I knew deep down that was not cool.

When I had more TV channels, I used to love watching the X Games. I got a thrill out of seeing Pierre Luc Gagnon and Bob Burnquist riding the halfpipes, brave and intense and balletic.

As I watched these competitions, somehow, I became aware of the idea of street skaters. That there were people out there who were as good, perhaps better than the professionals, but who stayed home, and did it for the love. These were underground, unsponsored figures. No names who might pop up on a video or a magazine, before disappearing again into the melee of the local skate park or some parking lot where they could practice a technical trick.

This feels like something to embrace.

First Review – Vanity Project

A friend of mine called David, who is a Plymouth musician, is the first person to have written a review of ‘Vanity Project’. He posted it to the Stackhouse Jones facebook page.

He very kindly writes:

Vanity Project is forty minutes of exhilarating, hypnotic and unremitting genius that engaged my full attention and kept me somewhere between meditation and insanity throughout. All the elements of low-res video, high quality audio and unexpected vocals hung together, taking me to places I never knew existed, providing me with moments of genuine inspiration. I’ll be taking that trip again and would willingly become addicted.

Vanity Project Outtake – City In His Veins

This is one of the poems that got lost along the way of Vanity Project. ‘Home 2’ is in part a postcard to Torquay and Totnes, but I wanted to write a little love letter to my adopted hometown, Plymouth. I got put off when I heard the phrase ‘city in his veins’ in a different poem a few weeks after writing it. I could never find anything better to work in its place. But it has some fun lines, so here it is.


track thirteen on the car stereo
electric windows winding down
200 miles and 30 years on
an echo blown from the underground
methodists with a glowing cross
moths around the burger van
the greenest of all go’s
the loudest of all gold’s
the city in his veins

the carpet of the wildflower streetlights
the mirrorball inside his eyes
this new kaliedoscope of neon
the world at 30 miles per hour
an aluminium shell and seatbelt
his lawyer’s coming home tonight
dream a hometown dream
leave on the hallway light
he’s got the city in his veins

Simon Travers, 2017