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.

EMBRACE THE GLUT

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.

CITY IN HIS VEINS

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

Vanity Project Track by Track – Cold Calling

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.

COLD CALLING

One of the foundations of Vanity Project is the idea that nobody needs this project but me, but I needed a lot. I showed my son The Muppet Movie recently and I’d forgotten about this scene.

Vanity Project is in many ways a promise I made to me.

So why publish? Because publicity is a core discipline of writing for me. Public/ity, as in the act of acting in public, regardless of how many people pay attention.

By choice, I don’t slam, I self-publish. I don’t do poetry competitions, I do open-mics. I’m conscious that this is a way that I hope to flow with, rather than stand out from, the oncoming tide of writers and performers. Cold Calling works on a metaphor that open-mic poetry is a little like telesales. You break in on someone’s life for a few minutes, call out of the blue, and try to pitch something precious. You dial and you hope they’ll be polite but the audience is in charge. They can hang up at any time.

And that’s just the way…

Watch Vanity Project here.

Vanity Project Track by Track – No Regret

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.

NO REGRET

When I started to think about how I was going to film Vanity Project, I knew I needed an opening shot that would establish the idea of getting onto the A38. I planned that the film would be made up of 10 second clips, but I knew that the first shot was going to be a bit longer, and that the title card should appear after this shot. The shot itself was easy enough, taken on the Mannamead roundabout in Plymouth heading west onto the A38 on a sunny morning.

I knew I was going to need some kind of introduction music or fanfare, but I didn’t know what would work. No Regrets happened by accident. I was driving to Exeter one night for an open mic and I was listening in the car to a cd I’d burnt of some of my favourite songs. I was listening to Regret by New Order, but it kept skipping, and so I flipped to the next track. As I did this, something I’d never seen my car cd player do before happened. With skipping and repeating, the track started playing backwards. I quickly pulled in to a supermarket car park to see if it would do it again and it did, so I recorded a couple of minutes of the noise on my phone. A week or so later, I chose 5 or 6 loops from what I’d recorded and it came together.

I like the name No Regrets. It is partly an acknowledgement of where the track came from, but it also reflects the defiant side of Vanity Project.