That’s not a rhetorical question. Is it?
At the start of lockdown an utterly disastrous live stream attempt turned into a quest to get to grips with the technology needed to perform on my own. I followed the thread of this and it became interwoven with a fundraising campaign I ran (and just finished successfully!) to buy percussion for the music workshops I deliver at Play for Progress. You can see the video series I made as part of this journey here.
I’ve been filming the forest in Sydenham since exactly midnight on the first of January this year. Each week I film a few minutes at different spots in this sanctuary – the last remaining ancient woodland that once covered the whole of South London. I also record the sound. I will put this together as a film that shows the forest through the seasons. As the pandemic hit it became a total refuge for me and I love spending time there observing the small things and contemplating the big.
I also have been putting together Faff FM, a radio show / station / podcast (not sure which yet) which is both inadvertently and directly dedicated to faff – that thing that you do when you’re trying to do something else and arguably more important. So far this has entailed working out the jingle and trying to get in touch with my friend who has cancer (chemotherapy is a huge faff for her) [Episode 1], actually having the chat with her [episode 2], getting my friend Rosanna out of bed to play the flute [episode 3] and several attempts to interview Count Baron Von Dumpling, a count made of fluffy material controlled by a stick and with no lower torso [episode 4].
I made some recordings with Phil Merriman a wonderful pianist
I made some recordings with Anna Lowenstein, a wonderful violinist
I learned how to use Ableton Live to process my drums and make crazy sounds
I recorded a day of my life with Joe Murgatroyd on the day that I was exactly 33 and one third old. The plan is to use this as the basis for my first solo record.
I finally sorted out an exercise routine thanks to Joe Wickes, who I have a lot of respect and admiration for. Fortunately I have now learned the stretches and exercises I need to stay in shape and so don’t need to rely on YouTube any more. I don’t like adverts.
I dedicated time to meditating thanks to Sam Harris’ app Waking Up. This is a great resource and I highly recommend it.
I started being accountable with my friend Chris O’Shea. He is a writer and a musician. We would tell each other what we were planning to do that day and then later find out if we had done it. We referred to our work as ‘The Gibraltar Papers’.
I set up a weekly meetup called Fake Management. This is with the fantastic The Naked Eye and Joy Becker. They are both singer/songwriter/producers and we help each other stay focused and motivated with our work.
I did a course in Deep Listening led by Jon Petter. This is rooted in the teachings of Pauline Oliveros, but Jon also incorporated Qi Gong and other games and methods to ground us in a time of deep instability.
I made a track for my friend Joe Houston‘s birthday. It is gnarly and I like it.
I made a series of videos for a fundraiser that I ran for Play for Progress. People gave so generously and I was almost guilty that we surpassed our target. This meant I could buy a car load of percussion for our weekly workshop working with young refugees and asylum seekers. They f&%@ing loved the percussion. I’ll send out some footage soon but we can’t show their faces on camera for legal reasons so it has to be a bit crafty.
I was very fortunate to receive funding from the Arts Council that helped me stay afloat when I lost all my performance and workshop work at the start of the pandemic. This meant I didn’t totally freak out and it also gave me affirmation that I am indeed and artist. I also realised through that that I have indirectly been supported by ACE for over a decade, and again feel very fortunate to have received support. I also don’t feel fortunate and feel entitled to the support because I am an artist. But that’s probably part of being an artist. It’s complicated innit.
I started doing The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course devised by Julia Cameron. I’m on week 4 now and there’s a bunch of us doing it together and checking in once a week to support one another.
I recorded drums for a Vamos Theatre and their composer Janie Armour. They made a series of short films for the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine.
I recorded drums for Joe Murgatroyd and his new project called Honey Slaves.
I recorded drums for James Carter. He is possibly fictional but his music is not.
I made a video with Klezmer Klub for the BKY’s Simchat Torah. You’ll probably have to look up all of those things if you’re interested.
I did an artist residency at HopBarn. You can see footage from this on my YouTube channel. Search for Simon Roth Music.
I tried to record a podcast with Nick Malcolm but realised it was basically just a chat and I didn’t have a big enough ego to post that.
I recorded the drums for Dan Samsa’s new album. We recorded at Love Electric. It’s a great studio.
I started recording my own songs that previously other people played and sang. Will see where this goes. The project is Land of If. Appropriately.
I’ve been drawing.
I’ve been taking photos.
I’ve been writing.