This week we talk to Simon Lyn, a composer and performer from Cardiff (via Canada) with a studio at Meanwhile House Cardiff. He uses his space as a place to compose, mix and market his music.
Hey Simon, can you tell us how long you have had a space with Meanwhile Creative?
Just over a year now, maybe fourteen months? I’ve taken my time to arrange in it optimally for my workflow, before I took it on it was being used as a storage space. So for the past six months or so I’ve been working exclusively from here, and it’s working out great!
And what is it that you do?
I compose and produce original music for performance and moving image projects mostly via licensing, but also through bespoke commissions.
That sounds intriguing! What has the space meant to you?
This isn’t my first commercial space but it is my first in Cardiff – it’s been instrumental in establishing my work and creative practice here 🙂 I’d recommend dedicated workspaces to others very enthusiastically! Just the ability to close a door and focus completely, to develop rhythm and routine around one’s business development is very freeing.
I’ve also set up a ‘painting station’ in my Meanwhile space – I paint my own artwork to partner the music, so this is really handy! Another benefit is that painting is an inspiring analogue for the way I want to compose – intuitively, quickly, with energy and momentum. So I often find myself moving between instruments and oil sticks; it’s a good energy.
How did you get started?
When I was sixteen my best friend was writing music for a production of Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle for the county youth theatre. Early on in the process he was taken ill and hospitalised, I went to visit and he asked me to step in instead … so I did, not really knowing what I’d got myself into (!) But all of a sudden I had a rehearsal schedule, a small team of musicians and a budget – I enjoyed the process enormously.
Later on in University I composed for three more Shakespeare productions; I had budget to hire musicians from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and access to professional recording facilities, it was a great grounding, and things have progressed from there …
Why did you choose Cardiff?
Cardiff is where I grew up, though I’ve been living in Western Canada for most of the past decade …
When I decided to relocate back to the UK last year I chose Cardiff not just because I have many friends and family here, it’s also a city that offers a disproportionately high density of cultural opportunity – music of all kinds, film, TV, radio, theatre, dance, gallery and exhibition space – there’s a lot to enjoy! And as far as I can see the creative industries here are well supported by the public, the Arts Council of Wales and other funding bodies.
Who is in your team?
Like many indie self-produced artists I’m normally a team of one(!) – composing, arranging, performing, tracking, mixing, mastering, marketing, digital strategy, administrating, making the coffee … it’s all on me!
That said, there are times when I include other professionals – mix/mastering engineers, instrumentalists, licensing labels, etc. – but it all depends on the scope of the project, budget and audience.
Every job has its ups and downs – what are the best bits of your job?
Discovering the music a client really wants! It’s hard to put into words the music you imagine for a project, even for a musician, and even if you can do that quite often it’s a sound or piece that comes out of left field that ends up being the right one. So the best thing to do is embark in a process of discovery together … eventually you find the right sounds!
…and the toughest?
For me it’s the detail-oriented part of the process, especially mixing. For every hour of successful composing there could be three weeks of technical production, it’s crazymaking! Some composers partner with producers/mix engineers for this very reason I suspect, I’d certainly be open to that 🙂
Looking back is there anything advice you would have given yourself at the beginning?
My favourite Howard Thurman quote – “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Take the time to fully develop, keep an open mind and intuit your most powerful creative purposes, make goals and plans but know that they will change because you are changing every day; then when the thinking stops and it’s time to act, take a breath, ‘stand up straight with your shoulders back’, ‘treat yourself like you would someone you are responsible for helping’… and … GO
And lastly, what’s new for this year?
I’m about to release a 5-track EP, ‘bE ON uR ON‘, and then will take a completely new direction in my music making, which I’ve been carefully considering for a few years now … if things go well, I’d like to start Livestreaming concerts from my unit once or twice per week.
When I’ve honed my new method a bit I’m planning on creating an online music library to license fresh music into contemporary and avant garde performance projects, and after that I’d like to instantiate an
educational arm to my practice, FLOW (Fearless Levels Of Wonder), which marries my interests in integrated arts programs and the Community of Enquiry developed in Matt Lipman’s Philosophy for Children program.
More on Simon Lyn
You can listen to Simon Lyn’s new EP here.
At Meanwhile Creative we take a creative approach to ‘meanwhile’ space. We can find flexible, affordable and practical workspace for your project whether this be office space, studio space or desk space. We have something for everyone.