On the Couch with Damon Smith

Damon Smith AAR On the CouchWho is Damon Smith?
I am a composer, lyricist, music producer, writer, instrumentalist, film maker and performer who lives in Melbourne. Crikey, lets do that in an acronym, Damon Smith is a CLMPWIFMP.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Well, as a early 20 something I would get frustrated that people wouldn’t notice my ability as a songwriter, player etc and yet on reflection, I realize that I had so far to travel, skill and experience wise, and it was ridiculously stupid for me to even ponder such a thought. I’m still nowhere near where I feel I am capable of being but I am a universe away from where I was, even from only 10 years ago.

After a show, I have droves of people telling me they love what I do and yet it just doesn’t make me feel good, I can’t seem to capture the praise and enjoy it, but then, the one bit of criticism I get can be crippling and effect me for days.

As far as that frustration I felt as the twenty something, I see it now, particularly in others who complain about the industry and their lack of involvement even though they put in very little and don’t take risks. However, there is a negativity that comes with the positivity that I think we need in order to take ourselves onto the stage after hours upon hours of rehearsals, learning and organizing.

Maintaining this sort of job (and most of us aren’t lucky enough to even call it one because they have ‘actual’ jobs and (or) the music stuff doesn’t pay enough to even consider calling it a ‘job’) is far from easy. So to actually answer the question, I would believe in myself more and would have taken risk a lot earlier on in my life.

Who inspires you and why?
Right now, the people who inspire me are the people that jump in to the pool without the ‘floaties’. The ones that can take the risks despite of those negative feelings we have when we think about chasing a dream. Here are a few things that plague me now and then. (all the time!!!)

“What will my peers think of all the shameless self promotion I ‘need’ to do’.

“What will I do when I stuff up my parts or don’t remember the lyrics?”

“Are people just humoring me and my persistence in trying to ‘make it’ cause I actually suck?

Well, in moments of clarity I know the answers to the questions and they are:

1)Who Cares.

2)You are going to fail, understand it and get over it.

3) People’s opinions of me are none of my business.

Most of the time though I feel quite insignificant and weak. So, in short, I admire those who can step up to that diving board without those floaties… or pants for that matter. The vulnerable who know that they run the risk of drowning and are willing to take it.

What would you do to make a difference in the world? 
I’d love to see what the world would be like for a week or so without ego and entitlement.

Favorite holiday destination and why?
Hong Kong is a special place to me and have been there a few times now. I’m not sure what it is that attracts me although the food is high on the list. To be honest, as a pretty introverted chap, I tend to avoid crowds a bit and yet HK is simply full on as far as crowds go. In fact, the district of Mong Kok is the most densely populated place on Earth yet I love it.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
There is a fantastic piano bar in Preston called ‘ragtime tavern’ that has only just opened and the piano is in the middle of the bar. They encourage anyone to get up and have a play and the results are, as you can imagine, quite varied but always entertaining.

What are you currently reading?
Two books, which isn’t unusual for me. Composer, Phillip Glass’s biography, Words Without Music. Clementine Ford’s, Boys Will Be Boys and oh, my Mum has just released a book of short stories which I am going to start a.s.a.p. So… that’s three books…

What are you currently listening to? 
Bill Callahan’s latest record, Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest (Bill is my fav’ lyricist of all time) and Aldous Harding’s latest record, Designer. (omg *****)

Happiness is? 
Balancing all my loved ones on the piano stool next to me while I’m writing music, drinking merlot and snatching my favorite food of passing, Yum Cha.

What does the future hold for you? 
I’m not sure what the future holds for me although I hope it’s longevity with my health, my family’s health and my ability to play, sing and perform music.

Damon presents Crazy Arms – A Few Centuries of Piano Tinkering at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the 2019 Melbourne Cabaret Festival. For more information, visit: www.melbournecabaret.com for details.

Image: Damon Smith (supplied)