Todd Simko 1966–2012

Todd SimkoThe world lost a great man, father, musi­cian and sound engi­neer when we lost Todd Simko on Sun­day, April 22th, 2012. I had the hon­our and plea­sure of spend­ing many hours, days, weeks and months with Todd as he recorded my first demos as a solo act, which led to he and I mak­ing my first full-​​length album. To be quite hon­est, the album took an unprece­dented length of time to make and surely we could have fin­ished quicker if we weren’t so busy hav­ing such a great time hang­ing out. Todd was a gen­er­ous, thought­ful, imag­i­na­tive spirit who I am proud to call a friend. The mem­o­ries I have flood through: Todd test­ing the sounds of var­i­ous pieces of wood so we could get the “per­fect” sound of me sweep­ing a broom; being nearly crushed in the back of a bor­rowed pickup by a piano that Todd bought from a local 2nd hand store – why I was in the back with the piano and why Todd decided to drive up the steep­est hill in New West­min­ster are both beyond me; lis­ten­ing to the sounds that came out of “Karate Todd” when we recorded a pro­posed theme song for a kids’ car­toon involv­ing crime-​​fighting, kung fu chick­ens – we didn’t make the cut; the reac­tion of Todd’s wife, Minna, when Todd came in from his back­yard stu­dio and ran­sacked the kitchen look­ing for the ideal sound­ing pots and pans to record that would add a cer­tain clank to one of my songs, “What the hell are you record­ing out there? Stomp?!”; invent­ing a dance called “The Frog Boo­gie” with Todd’s then-​​3 year old daugh­ter Emily; hav­ing a pint at the Thirsty Duck Pub and lis­ten­ing to Todd’s wild desire to win a local meat draw; and I remem­ber laugh­ing. A lot.

I met Todd at the Media Club in Van­cou­ver in 2005. He had come highly rec­om­mended as a sound engi­neer by friends who had recorded with him and he was all ears when I told him I wanted to put a few songs to tape. In a flurry of Simko-​​styled energy it seemed like the next day that Todd was patch­ing together a remote, guerilla-​​style record­ing stu­dio in our rehearsal space. I’ll never know how he got those sounds out of that oddly-​​shaped, moldy-​​carpeted, concrete-​​walled room. Todd was always excited by a chal­lenge and loved to try new things. If some­one said they wanted to record in an igloo Todd would have not only fig­ured out how to build an igloo but he would have been thrilled to know what the out­come would be. Todd didn’t use a text­book to fig­ure things out. He expe­ri­enced life. He made mis­takes. He learned. He wasn’t a clas­si­cally trained musi­cian but he knew what sounded good to him. He wasn’t out to make music that sounded per­fect. In fact, Todd loved what he called “happy accidents”.

Todd loved it when I made mis­takes record­ing. Flub­bing a note. A cough. A squeaky chair. He felt those were the magic moments that make record­ings unique. Todd had no inter­est in mak­ing “gridrock” as he labeled it: music that is edited with record­ing tech­nolo­gies so much that it ends up sound­ing ster­ile. It’s music that may fit on Top 40 radio but doesn’t fit in the heart. Todd wanted rough purity. I recall my voice crack­ing while record­ing a song and instead of hear­ing “Okay, let’s try it again” through my head­phones when I fin­ished I heard, “Happy acci­dent!” as Todd shouted glee­fully, “That’s the take!” I resisted at first but ulti­mately Todd con­vinced me to keep the take. Life isn’t per­fect. Mis­takes are what make us human. There is an impli­ca­tion of truth, of the human ele­ment, in moments when our guard is down. To Todd’s credit, I now love those happy acci­dents that ended up on my album. Things that may seem tech­ni­cally wrong at first are actu­ally just unique – and as an artist that’s all I could strive for. I’m glad Todd fought to keep those moments on record and that he was able to see what was spe­cial from a long way away. And now as I look from a long way away, I real­ize Todd was a happy acci­dent. He was a quirky, cre­ative, curi­ous and unique indi­vid­ual who I came to love.

Today would have been Todd’s birth­day. He left us far too early. I could go on and on with how much he taught me and how much we would laugh as we sat in his stu­dio lis­ten­ing to all of the strange sonic roads we would travel before get­ting to our des­ti­na­tion, but for now it is time to let go of what is gone and cher­ish what is in my heart.

Todd, I love you brother and I will always miss you.