Q&A1234: Simone

Breakout musician Simone has been going from strength to strength throughout the past two years of her musical journey. Garnering a strong, loyal fanbase who’ve all fallen for her relatable lyrics that were perfectly designed for people who want to live out their own coming of age movie fantasy but are also wrapped up in their emotions. Her sound is raw and vulnerable, offering you insight into her mind as she writes painfully beautiful lyrics reminiscent of Taylor Swift that captures the rough edges of the modern world through an adolescent’s eyes. This youngster is stepping up her game with every release, never stepping backwards, always leaping forward like a majestic gazelle as she continues to elevate her sound. I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting to her about what’s happening next in her journey.

Let’s start from the beginning, what was it that originally made you want to get into music and how long have you been writing for?

I was always really into music, I always say that it happened really naturally because there wasn’t a specific time that it happened it just kind of happened. My dad is a bass player, so that was kind of my introduction to it with music always being played around my house, sometimes to wake me up in the morning! Me and my brother both just loved all the movies and TV shows about music and going to broadway shows growing up too. Growing up in New York and being surrounded by all that creativity was so inspiring. I started doing plays at school and then ones at YMCA and realised how much I loved performing from it. I listened to Taylor Swift and Alanis Morissette, I felt so inspired by songwriting and just wanted to do that to share my feelings in a different way. I started writing songs when I was 10, not the best year of my life, and I think I kinda resorted to songwriting to help me get through some hard times. I used it as a form of therapy at that time and I realised that it’s something I loved doing and just wanted to keep doing.

You said you’ve been doing this since you were 10 years old, having done music at such an early age what’re some of the best or weird things you’ve seen happen at your shows?

One if my first introductions to being an artist was performing. I went to Nashville when I was 11 and went to an open mic night with my dad. I played two songs and felt like I wanted to do that forever! One memory that comes to my mind was the first open mic I ever performed at in New York City, I played one song and the woman who was hosting it asked in front of everyone if I had more songs, I said yes and she asked if I wanted to come back and do a full show. My dad has is all on video and I keep thinking about how cool that opportunity was. I performed my first hour long shows there and it’s always been really special for me.

That must’ve been a really defining moment for you? I can’t imagine being 11 years old and someone telling me they want me to do a full show.

You can see in the video my dad freaking out and I’m just sitting there so nervous. Everyone around me is 10 or 20 years older than me and I was wondering what was happening. I remember driving home and being on such a high from that night. I loved it and not being able to perform for two years was so hard. I recently opened for Amy Allen, it was my first show for so long and I left it feeling so pumped for it. I get so nervous before shows but after it I just want to do it everyday.

You and Amy have very similar songwriting styles too so the audience must’ve been really into you that night?

I wasn’t used to performing in front of people who didn’t know who I was, but then afterwards were coming up to me telling me how good it was and saying they followed me on Spotify which was so cool. Especially in a time where people are discovering people on social media, it felt great that it was organic because they heard my song for the first time and I didn’t have to do a video telling people to check my song out. Obviously getting that opportunity was so cool and Amy was so sweet so I was so happy.

I’m so happy that all went well for you with Amy. You’ve described your music as something for people who watch a lot of coming of age movies and are sad. If you had to have one of your songs soundtrack a scene from a coming of age movie which would it be?

I think my dream is to have a song at the end credits, the uplifting part like I think of the end of a movie like Ladybird where she’s in New York and discovers herself. I have a song called Everything Nothing that would be good that kind of vibe. I also think Kissing Strangers would be great for the dance party where there’s a random dance montage, I’d love that. That’s the vibe I want to have, the freedom of a coming of age movie directed by Greta Gerwig.

You mentioned earlier too that you watched a lot of TV shows, do you find a lot of inspiration from them? Because if I recall you wrote Kissing Strangers about New Girl?

Yeah, I think during quarantine when nothing was happening I turned to them to find inspiration towards things, especially when I was like 11 or 12 and wasn’t really experiencing these things I turned a lot to things I was watching. There’s a song I wrote that’s not out that’s not really out but is written about my cousin who had his girlfriend break up with him because it was something I was witnessing. I remember over quarantine I wrong a song about Little Women too, I tried to write one about each movie I watched too. They weren’t all good but it was fun to practice the songwriting again.

You’ve also done some musical theatre when you were younger, were there any characters you adored to play and did you take any of their characteristic with you into everyday life once you had your curtain call?

Yeah I definitely learned a lot from that experience. I learned a lot about what I wanted as a performer and how much I loved the aspect of getting on stage and performing. I realised the whole acting thing wasn’t for me, I just admired the singing part so much more and that was really helpful in figuring out what I wanted to do. It was very hard for my social anxiety to be surrounded by so many people that were there each week but it was a beneficial experience for me to push past my comfort zone. It was really special to do that with my brother too.

I do wanna talk about Tik Tok briefly, you began posting their a couple years ago and have seen your music career skyrocket ever since. Did you expect this to happen or was this just a fun side thing that ended up being this huge thing?

I remember for a year before I got on Tik Tok people kept telling me to get on Tik Tok. I’m always against things that are popular at first, which is a stupid trait I have, but eventually I gave in and started to see it from my perspective as oh other people are blowing up from this, that’s interesting. I started seeing what others were doing and just added what I wanted to say into it. The whole thing happened relatively quickly, I gained like 200,000 followers from one video which was one of the weirdest experiences I’ve had. It was a monumental moment and seeing that shift where people got interested in me was amazing. It opened so many doors and still continues to do to this day.

The one which blew up was the one of your dad reacting to your music for the first time. Was that fake because you’ve said your dad’s been to so many of your shows?

HAHA! Yes it was fake! I’ve done two of those with my dad, I saw other people do it and thought it was funny. His reaction was so exaggerated and I was convinced no one would believe it but everyone did. I’ve done it a few times where I’ll just lie and it just works sometimes. I did a Tik Tok the other day about an angry ex texting me about a song, they don’t exist but I just think it’s so funny. My dad and I still think its funny to this day.

How has your dad been handling his new found fame since his viral moment of reacting to your music?

He’s excited about it! He goes through and looks at the comments each time, it’s so sweet.

Your parents seem really supportive of your dream. I remember you got banned briefly from commenting on your social media and your dad replied to everyone reminding them your song was out.

Yes! I used to reply to people to remind them but Tik Tok blocked me from commenting, I told my dad and asked if he could do it for me from his account. He went through and replied to each and every one just to let them know the song was out. It was very nice of him to do and I’m lucky to have really supportive parents.

You also started a podcast in quarantine and I adore how open you are about your life, both the difficult moments and the good moments. Do you think it’s important to do that both as a person and an artist?

I think especially as an artist when you’re trying to convey it’s not just about the music, it’s about the connection. Some of my favourite artists I love their music but also their personality, they’re a great business woman or because of how they interact with their fans. It’s all that stuff that’s really important and I don’t find myself connecting with people who I don’t really know and who put on a facade on social media. She’s not a singer but Emma Chamberlain is so open with her fans that it feels like she’s on FaceTime with you when you’re watching her videos. She blurs the line between an influencer and a person. That’s so important to show your life isn’t perfect and that things will go wrong.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

I would tell myself to be okay in the moment. I feel like when you’re a small artist you want things to happen really quickly, I still go through phases where I’m not happy where I’m at and struggle with things like that. Looking back on my life so far I feel like everything happened at such a perfect moment and I wouldn’t change anything even if in the moment it felt like it wasn’t where I wanted to be. Just trust this is apart of the process.

What’s next for Simone?

I have spent that last year just writing. I’m having a lot of fun with that, meeting new people and writing new songs. Right now I’m just focusing on making music that I love and feel really confident about. I don’t feel the need to rush anything, it works me when I take time to make something I’m proud of.

Who’re you counting in?

I love Dora Jar, I think the clocks ticking for how long she’ll be underground for right now. She just does things which no one else does, she does what she wants which is so cool. Alix Page is another artist I love, we did a camp together a few summers ago and it’s great to see her do so well and get bigger too.