Hey everyone. Remember that awesome track “Where I Stand” that was posted here a couple days ago? Now I present to you an interview with the man who created it. He is truly a stand-up guy, and a wonderful talent. I know that he is going far in this industry.-Derek
Derek Kortepeter: First of all, I want to thank you for being awesome and doing this interview. So I listened to the tracks that you have made available to the public so far, and I notice a hybrid of sounds (electronic, acoustic, new romanticism, classical, rock), can you tell me about your influences for your sound?
Simon Kent: Hi Derek and thank you. It’s true that there are a lot of diverse influences that feed into the music. I made a conscious decision to embrace a wide range of musical possibilities, while at the same time trying to find a sound of my own. I do listen to a lot of musical genres, encompassing everything you have mentioned. The musicians who have worked on the songs also come from diverse backgrounds and have very different influences, although I always look for some common ground, even with people who are working almost as session musicians on tracks. For example, Giorgio Li Calzi is a jazz trumpeter who lives in Italy and works in a very different musical world from me – but we both love Miles Davis, Kenny Wheeler and Jon Hassell – so Giorgio would instinctively know what was needed on a track without us even meeting up.
The tracks that are available online are also a combination of the songs from my first album, “Pillo”, and tracks from the forthcoming second album, “In Another Life” – that will probably be released early next year. I would say that “Pillo” is more of an organic, acoustic rock album, whereas the new album will be much more electronic, with more of a pure pop sound.
Over the last year or so I have put together an amazing permanent band to work with – truly lovely people and very talented musicians (Paul Farrow – guitar, Owen Blades – bass, James Walker – drums). That in itself has been an inspiration and I have absolutely fallen in love again with music. So, I guess to answer your question in terms of the new songs, the goal is to create great pop songs. The music I have been losing myself in lately includes Empire Of The Sun, Friendly Fires, MGMT, Simple Minds, Adele, Sigur Ros…
DK: What made you decide to pursue music, was there an “aha!” moment or was this always the trajectory your life was going?
SK: It is the direction I have needed to pursue for as long as I can remember. I am naturally extremely shy, and music been my way of connecting with the world from an early age. I clearly remember spending the vast majority of my school days daydreaming and lost in music, I couldn’t focus on the regimented subject matter that often meant nothing to me…the exception was probably English and history lessons.
It just feels like everything has come together in a really positive way right now – the right songs, the right people, everyone behind the project.
DK: What would you say is thematic content of your music, what are you attempting to convey or analyze?
SK: I write about events and emotions from my life, hopefully in such a way that the listener can relate to the content and derive some meaningful interaction with the songs. The lyrical content is always based on my reality, and therefore essentially authentic, honest and real.
DK: You got to have your music played on BBC Radio which is frickin’ awesome. How did that come about?
SK: I think some of the live shows earlier this year helped. We played at The Dublin Castle and Water Rats in London, followed by a showcase at BBC for Radio 2, and a lot of producers and music industry turned up for those shows. We also have a great promotions team behind us now.
DK: You are signed to Universal Records, one of the biggest labels out there. So many artists are looking for that elusive record contract; do you have any advice for them?
SK: I actually have my own record label, which is released through Universal. I like it that way. That has allowed my manager and myself to put together a talented team of people we trust, who genuinely love the music and want to see the project become a success. It also means that Simon Kent is the one and only priority of the label, my creative goals are not compromised. My personal opinion is that ‘looking for that elusive record contract’ should be one of the last considerations for an artist these days. Focus on writing great music, get the right musicians around you, try to forge your own identity, put yourself in front of the public only when you are ready, and most importantly never ever let go of your dream. You get one life so make sure you use it.
DK: What is your process of writing music?
SK: It is often a frustrating process! My experience is that the more music I write, the harsher becomes my inner critic, and so fewer new songs tend to flow through into production. I sometimes go for a period of months without writing a note, either through other life events being in the way, or because nothing meaningful is resonating with me at a given time. I tend to leap on inspiration when it arrives. Usually I find a musical or lyrical seed and develop the idea into a demo of sorts, and over a period of time, including many revisits, a song develops.
DK: Every performer connects differently with their audience, could you describe the experience you have at your shows when it comes to performer/crowd relationship?
SK:I find live shows a rewarding experience, and I hope the audience does too. I see it as an opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level, to create a moment when we can all leave the world outside and focus on something immediate and emotionally tangible. I get lost in being a part of a great band as well, I’m often lost in the performances of the guys I’m playing with in this band.
DK:I look at the future music has via the present art in existence, and in so many areas creativity is flourishing. If I am honest though, I feel that mainstream music is largely stagnant, with people being more about the money than the music. This often gets me thinking about the future of music, so this lead me to ask you, an artist, where you think music is heading?
SK:I don’t know the answer to where music in general is heading, I’m not sure anyone does. I agree with your analysis of music v money to a large extent. I feel that recently we have seen way too much emphasis in the media on ‘fame’ and ‘stardom’, on people being manufactured by so called experts towards a goal which has little or nothing to do with music. I have no time for any of that.
There is a lot of great new music about, but it is very hard to get noticed. Music in general is competing for attention with so many other immediate distractions – the proliferation of mobile technology, gaming, social networking etc. On top of that, I think the accessibility of so much ‘free’ music can make it appear almost ‘too disposable’, to have too little artistic value.
DK: Often times music is a result of our environment, either consciously or subconsciously. I believe where people grow up and live becomes inextricably linked to their art. This leads me to ask, does being English give you a unique perspective musically that you wouldn’t have otherwise?
SK: Undoubtedly, everything we see, feel, hear and experience feeds into the art. I think I have been fortunate to have grown up in a country which has historically prized the cultural contribution of pop music. I think the UK has gave birth to many social subcultures which are inextricably linked to pop music, and the echoes of that history still resonate with me.
DK:If you could sum up your music in sort of a Twitter length for the new listener, what would you say?
SK:emotional, atmospheric, melodic
DK:Before we close this interview, is there anything else you would like to say to the readers?
SK:A big thank you for your time, I hope you enjoy the music.