Interview series ‘From LA to Berlin': Simonne Jones

From LA to Berlin will feature a series of artists and their gigging habits all the way from LA to Berlin and throughout Europe and America.

We start with Simonne Jones who came here to Berlin from LA and decided to stay. Peaches‘s protégée, ex model, scientist and musician, discover this atypic new born star NOW!

 Some facts: age 24, from Hollywood, started making music at 11.

Number of gigs: 50

Number of tracks produced: 75 (none officially released yet)

Next release: 2012

‘Old’ artists who influenced your work: Leonardo Da Vinci & Chess records artists – ‘New’ artists:  Fever Ray, PJ Harvey, Florence + the Machine and Kate Bush.

LSD: How do you order your tracks for a live show?

SJ: My live set depends on the audience and show I am playing. I have a good friend that I trust to help me with the order, but some of my most memorable concerts have been ones where I did not have a set list and invented one on the spot. My shows are constantly changing.

LSD: Is there a certain pattern you can recognize in this process?  

SJ: When I am playing live and planning a concert I try to create a unique and special experience for the audience so that it is refreshing and well suited for the place and people it involves. I like to involve the audience in my shows.

LSD: Is there much space for wishes from the audience? 

SJ: I love to respond and interact with the audience. Watching Peaches perform and interact passionately with her audiences changed my perspective on what is possible as a performer. She is highly aware and connected to what an audience wants beyond what I have ever seen in a performer. I think that is why so many mainstream artists have capitalized on and imitated her original performance ideas. My sets will always allow for the wishes of the audience so they can feel connected to what I am doing. Spontaneity is important to me.

LSD: Is there a special tune you always start or finish your gig with?  

SJ: This may sound strange but it is a warm up that no one hears before my show; Bear Necessities from the Jungle Book. I hum it and pat a beat with my hands and body. It has become a reminder that above all I am here to perform; ideally, an artist would need nothing more than their voice and their bodies to captivate an audience. I like to start my set with Aquamarine, a song I wrote while I was in a very playful place. It is really fun to play because it is a percussive acoustic song with lots of simple finger tapping and harmonics.

LSD: How do you get yourself ready before a gig?  

SJ: I practice for repetition until my mind and hands don’t have to think about the patterns I am creating on the fret board of the guitar, and focus on the performance.  I am constantly evolving things in my show, so I have to practice regularly. I also like to play something in my rehearsal space that is non-related to my set the day prior just for fun. Before I go on stage I usually face paint my band and then I like to be alone for at least 10 minutes. I am a makeup artist and I love to paint really intense eyes. I love using costumes and putting my band in extravagant outfits.

LSD: What is special when playing in other countries, when you prepare for the journey, the flights, etc.?

SJ:  The same sequences of events are required to get ready for a show, with my equipment and stages, but something unexpected always happens. When I was on tour with Peaches (I was her shadow performer to help her out when she was in a wheelchair), I would force myself to get up early (sometimes at 8am after we went to bed at 3am before we would leave at 2pm to explore and wander around). I would have never seen how incredibly beautiful Budapest is if I slept. Randomness and absolute unpredictability are always present on tour and you never know what is coming next. I like to think about these things when I am getting ready for the journey, in 10 hours I have no idea what I could be doing, who I’ll meet, or where I´ll end up. It is so exciting!

LSD: Your recent list of gigs from LA to Berlin:

SJ: LA, Hollywood, Baltimore, NYC, Florence, Madrid, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Berlin.

Check out this video to find out more about Simonne and her music: