Those courageous enough to deeply explore the architecture of the cosmos rattle foundations. These scientists, artists, humanitarians, and spiritual warriors challenge widely accepted dictums, and find the little grey areas that laws of nature and conventional wisdom just can’t explain. These are the dark recesses Simonne Jones illuminates with her intrepid electro-pop.
Her story includes transformative journeys exploring health and culture in the jungles of Africa and Brazil, powerful moments conducting HIV research in state of the art labs, and being locked in Peaches’ studio among various dildos and synthesizers. Her Cherokee and Caribbean heritage only enriches her perspective. After migrating from LA to Berlin, she wove together the various threads of her life into an ethereally beautiful music lattice. Now, on May 27th, Simonne Jones issues her debut EP, Gravity.
“I see music and science as opportunities to explore the unknown. I have an unquenchable curiosity, and I believe big breakthroughs in these realms change the world. The limitless possibilities of our existence and what we can do with it drives me, and it comes off in every song I write,” the Berlin-based artist says.
Simonne is an artist, scientific researcher, model, composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. For her, music, science, and humanitarian efforts are inextricably linked. She holds university degrees in visual arts and biomedical research, with minors in biological Sciences and art history. She’s been at the frontlines of HIV research in the field and in the lab. As an undergraduate, she was awarded a grant to travel to Africa where she created an HIV awareness program. Simonne has explored music as daily ritual in the Amazon, during an immersive indigenous experience immortalized in Jean Michel Jarre’s documentary Soundhunters.
Her singular musicality embraces electronic music, pop, the avant-garde, classical, new wave, industrial, and alt-rock. Simonne’s compositions exhibit a dark beauty with imaginative arrangements, daring electronic soundscapes, majestic hooks, and lyrics that brim with poetic poignancy and metaphorical enlightenment.
Her vision is lush and fearless, but her compositional gifts can be measured traditionally. For this, she’s garnered acclaim and prestigious artistic opportunities. In 2013, she was accepted into the competitive Redbull Music Academy. She scored and performed in a play at the prestigious Salzburg Festival, she’s performed her classical compositions in China, and she’s completed a six-month artist residency at Berlin’s art collective Platoon Kunsthalle, where she constructed midi-controlled LED paintings related to topics in quantum mechanics, cosmology, and other fields of physics. Recently, Simonne signed with Vertigo Berlin and will be issuing her debut album. She’s earned all these accomplishments without having released anything formally. Her profile has become global through her performances and the impact of her compositions.
Simonne was born in Los Angeles, and as early as three was plinking out melodies on the piano. Even then, as a young child, her curiosity drove her to scale disciplined heights as she perfected Beethoven and Mozart compositions. From the piano, she darted out in exploratory paths toward the guitar, percussion, bass, production, and the synthesizer. She workshopped her songs at open mics, and at any show she could get. Her formative and current influences include Tears For Fears, Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey, Björk, Ministry, and Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft (D.A.F.).
Despite her prodigious musical talent, Simonne was bound for medical school for a life dedicated to biological research. Two key events would take her off course. The first took place during a research junket in Africa. While nestled in the bushes of the jungle away from computers and the din of everyday, Simonne had awakening that could satisfy her quest for truth and desire to positively influence people through music. The second came from Peaches who, impressed with Simonne’s burgeoning talents, took her in as a protégé. “She locked me in her studio, and forced me to make noise and scream,” Simonne says laughing. Peaches instilled artistic autonomy in terms of Simonne being able to write her songs, perform most of the instrumental sections, and engineer and produce her recording sessions. Peaches was also pivotal in Simonne shifting from organic instrumentation to brazenly appropriating electronic instrumentation in her work. Currently, Simonne has collaborated with Peaches on “Vaginoplasty” and “Free Pussy Riot,” she contributed to Peaches’ recently released Rub Remixed album.
Simonne’s artistic continuum took flight when she moved to Berlin. In the supportive and experimentally charged atmosphere there, she welcomed a creatively fertile period that’s spawned her EP and a 200-song catalog to be considered for her full-length debut.
The five-song EP is sleekly emotive. It harnesses the dichotomous power of synthetic instrumentation programmed with sweetly somber melodic motifs rubbing against sensually expressive vocals. This almost cerebral/heart-driven juxtaposition is central to Simonne’s life’s work. “The songs do have these double meanings,” admits Simonne. Tracks like “Gravity” and “Spooky Action” use tenets of science as a lens to examine relationships. “Gravity” ponders the mysteries of ill-fated romantic connections through the lens of gravity’s power to invisibly bind two objects. Here, above hauntingly beautiful electro atmospherics, Simonne pulls melodies from her heartstrings and stretches them skyward, reaching for salvation. “Spooky Action” roils with seduction and breathy vocals simmering over with pent-up sentiments.
The second half of the EP is more viscerally emotional. “Abduction” is a forbidden pleasure anthem that wields menacing industrial guitars, delicate seductiveness, and soaring hooks. And “No One” is a boldly vulnerable ballad with Simonne’s vocals front and center. Here, Simonne sings as if her heart is in her throat--her vocals exhibiting a soulful commanding presence and they give room to breathe with tasteful piano accompaniment. For the chorus, “No One” thrusts heavenly with electro-pop grooves and fiery redemptive vocal melodies.
Up next, Simonne is putting the finishing touches on her full length debut. As she looks forward, she hopes to use her music platform to effect change. She will partner with a nonprofit organization that helps underserved children discover the arts. In closing, Simonne says: “The drive behind what I’m doing is that it has the potential to be bigger than myself. I want to inspire others to become aware of their potential, what they can do with their life. I have this extra fire inside for them.”