Image by Antje Jandrig
Simonne Jones is from California – but everything about her suggests a keenly cultivated internationalism. Indeed, she’s appeared at Austria’s exalted Salzburg Festival, done time on the runways of Berlin Fashion Week, and alternately called Toronto and London her home. Not enough? She boasts a degree in biomedical research from the University of Maryland.
She’s also something of a protege of the magnificent Peaches – even going as far as to say that seeing a concert of hers at 15 years old completely transformed her life. And like her mentor, she has the unique ability to draw on wildly disparate influences and transmute them into something strikingly unique and thought-provoking.
And so it is with new single “Runaways,” which BlackBook premieres here. With its thumping Teutonic synths, lush atmospherics and Jones’ ethereal, impassioned vocals, you may detect references to the likes of The Knife and Kate Bush – though there’s clearly a fierce individualism at work.
And as she dramatically intones, “Tonight we live / Tonight we dance / We move to our music / And this is our last chance,” one gets a sense of both desperation and fiery determination.
“It was once a poem that I wrote a long time ago,” she explains, “that I modified once I had the chords with David Kosten in London. I wanted to write something that would pay tribute to my Native American background, and would explore being in love when you are not valued as worthy by society. On the surface it seems like a love song, but if you look deeper it explores the philosophy of acceptance, ownership, freedom, immigration and borders. Many of my songs have multiple layers for the advanced listener.”
Such layering extends to the production of the music, as well – which feels at once stark, uncluttered and alluringly sumptuous.
“I wanted to create a beat with a lot of movement and dance almost in a tribal sense,” she says. “I used the Fm8 synthesizer by Native Instruments to get that really deep arpeggiated bass synth line and a few of my favorite plug ins to add some dirt. I think this element really sets the tone and atmosphere of the track. If you can nail a single sound so well that it doesn’t bore you over time, that it changes and swells and has movement, you have won half the battle of the production.”
Expect to hear more from her much sooner than later.