From Berlin to LA! An Interview with Simonne Jones
Simonne Jones is a rising star, between her adoptive Berlin and her native LA, between pop, rock, and art, and science… Simonne is the kind of person who can do anything and do it with grace; no wonder Peaches took her on as her protégée. In a few days, she will perform new tracks with her new band setup in Berlin on the occasion of the multi-venue festival From Berlin to LA.
KALTBLUT: Simonne, I understand you have a new band?
Simonne: Yes, Mathias Brendel was playing for Peaches’ band on her last world tour when I met him. He is endorsed by Yamaha and a very in demand drummer, from recording on Lemmy’s solo project and constantly touring with other bands. I’ve had discussions with the artist relations director Martin who called him his favorite living drummer – I must say I agree, he is one of the best out there and I’m honored that I can call him part of my band.
I met Simon Wangemann through a producer I was working with, Gordon Raphael, from the Strokes and Regina Spector. They shared a studio. He was in I Heart Sharks, and after seeing a few gigs, especially at the Berlin Festival, I was blown away by his stage presence. He exudes cool and makes girls swoon in the audience. If Mathias is the limbs, Simon is the brain and spinal cord of my set up. He is an expert with Midi and Ableton, and one of the best German engineer/producers. To make matters even better he also can play every instrument on stage and sings. So I’m a lucky girl.
As for Laura Landergott, I met her through her girlfriend, one of the top burlesque dancers in the world, Tallulah Freeway, who was invited to a party at Peaches’ house. I was looking for a girl specifically that could play everything I could. On top of looking like an Austrian androgynous model, she absolutely destroys the drums and has a killer voice that matches mine in a special way unique to us. She can play circles around all the guys I know and is a powerhouse musician, and takes music as seriously as I do. She sleepwalks and dreams music. She was the final piece in this project and now I can’t imagine the band without her.
KALTBLUT: And you are going to play with them in a few days at Tausend on the occasion of #FromBerlintoLA.
Simonne: This will be the first Berlin show I’ve played in many years. I am playing new unreleased music to a small audience, so this show is a bit of a rarity. It’s the first show with the whole band together. Mathias and I have been playing for six years now.
KALTBLUT: And does this Berlin/LA connection still influence your music?
Simonne: LA provided me with a broad and fierce perspective, and Berlin has given me the gift of refined taste, artistic originality and experimentation.
KALTBLUT: Do you feel happy or happier in Berlin, artistically or as a person?
Simonne: I am happier in Berlin. I spent most of my life in LA so it was important for me to see the world to evolve my artistic world. As a person I developed fearlessness in my creation, which is encouraged in Berlin in the form of non-judgmental free expression culturally. In LA it is welcome, but only after someone important has stamped their approval… until then no one will listen. I found it difficult to blossom as an artist in an environment that was less about who you are and what you are creating and more about who is looking. This may not be the case for everyone but it was a challenge I noticed discouraging waves of talented artists in LA.
KALTBLUT: How long have you been in Berlin for?
Simonne: I’ve been in Berlin for six years… it has become more international and gentrified.
KALTBLUT: Have you seen changes in the LA scene as well?
Simonne: Returning to LA felt the same, but I’m not in the scene of struggling or aspiring artists there anymore, so I guess what changed is that I have access to an entirely different world in LA now.
I love intimate venues with good sound and bass
KALTBLUT: Would you say the place where you live and work influences you a lot, are you more of a home-studio or out-in-the-city stage girl?
Simonne: I’m an everywhere girl. Yes everywhere influences my work. I often dream about songs and write them in my dreams.
KALTBLUT: And on stage, are you more into big festivals or intimate venues?
Simonne: I love intimate venues with good sound and bass. Hard to find actually. In an ideal world I would put the sound system from Berghain in a 200 capacity 19th century cathedral and add velvet floors and walls. Festivals are fun because you get to connect with other artists that are playing there and make new friends.
KALTBLUT: Any favorite place to perform, or a place where you’d love to perform in the future?
Simonne: I really love the main room in Berghain, old cathedrals so I could play the organ, and in space would be wonderful. I really love science institutions so any place where people gather to do research or share information, science museums, planetariums…
KALTBLUT: You are a jack of many trades, what’s up in your world besides music these days?
Simonne: As a hobby I’m building a keyboard controlled tesla coil in my living room and working on a graphic novel. A few times a year I will get commissioned to paint a piece for a private collector that I can’t refuse, or build an art installation somewhere.
KALTBLUT: Do you see yourself playing music forever?
Simonne: I can’t stop doing music. Will be making it on my deathbed when the drugs don’t work.
KALTBLUT: And how do you relate to the future of the world, do you want to change things?
Simonne: I make music because I passionately believe that humans have limitless potential in the universe. It’s why I’m still involved in the scientific community. I am inspired to transform people’s reality in powerful ways that get them excited about being alive. It is the actions of large groups of people with this feeling that changes global empathy, politics, innovation, and transforms the world for the better.
Live in Berlin, part of #FromBerlintoLA at Tausend Bar, Thursday February 4th 10pm