"I wrote it for my wife when we were falling in love and were apart from each other for many months"
Simon Llewelyn Evans, the Australian singer-songwriter, has been enchanting audiences with his unique and introspective style of music for years. His work explores an extensive range of themes, from sexuality and loss to death, spirituality, and relationships. Simon's debut album achieved critical and commercial success, securing the second spot on the Australian folk music charts. After a 10-year hiatus, Simon is making a comeback with a brand new album called 'Something Real', demonstrating his continued growth and development as an artist. His music has been described as "soulful and stirring", earning him recognition as one of the most promising singer-songwriters of his generation. Simon's raw and candid approach to songwriting has amassed a dedicated following worldwide. His music speaks to the human experience in a profound and relatable way, making him a standout artist in the folk music world. We invite you to immerse yourself in Simon Llewelyn Evans' captivating music and discover his new album, which is poised to be a standout release for fans of singer-songwriter music this year.
IB: Hello Simon, it's a pleasure to talk to you about music, your musical journey and much more. You recently released a new full length album, "Something Real", congratulations on the release! We'll definitely talk about that album today, but first of all, how do you feel about finally releasing a new album? From what I understand, it's been quite a long road for you.
SIMON: Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to talk with you too, thank you for having me. This is my first album in 10 years. My debut album “Draw Mountains, There” came out in Australia in 2008, and my second album “Grace, Water, Prayers” in 2013. For years I haven’t had the space in my life to make recording a priority, but I never stopped writing and playing. And doing shows. So when I was invited to come in and record my next album I jumped at the chance. I have Tom Stiles at Jack Straw Studios in Seattle to thank for that invitation. And as always I have Dave Steel from back in Tasmania, Australia, my homeland. Dave’s always been in my corner from my very first album, when we were working local landscaping together in my hometown, Geelong, outside of Melbourne. We took our time and got this one right and I have to say I’m just so deeply proud of this work. I’m really happy with what we’ve been able to produce with Dave back in Australia, and myself and Tom over here in the Pacific Northwest.
IB: Musically, "Something Real" is the most sensual and sincere album I have heard in a while. "Something Real" goes far beyond a simple acoustic sound and contains a carefully selected blend of country sound, Americana and many delicate and organic instrumental parts. What events in your life influenced the creation of such touching and personal songs?
SIMON: I appreciate that. It is really nice to have somebody ask and it’s good to receive such a compliment, so thank you. I’ve never been one to really contemplate the exact reasons behind a song being written, but I can tell you these songs were selected for this album because they mean the most to me. I think everybody has touching events in their lives that they can draw from, like scars from the battle, that we heal from, incarnate and assimilate into our lives and walk with those lessons and wounds and blessings. A lot of these songs were written while falling in love with my wife and starting our life together. I like to think I’ve grown up a little bit more since we met and settled down. At least that’s what my little sister tells me. And any songwriter worth his salt will know that when you pick up your pen and paper or your instrument or just start to create a piece of music you don’t necessarily have to search your soul. You just have to be as you are in the present moment and let the spirit move your hand to create whatever you’re tuning in to in life.
A few of the songs, like Headphones, Something Real, and Whisky and God, were written several years ago. Whereas tracks like New Chapter, Seven Songs Ago, and Fable Road were all written after my wife and I moved over to Bellingham in Washington state in 2021. I’ve been catching a lot more songs since we moved here. There’s a lot of music here and a lot of creativity flowing in the spirit of the place. Some places are just like that. I can catch songs easier in some places than I can in others. Sometimes I have to write ten songs to get one that stands out as a song I want to put on an album. More recently, it’s not been like that though.
IB: Tell us a little more about the creative process of the album. Did you record the album by yourself or did a whole team work on the creation? How long did it take to create this record?
SIMON: I presumed that this album would be done from my bedroom with my recording equipment at home. But a friend of mine, Tom, gave me a call one day after he heard that I had moved to the area in Washington state and invited me to come down to his studio in Seattle. We spent a few months driving back and forth from Bellingham to Seattle when we both had free time, putting down the the bare bones of each song with my guitar and voice. From there I called up my good friend Dave back home to play on the album and do the production and mixing and even the mastering too. I wanted to use artificial intelligence to rush the mastering at the end because I heard that it was easy and affordable. But Dave called me on the phone at the last minute and told me in no uncertain terms that he did not think artificial intelligence was doing a good enough job at mastering the songs. So he did it for me. Which I am very grateful for. Dave worked with me in the same capacity on my previous albums. So there’s a nice sense of consistency there that I appreciate. To me this album was overdue. But I’m so glad we took our time. I feel that it is my best work yet. All in all it took a little over 8 months from the first day I walked into Jack Straw Studios to the release date on what would have been my mother’s 70th birthday, February 25th, 2023.
IB: In your songs you speak very openly about love, death, loss and even spirituality. Although these things surround each of us, it is often very difficult to talk about. How has that affected the way you have made music over the years?
SIMON: I think songwriting is the one place I can talk about these things in a way. It’s a place I can listen in to these kinds of human feelings, and sense them, and make time and space for them. Then you have to make a song out of it and make it rhyme and all that. And see if I can channel something of those profundities. Coz that’s what moves us. Life, death, loss, what is invisible. I like to say that what is invisible is real. All of us are in that invisible process, and we know it, but we don’t often get down to those feelings and ideas much day to day. So how do you make music that is moving, but doesn’t scare anyone off cause it’s just too much…too cheesy or too “spiritual”. I think the way to do that is often to talk about small things, intimate things, like the caption at the bottom of the tv screen that you can’t read so you ask you partner to read it for you… something like that. There’s something about love and life and death and struggle in simple things, as well as the deeper spirit that’s moving the song forward. It’s really fucking mysterious. But when the spirit moves, I just try to capture something of it and record that little idea and a work to make a song out of it. Does that make sense? Absolutely.
IB: What do you want listeners to feel when they listen to your music? Personally, I was taken by every song and listened to the album several times and was always deeply touched.
SIMON: I am really glad this album of my songs moved you. That’s what music is for. So we can feel something real and be taken through something and feel safe every step of the way. Your response, that’s about the best I could ask for from anyone hearing my songs. That they feel something of a blessing through it. Sometimes even a healing. A healing of the heart.
IB: I really want to tell you my favorite songs on the album are "No Crime" and "Synesthesia" - such beautiful melodies and especially the lyrics - that can mean so many things! Were there any songs that particularly stood out to you during the making of the album? And what is your favorite song on the album?
SIMON: I love hearing that. Thank you very much. I think each song speaks in different ways. For me, I would have to say Headphones. Headphones is the song for me. That’s why I put it last. I wrote it for my wife when we were falling in love and were apart from each other for many months at a time. No Crime and Synesthesia are two songs that are very similar in chord structure and key. They were written around the same period of time, and share the same DNA, if you will. They are very realized. And like Headphones, they’re deeply romantic songs.
IB: I saw that you have live concerts and you give yourself completely on the stage. Where and when will it be possible to hear you live?
SIMON: I’m playing regularly around Bellingham, Washington, and a little further out - sometimes in Lynden, Mount Vernon, and even up to Vancouver, BC. The Bellingham area has a lot of local breweries and they are great places to play. Kulshan, Boundary Bay, Jack’s BBQ in Bellingham, Farm Strong in Mount Vernon and Thirsty Badger in Lynden have all been really welcoming and great venues. They also showcase a great deal of local and touring musicians. If you’re interested, you can follow my upcoming shows on my Bandcamp page too.
IB: I would like to know your opinion about the music industry. What is it like to be an independent musician these days? Is there anything you would like to change in the music industry?
SIMON: I don't really try to think about it too much because I find it's very disheartening. Music and industry and entertainment business these are all things that really don't go together in my world very much. So instead of paying promoters, or paying for advertising and promotion to make me more popular, I just try to make music consistently as a means to balance and enrich my life….. And hopefully the lives of others like yours. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and I hope to just keep doing what I love.
IB: What are your musical plans for the future?
SIMON: To keep writing, playing, recording again when I’m ready. I’d like to be doing more house concerts in the coming year. I think that’s a really intimate and great setting to share music with people. To keep growing my audience and my fanbase in a very organic and personal way. Keep growing that little mailing list. If you want to be on it let me know!:)
IB: And the last question. Is there anything you are watching, reading or listening to at the moment you can recommend to our readers?:)
SIMON: I am going to say Adam Sandler’s 100% Fresh on Netflix. I think it’s hilarious and it’s the gift that keeps on giving. That and anything by Billy Connolly. Other than that, I am listening to a lot of Jesse Winchester’s first two albums. Third Down and 110 To Go, and Learn To Love It. Beautiful little songs he wrote. And my favorite musician always has to be Bill Callahan. He’s been a lifelong inspiration and I’d highly recommend any of his albums.
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