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INTERVIEW: JULIET SIMMS – May 2018

According to part of her bio: “The story of Juliet’s life has been as exciting as it has been difficult, often the only female in the room whether in a recording studio, or on tour with all male bands, she discovered that Rock and Roll truly is a man’s world, but that as a female rocker, the adversity she has faced has made her a stronger and more creative artist with better stories to tell.”  We got Juliet on the phone to discuss her career, writing about dark shit, The Voice, “Take Me”, and much more…

ToddStar: Thank you so much for taking time out for us here. We really appreciate it.

Juliet: Oh absolutely, thank you for having me.

ToddStar: You had so much going on over the last few years, but I’d like to talk about the newest thing right now. You released the video for “Take Me” and I can’t get the song out of my head.

Juliet: That’s what every singer and songwriter wants to hear. Thank you!

ToddStar: The lyrics and the visual part of the video help guide where this came from, but why don’t you give us some of the origins of the song and your involvement, and how the song came together to the point where it’s now a video.

Juliet: You know, my songwriting style is very easy and it all comes from actual experiences and things that I go through in my life. You know writing is a form of therapy for me, it’s my outlet, my relief, and where I find my relief. When I’m writing or when I’m recording or when I’m performing onstage, I can say that it is in that moment, that’s where I hear the clearest and where I feel no judgment and I’m the happiest. It’s also where I feel the most vulnerable at the same time, and where I want to show and convey who I am and what I’m going through. And so “Take Me” is a culmination of strength but also weakness and being vulnerable and you know, I’m no stranger to the public eye and having my shit out there.  I went through something pretty dark and quite terrifying a few years back. And the song is written about this type of love and the type of feeling and emotion I have for my husband. It’s something I never experienced before because not only is he my first husband, but he’s my soulmate and he’s the person I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life with. That is something different than I’ve ever experienced, so I’ve never written about this experience because I never had it before. I thought I did, but it was a different kind of inspiration that my lyrics were coming from, it wasn’t this emotion and this feeling. And this foundation. So, “Take Me” is ultimately about being so in love with somebody that if they don’t save you tonight and take you and hold on to you, you feel like you’re going to die. And that’s what I try to convey and hopefully it comes across in my song.

ToddStar: I definitely think that’s something that comes through both the lyrics and visually through the video with the different visuals that you have in there showing different aspects of a relationship. You mention having all your shit out there and going through dark places, what’s it like to write from the aspect where it may have a darker undertone of “Take Me”, and to write from that side of your heart and love and devotion, what’s it like to write from those two sides of the coin now?

Juliet: Well, when you have a reality with the darker parts of life and you’ve experienced them yourself, it enriches you and it makes you more of an expert in the areas of knowing what the fuck you’re talking about. And you know, I wouldn’t ever take back those things that I went through because it inevitably lead to the stable and strong woman I am today so I think that those experiences are important. They are the foundation on which you build yourself upon. Somebody who’s had a life of just easy, no problems, nothing that they ever had to fight for, that’s not going to be a very strong person. They never had to adopt techniques in which to keep yourself together and to get through shit. So writing on both sides I mean being able to write about love and then also the deep dark shit it’s just… it’s what makes me who I am and I wouldn’t change anything.

ToddStar: Which is easier for you to write – the good stuff or the bad?

Juliet: Oh, the bad! The dark shit, that’s my favorite stuff to write about is the real stuff. Not to say that the love and the happy stuff isn’t real ’cause it is, but I… I battled a freaking monster in my head for a long time and I like it to go on to paper and I like it to go into the microphone because then it’s out of my fucking head.

ToddStar: That totally makes sense. Going through your career, it kind of kicked off with Automatic Love Letter. Then you had the big run on The Voice, and you get so many people who talked about The Voice, yay, nay, good, bad, whatever, their own opinion. Coming from you, it obviously helped launch a facet of your career, but do you think it took you places that you wouldn’t have gotten eventually anyway through hard work and your devotion to your trade?

Juliet: Well, that’s a good question. You know, it’s hard to think about life and the what if and what could have been because you’ll drive yourself crazy because you know I don’t have a crystal ball. I would say that The Voice for me had both good and bad. It had some amazing things that I got from it, and some amazing things that the show did for me, which was give me a broader fan base. It got me so much exposure that is very hard to pay for. It’s very hard to buy that kind of exposure. So that was awesome. And it gave me a the… how do I say this? An extremely gruesome like cracking the shell.  It gave me a way to find myself as a performer without a band and to quickly become a really good performer onstage alone. It was kind of like boot camp, like rockstar boot camp. And it helped shape my voice. I think that no pun intended, but I think that The Voice helped me really really establish my sound and helped me come back to the style of music that inspired me in the first place. And why I became a singer. So I definitely owe a nod to The Voice for that. There’s other stuff that wasn’t so pretty, but I wouldn’t take it back though. I wouldn’t do it again now, but there’s things that helped me.

ToddStar: Looking back over the songs you did on The Voice, what’s the one song that you did that you just didn’t think was you or was true to who you were?

Juliet: I would say “Cryin'”. Not to say… look, I love Aerosmith, and I love Steven Tyler, I am all about that band. I don’t think that the song was right for me. And I think that the whole black wings thing was very cool in theory, but it was CeeLo’s idea. I’m not trying to throw him under the bus because he’s got some phenomenal ideas, but they were his wings. And we were like “Oh it’d be so cool. I’ll wear your wings onstage and it’s going to be a big, huge, epic moment” and I was like … and I remember the curtain going up and thinking why the fuck do I have these wings on my back? What the hell, can I just drop these really quick? So that’s something I would have done differently.

ToddStar: That’s a great example. You’ve been lucky enough, you’ve done some cool collaborations in your career, but if you could pick any collaborator now to do a song with, whether it was writing it, performing it, or just jumping up on stage and kicking something out, which is the one collaborator you’d love to do something with?

Juliet: I mean, I’m going to shoot for the stars, Paul McCartney.

ToddStar: Hell, me too. And I’m and accountant but I’d still try and do it.

Juliet: Oh that’s awesome.

ToddStar: Again, listening to your music, whether it’s your solo stuff that you’ve done, you know you’ve released a dozen songs over the years. You did an EP that you pushed during Warped a few years ago and then you have the stuff with Automatic Love Letter, and I don’t want you to pigeon hole your music, but if you had to define yourself and your music to somebody who had never heard you before, what type of buzzwords would you use?

Juliet: Oh gosh, I would say classic rock, mixed with a little Motown and soul. Bluesy. In the early days that it was emo. It was definitely emo as shit. But I would say today that’s what I would say today what I’m doing.

ToddStar: I love that you threw the bluesy part in there, because as a guy who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, listening to Glam and hair metal and stuff, but being from Detroit, I’m into the Motown, especially the blues stuff, and again, Take Me, your vocals in the song, are probably the favorite thing I’ve heard you do. I like the fact that you took a very emotional song – and it doesn’t even matter what you sing, people know by listening to you that it’s emotional.

Juliet: Oh my god. That’s so nice. Man, you’re making me really happy right now. Thank you!

ToddStar: In getting feedback like that, it makes me want to ask you – in your opinion, Juliet, what’s the best thing about being a musician?

Juliet: Oh man, the best thing about being a musician is the way, and I felt this from the very beginning of my career, is the way that music makes you feel when you’re writing and when you’re singing. It’s a place- and I kind of touched on this before but, it’s a feeling you get of there’s no judgment, there’s no problem, there’s no social media, there’s no negativity, it’s like a place of pure euphoria and happiness and that’s what I get when I’m performing or recording or writing. I’ve never felt it. This is the best. I can’t let this go and that’s what I felt at such a young age and I never wanted to let it go, and that’s why I continued to do this for so long, it’s because I know in my heart it’s what I’m meant to do, and that’s why I love music so much. It’s just magic. It’s magical. You can listen to a song and it can completely change your mood. You can sing. There’s sometimes even to this day where I’ll be upset or angry about something, and I’ll just turn music on and I’ll crank it, and I’ll just sing for an hour. And just sing. And afterwards I feel so much better. It’s magic, that’s why.

ToddStar: I get it. That’s why I use music when I run – to give me that energy, that kick that I need. Juliet, if you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job? What was it when you were a little girl and you thought “This is what I want to be”?

Juliet: This is what I wanted to be. It was the first thing I ever told my parents I wanted to be, this was the very first thing I wanted to be. If I had to choose something else, it would be philanthropy in some way. It would be helping people, saving animals, it would be some sort of way to help because next to music and singing and doing what I love, I also really really love helping people. So I probably would find something in that area.

ToddStar: Stepping back, and again talking about how you’ve got the highs, you’ve got the lows that you’ve sung about, that you’ve performed, that you’ve written about for years now, but from a professional standpoint, is there a moment in your professional life that you wish you could go back and redo. Not that it necessarily would turn out different or better, but you’d like another crack at it.

Juliet: You know, I’ve thought about this question before. I try to live my life by not regretting things because you’ll only drive yourself insane. You can’t change the past. You can only make things happen in the future, but if I had to go back and change something, I would tell myself to not sacrifice my artistic integrity for anybody. Don’t – just because the record executive is telling you you should do this because your voice is like this, and that’s how you get on the radio, don’t sacrifice yourself artistically. Because people are not going to like it. They’re going to like who you are. So I would’ve told myself that or changed that.

ToddStar: Fair enough. One more for you before we let you go, if you don’t mind Juliet. Looking back through musical history, what’s the one album you wish you could have been a part of, whether it was just being there to record. What album had enough influence on you that you wish you could be a part of it? And why is that album so important to you?

Juliet: Oh my god, this is the hardest question I’ve ever been asked. It’s great, but it’s also telling me to pick my favorite album of all time. Ultimately. I would say Hunky Dory.

ToddStar: Really? What is it about that album?

Juliet: David Bowie’s voice. Nobody else sounds like him, he’s not particularly the most incredible singer in the world, but he’s so incredible at what he does, it makes him the best singer in what he does. And it’s very distinct and I wanted that. I wanted a very distinct voice. Because of his voice I would definitely say that I wanted, I needed to find my David Bowie-ness. The style in which he writes lyrics heavily influenced me. He manages to – first of all, he’s incredibly sharp and smart and intelligent. The guy’s a genius. And he has the ability to write songs that tell a story but are so poetic and metaphorical and it’s just brilliant. It’s brilliant. I wanted that. So that was something I would work towards when I was learning to write. How can I make this – how can I say the feeling that you give me about – you make me want to float? How do I saw that intelligently? And poetically without just saying “Well, your love makes me float”. His writing style is what taught me to become more of a wordsmith and come up with my own metaphors. The song that he was able to make pop really cool and something catchy but really dark, that was so beautiful to me, that was like such a weird dichotomy of his music being so dark, but so inspiring at the same time and beautiful. I loved that. That record, I listened to that record I would say for about 6 months, that was exclusively what I listened to when I heard it for the first time. And then next to that would be Rumors.

ToddStar: That’s always a good back-up. Well listen, I know you’re very busy, I know you’re starting to promote this video that just dropped today which again, beautiful visuals, the song is amazing. My question is when can we get you back here in Detroit?

Juliet: I know, right? Soon, very soon. I’m currently recording with John Feldmann and the plan is to get a record together and start touring. Immediately. Thank you again for everything that you said. It means more to me than you know.

ToddStar: You finish that album with John, and again, get on the road because I think that the last time you were in Detroit was probably on a Warped tour a few years ago.

Juliet: Way too long. I can’t wait to come back up.

ToddStar: Awesome, we’ll talk to you then.

Juliet: Okay cool, thank you so much.

JULIET SIMMS LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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