Matt Simons has had an epiphany. In November of 2022, months after a massively successful American and European world tour following the release of Identity Crisis, the American songwriter’s latest studio album, lighting struck. Working closely with producer John Samuel and fellow songwriter Chris Ayer, they collaborated to produce the song ‘Twin’. “It just sent shockwaves through my whole system,” says Simons. “I felt so inspired after that.”
Matt went on the road for a month and sat with it. When he returned to the studio in January, he wrote 14 songs –“the rest of the album, basically”- in two months. “It just sounds like something I wanna listen to, which is always the music that I try to make,” he says. “I feel like this is another step in my journey of trying to sound like myself. And I feel like with every album I get a little bit closer and closer to that. This is just the next step on that path.”
Indeed, listening to the track it’s easy to see why it led to such a groundswell of inspiration. Honest and raw, it speaks to something universal- the idea, or fear, that those who love us actually just love an idea of us, someone we can never be or live up to, but looks just like us. In describing his collaborators on the song, he compares it to being in love, where it just “clicks”. No wonder- the song was written in just an hour. “’Catch & Release’ I wrote in twenty minutes,” he says. “Sometimes this stuff just falls out of you.”
Matt Simons has a lot to reflect on. He is coming off a decade of massive success- particularly throughout continental Europe- that all began with the placement of the track ‘With You’ on a Dutch television show. It didn’t take long before the follow-up single ‘Catch & Release’ picked up steam and the whole of Europe and many more territories all over the world knew his name. When the pandemic hit, he relocated back to his native state of California, from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.
Born in Palo Alto, Matt released his first studio album, Pieces, in 2012, and has followed up with four more, most recently Identity Crisis in 2022. After ten years of recording and touring, he found himself searching for inspiration. The business had changed so much since he first began, and he wanted to say something new, something fresh. “You know, as a songwriter, you always think that after you write the next song, you’re never gonna write a good one again. And usually it only lasts a couple of months. This time it lasted a couple of years.”
After completing the songs for Identity Crisis, he continued writing, but for a long time, something wasn’t right. It wasn’t gelling. Then came “Twin”. What followed would provide the basis for his forthcoming album to be released in Fall 2024. Between now and then, he will be dropping new singles along the way, starting with “Easy”.
“I think there’s a story to be told with that song that I haven’t heard that much, but feels like a universal truth, which is that people tend to romanticize struggle in a lot of relationships and love, and that if you didn’t fight for it or you didn’t break up a bunch of times then it’s not real, and that’s just not necessarily reflective of real life,” says Matt. “I feel like when it’s good, it’s easy.” It’s a refreshing message to hear in a pop song so bursting with energy and life, when the message we’re so used to hearing in music tends to preach the opposite. The same can be said of the artistic process, in which it is widely thought that it requires pain to make truly good work. “Easy” sounds like it was inspired by pure, uninhibited joy, with the results speaking for themselves. The song itself feels like an act of defiance against this very notion. It’s fun, it’s vibrant, it’s even dance-y. It’s as emotional as anything Matt has written to date, just in the opposite that way listeners have been conditioned to expect. One can confidently expect this song to please longtime fans while almost certainly winning over new ones.
This isn’t to say the heavy introspection so crucial to his previous work has faded. Quite the opposite, in fact. As part of his process, it’s important that Matt be able to not only write about what’s currently going on in his life, but about past experiences that have shaped him as well. “That’s the kind of songwriting that allows you to time travel, in a way,” he says. “You don’t have to be feeling these feelings currently in order to write about it. It’s like telling a story. You’re an author.”
It's this ability that has helped spur the creative surge which led to these new songs which will make his upcoming album. The album itself feels like a celebration of life, with all its joy and pain and imperfections, and some of the song titles themselves make this clear as well. The album’s name or titles like “Easy” and “Damn Good Life”- “A way to talk myself off a ledge about what’s gonna happen”- seem to revel in the good vibes of a glass half full.
Recently, Matt signed with Sony Germany, which will be dropping singles from the forthcoming record, his sixth studio album, between now and its release in 2024. Matt’s enthusiasm for what’s to come is palpable, and listeners the world over should take notice. “That will be the journey, finding a way to reach people,” he says, “because I think this is the best stuff I’ve ever done.”