By Damilola Grey
Dami: What inspired you to start making music?
Luke Simo: I had been singing my whole life and performing in theater and choir. However, I didn’t start writing anything until high school when I started writing poetry. I then had a school performance where I covered “Gimme All Your Love” by Alabama Shakes and a friend of mine who wrote compositions wanted to work with me and I wrote my songs. I was also inspired in general by songwriters like Amy Winehouse and Ari Lennox who were very honest and upfront in their writing.
Dami: What’s your creative process like?
Luke Simo: It is always in collaboration with other creatives. Whether it be a composer/musician or producer, I am never the person writing the chord progressions or making the beats. I am always searching for things that touch me and I either write melodies and lyrics over them or try to take poems that I have already written and piece them together with a melody over whatever music I am using.
Dami: How would you describe your sound?
Luke Simo: I would say that I am still finding my sound and experimenting with different styles of production and writing. My first single “Mom” was heavily influenced and recorded with solely acoustic instruments in a big sanctuary. However, my next couple songs I am planning to release are written over lo-fi beats. I would leave in the future to do something influenced with folk and soul similar to Faye Webster’s most recent album. In the end, I want my sound to be ever-evolving as long as my writing can touch people.
Dami: What do you want people to take away after listening to your music?
Luke Simo: I hope that they feel less alone and feel like they can relate to some of the emotions I write about in my music.
Dami: Speaking of music, tell us more about your latest single “Mom”.
Luke Simo: “Mom” started out as a composition by Geoff Gallante and a poem that I wrote that we were able to put together to make the song. It was recorded live in a sanctuary with a baby grand, upright bass, and drums. I released it on my mom’s birthday and it’s a vulnerable, experimental jazz record about the evolution of our relationship.
Dami: Can you tell us a bit more about the relationship between y’all?
Luke Simo: Within the context of the song, I narrate the history of our relationship and how it started- “Love struck by force, a new beginning, a blank slate, a new life, the source of a new happiness”- and the nature of our relationship growing up- “She holds onto me never far, forever if she had that long”- and then as I grew up, how our relationship evolved- “changing with the leaves, I slip away day by day”. The ending resolves with my realization of how she helps me grow into who I am today.
Dami: Who would you say you are today?
Luke Simo: Someone who is trying to listen to themselves and love themselves more each day.
Dami: How is it being a queer artist tryna make it to the mainstream?
Luke Simo: As an artist and queer person overall, I am constantly trying to find ways to express myself especially because of how much I hid who I was growing up due to people making me feel as though I should be ashamed of who I am. I feel most authentic to myself in how I’m physically present in the world and when I make music. In terms of being an artist and pursuing music, it is hard because people always want you to fit into a mix so that they can try to understand you with their preconceived notions of who a queer person or artist is instead of making the effort of getting to know us. I appreciate the support the queer community has given me as an artist thus far, however sometimes it is hard to be a queer artist that makes art that is “left-field” or “lo-fi” or anything that isn’t pop or house music because mainstream audiences don’t care to see queer people as a multi-faceted group of people. It is not necessarily my goal to be a mainstream artist and have the entire world know my name and my music. However, I do want to try to grow a community around my music and it would be amazing to be able to travel and perform.
Dami: What’s next for you after “Mom”?
Luke Simo: Lots. I have a couple singles I am planning to release with production credits from Jay Bel and Sir Froderick. I have a little live EP that I recorded with my band that’s almost finished. I am working with the collective “Hidden Renaissance” and plan to be featured on some of their upcoming projects and I am always playing shows usually, at least once a month.
Dami: What should we expect from the EP?
Luke Simo: The singles are leading up to a lo-fi soul EP that is a reflection of my growing into adulthood and a kind of farewell to my adolescence. It is old school soul melodies and du-wop inspired background vocals over lo-fi beats that sample the records that my writing is inspired by. The live EP is the re-imagined version of these songs in a live setting. The live recordings are sped up to give it a cute lo-fi chipmunk feel that’s super fun. The live EP will be released after the singles, and lead up to the lo-fi soul EP.
Dami: What would you say has been your biggest achievement as an
Luke Simo: It would have to be any of the following; working with Jay Bel, Sir Froderick, the Hidden Renaissance collective, Geoff Gallante, and Chloe Moore. Getting featured on an Apple Music editorial playlist and ThatGoodShits/Annabelle Kline’s “SMALL ARTISTS, BIG SOUNDS” playlist or getting to play shows with so many amazing artists.
Listen to Luke Simo‘s single “Mom” here: