CSR chats to Avi Simmons
Before her performance at the Beautiful Town Music event at the Gulbenkian, we caught up with Avi Simmons to discuss her music and what’s in store for the future.
Q: What are your influences?
Avi: When I first started writing music, I was in a metal band, so that was my earliest influence. I was also in a lot of musicals at school so it was quite diverse. Now my songs are just acoustic guitars and vocals so it’s quite a jump. In terms of artists, Misty Edwards I really love and the band Flyleaf who have a female lead.
Q: Have you worked with Emily before?
Avi: we’ve know each other for quite a long time, we did a gig together for the Canterbury fringe. We’ve also played at the Marlowe new anniversary and she has helped organise a couple of gigs for me as well.
Q: How was playing at the free Fringe Festival?
Avi: I was in a little cocktail bar which has an interesting layout, it was a really good experience but required a lot of effort for what I gained from it. I’m glad I did it as I had really positive feedback so it was worthwhile. If I was to do it again, I would do the payed fringe to get a bit more help, at the same time I was doing a theatre show as well which meant a lot of work each day.
Q: What was the inspiration for the song You Said Live?
Avi: It is from Ezekiel which has a passage about a baby that has been abandoned and left to die in an open field, the passage continues to say that god comes along and rescues that child and speaks life over the child. God then adopts that child which acts as an analogy for the way in which god interacts with us as we are all his children.
Q: Would you say you had a musical upbringing?
Avi: My mother used to sing around the house all the time. My sister and I used to sing together, plus my parents both play guitar but I never learnt an instrument whilst growing up, I just used to sing.
Q: Have you finished recording your EP?
Avi: I’ve recorded three tracks at the moment so I have one more day in the studio. Originally I wanted to have five tracks but it’s taken longer than I had expected so I’m unsure whether I shall release 3 or 5 tracks. I’ve had the songs for five years but it’s taken a while to get a really good quality sound to them but I hope to release them before the summer.
Q: Where is that being recorded?
Avi: In Eastbourne with a guy called Neil Costello who’s added new layers to the songs which I didn’t originally see, as well as adding a lot of instruments to the recordings. I’m really excited for it.
Q: Tell us about your song writing process.
Avi: I’ve found that it comes in bits. However the song you saw live came all in one chunk, whereas most of the other come in bits. Like a verse and I’ll just mull it over for a while and see if the bits match up together and, when I have a few scraps, I’ll sit down and see if I can make the song work.
Q: What do you think of the music scene in Canterbury?
Avi: It’s been good but, for younger artists, all they’ve really got is open mic nights. It’s good to see what Emily is doing as she is creating a more special atmosphere. Before Emily’s song writing nights, I wouldn’t play my own songs in front of others, because I felt too vulnerable, but she convinced me to come along. Since then, I only do my own songs. It’s great to see the artists that she showcased at her songwriters circles. They grow in confidence but now also have a bigger platform to perform where they don’t feel like they’re in the background.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
Avi: I’d like to do an album but it’s just a matter of timing and funding but that is the stage I’m at in terms of what I’d like to do. I’d also like to have a band around me to do more gigging with.
Interviewed by Matt Byron.