Photo by Ingrid Nelson
Simrit and her band, fresh off their third album release, Songs of Resilience, are known around the world. With a rich sound that combines folk traditions and the various cultural heritages of Simrit and other members of the band, Simrit’s music is loved by artists like Brandi Carlile. In the wake of her tour for Songs of Resilience, WTBU DJ Jaime Street spoke with Simrit about her feelings about touring, what inspired her newest album, and what she sees in the future.
Jaime Street: Are you at the beginning of your tour?
Simrit: No, we start our tour on the 15th of March in Miami, so it’s happening soon!
JS: Have you toured before?
S: Yes, I love it. I always feel a touch nervous [before performing]. It’s always amazing, but it’s the pre-tour butterflies. It’s a really powerful thing when we tour and play music together.
JS: How did you get started with music?
S: I’ve been playing music my whole life. I’ve studied classical piano and a variety of forms of vocals, and I still take classes in different vocal traditions. It’s not all the time, but when I’m home or in New York, I want to stay on top of things. I started studying Byzantine music when I was like three, really little, in the Greek Church. I was singing and studying that, and I did piano, and vocals, and dance, and African drum from a young age, but throughout my life I thought I was originally going to be a doctor, a naturopath. I had gotten all my prerequisite classes for another school after six years of college, but right before I went to school, I went to northern California. I was playing music and singing, and it was then when I decided I was going to do music. I had a change of course; I got pregnant, and with my husband, we had a change of life. After I got pregnant, I played out a lot. Six years ago, I released an album and didn’t market it or my second album, and just people that knew me were listening. I didn’t think it was going to work, and I was just going to be a mom. Four years ago, I decided I really want to do [music] because I love it, and after that I realized I had the drive to do it and no one was going to pick my career up and drive it for me. Once I realized I had the energy, my career really took up steam, and now my band and my music are known around the world. For me, music started organically, but it was four years ago when it really started to move.
JS: Where do you get your inspiration for Songs of Resilience?
S: I’ve been through a lot of challenges, and in my life, I’ve noticed a lot of resilience—resilience is where you go through something and bounce back stronger—just in my life. I’ve experienced my own life and my own strength, and I’ve experienced how I get really strong afterwards. It’s like a bacteria when you feed them antibiotics and they get stronger and stronger; humans are like that, and life has the potential to be like that. I’ve felt it in myself and seen it in other people and other cultures, like the Civil Rights movement. The underdog has always been inspiring to me; I get really excited when I experience the underdog win and come out stronger. I’ve seen a lot of people go through stuff and come out stronger because of it. My parents are a huge inspiration to me; they adopted my brother and me. We were orphans in Greece, and they were so loving and really gave us a chance to live our life, and they really raised us with elegance and so much love. My brother also has special needs and [my parents] didn’t know that before they adopted him, and just to see that even in their seventies, they are still energetic and taking care of him. They’ve been through a lot with my brother and with life in general. I’ve seen people in that same situation, and they don’t see life like my parents do. Even in history, you see resilience in cultures and people time and time again. Even in Greece, there is a lot of resiliency when you think about what they’ve gone through. Even in the present, we need resilience. Music made with intention, made with love, has an amazing power that we all can use as human beings. It’s great for people to realize that we’re all connected and not that different. Everyone in the world—most people—are very kind. Basically, most people want to be loved and want to share love and be united. It’s like that around the world. Songs of Resilience is a way that we can be together as a family in the world, in the United States, in other countries, and we can get past anything, and we can do it together. Creation, bacteria, whatever, we’ve been on this planet for a long time, and we will get through it, but we have to come together. That’s what Songs of Resilience is; the power we have in resilience together.
JS: What was the most challenging aspect of making Songs of Resilience?
S: Coming up with a name. It’s always the most challenging part of an album for me, and I bet a lot of other artists can say the same thing. The most challenging part of any album is that if you’re really doing it from the depths of your being, then you’re baring your soul. You feel very vulnerable and unsure if you’re doing the right thing. You’re unsure if people want what you’re putting out.
JS: Do you want your listeners to know anything before or while they listen to your music?
S: Just enjoy it. There’s a lot of bass and some good drums, a strong groove. Enjoy the groove, and let the music do its work on you.
JS: Where do you see your music going in the future?
The music has legs of its own. It’s taken us all around the world, and it’s continuing to take us into new areas of the world that we haven’t explored. It’s hard for me to predict the direction of the music. If I try to guide the music, then I’m putting it in a box. What I can tell you is that the same band on Songs of Resilience is the same that will go in the future. It’s hard to say, but I can say that in the fall of 2017, we’ll be releasing a live album. The [studio] albums are really beautiful and amazing, but live it’s a whole different thing and people are like, “Whoa, this is like a Pink Floyd concert!” It’s so engaging and people are dancing because the groove is so insatiable, or you’re at the edge of your seat because it’s so intense. You’re not dancing, but you are fully engaged. Live is like our music, but in a different context. The music will do its own thing, but I see this music spreading far and wide even more so than it’s doing now. It keeps growing every year and it’s making leaps and bounds, and we keep getting invited to more and more countries. It’s great.
See Simrit live at the Villa Victoria Center For The Arts on Friday, March 24th. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$35 and can be purchased here. The concert is open to all ages.