Music is in my DNA, encoding the structure of my development, growth and has even at times, contributed to my functioning as a human being. I’ve always believed that music is the one vital component that we, as human beings, have to connect with one another on levels that know no judgment, have no rules and can create a spiritual unity that is as close to religion as you can get without having to choose a denomination. We live in a world full of so much beauty, that is so vast and full of opportunities yet we know all too well, how easy it is to get caught up in the negative space that dwells within the infiniteness of our nature. Countless times, I’ve found myself resorting to music when I needed guidance, finding inspiration through the words and stories of those who have been where I have or where I long to go, relishing in their insight and consolation. I’ve stumbled upon a lot of my music collection by accident, usually thumbing through Rolling Stone or combing through pages of new artists online and devouring discographies of Rock Gods past. With the help of one of my favorite Youtube channels SoulPancake, finding Simonne Jones was no different.
(FYI: SoulPancake is the brainchild of actor Rainn Wilson and his 2 friends, Joshua Hamnick & Devon Gundry, launched in 2009. Its purpose is to open + challenge your mind to “big think” topics such as spirituality, arts and philosophy. It also aims to inspire + make you friggin’ happy with a HUGE variety of video “shows” including my favorites Kid President, The Science of Love and My Last Days. Now continue on to my video encounter… )
With dark hair flowing from under a large-brimmed black hat, a simple black dress, detailed only with studs embellishing her shoulders, she held onto her guitar with a calm confidence that drew me in before she even started singing. Outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), she stares into the camera with a seemingly fearless assurance as she begins her song “Make Love to You”, an empowering song about desiring nothing but a physical connection. Starting with a simple acoustic guitar riff, she takes her time as she wanders between a light installation toward Wilshire Boulevard, breezing through honey sweet vocals + candid lyrics. Moving to the catchy beat she creates by hitting the guitar against her palm in between riffs, it’s clearly visible she’s enjoying herself and makes the multi-tasking look quite easy, which I can assure you, is not. She would later be interviewed, speaking behind inquisitive smiles with a unique poise, explaining her curiosity to explore our infinite universe as well as her belief that music has the power to change the world. Yes, I liked this girl. (See the video here…)
Resembling an offspring that Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet forgot they had, Jones spent her teen years modeling before taking her life in a completely different direction. With an intense love for science and medicine, she studied biochemistry, devoting her studies to the HIV field, graduating with honors in Biomedical Research, as well as in Visual Arts from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Co-authoring a research paper on detecting different structures within HIV, she has been published in Science magazine and as a humanitarian, has travelled to Ghana, where she researched an adolescent HIV/AIDS program she created to raise awareness about the disease. Jones passions did not only reside in the science world but flowed over to the arts side as well, where she expressed herself through painting + visual arts before succumbing to the one passion that drove her just a bit harder than the rest.
Learning to play piano by ear, teaching herself how to read music and play guitar, Jones decided to focus on her music career, relocating from Los Angeles to Berlin. Much like one of her heroes, Leonardo Da Vinci, Simonne believes art and science are very closely related, having both problem solving + experimenting in common. Combining her passions into one outlet, she creates not only an entirely different electro-acoustic sound but a new form of expression, where she constructs the atmosphere + builds the mood. To add a new element to her art, she began building her own guitars and mini drum trigger pads, which connect to her laptop, allowing her to trigger any sound she wants. This is how Jones is able to build her own songs live, by tapping the pad coordinated with her laptop; she records each sound live, programming it right before your eyes to transform into music. It’s pretty cool to watch and something I do hope to see live one day.
Staying in full command over her art form, she also takes on the role as the producer of her music, allowing no intrusion into the creative process. Her songwriting approach is simplistic yet strong, with themes of youth + freedom, love + not-just-sex and an overall wonder, expressing a hunger for life that is quite invigorating. Also bringing a unique, raw sexuality that isn’t over-the-top thrown in your face but subtlety shown between whimsical melodies and a dash of rock and roll, Jones really is the whole package: intelligent, unusually relatable, mysterious, stunning and yes, even a little weird but really, who isn’t?
Her outlook on life is more than refreshing, emphasizing that questioning is more important than answering, that the universe is limitless and that we, as human beings, have the potential to surpass even our own dreams. Accomplishing more in her short 27 years on Earth than most do in a lifetime, Simonne Jones is currently recording and based in Berlin. Recently gaining acceptance into the Red Bull Music Academy and being recognized as a songwriter-activist by Rolling Stone Magazine and the New York Times, I am beyond eager to see what this amazing woman, who lives + breathes music, has in store for the world that she is in fact… changing.