Derek Simpson for The Meadow
interviewer: Sara Sharif (@sarangelic)
interviewee: Derek Simpson (@dereksimpsonmusic)
Derek Simpson is an American recording artist, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. After gaining success with multiple free album releases on Soundcloud (under the pseudonym Planetarian) from 2013 to 2016, Derek moved from Boston to Long Beach to continue recording his own music and surround himself with other up-and-coming artists in need of songwriting help and production. Layering spacey guitar chords and electric piano lines with dense and introspective wordplay, Derek's music often explores the value of holding a positive perspective in the face of confusion or adversity. His respect for focus and hard work shows in his recordings, all of which are fully written, produced, composed, and mixed by himself.
Derek has produced music for Kevin Abstract, Dom McLennon, Rockie Fresh and more. His music has also been featured in Comedy Central's Workaholics.
Derek shares a fear...
These days a prominent fear of mine is subconsciously giving in to desire for invulnerability. In more fortunate moments, i can catch myself beforehand but not always. That's also a quality I see in those around me that blocks their ability to communicate honestly with others.
* in relevance to our issue #2 FEAR
t h e i n t e r v i e w
1. Please start with a little introduction about yourself!
My name is Derek Simpson. I enjoy reading, walking, dancing, and sitting. It’s nice to meet you :)
2. What genre would you say your music belongs to?
I think it’s the job of the audience to define the music’s genre. Since I’m coming from the inside, I couldn’t objectively put that into words.
3. What is the story behind your musical journey and Trailing Twelve Records?
I’ve been learning to play, produce, sing, and write for just about 9 years now. Nyiko and I met a few years back and as I was asking for his advice on self-distribution, he offered to release my first single “Nothing” on Trailing Twelve. From then on, I’d say it’s been a pretty natural progression onward and outward releasing with Trailing Twelve.
4. And how has your journey been so far?
It’s definitely been a journey. I’d say I’ve come pretty far and have a far way to go.
5. Your last song, “Sofia” is beautiful and now we are eagerly waiting for the release of
“Naked Forever”, which will be available October 7th on Digital Formats via Trailing
Twelve Records. Tell us the meaning behind the song; a little snippet of words before the
Naked Forever is mainly comprised of a series of non sequiturs and nonsensical phrases. The theme centers around the horrible beauty of a human being’s natural forward movement.
6. Do share more about the making of the song, “Naked Forever”!
The writing process was a little longer with this one. I had to get comfortable with the idea of writing lyrical non sequiturs, coming from a place where i’m usually trying to tell a certain story. That patience and slower movement was well worth it to me though, I love the way it came out.
7. Is there a general and maybe a more personal theme to your music?
I think my music often explores the value of holding a positive perspective in the face of confusion, but again I can’t really say that objectively. It’s up to the listener to decide what themes the music holds.
8. What is your creative process?
It changes with every project naturally. If there is a form that my process has followed thus far, it’s been entirely unconscious. There’s often some mixture of getting an idea for something/following it through, and just playing around with the creative tools that are around me at the moment.
9. Who is your musical inspiration?
I try to find inspiration in anything and everything. My roommate just showed me The Monks last week, they’re incredible. I’ve recently felt especially appreciative of the indie-rock acts I grew up on too: Toro Y Moi, MGMT, Animal Collective etc. also I recently watched this movie The Point where Ringo Starr narrates and it’s a bunch of Harry Nilsson music, it was so good.
10. Any tips from your experience for our musicians out here?
Still being relatively new to everything, my advice is only a young man’s takeaway.That being said, if you’re a musician with an idea please just go ahead and do it. Work with what you have and make the idea come to fruition. This world needs your groove.
11. Is there anything you would like to say about the current stresses all around world?
Let’s listen intently to those around us. Distress has been created, but peace can be created too and it starts on a personal level. If you are to dive into your own suffering,you can avoid the misinformation of egocentricity by venturing with another into their own suffering, asking questions, and hearing someone out with your whole heart.
12. So, what should we expect next, in the near future?
As long as I’m here, I’ll be releasing music consistently. I won’t give anything away though :)
13. How do we gain access to your music?
You can listen to my music across streaming platforms or you can take your chances and drive by my apartment every few days until you hear something new.
14. Any message for Pastel Serenity’s creative community and for all the musicians out there as
Creators: The world needs relief, relation, and healing, all of which begin with your responsible expression. Let’s keep listening to one another, let’s keep listening to ourselves, let’s keep being gentle with ourselves and with other human beings, and let’s go to work.