Hi Simple Sessions, tell us about yourself?
Simple Sessions are a collective of musicians based generally in and around Leeds, formed in 2019 by piano/saxophone player Jon Melville and including some of the most experienced and talented musicians in the area.
Most of the people who perform with us have performed live extensively, both in the U.K. and abroad at many different types of events and in a large variety of styles. We were primarily put together as a recording project for performing video and audio releases but started playing live earlier this year.
What is your songwriting process?
We generally perform covers at the moment, so we don’t have a songwriting process as such, but our process of covering songs depends on how closely we are attempting to imitate the original.
In the case of ‘Lessons’, it was a matter of attempting to copy the original pretty accurately, so the guitar was transcribed as closely as possible, then performed and recorded as accurately to the original as we could.
Tell us about your latest release?
‘Lessons’ is a cover of Sinead’s Harnett’s acoustic version of her song from the 2019 album release ‘Lessons in Love’. Our cover was performed by Anna Hattam and Alex Hogg (on vocals and guitar respectively), both of whom also recorded themselves at their homes (due to Covid-19), then mixed by Jon Melville who transcribed/produced the cover version.
It was released on July 10th, 2020 on Barehand Digital which is a branch of Barehand Music www.barehandmusic.co.uk.
What message do you think your music conveys to your fans?
The song is about the worrying feeling of falling deeply in love, knowing that you may lose that and the pain that comes with it, but also knowing that you can’t stop or control the feeling. It’s about the valuable lessons you take from that process, but also not wanting or needing any more lessons or loss and just wanting to find someone who loves you for what you are.
Who are your musical influences?
In general, we are influenced mostly by artists from a neo-soul or similar background. Some of the main names we’d consider affecting what we do would be the likes of Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, India Arie, Emily King, Hiatus Kaiyote, Kara Marni and H.E.R.
Who are your non-musical influences?
That’s a tough one! I suppose you could say we have influences from many sources, but probably in the main from the likes of authors/journalists, movie actors/directors, chefs, travel and football types (well, some of us like football!!)
What’s the best gig that you have ever played?
Well, we only managed to play one gig before the coronavirus lockdown happened, so that’s actually an easy one! We performed back in January 2020 to a lovely audience at Open Source Arts in Leeds – it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and was really well received. We’d also highly recommend Open Source as a venue! In fact, Leeds is a great city for live music.
What is your funniest gig moment?
The fact that we only managed one gig before lockdown and that’s the only gig we ever did! (fingers crossed there will be more soon… watch this space!)
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
The first thing that would pop into many musician’s minds right now would be finances, given the impact of the current pandemic. Due to the abrupt closure of live music venues alongside studios and other key services for musicians, the loss of income for bands, artists and freelance musicians has been immense.
More generally, there is a range of personal obstacles musicians face, not least the difficulty of staying in a positive mindset, which can be heavily affected by regular setbacks. Keeping motivated can also feel like a huge challenge for the many musicians who battle mental health issues, such as performance anxiety and lack of confidence, and the pressure of the industry can often feel too much. The regular travelling and late nights also take their toll.
Therefore it is so important to keep encouraging our fellow musicians, support each other’s music and be more open with each other about the challenges we all face.
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
As well as playing in different venues as regularly as you can, aim to attend a lot of gigs as audience members too. Not only will you help to support live music in your area, but it can also help your band to network with other artists. Having a strong online presence to build and maintain a fanbase is also a must, especially in the current climate.
What are your hopes for the next two years?
We’d really like to use the next couple of years to build the project, involving a wider range of instrumentalists and singers (perhaps even sometimes all together for certain larger projects), whilst also growing our fanbase and online following, nationally and internationally!
Hopefully, we can increase our presence by doing further performances, to audiences both in venues and via online streaming, whilst continuing to bring out new releases and videos. At the moment we’re considering how to develop the style of the videos further, and we’d like to begin to include some original songs as well. We’d also love to build up some session work, and it would be fantastic as lockdown eases further to organise a tour, either in the U.K. or even abroad.
FV Music Blog July 2020
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