UK-based Australian musician Simon Densley has created the perfect debut rock single – History – and is gearing up to release it in his home country this April. The ex-pat Aussie, who has spent the better part of the past few years living and working in London, has been quickly establishing himself as one to watch. While History is also available in Britain, it was important for the ex-Melbourne artist to release the track back home, especially considering the influences the Australian music scene has had on his music.
Creatively, Simon has been turning heads with his live energy performances since he started busking on the streets of Melbourne. He gained the interest of British music promoter Matt Connolly, notorious for the successes of INXS, Paul Kelly, Marilyn Manson and The Cult, after the two had a positive meeting over the release of History. In fact, Matt has been in the role of mentor since. 'I only work with those who have what it takes to reach the top, and when I heard Simon's work I knew there was something special there," says Matt.
Simon has a long history working within the music industry, experience that he has drawn upon when it comes to his performing career. He entered the music industry aged 15 with work experience at Allen Eaton studios in St. Kilda. Eventually he established his own recording studio – Sandringham Audio – where is developed a reputation for working hard and achieving great results with limited resources, an aptitude he has since applied to his own music.
History was produced as part of a demo in a small home studio belonging to friend. After the initial recording, he took the track into the professional Paul Madden owned Wapping Studios – also known as The Smoke House – to achieve the sound he envisioned. Paul, who is known for his work with the likes of Gary Numan, to Bobby Womack and The White Stripes, worked alongside Simon creating the perfect track.
'I like recordings to sound -real', as if they were played live, even if they were multitracked over time," he says. 'That means trying to capture a spontaneous energy and groove if possible and that only comes from people enjoying playing the music."
History's recording features famous film composer Andrew Raiher with some truly gobsmacking slide guitar, along with Martin Ditcham, who is known for his session work with The Rolling Stones and Status Quo, on percussion. The writing and recording process on History was organic and Simon admits it feels a bit like the song almost instinctively wrote itself.
'The lyrics in History flowed almost as a stream of consciousness and have hardly changed at all since I first wrote them," he says. 'They felt quite abstract to start with but strangely came to loosely describe my relationship with a girl I knew – almost as if the lyrics were sort of a premonition."
From working as a producer to focusing on his own performance material, Simon's path to music success has followed a non-traditional route. Growing up in Melbourne on a healthy diet of Australian bands such as INXS, Cold Chisel, Hoodoo Gurus and Midnight Oil had a pretty strong influence on Simon's sound. Listening to alternative Melbourne radio stations featuring artists such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin opened up Simon to new ideas and sounds. All these influences filter through into History, which has a distinctly nostalgic feeling – from the opening bars, it feels as if you've heard this song your entire childhood.
There is no doubt History is a special single release, one that embodies the great spirit of Aussie rock! It is an impressive debut and one that will no doubt launch the next part of a long career in music.
Simon Densley's debut single History is at radio now. For more information, please visit www.simondensleymusic.org
Question: How would you describe History?
Simon Densley: A catchy piece of rock music with some deeper emotional roots hiding just beneath the surface.
Question: What inspired History?
Simon Densley: It felt like a subconscious bunch of feelings about a girl I knew finding their way out and expressing themselves as a piece of music and lyrics. It almost wrote itself!
Question: Why did you return to Australia to release History?
Simon Densley: Australia and Australian music has always been very important to me. I couldn't not release it in Australia!
Question: What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own?
Simon Densley: I listen to a mix of music. Some really old classic stuff like Pink Floyd, Nick Drake and Sky to Jeff Buckley and Nirvana, through to current stuff from Paolo Nutini and Coldplay.
Question: What's next? Tour/Album/Single?
Simon Densley: The next thing will be a follow up single: -Slave To You'. Then if things go according to plan, I'll release the rest of the album (currently recorded but not yet mixed) and follow up with a tour.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Simon Densley: I enjoy both. Playing live is great for connecting with an audience – they effectively become part of the show and you're all there having a great time together. But I love the artistic process of recording – taking the time to create the best version of a song you can.
Question: What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Simon Densley: I've always loved music since I was a kid and it's always had a really powerful effect on me. The music I listened to growing up, bands like INXS, Nirvana, Pink Floyd and heaps of others all made me want to create music that could have the same effect on other people that it did on me.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Simon Densley: To keep believing that success would eventually come when it seemed that nobody with any influence was even prepared to listen to my stuff.
Question: What's a typical day like?
Simon Densley: There is no typical day for me. Most days also include my day job (working for a construction equipment company) as the music doesn't yet pay for itself. Most days would also include some music practice. There is usually quite a bit of emailing and administrative stuff and if I'm lucky I might get some time to work on a song or two in between reading a bedtime story to my young son and doing a bit of work around the house.
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Simon Densley: Finding that other people love to hear the music I love making.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Simon Densley: Roger Waters or David Gilmour from Pink Floyd would be my equal first choice. I'd love to do something with Paul Kelly – he's got to be Australia's finest lyricist, if not the world's. She's a very different style to mine but Julia Michaels is a great songwriter and I think it would be amazing to work with her. Paolo Nutini would be great to work with too.
Question: Can you tell us 5 things required for a happy healthy and enjoyable life?
Simon Densley: It's okay to be upset when things aren't going well but remember to be appreciative when they are.
Be confident enough to not worry too much about fashion and what other people think. We only get each hour once. Don't waste too many of them on TV, social media and other stuff that doesn't help give you a better shot at what you want to achieve. Few people will genuinely want to help you to achieve success – even fewer if there isn't something in it for them. Appreciate those that do and be prepared to do all the hard work yourself.
There is only one you. Be the best you you can be, not a second class copy of someone else. Listen to people who know what they're talking about but trust your own instincts, especially when you've got an unnervingly strong feeling about something.
Interview by Brooke Hunter