Elyse Simpson, a bright, talented, and devoted 19-year-old musician, met up with me on a sunny autumn’s day to discuss her music career. During our energetic and motivated conversations, she regaled me with stories of the amazing experiences she has had throughout her career.
Simpson attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where she also took online courses to attain a certificate as a music business specialist, leading her to start her own record label, Jangle Records.
She revealed her love for Boston and its creative energy, dubbing it, “the electric city!” The city, she explained, is vibrant and full of curiosities where one can experience new things, and envision scenarios that are unique to that city. She told me all about the wonderful friendships she made in the city, and of the Berklee student-run venue – the Red Room at Cafe 939, where she performed her song ‘Impatience’.
She counts her peers at Berklee amongst her main supporters, which also include her mother and many friends. Simpson says her Berklee friends adamantly support each other in song writing and instrumentals. Though graduated, they keep their connections close through Skype.
At the age of six, Simpson took cello lessons, before moving on to vocals at 13. About a year later, she took up the guitar. But, it was at workshops hosted by various colleges that really taught Simpson her way around a fret board, and where she found herself being pulled deeper into music.
“I realized that music and the guitar was – and is – my passion at the guitar workshop hosted at colleges,” she says. “I decided then that I wanted to make a career out of my passion for music.”
That passion led her to perform all across the globe, including at the legendary Whisky A Go-Go in Los Angeles, California. In the audience was a series of faces familiar to the industry, including producer Keith Olsen, and the owner of Rainbo Records.
The venue was filled to capacity, but that didn’t prevent Simpson from performing her best ever, which lead to her nomination and subsequent win of Best International Artist at the Los Angeles Music Awards, held in November at the Avalon Theatre.
Her passions and determinations are expressed by her one-hour-per-day practicing regime – either on her guitar, writing songs, or singing. She feels that being a good musician requires certain thought, determination, and originality in order to elevate a career. It takes balance, devotion, and talent.
One knows and feels their calling, and Simpson aptly displayed this when I had the privilege of watching her; she performed in a world of her own – the world of rhythm and lyrics, combined with passionate strums on her guitar.
She describes her music as ‘folk fusion’, blending jazz, soul, and fold into her own signature melodies and songs. Much of her inspirations are derived from all time favourites: Dolly Parton, Gavin DeGraw, Etta James, White Denim, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, as well as Gospel music.
Simpson’s ambitions include tours in Europe – like in Seefeld, Austria, where she attended a song writing retreat. Over the past two years, Simpson has spent her time touring, learning, and continuously working on her music. She’s performed across Canada and the U.S., including stints in Ottawa, New York, Montreal, Pittsburgh, and, of course, Boston.
For three months at the end of 2011, Simpson was part of the Go Tour or Go Home movement, which saw her and a close group of artisan friends tour for three months across Toronto, Montreal, and New York. The concept was well received, and was covered by the Globe and Mail, Sonicbids, and the Loughbreeze Bay Blog.
Her future aspirations include touring Europe, especially the U.K., and more performances in the U.S., particularly Nashville, Tennessee, and Texas. She is currently working on new material, some of which can be viewed on her Facebook and Youtube pages.
More information about Elyse Simpson can be found at her website, or at her record label, Jangle Records.