Simon Astley knows exactly how to capture overwhelming emotions through sparkling melodies. Since his 2011 debut, the Tasmanian local has been spinning infinite moments into the walls of pop-rock, not allowing any nuance to go to waste. His latest single is no exception. Love for the City details the overpowering connection the songwriter feels for the big city, specifically Melbourne.
With a number of accolades under his belt and more to come, we were lucky enough to catch up with the singer to break down this latest release, his inspirations, and the joys of Nescafé Blend 43.
What do you get when you mix intricate soundscapes, universal emotions, an interview, and instant coffee? Well, Happy and the talented Simon Astley have the answers.
HAPPY: Hey Simon, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
SIMON: I’m really well thanks, just enjoying a Nescafé Blend 43 at the moment whilst I am chatting to you. I’m yet to try a Blend 44 or 45, or even a 46, so I am really looking forward to experiencing what those next blend of grains have to offer.
HAPPY: The new single Love for the City is huge! How does it feel having it out there in the world?
SIMON: Thanks, guys! I’m very happy with the finished product and I feel this track relates to a lot of people, so it’s exciting to be able to make a difference to people’s lives through music and keep them happy. Even if it’s keeping them happy for only 3:52 minutes worth of song, I still feel like I have made a difference which is good.
HAPPY: Could you tell us a bit about the song and the creative process on this one?
SIMON: The song is about enjoying the hustle and bustle of a big city, and living your best life. Every day in the city is different and I love how the city makes you feel alive. I was lucky enough to write the song with Australian/Irish singer-songwriter Damien Leith. He is such a talented musician, as you know, and it was great to work with him for the first time and to bring this song to life. The song came together so quickly and we worked together well. We are working on another song too, so I’m looking forward to that.
HAPPY: Your incredible track London, which was played at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, must have been a career highlight. What was that like?
SIMON: It sure was. It really opened a lot of doors for me in the UK and back home in Australia. To have that experience and career highlight earlier in my career has really helped my progress, that’s for sure. I loved the experience of writing and recording the song London in the UK too, whilst I was there on one of my other earlier visits. Being there right in the heart of London was a dream come true everytime. The UK always seemed so far away as a child growing up, so getting the success I have so far away has been very humbling.
HAPPY: I’m seeing a bit of a theme here, of connecting to a city or a place. Do you often draw inspiration from your surroundings?
SIMON: Haha, you are spot on there, I sure do. I love how big cities give me that rush, give me that excitement. Growing up in a small city in Tasmania has made spending time in a bigger cities something different for me. I love Devonport in Tasmania where I grew up and reside now, don’t get me wrong, but it’s always nice to spend time in bigger cities too. I lived in Melbourne for 14 years so I have really got my big city fix out of my system now.
HAPPY: Has COVID-19 challenged this process of connecting through music, travel, and experience?
SIMON: It sure has affected everyone hasn’t it? Its been a huge challenge for us all. I have spent more time sitting back and enjoying the writing process, which is a nice change. I have been lucky to be still able to send music files over to my producer in Melbourne to keep the recording juices flowing which is great.
HAPPY: There’s an incredible story-telling within your music. Where did music start for you?
SIMON: Music started for me very young. My mum was a music teacher before she retired, she put me on the piano at an early age and has been a huge influence that’s for sure. I started writing songs one day out of the blue and I haven’t stopped since. The piano has always been a great tool for me to be able to nut out my songs and give me the foundation to build my songs on. I also play the saxophone too and enjoy playing the saxophone in the shower these days… the acoustics are so much better in the shower, aren’t they [laughs]?
HAPPY: What artists were you listening to when you wrote and recorded the track?
SIMON: I was listening to a lot of Courtney Barnett songs at the time, as well as Epicure. I have always loved Epicure’s music. I was devastated when they decided to go their separate ways as a band years ago. I have many fond memories of my years living in Melbourne when listening to those albums.
HAPPY: Will Love for the City be part of something bigger to come? An album perhaps?
SIMON: I have been saying for years I have an album on the way, which I do [laughs], but I get excited and eager to keep the momentum up so I keep bringing out singles that are supposed to be on an album, and then I have to write another one to fit back in on the album. So, it’s all fun and games!
HAPPY: When borders open up, where is the first place wanderlust will take you?
SIMON: I think I will head over to Perth, WA for a visit. Have some good friends over there who I haven’t seen for a long time. I planned to tour over there in 2017 on my Australian Tour but didn’t get there in the end due to family reasons. So I think it will be good to get back there when we can.
HAPPY: What’s next Simon Astley? Any other exciting plans in the works?
SIMON: I have a new song that I will be releasing soon that has just been selected as the theme music for a film called Locked Down over in the UK. So, I am excited about that. Plus I have loads of new music in the pipeline, so I will be starting to release them soon. I have the momentum going again after taking a little break from recording, so it’s nice to get back into it again.
HAPPY: Cheers for the chat!
SIMON: Thanks so much for talking with me, appreciate it. I hope I didn’t babble on too much ’cause it’s true what they say about Nescafé Blend 43 – It definitely keeps you talking.
Listen to Love for the City below: