Following up his latest single “Open Water”, American artist/producer and multi-instrumentalist Derek Simpson is back with a new single titled “FRiENDS”.
The self- recorded single is an anthem about friendship.
“To me, it’s about this place and time in my life that’s very special because I met a lot of my favorite people there. Most of us reside in different corners of the country now but this song reminds me of the celebratory energy we all have when we’re together. It’s a silly song about a beautiful thing,” explains Simpson.
Along with the single, the Massachusetts-native unveiled the visuals for the single where he recruited some his closest (and mostly non-rapping) friends.
After gaining success with multiple free album releases on Soundcloud (under the pseudonym Planetarian) from 2013 to 2016, Simpson 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.
Simpson has produced tracks for various artists such as Kevin Abstract, Dom McLennon, Rockie Fresh and more.
“FRiENDS” is now available worldwide.
Introduce yourself - where are you from?
I am Derek Simpson, a native of Taunton, Massachusetts and a self-proclaimed “pasta boy”.
What's your story?
I woke up and asked my Mom what my name was, how old I was, and where I was. I then proceeded to grow and am still currently in that process.
When did you start getting involved in the music industry?
I started fooling around on Garageband in October 2011, making joke songs with my friends but personally getting really into it. By 2013 I had struck up a kind of friendship with Tyler, The Creator who took my music seriously and gave me some incredible advice. He also showed Blake Anderson my stuff which in turn got one of my songs to be on Workaholics. I’d say that the process of licensing that song was my first baby step into the industry, but it took a bit of time between then and now for me to gain an understanding of how I’d actually like to move forward.
How would you define Derek Simpson, the artist?
[/ˈdɛɹɪk/ /simp-suh n/]
Excited by the prospect of empathizing with the unknown. Driven to promote self reflection and understanding. Attempting to practice peaceful action and responsible inaction for the benefit of self & planet.
"FRiENDS" is your new single. What's the story behind this song?
To me, it’s about this place and time in my life that’s very special because I met a lot of my favorite people there. Most of us reside in different corners of the country now but this song reminds me of the celebratory energy we all have when we’re together. It’s a silly song about a beautiful thing.
Could you describe us the songwriting/production process for this particular single?
I introduced the idea to a few friends of mine who play music but do not rap that we should make a rap song about friendship. After Jack wrote his verse and performed it to whomever entered his living room that night, Zac, Sebastian, and Dinlin (Linden) saw the potential and decided to hop on the song as well. Sadly we still couldn’t get a verse from Steve but it is what it is. The man doesn’t rap and I guess he never will.
The production is mainly comprised of a dirty drum loop and little samples of an unreleased song by Zac Hartwell titled “Too Cool For Me”. He was also kind enough to interpolate his own lyrics for the second half of the chorus. “Easy come and easy go…” etc. Beyond that, I added these little manipulated samples of Linden and I laughing from a voice memo I had, and the outro where Jack goes on about “hanging ten with your boyz”.
What can you tell us about the music video? What was the inspiration behind it?
The music video is inspired by the idea of trying to explain to someone what any given night looked like in our late teens/early 20s. The door was never locked at that house so you would normally see a large crew of random people you knew and loved accruing as a night rolled on, especially in the summertime. I also knew once I had the video idea that we would be moving across the country in two months so a big part of it was longing to make this sort of scrapbook entry for all of us.
Any favorite memories from the making of the video?
We did the first take, immediately watched it back, and it was so rewarding hearing everybody in the room start to express how much they dug it. I forget who it was, but one of us suggested we do a second take and that was great because I thought everyone would only want to do it one time through, but that second take is the one that made the cut.
What do you like the most about this song?
For me personally all the guest features make it great. The playful energy that these guys bring to the song is so important to me because I took myself and my work too seriously for too long. What they do for this song is what they do for me: they remind me in times of confusion that I’m here to create a good time with the people I love.
What made you want to release "FRiENDS" as a single?
The video 100%.
As a producer, what equipment and software do you usually use?
Logic Pro 9, guitar, bass, keys, mic, basically the least amount of “stuff” possible.
You produced for different artists such as Kevin Abstract, Dom McLennon, Rockie Fresh... - what are you looking for in artists when working with them?
The thing that makes any relationship work: effective communication. The ability to listen and to trust that you’ll be listened to is extremely important. I’m also very much attracted to that which makes an artist stand out.
What do you like the most about producing music for other artists?
I like being able to visualize the sound that an artist is going for, to build the soundscape, and to see the artist light up when they hear the first mix of their song(s). I also like not feeling this weird inner dialogue of particularity and perfection that comes with writing/recording/producing/mixing your own music.
How would you describe your musical signature?
In the case of producing for others, I think I have to do some more of that to find out. In the case of my solo work, I’d like to think it’s keeping an infectious balance between eccentricity and accessibility. That’s what I strive for anyway. I think that if you were to currently ask someone what they thought my signature is, they’d probably say “it’s just super chill”.
In your opinion, what makes a "good" producer?
A “good” listener.
What advice would you give to young producers?
I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable advising anyone as I still have so much to learn. Thankfully, a man named Ali Fernandes first explained to me the difference between a producer and a beat-maker when I was around 15 or 16 years old. That gave me a whole different perspective on the work and from there I studied everything I could find, going through huge phases with everything from The Neptunes to Brian Eno. I think that looking at each piece of music I’ve come across since then as a learning opportunity instead of a reason for me to strengthen certain biases has helped me to take my favorite parts of everything I hear and to fly with them.
What message do you want to deliver to younger generations?
I’m sorry that so many of your parents started to document your life before you had a say in your own privacy and before we had an understanding of what the internet may become. With that said, please remember that it was just because they’re proud of you. Also empathy is key, and I am excited to learn from all that you have to teach.
As an artist, what do you want to accomplish?
I’d like to be able to show my love for each artist that influences me somehow, whether that means working with them, sending them nice letters, or inaugurating them. As far as accomplishing anything goes, I generally feel accomplished in my day to day. I’d like to keep that up with my good habits and healthy practices.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
- Identifying with the human race above the country in which you were born
- The Western world having a healthier relationship with death/change
- Destroying your fear of not being accepted by others
- Destroying your fear of not being “right”
- Less screen time
That’s just a handful. Also the next SZA album.
What biggest life lessons have you learned so far?
Time is the only luxury and meditation makes me feel lighter.
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