Paris-born producer and multifaceted creative Aime Simone has newly released his latest album Oh Glory, with a long list of shows to follow. A powerfully introspective and emotive body of work, Oh Glory signifies vulnerability, mixed with expressive melodies and an impressive vocal range.
Aime sits with his creative counterpart and partner Sonja Fix for F Word's latest series, where the couple delve deep into his past, present, and there's even a hint at a future dream holiday! In a captivatingly candid interview, Aime and Sonja explore questions and answers that only loved ones can.
Sonja Fix: I remember when we met in 2017 you were listening to a lot of Frank Ocean and Atmosphere. You had been into so many genres of music before that too. How do you think your musical taste has changed in the past few years?
Aime Simone: I think that my musical taste just widened. I used to listen to very specific genres obsessively, and when we met that was starting to change, but now I feel like I don’t really listen to music in the same way. I’m just looking for something authentic that touches me. I’m very picky on many levels now in terms of songwriting, production, even mixing...and then the whole universe and aesthetic, it takes a lot to captivate me. But when I do find it, it’s really precious and I hold on [to] it very strongly. I love to experience it emotionally but I also love to analyse it and understand why it’s so good.
SF: So do you feel like you have gone from being a more casual listener to a more scientific listener?
AS: I don’t think I ever was a casual listener, I’ve always listened to music in a very intense way. Music was everything but casual for me. And today I don’t think I have a more scientific approach, I’m looking for a fuller experience when I listen to music. Just liking a song or feeling emotionally connected to it is not enough, it needs to also fulfil me in a sonic way, in the sense of the quality of the sound, it needs to fulfil me in a lyrical way, an aesthetic way, there are more layers to my listening, there are more steps to it.
SF: Do you feel like that approach to listening might cut you off from some kinds of music that don’t reach your requirement of excellence?
AS: No because there is no reference point, there is no excellence. I can like something that is technically terrible if it captivates me still, if there is something good about it I will like it, and it doesn’t have to correspond to any standard, it
doesn’t have to match any reference. It’s free, it’s open, but it still needs to be good (laughs).
SF: What do you look for in an artist? What makes you respect another artist’s work?
AS: I think I really respect when an artist manages to create something new and also very authentic to who they are, like not too constructed but more natural - but accidentally groundbreaking. That’s what I admire and that’s what I’m fascinated by, but I also highly respect people that constructed something new and authentic, and that, like, built it up. Because you aren’t necessarily lucky, many artists just find it accidentally but they tend to be the ones that lose it later on. And there are people, for example like Drake, that were completely bad at what they were doing and they really built their sound, their character, their lyrics, their rapping abilities, their performing abilities, and they perfected it. It’s built out of flaws and it just gets better and better and at the end of their career they are super unique and authentic and groundbreaking, but it took them like 20 years to get there. I also respect that.
SF: So you feel like there are two different ways to be an artist you can love, and one of them is accidentally stumbling on-
AS: This perfect combination of authenticity and innovation. There is a harmony to find, there is a magical point that each artist has within themselves, it’s a balance, it’s a note, it’s like you have to be in tune with yourself. But in the end whether you find it accidentally or whether you find it slowly by breaking it down and building it in the right way, in the end, I’m looking for the same thing.
SF: When we moved to Berlin you had never been there before. What was the most unexpected aspect of the city for you?
AS: The thing that was striking to me about Berlin was that the city has a universe.
SF: Don’t you think that was expected?
AS: That was not expected for me because I had never been there. So you told me that there was something in Berlin, and I am in love with you, I trust you and stuff like that, but I’d never experienced it, I didn’t know what it was. And also it was something that I’ve gotten to understand more and more, it’s something that you experience and discover over time. The thing that really impressed me about Berlin when I arrived but also after a few years is that the whole universe of Berlin is complete, nothing is missing, there is really a language in that city, I mean an artistic language, that is so cohesive. In a way it is almost timeless, it had variations throughout the time, but it’s still the same thing. It’s so authentic, you know the city is so authentic, it has its own thing, which of course a lot of people borrow and steal that are not from there, but it’s inevitable, because it’s really good. It’s rare that a city has that kind of thing. There is a music that you listen to, there is a music that you make, there is a style you can have, there is a style of tattoos, a style of drawings, a style of personality even, that you can adopt. There is a community there that is strong, there are ideals and values that are shared. It’s like a cult, Berlin is a cult, and that was the most striking and attractive thing, but also the scariest.
SF: You have had a lot of fears that you have overcome over the years. What is your biggest fear today?
AS: Shoots the question and has a sip of ginger juice (laughs). I think my biggest fear today is to not live my truth. And so that has several dimensions, this idea of truth. There is like, the truth of my story, where I come from, the things that I’ve been through, that don’t define me but are a part of my story, to be true to that story. To be true to the people that love me, my family, my daughter, to be true to them. To be true to my music, my path, you know, my calling. I am scared of taking the wrong path that would lead me astray from my truth. Because I have done that, and I have wasted a decade, I’ve wasted a decade. Which in the end is alright, because you gain something, you know, from that detour. You get insight. But insight is not years, insight is not making you catch up on the years. Insight can
help you to not waste another ten, you know, but it doesn’t make up for what you lost. So I’m trying to use that insight to make the best decisions in my life. And I don’t think I perceive life in the way that most people do, for me life is actually really precious and short and sacred, and I don’t like wasting time with stupid things and stupid people. I don’t have time for that, for a lot of stuff. I’m on a path, I’m on a calling. And it’s either you match that calling or you don’t, but you can’t get in my way. Nothing can get in my way anymore.
SF: If 18-year-old you could see you now, what would he think?
AS: I think 18 year old me would be proud and excited, and probably scared to death to discover what happened to become this person. To become that I had to pay a price and I think that 18 year old me would sense that there is a huge price to pay. I just wonder if I could have reached the things that I have today in a different way, if there could have been a more peaceful way. But I guess not. I feel like those experiences are not defining me, but somehow they do make me different.
SF: Is it hard for you to relate to other people because you feel like you have had such unique experiences?
AS: I think that people who have been through stuff like me, they don’t relate to anybody. That’s the sad thing about it. It doesn’t get you closer to people, it gets you more isolated. But the thing is, you survived the bad things, the hard things, so isolation is nothing. It’s not painful for us, for people like us. And the thing is I can’t even relate to similar people, it doesn’t work. It’s like, you just don’t relate to anybody. You coexist well with other people, but you’re not expecting to relate to anybody. I mean I don’t expect to relate to anybody. I can respect people, I can even admire people, I can love people, but relating to people? That’s another thing, you know. But I don’t need that thing anymore, I don’t need to relate to anybody. I’m me, I’m my own person, and I love other people that are different. Relating is aways trying to find the similar, I’m not trying to find anybody similar to me, I’m trying to embrace the difference.
SF: I feel like you have an energy that is very majestic, to me it feels ancient and strong, wise and determined. What do you think about that? (Laughs).
AS: It’s a biased question.
SF: It’s my interview.
AS: It’s true, it’s your interview. I don’t know. Ancient, I agree, you know. Majestic... I think it’s not really something I connect to. Ancient for me is just the fact that I’ve lived a lot of different things and I feel like it gave me an insight that is a bit early for my age, you know, most people would get that insight at the end of their life probably, if they do. And I feel like I got it at 23 years old. This perspective on life, this life and death thing, this acceptance of mortality, is something that...it changes you. It’s when this abstract thing that is supposed to arrive when you are really old at the end of your life, when this becomes a reality that you are dealing with, it switches, your brain flips. You see life differently. And I think that happens to people with diseases, sickness, that happens to people that live in countries at war, that lose their whole family, that manage to escape, that happens to different people, you know, survivors. Surviving has nothing majestic to me. Surviving is luck, you know, lucky. I feel like...ancient, and lucky.
SF: What is your dream vacation?
AS: My dream vacation? I see where this question is going (laughs). I think my dream vacation would be in a rented house or a villa in a place where it’s sunny, by the ocean or the mountains, with a really luxurious design, and just like having a home studio and making music, having fun, swimming, riding motorbikes, going back to the studio, making more music, going to bed late, waking up at whatever time, repeat. Be around friends and family, and just make art, create, leave a mark.
See Aime Simone in concert:
7.14 - La Rochelle, FR @ Francos de la Rochelle
7.21 - Aulnoye Aimeries, FR @ Les Nuits Secrètes
7.23 - Hyères, FR @ Midi Festival
8.6 - Cannes, FR @ Plages Electroniques
8.16 - Charleville Mézières, FR @ Cabaret Vert
8.20 - Montpellier, FR @ Festival Palmarosa