Even before a record label or traditional backing, Matt Simons had already been heard around the globe. After being noticed from a Facebook ad he created for his independent album Pieces, the song “With You” received a high-profile 2013 placement on one of the biggest Dutch soap operas. Before the Northern California-born and Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter knew it, he began selling out shows in Europe and was serving as guest judge on the Netherlands X- Factor, while “With You” went platinum in Holland and earned the unofficial title of the country’s “most played funeral song.”
“As strange as it may sound, that was the ultimate compliment,” he says. “My music was being used to celebrate legacies. The fact that people could be that affected by a song I wrote was incredible to me. I didn’t know that’s what I loved about writing so much, but I learned it.”
He can speak to any occasion though, and that’s why his 2015 single “Catch & Release” and its (Deepend Remix) became a runaway international smash. Cumulatively, the song amassed over 150 million-plus Spotify streams and counting in less than a year’s time, and the remixed version soared to #1 on HypeMachine twice. Stateside, it went Top 5 at AAA radio and soundtracked a tourism ad for the state of Arizona, while Billboard pegged it as one of “Tomorrow’s Hits.” He made his North American television debut on NBC’s Today Show, performing the song. Globally, it clinched #1 in 7 countries including France, Germany, Belgium, and Spain, reaching platinum in Germany, Belgium, Holland & Switzerland, and gold certifications in Italy and Sweden. Sold out tours followed as well as festival appearances at Pinkpop, Frequency, and many more.
A marriage between styles, “Catch & Release” lithely balances a deep house soundscape with finger-picked acoustic guitars and his soulful crooning.
“’Catch & Release’ is about the common shared struggle of the grind and how everyone’s got their own way of dealing with it,” he explains. “Some people will go for a run, or others will have a drink, etc. It’s whatever your way of releasing all the tension you build over the course of any given day. We wanted to do something different with the remix. The dance community seems hungry for songs with a deeper meaning. It felt really natural.”
Late 2016, Matt recorded a special version of “Catch & Release”, this time in the Irish language. The Irish organization Conradh na Gaeilge has been putting albums together for the last 10 years with artists who aren’t usually associated with the Irish language to help promote the Irish language. The Irish version of “Catch & Release”, titled ‘Ag Glacadh is Ag Scaoileadh’, will be part of this project.
“Catch & Release” paved the way for his 2016 EP, When The Lights Go Down [[PIAS] Recordings]. Building off that hybrid of tropical house charm and acoustic soul, he crafted the collection’s five tracks at various spots across the world, while touring behind “Catch & Release.”
Matt cut the first single “Lose Control” during a stop in London with producer Steve Mac [James Blunt, Kelly Clarkson, Leona Lewis]. He delicately expands his sound once more with sunny production and another undeniable refrain.
“Whereas ‘Catch & Release’ is about self-introspection and self-awareness, ‘Lose Control’ is about letting your inhibitions go and connecting with another person,” he reveals. “It’s in that tropical house lane, but it takes another step forward. The EP is a little bit of everything.”
The EP title When The Lights Go Down speaks to his knack for lyrical storytelling. Throughout the new music, he perfects that penchant for a captivating tale.
“I like to write based off of a concept,” he says. “There’s a narrative at the heart of When The Lights Go Down. When you’re going through a breakup, everything could feel fine during the day, but once it turns nighttime and it’s time go to sleep, you really start missing somebody.”
It’s no surprise he’s been honing his chops since childhood. For Matt, music’s a family tradition as both of his grandparents were professional opera singers, and his dad shared a love for The Beatles and the classics with him early on. Playing saxophone his whole life, he got a degree in Jazz Saxophone Performance at The Purchase College Conservatory. That background ultimately gave him the foundation to write these kinds of songs.
“I won’t ever lose that influence,” he leaves off. “I started off with jazz and those rhythms and patterns have been ingrained in me. Now, my main focus is to continue writing these songs that really can resonate.”