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In Conversation:sim0ne on electric euphoria

by Isabel Williams

Inspired by her growing up as a chronically-online teen, sim0ne's electric music riffs on pop culture, internet memes and that warm feeling you get around the people you love.

When most people hear Lana Del Ray’s song ‘Say Yes to Heaven’, their initial impulse is not usually to pair the floaty, romantic song with a techno beat. That is, not unless they’re sim0ne. The DJ’s remix of Lana’s iconic track has since been streamed over 6 million times on Spotify and over 7 million times on Soundcloud. More recently, the model and influencer turned DJ has released her first original track produced with Remedy Club: ‘Halo’, a bright, bouncy track that has since granted sim0ne the title of one of BBC Radio 1’s Dance Future Stars of 2024.

The artist’s eclectic discography riffs on vocals from popular female artists, re-envisioning what is sometimes perceived as an intense, aggressively mechanic genre of music through the rainbow saturated lens of internet culture. A quick swipe through sim0ne’s Instagram posts will reveal clips of her live sets interspersed with screenshotted memes and pics of her latest outfits. Neon lights, sparkly eyeshadow and the artist’s characteristic bleach-striped hair pervade throughout. Although it may seem insignificant, sim0ne’s use of memes is a key aspect of how she interacts with her online audience. Having worked previously as a model and influencer, sim0ne’s personal experience of pop culture has helped to carve the path of her signature musical style.

“I don’t think I have a very conventional approach. Because I started doing music in my late 20s, my interests and things are already formed, so I’m kind of bringing references that other people might not bring, like, I’ve just had unlimited access to the Internet since I was about 14 years old. I was just a girl on Tumblr that loved all these things and I think my references are slightly different to a lot of people that came up through maybe, like, a techno circuit, or playing clubs since the day they turned 18.”

Despite only having started her journey as a DJ a few years ago during lockdown, sim0ne has immersed herself in club culture since she was a teenager. “I was really drawn to nightlife; I would sneak out and go to parties and go to nightclubs when I was 15, and as soon as I turned 18 I was off to Ibiza to live there and do the seasons. I’d work in bars and then go clubbing all night long. So I did that for three summers when I was at university. I used to do cash desk shifts at techno nights; I would do the guest list, but I never sort of even thought I could be a DJ. It never crossed my mind, and then there was the lockdown and there was such a pause that I was kind of like, ‘Does modelling make me happy?’ and I was kind of like, ‘Well, what else can I do?’”

Despite her long-term love of club music, sim0ne describes herself as being apprehensive at first when it came to exploring her own musical potential. “I wanted to get up to a skill level that I thought was, I guess, ‘good enough’ before I told people, because I didn’t want to seem like another model or content creator just sort of jumping on a bandwagon,” she says. “I didn’t want people to think it was a really sudden U-turn; I wanted to be really respectful to the culture and didn’t want people to think I was, like, cashing in on a gimmick.”

It is clear from the content she posts online just how passionate sim0ne is about the music she makes and enjoys. In a reel posted to Instagram, sim0ne mouths along to the chorus of her latest track ‘Halo’. The floating text above her head reads: “NOT TO BE CONTROVERSIAL BUT I’VE FELT CLOSER TO GOD ON SOME DANCEFLOORS THAN I EVER HAVE IN A CHURCH”. It seems that this feeling of enlightenment, of feeling buoyed-up as if closer to some higher power, is the same visceral sensation that sim0ne is trying to evoke through her music.

“At the moment I’m just really interested in exploring the feelings of euphoria. A lot of my music is inspired by the early 2000s, when I think clubbing was kind of at its golden age,” she says, referring to the music in question as “very trance-heavy”. “People were going to raves and the club and it was coming out from the underground and I really like music from that time because it’s so energetic.” I ask if she can describe to me what this euphoria feels like.

“For me, it’s like my heart feels really full? I get it sometimes at festivals and it’s not to do with necessarily being at clubs, but it’s… you know, you can be walking around in the daytime at a festival with your friends and it’s when there’s a kind of blend of like, the music is just right; the atmosphere is great; you’re with the right group of people, and I’m kind of just like, ‘Oh, this is what it’s all about; this is why I’m here.’ What other reason would we all be on Earth than just to feel this connected and this good? It’s that kind of feeling. Sorry if that’s deep,” she laughs.

When it comes to ‘Halo’, however, sim0ne is aware of how the track has potential to impact different people in unique ways. “I think if you need it to just be a fun-sounding track that’s surface level, it can be,” she says, “but also I’ve definitely had points over my life where I’m like, I feel really sad; I want to go to the club, and the lyrics can kind of mean something a bit deeper, if you need them to; it can sort of be a crying in the club moment. I really like the idea that people can make the tracks what they need to be.”

Although sim0ne is clearly making great strides in her own right, her journey is not all sunshine and rainbows. Part of the reason she was cautious about labelling herself as a DJ initially was due to the notoriously male-dominated nature of the industry. “I didn’t want to let people know that I was DJing until it felt like I was at a skill level where I could comfortably hold my own,” she admits, “and even so, I wasn’t that good compared to how I am now. I feel like you’re definitely scrutinised a lot more, even like very big female DJs; the comments, it’s all the same,” she tells me, detailing some of the unfavourable things people have posted about her in the past. “It’s so funny when you get comments from men – and it’s always from men – and they’re like, ‘Why is she dancing?’ and I’m like, ‘To fun music? What do you mean, why am I dancing? There’s music playing; why are you not dancing?’”

Despite this, the artist is enthusiastic about the future of the club scene, mentioning how inspired she is by female artists such as Peggy Gou and Mina Kravitz, as well as how motivating it is to know that her music is inspiring a younger generation. “I think it’s the opposite of competitive,” she says. “I love seeing girls come up to me at the end of the show being like, ‘I really want to learn, how did you learn?’ I think it’s amazing.”

When it comes to plans for the future, sim0ne has a busy period ahead of her. Aside from working hard to finish her upcoming mini-album of original tracks, the artist is off on a UK-wide tour with her club night set, ‘Club Zero’, which she is hoping to grow over the coming year. She is also keen not to let her interest in modelling and fashion fall totally to the wayside.

“I’m working with some fashion brands and creative events for festivals and parties for the next year, if we manage to pull them off. I’m kind of getting to blend all my interests together. It’s really exciting!” she enthuses. “I just feel like I’m getting to do everything that I like. I just can’t believe that all of this is real, to be honest.”

Photographer
Nancy Rose
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