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Sophie Simmons, Gene Simmons' Daughter, Wants to Work for Her Own Success

Sophie Simmons knew her musical calling by the time most of us were entering kindergarten. "I wanted to do music from the time I was four," she tellsBAZAAR.comon the phone. When your father is rock legend Gene Simmons of Kiss, that career path is a no-brainer. But after growing up around celebrities (her mother is model and actress Shannon Tweed), 25-year-old Simmons was wary of pursuing stardom at a young age.

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"Everything in my life was so different than other kids' already that I didn't want to go into the same field as my parents and be on the fast track to be a kid star," she says. "I wanted to do it myself, and I wanted it to be hard, and I wanted it to be genuine when it did happen, at the right time, with songs that I wrote, not that people gave to me," she says.

And hard it was. Simmons recalls meeting with "every major [record] label" and not being offered a record deal from a single one. Working as an independent artist, she and her team had to pester Apple Music and Spotify via email to be included on playlists in hopes to gain exposure.

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Courtesy Sophie Simmons

Eventually, she succeeded. Simmons' debut single, "Black Mirror," which released in February, is now on Spotify's dancePop and Women of Electronic playlists, which boast over 2 million and nearly 111,500 followers respectively. When it first dropped, it also had a slot in Apple's Best of the Week and Weekend worthy lists.

"I'm sure now labels are seeing that we're on all these amazing playlists and hopefully kicking themselves that they didn't want to help us," she says.

Music isn't Simmons' first foray into the limelight. She was on reality TV in the mid 2000s to early 2010s, thanks toGene Simmons Family JewelsandShannon & Sophie. She competed inX-Factorin 2012. She also took a stab at modeling in New York, and became an advocate for body positivity. (You might've watched her body image YouTube series withRefinery29or seen her in the documentary "Straight/Curve," which challenges traditional beauty standards.)

On Friday, Simmons releases a new song, "Burn Me Down." It's only her second solo single, but she's got plenty of more music coming down the pipeline this year—and hopefully the rest of her promising career. Here, the singer talks toBAZAAR.comabout being an indie artist, her connection to social media and how her music career differs from her father's.

Simmons wrote "Black Mirror" about a year ago, but it was part of an overall three-year process of finding the right first single as a solo artist. She ultimately chose this track because of its vulnerable and relatable theme: social media's effect on real, human connections.

"The song is about how we no longer have relationships with people, but rather we have relationships with screens. We're so instantly gratified when they light up, and it makes us happier than the people we're actually interacting with in our lives. I just thought how melancholy of a thing that is, that I feel loved from an inanimate object, and I'm not finding it in the people around me. This needs to be talked about."

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Yes, the track was inspired by the British sci-fi show.

"Me and my brother binge watchBlack Mirrorlike crazy. We love it. And we realized that the phrase 'black mirror; refers to when you're looking at a screen and it's off and you can see your reflection in it—that's the black mirror. I was like, 'What an interesting, romantic way to talk about technology.' It's like the 'Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all' fairytale that we're all told when we're younger, and the Snow White Queen's physical beauty is the most important in the world. That's kind of still true today, when we're looking at social media as this black mirror that we look for validation in."

Her experience in the music industry is not the same as her dad's.

"It was very different when my dad was doing music. Labels would find new artists that no one actually knew and they would sign them and invest all this money in them, and they'd build them into these brands. That's why we have so many iconic bands from the '80s and '70s and '60s; the music industry was really behind them.

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"But now, that's not really the case. I've met with every major label. And they didn't offer to sign, because they said, 'We want you to have millions of Instagram followers, we want you to already have a trending song and we want you to already be on top hits.' In my mind I'm just thinking, 'I'm so lucky already that I don't have to want for anything, but I can't imagine what it's like for young artists who are just coming up and have the dream of being in the music industry. How are they ever going to break through, if labels aren't taking chances on new artists?' It makes no sense to me. I'll never understand it."

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Gene and Sophie Simmons in 2019
Getty Images

Though Simmons is working independently now, she'd consider working with a label in the future.

"We wanted label help, of course. Everything is easier when you have a budget for your music video, and you can put PR behind it, and you can perform on the late night shows... all that takes money. When you're an indie artist, you're really just paying for it out of your own pocket, and that's what we've been doing.

"If they do decide to come out and help for the next single, I definitely want to find some new artists to bring into the project as well, because if I'm getting a chance, I feel like other people need to be heard too."

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She grew up listening to oldies.

"My parents played Aretha Franklin and Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles, and the Monkees, and The Who—these very strong pop melodies with jazz influence. That's kind of what I still base the music off of. I just feel like every song has to have some sort of personal connection, or at least you have to enjoy singing it. There's a lot of times when I hear songs and they're so monotone in their emotion, and I wish that artists wouldn't correct the singing in post so much, so that there's a bit more personality."

As a former model and champion for body diversity, Simmons says the fashion industry is still "far from being inclusive."

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Simmons walking LA Fashion Week in 2008
Getty Images

"I think we're at a point where brands are thinking, 'I don't want to get in trouble for not being inclusive, so let me get one white curvy girl for my campaign.' Just because you have a curvy girl, that doesn't make it diverse and that doesn't make it genuine. We should be hiring the best model for the job, and looking at them as a whole person—what they do when they're not modeling, what their personality is like and whether they're good people.

"Personally, I want to buy clothes off of girls that I want to be friends with, or that I admire and look up to, that have personalities; not so much body type. That's not really what I'm looking at. I would much rather buy something off Denise Bidot or Hunter McGrady than I would a straight-sized model who we've never heard her opinions on anything. I just don't identify with that.

"For me, buying clothes is personal, because it's representing who I am on the inside on the outside, and I like it when girls say, 'I'm wearing this top because it makes me feel sexy' or 'It shows my rolls, but whatever, I really like it. It's comfortable.' I love hearing that realness. We all feel it, and for some reason, we all don't say it."

She doesn't recommend modeling.

"I don't know if I would ever go back into modeling as just a regular model. I would definitely if a brand reached out, and they said, 'Would you work with us to be the face of the brand?' or 'Would you work with us in this specific campaign? Here's why.' But I lived in New York, and I did the everyday model castings, and going to a gym every five seconds and watching what you eat and it's mentally exhausting and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

"When I did the Adore Me campaign, I would get people spamming me, like, 'Hey, my daughter wants to be a model, what advice can you give her?' And I would always say, "Don't do it." Unless this is your dream of dreams, don't do it. Because it will break you down first before it builds you up. It takes a lot of mental strength to be in that industry, and the girls that have been in it for a long time are tough as nails. It really is such a physical industry, and until that changes, there's gonna be a lot of mental health problems within it."

She says that the music industry is "a little more free" when it comes to body acceptance.

"There’s definitely still pressure to look like a pop star, or look good on stage or in a photo. There's definitely always that pressure, but that's just general, societal pressure. That's not a specific brand or casting saying that I have to be between a size 2 and 4 to even go to the casting. It's a little more subtle, so it weighs a little less on my brain, and I can just focus on being a musician. How I look comes after, as opposed to first, which is a nice relief because that's really how it should be."

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.






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Date: 06.12.2018, 22:37 / Views: 65461