Vallery Bergez, Contributing Writer
Keaton Simons, a singer and songwriter from Los Angeles, Calif., released his second full-length album, Beautiful Pain on April 30. The much-anticipated album is co-produced with Mikal Blue and (in coordination with Croshal Entertainment Group) is released on Simons’s label, Best Revenge Records. His voice is raw and gritty, his musical talents are abundant and his lyrics are personal and real. After listening to the album ahead of time, I had the opportunity to hold a phone interview with Simons about his experience up to the release of Beautiful Pain and his hopes for its success.
I began by asking Simons when he first developed his passion for music, both as a player and as a writer. For as long as he can remember, Simons has been playing music. His interest in writing his own music, however, really started when he was about 19.
“Every time I write [a song], something miraculous happens,” he said. He attributes this miracle to the fact that each time he writes a song, he is creating something new.
“[This] expression of self is not just a way of releasing,” he said. “It reflects back on you. You learn a lot about yourself from your own writing. A great deal of what comes from you is from your subconscious.” Because of this, Simons finds that he learns more about the songs after they’ve been written.
This is essentially how he came up with the idea for Beautiful Pain: “It’s that feeling that I get when I’m so overwhelmed by beauty or pain that it hurts.”
The song “Beautiful Pain,” the fourth track on the album, is Simons’s personal favorite because he wrote it alone as soon as he realized that he wanted to express that emotional intensity.
When I asked Simons how this album is different from his first full-length album, Can You Hear Me?, and why he is so ecstatic about it, he commented that the “energy” of Beautiful Pain makes it special for him.
“Everything leads up to the moment that we’re in right now,” he said. “My goal in general is to be able to live in the now, in the moment. This album is a great representation of that … There’s an energy to it that I think is really powerful … It takes people on a journey.”
Logistically, there were more co-writers on Beautiful Pain than on the previous album because Simons has developed more of an affinity for collaboration. He described collaboration as a “magical” process, since people are able to “merge together to create this whole new entity that they wouldn’t have created on their own.”
He mentioned that “Is There Any Other Way,” track seven, was co-written by Jason Mraz, a close friend of his, and that neither of them alone would have written that song.
He hopes that Beautiful Pain will have the same impact on his listeners as it had on him during the creative process.
“My goal is to help inspire people to learn how to love themselves better, because that gives us the tools to love and be loved by other people,” he said. “That’s the underlying message with everything I do.”
Although he has been discouraged at times from the business side of the industry because “it’s easy to be misunderstood,” he has realized that there is a difference between the world of creating music and the world of selling music; the support of his family and his girlfriend, combined with his rapid growth in popularity, has been all the more encouraging.
Simons hopes that the buzz from the release of Beautiful Pain will bring more fans to his shows.
“The audience is incredibly inspiring,” he said. “So much of this is about connection. If it wasn’t, then there would be no need for me to make records and release them. I want to connect with people … In those moments, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
Simons has two release shows coming, up in Los Angeles and New York. His album can be bought online through iTunes or Amazon or at BestBuy and Barnes & Noble. For more information on Simons and his music, visit his new website, keatonsimons.com, or follow him on Twitter.
“Join this music revolution,” he said. “The relationship between people and art is getting closer and closer … Let’s show the world what an independent musician and an amazing community of music-lovers can do.”