Eva Simons Tells Us What Happens When an EDM Artist Attends a Music Conservatory
Most fans of EDM music would probably never feel the itch to listen or play classical piano, but that’s exactly what electronic artist Eva Simons was doing before her voice was booming through our car radio speakers on AfroJack’s hit track “Take Over Control”. People in the United States recognize Simons from her features on several radio hit tracks, like will.i.am’s “This is Love,” where her powerhouse vocals singularly propel the track forward. But in Europe, Simons stands alone as an artist with solo hits under her belt, like her popular electro-pop single “I Don’t Like You” which has over 4 million views on Vevo. Her hugely marketable sound leads most people to believe that she’s just the face (and voice) of a sonic product that was made to be a hit. Simons opened for Beyoncé’s world tour–she isn’t just the voice on the track.
She’s writing her own music (and music for others), an increasingly rare phenomenon when it comes to genres like pop and edm. These genres are, perhaps, notoriously known for the collaborative effort behind their finished products. It’s the most well known excuse to dismiss the genres. Rockist dudes love to criticize pop artists by pointing out that the performer isn’t actually the one behind the production of the track. It was this type of debate that blew up this past year, when Beck took home the Grammy for Album of the Year instead of Beyoncé. Simons, however, will likely be able to avoid any of that criticism and rightly so. She attended Amsterdam’s premiere music conservatory, Conservatorium van Amsterdam, where she was the youngest student at the time at 16 years old. “Because of my training, I understand technically why certain melodies can capture you. In house music, a lot of the really big songs are heavily influenced by classical music. The melodies, they’re euphoric, they put you in a trance. You can kind of feel that stillness inside of you while the BPM is at 128, you know?”
“All of my records are recorded by me, and mixed by me, and then I play the record for a producer and 70% of the record is already done. And it’s great to have that control over everything.”
Hit making talent is hard to come by, and Simons understands that when it comes to electronic music, people in the industry rarely expect hit making talent to come from the women who may be the featured vocalists on the track. Simons is able to side step a lot of industry sexism by showcasing the skills she learned as a student of classical music. She tells me that it was at the conservatory where she learned how to produce, “They had a production class and none of the girls were doing that. I took that class and it was all boys and I was the only girl. I’m so happy I did that because now I can record all of my records myself. They are recorded by me, and mixed by me, and then I play the record for a producer and 70% of the record is already done. And it’s great to have that control over everything.”
“Change is good. If the song is good and people like it, they don’t care what you’ve done before.”
While she’s known for her successful dabblings in electronic genres, Simons firmly believes that genre bending and blending is the future of music. After all, she grew up in a house that was doing just that–her father was a jazz musician and her mother was a house musician. “There were so many different styles in the living room, and I was influenced by so many different styles at an early age. I feel like I can make anything. Now is the time to experiment.” Now that she’s making her own music, Simons has kept her commitment to musical diversity. She has her eyes (and ears) on everything. Like with her newest single, “Policeman,” which has already topped charts in multiple countries and is certified gold, Simons steps out of her electronic mold for a bit into something a little more dance hall and reggaeton. Of course, there are still electronic elements in the song, but it’s undeniable that the song is heavily influenced by West Indian genres.”Change is good. If the song is good and people like it, they don’t care what you’ve done before,” Simons tells me. And the music video’s visuals? “I really liked the vibe in K-pop videos. I think with the fashion they always go a little bit more extreme than the Western World, so I wanted the video to be really colorful and wild like that”.