Simon Beach
Gig Seeker Pro

Simon Beach

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | SELF

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | SELF
Band Folk Pop




"Simon Beach Steps Out of the Shadows"

Simon Beach is keeping himself pretty busy these days. Among other things, he’s wrapped up recording his first solo record Morning West Shadow, he moved to Montreal in January, he’s planning for his huge CD Release show at The Branch this Saturday, and there’s something about moving to Yellowknife on the agenda too. Keeping up so far? Let’s focus a little here, and start with…

Making the album:
Morning West Shadow was recorded between September and December at Bridgewater Studios, AKA his parents spare bedroom in their new home just outside of Merrickville. Beach had been living in a bachelor pad in Ottawa trying to juggle work and recording in his spare time, and it wasn’t going well. “I wasn’t able to dedicate enough time to the process. There seemed to be a build up of songs, and I really wanted to get them down so I could move on but it almost seemed impossible. I just needed a break from everything.” That’s when his parents stepped in and made him an offer that most musicians only dream of: “They asked if I wanted to move home for a few months to record, and do pretty much only that. And I was like, “What? Really?” It was that easy. I love my parents.”

With computer recording software he got from his brother, a few mics and a pile of songs and ideas, Simon settled in and got to work. He’d start with a tempo, then lay down rhythm guitar, and layer it from there. “I decided to do the really stubborn thing, and go about the whole process with every single aspect of the recording, performing, mixing, and producing being 100% me. That way, if I turned out to hate it later on, I’d only have me to blame.” He won’t have much blame to throw around though, as the album came out sounding anything but single-minded. The 14-track album covers everything from anthemic Canadiana, shuffled country, roots, Dylan-esque folk, and indie rock. Sonically, it’s all over the place (in a good way) and Beach deserves a lot of credit for paying attention to the little details, adding secondary melodies, thoughtful percussion, and subtle harmonies, using a wide range of instrumentation. This isn’t just a dude and his guitar. “I was listening to three main Scottish bands at the time: Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, and We Were Promised Jetpacks. They all have such a huge sound, and yet they incorporate a strong folk presence in their music. Almost all of my songs before recording were still just vocals and guitar, but I really wanted to give them a full-band sound and create greater compositions out of them. I think for the overall sound, I can point to a few influences that I picked up in high school, such as Ryan Adams (not to be mistaken with Canada’s Bryan Adams) and groups like Bright Eyes, Iron and Wine, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Elliott Smith.”

He didn’t use any computer tricks like multi-takes or fake midi instruments in the process either. “Everything was recorded analog. I only had the ability to record with two inputs at the same time, so the drum tracks that are full-kit takes are simply one mic on the kick drum, and one mic over the kit. I tried to get all of the individual tracks recorded from start to finish in one go. Especially the vocals. I really wanted to capture the energy of the songs and I also wanted them to sound natural. Plus, I wanted to get them done, which is almost impossible when you’re trying to get every little part entirely perfect or precise. It can drive you insane over-obsessing about things like that. When I listen to artists I like and I hear them mess up a little bit on a recording, it just makes them that much more human, and I love the song even more.”

Lyrically the album focuses largely on two themes: heartbreak and home. It doesn’t take very long listening to it before the break-up aspect becomes obvious: “I won’t say much, but it is mostly a breakup album, which is probably pretty obvious after a listen or two.” He’s a little more willing to elaborate on the “home” aspect, though. “There are a lot of songs that talk about “home”, which ties the album together. Homes aren’t just houses or places, but people. I think people can feel like home almost more than anything else. And when you lose a home, or you leave a home, it’s hard to find a new one.”

The Past:
The loss of “home” that Beach is referring to is the 28 acre lot home located on Kennedy Road, just outside of Kemptville where he, his brother, and two sisters grew up. “When we finally sold the house after all the kids had moved out, it all felt a bit surreal to us. It’s a strange experience saying goodbye to somewhere you spent your whole life. There’s something endlessly comforting about the countryside.” Simon’s love for his childhood countryside is so strong that he decided to use it as the imagery for the album’s artwork (which he designed himself, of course). Kennedy Road is featured on the front and back of the CD case, looking a little like a path leading to something that just isn’t there anymore.



Morning West Shadow (2010) LP



Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Simon Beach has been playing as a solo musician for over two years. He recorded and produced his first album, Morning West Shadow, in the fall of 2010, a release that saw its official live debut alongside his back-up band The Front Teeth this Spring in Montreal.
While residing in Yellowknife for the summer, Simon continued to promote his first album by playing various local gigs and participating in the lead up events to the Folk on the Rocks Festival, such as the Rock the Folks Battle of the Bands.
He is now living in Montreal and has begun work on material for his second album, which will see its release in Summer 2012.