About Simon Spire
"Simon Spire is as enigmatic as they come...He allows the listener to step into a world that is wholly evocative--and quietly apocalyptic...Mind-reeling aesthetics; brilliant guitar pop." Dig Boston.
"An exciting emerging songwriter…heartfelt and wise." PopMatters.
He calls himself a New Yorklander. Originally from New Zealand, Simon Spire’s musical journey drew him to New York where he recorded his second album, "Four-Letter Words". Spire’s songs traverse the ground between upbeat alt-pop and singer-songwriter introspection, investigating both individual and collective transformation and exploring the boundaries of identity and human potential.
A three-time award-winner in the USA Songwriting Competition, Spire has been featured on MTV, NPR, NBC, AOL, Voice of America, and radio stations throughout the U.S., while also featuring in the Top 20 and Top 40 airplay charts in New Zealand where "Four-Letter Words" debuted at #6 on the independent sales chart. Drawing comparisons to Sufjan Stevens, John Mayer, and Ryan Adams, Spire has been described as "a rising star with an extraordinary talent for forthright and introspective songcraft."
"After listening to this album, one hopes that this musician will be the future of indie pop. If he can pull this off, it would be for the benefit of the genre as well as the industry." The Aquarian Weekly.
"Spire is a musically diverse talent with a Midas touch for great hooks…the album’s sincerity connects." M2 Magazine.
"Spire has what it takes to be a star." The Daily News (McKeesport, PA).
He calls himself a New Yorklander: neither entirely New Zealander nor New Yorker, Simon Spire inhabits the no-man’s land that lies somewhere in between. It’s a fitting reflection of the relentless investigation into the boundaries of identity and human potential that have shaped his life and music, particularly his second album, Four-Letter Words. “I’m always interested in where humanity is going, and for that reason I love being in New York—I’ve often thought of it as being at the forefront of our continuing cultural evolution,” says Simon. “In that sense, I want to be part of a new vision, taking part in where we’re going next.”
Simon Spire’s music is as accessible as it is introspective. The infectious energy of the music is immediately palpable in tracks such as Liberate Your Love and Uncomfortable. Yet on closer inspection, the themes are not those commonly encountered in such sonically and melodically engaging fare. “Uncomfortable explores the burden of being human,” says Spire. “The song articulates the isolation of being trapped by our sense of identity, and questions the nature of these limitations,” while “Liberate Your Love is a call to free ourselves from our conditioning and step into the fullness of who we are. It’s about the recognition of our human potential and the boldness of claiming it, but it also deals with the frustration that comes with our failure to embrace it.”
The writer goes on to say that the songs are in essence about “the potential for a revolution in what one’s life stands for—an individual shift in perspective that reverberates through the collective. The songs are about the possibility of being radically true to the core of oneself, to the extent that there is constant openness to and inquiry into what’s driving us.”
A Brooklyn resident of three years, Spire recorded his sophomore album in Manhattan with producers Rich Mercurio and Lee Nadel, and mixing engineer Brian Malouf (All American Rejects, Michael Jackson, David Gray). Mercurio and Nadel’s experience has spanned a wide range of genres during their extensive time in the New York music scene, working in various capacities with artists such as Regina Spektor, Matt White, and Lenka. Spire immediately felt a shared musical vision when first discussing ideas for the album with them. “Rich and Lee hold the fundamentals of the music and the song itself above all else, but then their understanding and experience also supports the music fully coming to life with the color and energy that were equally important to me with this album.”
Simon’s first love is songwriting. A three-time award-winner in the USA Songwriting Competition, Spire has charted in the Top 20 and Top 40 commercial airplay charts in New Zealand, and he was selected as one of the Top 20 artists of the year by U.S. TV Network Channel One in 2009. While many of the songs on Four-Letter Words exude a lively quality, the album nevertheless manages to cover considerable dynamic ground. The gloriously vulnerable No Solid Ground and hypnotic Find offer a more solemn perspective on the themes of transformation, while The Blue Pill’s cynicism confirms the darker and more despondent episodes that are an inevitable part of self-inquiry. “There’s a recurring theme of being in a process of discovery of both the lies we tell ourselves, and of the inspiration that wants to come to life,” he says. “The title itself, Four-Letter Words, points to both polarities of the human experience—both the four-letter words that usually come to mind, and then those such as ‘love,’ ‘life’ and ‘live.’ There’s that ongoing tension between being true to the vision of who we know we can be, and on the other hand, the struggle and challenges involved in realizing that potential in the world, which is the subject of the title track. It’s a continual process of transformation, and it’s inevitably quite messy.”
Simon Spire has long been on a path toward fully realizing his artistic vision. Like a lot of musicians, he started his journey into music with the piano while growing up, but after hearing Nirvana at the age of 13, he knew the guitar would be his true passion. Immediately making the musical shift from the eighty-eight keys to the six-string, he found a new obsession in the guitar and would spend hours listening to and studying the music of Metallica, Steve Vai and Radiohead.
What started as a young obsession with the guitar eventually drew him into the world of songwriting and poetry. Moved by the introspection of Leonard Cohen and Neil Diamond, and the unedited self-expression and multi-layered productions of John Mayer and Alanis Morissette, he eventually put pen to paper, embarking on a new chapter in his musical development. At the age of 19, Spire teamed up with a drummer/sound engineer friend and began experimenting with recording after managing to find an old version of Cubase for his computer and a couple of microphones. Through the recording process, he began to learn the intricacies of vocal performance, musical arrangement, and engineering techniques.
His interest in understanding the forces that shape our world drew him to a degree in economics and finance at the University of Auckland, where he won Senior Prizes in both disciplines. Throughout his time at university, he doggedly pursued the success he sought, while pouring every free moment into his music. In sacrificing all other areas in his life in an attempt to focus exclusively on “getting somewhere,” he hoped that success would provide the fulfillment he noticed was lacking in his life. However, he soon began to experience an abiding sense of emptiness and meaninglessness, and for three years during his time at university, all the while incessantly pursuing his goals, he struggled with the confusion of his depressed state. Spire eventually came to recognize that his attempts to find fulfillment and meaning in a constant attempt to “arrive” at some mythical finish line were futile. “I realized that throughout my whole life, I hadn’t been ‘living’; I had been ‘trying’—trying to become something, trying to get somewhere, trying to be safe, and firmly in the grip of fear. I hadn’t been ‘myself,’ and I had no idea what that meant anyway,” he says. “I knew there must be more to life, and I wanted to discover what that was.”
Thus began Spire’s journey of self-inquiry. Although it was difficult to relinquish the stability of the more reliable career he had been heading toward, he made the decision after graduating from university to focus his energies on his musical journey. “It wasn’t that the self-discovery was dependent on a choice of vocation—I knew that it wasn’t. But I had also come to suspect that what I really wanted in life was to follow the inspiration that I sensed still existed somewhere deep down, and to allow that to lead my life. I felt it drawing me to music. I felt strongly that the musical journey had much to teach me, and as afraid as I was of following such a precarious career path, something told me that whether it led to ‘success’ or ‘failure,’ it could reveal what I was looking for.”
Music became his vehicle for living the question of what it means to be true to oneself. Sometime after graduation, Simon made his way to Los Angeles where his father was based for a short time. He soon came into contact with Lenedra Carroll, mother and former longtime manager of singer-songwriter Jewel. Lenedra took an interest in Simon’s development as an artist and selected him for an apprenticeship in her artist development organization, Artist Advance. Further opening his eyes to the world of music, she mentored him all the way through to the release of his debut album, All or Nothing. Now several years later, he is ready for the next step in his musical evolution, and to offer Four-Letter Words to the world.
“Making music has always opened new doors and challenged me to explore unanticipated directions,” Spire says. “I simply try to let the inspiration lead me. That’s how I ended up in New York, that’s how I made this album, and that’s how I hope to find my way to wherever I end up next.”