Derek Simpson is an optimistically simple being in the best sense. Not one to overcomplicate things, rather enjoy the curiosities that life has to offer. Through music, playful inquiry, keeping things fun and explorative, Simpson is relinquishing perfectionism and relishing in receiving his wisdom through creativity. Even though he lives simply, it is not to be confused with being simple minded. His recent LP, Signs, carries a multitude of introspective scenes that outline his inner thoughts, embellished by his mesmerizing guitar playing. These conversations between his sentiments and the music make for a tasteful cocktail made of all the feel-good human stuff.
SPIN caught up with Derek Simpson and took a look at his latest musical concepts, how he feels about Signs, what’s next, and more.
Who is Derek Simpson & how did you come to life?
Derek Simpson is a three-hundred-year-old grass-blade whose origins & purpose are unknown.
Tell us about your sound – where does your style originate from and what have been your biggest visual, social, and sonic influences?
My style originates from having listened to The Love Below on my Walkman when I was six or seven years old until the CD was too scratched to play. That was my first musical love affair, but everything I’ve taken in since has had some sort of impact on what I make.
How has your songwriting/production process evolved through time?
I invite more people in these days. It’s been a 10-year process of learning how to relinquish control and remain playful. That process of writing/recording/producing/
What ideas, processes, etc. have you been exploring lately to generate inspiration or new musical concepts?
I’m sampling older recordings I never finished on these newer recordings which has provided so many new possibilities. I’m sticking to the general rule of keeping only what’s needed, becoming my own personal Rick Rubin. Also sharing the songs at various stages of completion with other artists, giving each of them the opportunity to work on something if they feel drawn to it, & getting a sort of crowd-sourced opinion on certain decisions has kept this new thing with some strong inertia.
How do you define and perceive success? What’s your journey been this year in the pursuit towards it?
I feel successful when I’m practicing balance, engaging with my own curiosities, & making things with other people. I’ve just been creating a life where I do each of those things every day.
You’ve recently released your record, Signs. Paint to us the universe surrounding this project. What themes are the driving force to this album?
To me personally, Signs is a hypnotic exploration of intimate relationships & communication. Any flowery language I’d indulge in would just do a disservice to the work, listen if you’d like.
What track was the most challenging to record? Which one was the most enjoyable? Which had the most to say?
Honestly, the recording process was such a blur since it was primarily in my current bedroom during the entirety of 2020, a year that came with global stress & loss. I’m sure I was writing the album in an attempt to create a sense of calm during a time that felt apocalyptic. I remember loving the day I recorded the guitar on Kid The Moon. Also the few days it took to make U-Turn were really exciting, I hadn’t made anything primarily dub-influenced before & just love how it came out.
If you had to give a title to the current stage you’re at in your career, what would it be?
“Hot, Broke, & Happy To Be Here”
In what ways do you wish to inspire up-and-coming artists/producers that are aiming to get their creative work out into the world?
To do just that: get your creative work out into the world. Also keep it groovy, be the change, eat your veggies, make love, all the classics.
What’s next for Derek Simpson?
The band is playing shows and keeping the Signs spirit alive for a while but otherwise keep ur ear 2 the streetz n find out baby.
Take a chance now and manifest something: ______________.
One day there will be no cars. I guess that’s not manifesting anything it’s just a loose fact running totally wild uhh, ok.. I will be a positive influence in many people’s lives that I know personally, and my output will be a positive influence in the lives of those that experience it.
Any last words for the SPIN-verse?
Keep spinnin’ please & thank you!
Take a look and listen into Derek Simpson’s world below. For more SPIN Sessions, head over to SPIN TV.