Interview | FFS 5 with Simon Lunche

In just 20 years, Simon Lunche has established himself as a musical tour de force. Known for putting in the work with Berkeley indie rockers The Blondies, he’s written and produced their entire catalog. Beyond, he’s developed a name for his solo art as well—music that takes more of a personal turn into textured, heartfelt pop-rock and -folk.

Most recently, Lunche has been helping with fighting away the quarantine blues with a sprightly music video for his latest tune, ‘Town By the Sea’. The song’s layers of sunny instrumentation and Lunche’s relaxed vocal performance recall more elements of anthemic South African folk-pop than the low-key coffeeshop blend often associated with the California scene—a testament to Lunche’s growing ingenuity as a soloist.

Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?

I’ve been surrounded by music for as long as I can remember. Neither of my parents are players but there were always instruments in the house that I’d mess around with when I was little. When I was 5 years old there was a day on the drive home from elementary school that my parents were playing a best of Eric Clapton CD. I remember hearing his guitar work and being totally awe struck. I knew pretty much right then that I wanted to be a musician. A few weeks later my parents found me a teacher and I started taking classical guitar lessons. It was 2 or so years after that when I got my first electric guitar, and the rest is history. Haven’t put it down since.

There’s been so many important moments along the way, it’s hard to choose which are most significant. Pretty much every time I’ve completed an album has been a really huge thing for me. It always feels like the true end of one part of my life and the transition to the next. A huge release of energy and emotion to say the least. That feeling has only been amplified in the completion of my first solo album which is being released in the next couple of months. The amount of time I spent producing these songs, finding the right players to accompany me, and growing to make it over the hurdles I encountered along the way has truly been the most work I’ve ever put into a body of music. I got pushed in ways I’ve never been pushed as an artist and I can say confidently that I’m the best me I’ve ever been because of it.

As an artist, how do you define success?

Success for me is about being able to spend 100% of my time making music and doing what I love. Having enough monetary income from my art that I don’t need to have any other job.

What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?

My greatest struggles are always in the areas of the music business that have nothing to do with the music. Like yes, it’s massively difficult to self produce a record but it’s also the most fun thing I could ever do. You know what’s not fun? Trying to make sure your brand is cohesive and catchy, trying to figure out how to get that music out to the masses when you’ve got zero marketing know-how, trying to make yourself stand out in the sea of heads with not only your sound but your look. Those things are also a huge part of me getting to where I want to be, and they’re the pieces that are most difficult in my day to day. Mostly because that’s not a skill that I’ve had time to hone in the same way I have with the actual making of the records. I get frustrated a lot with that stuff and wish I could just sit back and let the music speak for itself. That’s the piece in all this that is most important. The Music.

What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as an artist/band? What do you hope to achieve?

I want to make something that people listen to long after I’m gone. Something that feels like an authentic representation of what it means to be alive. Something that ages slowly and doesn’t wear out easily. That holds in it a feeling inherent to being human. For me this has always been about one thing: the music. So that’s always the goal: make the best music I can make at the stage of my life I’m in and stay true to myself while doing it.

Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?

For me creative inspiration can come from just about anywhere. The key is just living. In almost every instance where I’ve had some sort of writer’s block I eventually realize that it’s because I haven’t really been living. Maybe I’ve been sitting in the studio for weeks straight, or working on mixes, but I haven’t been out having new experiences. Music in a petrie dish doesn’t make more music, it’s the life that happens outside of music that allows songs to be made. It could be something my friend said to me at lunch, taking a walk as the trees start to bloom in spring, a date. No matter how small, if it triggers a feeling its fair game for me.

Words by: Jonathan Frahm