Sophie Simmons Steps Out of Her Dad Gene's Shadow, Into His Old Record Label, for 'Kiss Me' Cover
How did she end up on Casablanca Records, the label that first signed KISS? Says the singer: "I didn’t know!"
Today marks the debut release from Sophie Simmons -- a cover of Sixpence None The Richer's late-'90s rom-com staple "Kiss Me," a collaboration with REBEL. The general public may be familiar with Sophie via A&E's Gene Simmons' Family Jewels. As many famous rock progeny, from Julian Lennon to Jakob Dylan, can attest, being the child of a household rock star and following in the family business is not an easy thing.
Normally, being placed on your dads' first record label would stand a good chance of easing some of those dynastic difficulties. Sophie, however, tells Billboard she was not aware that Casablanca, which is releasing "Kiss Me," was the first home of her dad's band, KISS. In this particular case it wouldn't have mattered anyways -- Casablanca, previously the home of KISS, Parliament and, most notably, Donna Summer at her Disco height, has reimagined itself as a hub for modern dance music, putting out records by Tiesto, Martin Garrix, Stromae and more.
Simmons spoke to Billboard on release day.
Did you get any advice from your dad on how to approach release day?
My parents don’t know it’s release day, I just texted them. So I’m sure they’ll call yelling at me any minute [laughs]. It’s strange now, when you’re starting out, really nothing is up to the artist. I didn’t even know it was release day until the beginning of this week. Everything is very slow, and then at the very last minute it’s all very quick. So release day is stressful, is what I’m learning.
Why the delay in telling mom and dad?
I let them hear a couple of other tracks and of course immediately they turn into overbearing proud parents and they want to send it to everyone. But that kind of defeats the purpose of release, if your parents have already emailed and tweeted it out to the entire world. So I held this one back until today. I let them listen to it on my phone, but they weren’t allowed to have it physically or else it would have been leaked and there would have been no release.
How did you hook up with REBEL for this track?
I got an email out of the blue from Casablanca Records, asking if the rumor was true if I was a singer. I sent them over some of my demos and they were like, “Great, we’ll see you in New York in two weeks.” When I got to New York I met the producers, and they said they wanted to do a cover of “Kiss Me.” I was like, “I know this song by heart, everyone knows this song.” So we recorded it literally in an hour.
But you are working on originals, correct?
Yes. The deadline to finish them is late September, and I’ll release an EP. People don’t buy albums, so I’d rather release a few strong tracks at a time.
Talk about then when doing the cover as an introduction to listeners.
It’s so different now. The way to break into the music industry now is to do a collaboration with a DJ, because they are such a big part of young people’s music taste now. EDM infiltrates people’s iPods now when they’re working out, chilling, driving, so being featured on an EDM track, kind of like what Sam Smith did with Disclosure, you get exposed to your audience and when you come out with your new stuff they have a chance to see who you really are cause you already have the name recognition.
There is the lineage of having it on Casablanca.
Which I didn’t know, by the way. Terrible daughter [laughs].
You didn’t know Casablanca was your dad’s label?
No, I didn’t. I try to do everything my myself, so I didn’t ask my parents what they thought of Casablanca. I was like, “I know that name.” And I just went for it, then I told them afterward and they said that was dad’s first label. I went, “Great, of all the places I picked.”
If they had asked you to do a KISS cover would you have done it?
I would have not done it. I’m not gonna pretend like rock has ever been my genre because it really never has been. I would not do it justice, I regrettably and embarrassingly don’t know the words to most KISS songs.
Do you feel that makes it somewhat easier for you that you are coming out in such a different musical style?
The way I look at it if my dad was a plumber and I went into plumbing no one would think that was weird, but because he’s a singer and I’m going into music people make comparisons. I think it’s all about perspective. So I think for us there’s no comparison, but I can see how everyone else is going to try to make one, especially being on Casablanca.